Cities are a totally different beast at night. Different views, different people, different atmosphere; the character of a place can be reversed, improved, ruined, you name it. Pike Place Market in Seattle is particularly susceptive to this. During the day it is a whirlwind of activity, people, vehicles, and noise. A busy and bustling place, but can be slightly overwhelming if you just want to try and get from A to B, and you have to go through it. 2am on a Thursday night however, it’s a world away from that.
Retro neon signs stay alight 24/7, so it remains ‘alive’ throughout, just far more peaceful than the daytime. Perched on the steep slope that is the Seattle waterside, the large signs shine out against the night sky behind them, the only visible background being the Western shores of Elliot Bay, far in the distance.
The normally packed aisles of the market place are completely deserted, absent of traders, customers, and the fresh market goods that line the shelves and counters. What feels like a small and claustrophobic space during the day becomes an expanse of tiles and light at night, and your footsteps echo off the walls and ceiling with no other noise to cancel them out.
I suppose for many that visit a market, it’s the hustle and bustle of those crowds and constant activity that create its appeal. I much prefer, however, the quiet of the deserted space, happy to imagine it with people, but free to explore and walk through unhindered, and take in the smaller details that might otherwise get lost in the chaos.
Further wanderings lead you down to the waterfront, where the harbour lights shine across Elliot Bay, 24/7, and the occasional car heads along the road. I’m still not used to how quiet other cities get at night. Having spent a considerable amount of my working life travelling through London at the dead of night, where it is always busy no matter what time of day or week, it is truly strange to be in cities in which traffic totally disappears once the sun is down and the evening over. I definitely prefer it, although adrenaline fuelled bike rides through central London on a Friday night were always fun back in the days when they were a regular occurrence.
Back to the market place and I set up a couple of pictures on the corner of the main entrance to the market, on the intersection that is usually the busiest of them all. This alone wasn’t without event, as an entirely wasted kid decided I was going to be his new friend. I was pretty patient, and humoured a good 10 minutes of talk before saying I had somewhere to be, but when he announced he was going to come with me, and go wherever I went, the novelty wore off, and I ended up having to get a bit proactive to get rid of him. I never did get the chance to go and visit the cafe in which he said he worked to take him up on the offer of a free meal. Maybe next time. That seemed like a good time to call it, so I rolled in at 3am after an enjoyable evening aimlessly walking around a deserted city market.