As a long-time Seattle resident and reporter, I thought I knew all about the city’s attractions. Turns out I was wrong. Author and journalist Harriet Baskas teamed up with photographer Cortney Kelley to search out and tell little-known back stories about the city. The two have authored a beguiling and exciting new book, 111 Places in Seattle You Must Not Miss (Emons-Verlag, $23.95).
You might think 111 Places is designed primarily as a guidebook for tourists, but you would be mistaken. Whether you are just visiting or a life-long native, this book will help you picture Seattle in an entirely different light.
For sure you know about such popular places as the Great Wheel, the Space Needle, and the Pike Place Market. But did you know about the Giant Shoe Museum, found below-level at Pike Place? At shop No. 424 viewers deposit quarters to open curtains and gaze at the peep show highlighting such freaky foot ware as a pair of 37AA boots for the world’s tallest man and the “largest wingtip in captivity.”
Maybe you know about Seattle’s 560 public stairways, including Seattle’s longest: Howe Street Stairs (388 concrete steps). But have you ever heard about the West Boston Staircase, the only steps said to be haunted? Baskas tells of a young engaged couple who were climbing the wooden stairway in the early 1900s. The man got to the top first, but his finance paused on the landing. Suddenly the stair’s lower portion fell away and the young woman was swept to her death. Years later in the 1980s, a woman named Judy was starting down the concrete replacement when she heard a woman’s voice saying, “Stop. Don’t go any further.” At that moment, the staircase below fell away leaving just 19 steps behind.
Then there is the Duwamish Tribal Longhouse, an ancestral site of Seattle’s First People. You can visit the museum with its Native art gallery and gift shop and view the Edward Curtis prints of early tribal members as well as sacred artifacts including the bark hat that once belonged to Si’ahl (whom we know as Seattle). Also not to be overlooked are the Hot Tub Boats, an unusual way to tour Lake Union. The tub, kept at 104 degrees, holds up to six people. You steer from inside the tub with a joystick with a maximum speed of 5 mph. Food and drinks are allowed, alcohol and nudity are not.
Those are only four of the 111 Places that Baskas and Kelley found. There are dozens more fascinating places pictured, each with travel instructions and each enriched with a “tip” about nearby attractions you can visit.
Baskas has authored nine other books and has her own blog, StuckatTheAirport.com. She explains the Seattle book as the latest in a series. There are “111 places” in New York, London, Vancouver, and Portland as well. They all originate from Emons, a Cologne, Germany publisher.
During a recent interview, Baskas said she and Kelley, who is primarily a portrait artist, made good use of the pandemic to work on the project, exploring hidden treasures and curiosities. Baskas knew of some of the venues but discovered others. Often she worked from tips she solicited from friends. She found that nearly everyone knows of adventures not found in the standard tourist handbooks.
Baskas and Kelley’s finds are listed in alphabetical order, starting with Acacia Memorial Park (gravesites of Paul Allen and Warren Magnuson, among others) and ending with the waterfront’s Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, where you can view the four-legged chicken and a Feejee mermaid. Along the way you learn that you can patronize the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall where couples can arrange for Elvis Presley to tie the knot. You can visit the exact spot where the first Boeing plane was launched in 1916. Or tour the Georgetown Steam Plant and see the electric time machine.
Dozens of offbeat and exciting treasures and adventures await and, according to the book, these are the ones “you must not miss.”