Thumbnail book cover for Ghosts of Seattle Past. A hand-drawn tree silhouette dissipates behind the golden stump lying at its base.

An eyes-on-the-street view of a city in flux

Ghosts of Seattle Past is an atlas of our memories, a collaborative map of places loved and missed in a rapidly evolving city. In this anthology curated by author/editor Jaimee Garbacik, storytelling and cartography preserve the venues, restaurants, shops and institutions we’ve lost to development in Seattle, the city of the future.

You can buy the book directly from our publisher, at Elliott Bay Book CompanyIndiebound, Powell’s, or your local indie bookseller. Amazon also carries it, but we boycott them, and you should too. If you are in the Seattle area, you can visit the Chin Music Press showroom in the Pike Place Market, on lower level three; they are open from 11am to 5pm Thursday to Tuesday.

Part eulogy, part cultural cautionary tale, this book is Seattle’s collective conscience––reminding us of who we used to be.”

Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

[T]he book totally disarmed me….we see the outline of the true, full spirit of this amazing, turbulent place, and the stories of the myriad souls who have helped color it.”

Seattle Weekly

[It’s] more than a book–it’s a collection of love letters to what we’ve lost.”

Seattle Times

… both a mode of preservation and a roadmap for the future, highlighting how people form bonds with places and each other …. striped with a sense of life and urgency.”

Bloomberg (CityLab, originally in The Atlantic)

A tripartite art engine …. a collection of memories that might help us all see some of the commonalities between our many experiences of our many Seattles.”

The Stranger

Ghosts paints a complex picture of the cultures and subcultures that Seattle has fostered over the years.”

Curbed Seattle
Thumbnail book cover for Ghosts of Seattle Past. A hand-drawn tree silhouette dissipates behind the golden stump lying at its base.

Read the Book Jacket

Click to expand each box and read more.

Inside Front Cover

The Ghosts of Seattle Past project began as a collection of essays and interviews behind a small wooden door. That door was the cover of an art book bound with twine so that readers could stretch it across a table and read the stories of many Seattleites at once. Ghosts of Seattle Past became an Irish Wake where people could mourn the lost places they loved. Ghosts of Seattle Past became an exhibit at an architecture center. It became a forum where community lynchpins could tell city planners and policymakers what public spaces made Seattle a home. It became a small atlas of hand-drawn maps pinned with disappeared Seattle places. Ghosts of Seattle Past became a microphone for those whose voices are sometimes drowned out by jackhammers and police sirens.

Back Cover

Civic change is a messy, uneven process. Two people living on the same block may hold wildly different views of the city they share. Through interviews, essays, art, and comix, this anthology gathers together competing stories of place and change. Layers of Seattle present are stripped away to reveal everything from Chief Seattle negotiating for his tribe’s survival to the barricaded Black Panthers headquarters at 20th & Spruce to a music venue where you could also wash your flannels. Urban planner Samantha Claire Updegrave notes how “we gawk at the number of cranes poling into the air above Downtown and South Lake Union, at the radical remaking of the Seattle skyline as four-hundred-food-plus towers peak as quickly as if laid by Legos.” And yet, in Ghosts, we also see the Pride parades, pipe organs, chain stores and jazz clubs that have made the city home for so many. This time capsule of a book reminds us of all the ghosts that still exist just beneath the shiny surface of gentrifying Seattle.

Ghosts of Seattle Past is an ethnography, a time capsule made of trees. It ensures that diverse accounts of the city can never fully be erased.

A Note from the Publisher

Seattle is built on booms—logging, fishing, aerospace, and now tech. This anthology gathers essays, interviews, photography, and comix to reconstruct community hubs lost to growth. From the settlements of Native American tribes to the incubators of grunge, from a foxxxy cabaret to an Old Spaghetti Factory, Ghosts of Seattle Past provides an eyes-on-the-street view of a city in flux.

The Ghosts of Seattle Past anthology comes at a critical point: Seattle had the country’s steepest rent hikes in 2015. The city is becoming a national focal point for issues of development. Both recent transplants and the old guard are trying to figure out how to live in the new landscape. Through their warm, conversational, whip-smart voices, the city speaks not only to the current boom, but also to longer-brewing problems of segregation, queer erasure, and colonization. Tracing the issues across six hand-drawn maps, Seattle’s best-known artists (including Elissa Washuta, Kate Lebo, and Paul Constant) join community lynchpins (including Chief Seattle’s great-great-great-great grandson) in a dialogue as incisively political as it is richly human.

Making the Anthology

Seattleites were invited to submit stories, essays, photographs, and art featuring their experiences in these lost places. A beta version of the atlas also traveled to festivals and galleries as an interactive art exhibit, to receive in-person submissions. Additional interviews were conducted with community members, organizers, historians, artists, and those who stewarded or remembered culturally significant spaces. A sample of these memories were once viewable on this website via the maps and blog posts. The full cultural atlas was compiled and edited by Jaimee Garbacik, and then released in print as an anthology by Chin Music Press featuring Josh Powell’s hand-drawn maps. The Ghosts of Seattle Past anthology was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award for nonfiction book of the year.

The Maps

There was originally a digital map on this site, where lost Seattle gathering places were pinned by the public. Josh Powell turned the places submitted as memories to the Ghosts of Seattle Past into a series of hand-drawn maps of the city featuring the venues, shops, restaurants, galleries, and gathering sites that haunt our hearts. The maps traveled with the original silkscreened and hand-bound anthology-in-progress to festivals and galleries, where everyone could pin and commemorate Seattle’s lost spaces. The Ghosts anthology has since been published with print versions of Josh’s hand-drawn maps inside. Ghosts curator Jaimee Garbacik’s father Robert Garbacik is the last remaining land surveyor in New England who makes maps by hand. He lent his cartography expertise to Ghosts’ maps of Seattle’s past, pinned with the phantom places we recalled together.

