Ghost Town Experience: the (mostly) Abandoned Streets of Seattle

Before the official ‘Stay home-Stay healthy’ order was put into place, Washingtonians were still being encouraged to stay home but taking a drive was an allowable activity to combat boredom. So, one day Mark and I decided to go look and see what downtown Seattle looks like when most everyone stays home.

(Let me preface this tale by saying this drive was a couple of weeks ago and at this date the mandate is to stay much closer to home. We should all be shopping locally, walking in our own neighborhoods and not taking any unnecessary risks that could divert ANY precious resources away from where they are needed.)

I have to admit I’m not a big fan of visiting Seattle. While I spent a good portion of my younger years going downtown, I got older and more used to a slower pace of life. Now the traffic and tangle of streets are less fun and more of a chore. So, when the suggestion was made that we go see Seattle without all the cars and people I was game.

I don’t know about you but my personal hygiene has taken a bit of a hit staying home day after day. I went with NO intention of getting out of the car to be seen in all my sweat pant no makeup glory. Normally I drive into the Medina area of Bellevue 4 days a week, which takes anywhere from 30-40 minutes. The drive on that day from North Bend to Downtown Seattle took less than a half hour. As we turned from I-90 to I-5 the normally packed traffic corridor through the city was eerily void of traffic. We navigated easily to the normally busy Mercer Street exit and caught our first look at the downtown streets.


Seattle looked like something out of a dystopian post-apocalyptic movie. I remember driving home, at 3 am, from more than a few nightclubs as a young adult and seeing more cars and people. This was truly spooky. We passed the Seattle Center, usually very lively and fun, but now still and undisturbed by people.

We proceeded to get a little lost, but eventually found our way to Pike Place Market. In February our niece came to visit with her family and they did all the local sightseeing things, including the market. What a stark contrast between then and now. Usually navigating the front of the market is difficult, but we passed by with ease noting the lonely pig and empty parking spots.

We drove back through Pioneer Square, hopped back on the freeway by Century Link and came home only seeing a handful of people out doing their essential business in Seattle. Out of curiosity I asked a friend who had recently shopped at the market (the market is open for grocery shopping but should be patronized by locals, just like here) for photos of the market now and they are sobering.

If you would like to support the merchants that call Pike Place Market home you can find ways to do so here. Additionally, you can find flowers grown by local Place Market growers at the Dahlia Barn flower stand. I hope to go back, dressed and with makeup on, and get out of the car someday soon. With a bit of luck, all the merchants will weather this storm and get back to work soon.  

(An edit was made in the first paragraph to clarify when the drive was taken)

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  • Melissa Grant is consistently misleading in terms of what the Governor’s mandate says. Read it please. The terms have never changed. You are only allowed to leave your home for essential activities, relieving boredom is not an essential activity. Hiking is an essential activity.

    1. “Exercise” is an essential activity and if you call “hiking” trotting around your neighborhood, that works. But “hiking” on closed State and Federal land, closed in the best interests of the community, is not essential, nor legal. Please respect and honor our health workers by following the intent of the word. We owe them that much given the hell they are going thru.

  • After many edits I realized you were right and the timeline of when the drive was taken was unclear. The story has been edited to reflect that the drive was taken before the official mandate on March 23. No where in the article did I state citizens are not allowed to exercise

  • Living Snoqualmie