The Exhibit and Events

The original Ghosts of Seattle Past art exhibit premiered at Short Run Comix Festival in 2015. Since then, our exhibits and events have appeared on stage at Bumbershoot Music Festival, at the AIA Center for Architecture and Design, the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), Folklife Festival, LOVECITYLOVE, Bluestockings NYC, the Independent Publishing Resource Center of Portland, DC’s legendary activist bookstore The Potter’s House, and elsewhere. Jaimee co-produced a walking tour of Yesler Way with Atlas Obscura and Wa Na Wari’s Rachel Kessler. They also collaborated with Northwest Film Forum to create a series of short films about disappeared places in collaboration with NWFF’s Citizen Minutes program.

In 2017, GoSP presented their research and findings to the Office of Economic Development for the City of Seattle. We also once held an Irish Wake for Lost Seattle Places featuring a drag show, short films, musical performances, a pop-up art show, and nearly two dozen readings. We wear many hats.

A pink trucker hat with the iconic Elephant Car Wash logo.

The Irish Wake

An Irish Wake:

  1. A commemoration of the loved and lost
  2. A raucous celebration of life

At one of our most beloved events, we poured one out for Seattle’s lost spaces at LoveCityLove on E Pike and 14th in a jam-packed celebration, complete with 19 readings, 3 musical performances, a drag show, short films, a pop-up art exhibit, and beer from our friends at Fremont Brewing Company.

Residents Podium for Seattle Legacy Spaces

A discussion about what we can’t afford to lose.

Ghosts’ partnership with the BOOM! exhibit at the Center for Architecture and Design culminated in an event called the Residents Podium for Seattle Legacy Spaces. In collaboration with city council member Lisa Herbold, we asked community organizers and artists to testify on behalf of the spaces they didn’t want to see disappear. GoSP also gathered policy makers, architects, urban planners, and developers, and asked them to be an audience. We wanted to fill the ears of these city-shapers with the voices of that rapidly shifting city.

Voices included a Duwamish leader, a savior of landmarks, a keeper of music mythology, a fixture in the local African American historical scene, and many more. These community leaders and memory-keepers, activists and residents were the new urban development consultants. They spoke on crucial businesses and gathering places that they wanted to stick around, and talked about patterns of change that they thought could make future Seattle more considered and inclusive.

Download the transcripts below.

Book Release & The Tour

After the book release in 2017, Ghosts’ curator Jaimee Garbacik and mapmaker Josh Powell toured with the book and a slideshow of its art, meeting up with some of our contributors along the way. We collaborated with activist spaces, local organizations, and bookstores in Washington, D.C.; Portland, OR; Philadelphia, PA; and New York City to discuss the impact of rapid development and gentrification on each city’s own culturally significant places. It felt like we were really tapping into the heartbeat of something important, engaging in dialogues about cultural erasure and the nuanced costs of redevelopment. And as we went, we shared what had happened in Seattle, and how our maps and storytelling worked to preserve stories and raise residents’ voices. We projected digital maps of each city and demo’d how they could be pinned with memories of disappeared haunts.

Citizen Minutes

Films to remember lost spaces.

Northwest Film Forum’s community video initiative explores what’s happening across Seattle. Local filmmakers, artists, and community members offer topical conversations through super short videos  – including a number of videos produced in collaboration with Ghosts’ contributors about disappeared gathering spots.

Ghosts in the Media

Check out our appearances in Bloomberg, Seattle Weekly, The Stranger, CityLab, Atlas Obscura, The Seattle Times, Curbed, and more…

View links to our media appearances.

Other Sightings

Ghosts of Seattle Past isn’t the only attempt to archive, grieve, or memorialize the city’s lost spaces. Haunt some of these other projects preserving Seattle stories.

Learn more about these other projects.
  • Vanishing Seattle (book): Clark Humphrey’s book of rare and vintage images of historical Seattle is part of the Images of America series. ***Not to be confused with:
  • Vanishing Seattle (project): Cynthia Brothers’ popular Instagram account documenting Seattle demolition and closures has since become a larger multiplatform project that also celebrates existing spaces and “the communities that give the city its soul.”
  • The Waterlines Project: A project from the Burke Museum examining the history of Seattle through its waterlines. (We suggest you start with this blog post which includes an animation of how Pioneer Square has changed over the life of the city.)
  • Shelf Life: A community story project using the closure of the Red Apple Grocery Store as a focal point for gathering and sharing the stories of the people who live and work in the Central Area.
  • Wa Na Wari: A center for Black art and belonging in the Central District, and a living model of historic preservation, art, and connection, co-founded by artists Inye Wokoma (Frank and Goldyne Green’s grandson), Elisheba Johnson, Rachel Kessler, and Jill Freidberg.
  • Historic Seattle: A nonprofit protecting Seattle’s architectural heritage through educational programs, advocacy, and the preservation of buildings and cultural landscapes
  • The free online encyclopedia of Washington state history.
  • An archive of journalist Paul Dorpat’s “Seattle Now & Then” column for the Seattle Times, flush with historical documents and photography.
  • Radical Seattle Remembers: Writer Jeff Stevens’ blog about the history of radical and progressive political and social activism in Seattle.
  • Our Lives in Google: A landscape film by Adam Sekular using Google Maps to create a personal memoir and travel journal focused on memory, nostalgia and technology.
  • 1-World Globes & Maps: A small Seattle business that sells and prints current and historical maps, including several of old Seattle.
  • SEAchange: Seattle Globalist’s crowdsourced memory map for South Seattle, focusing on Rainier Valley housing redevelopment, business planning/zoning, and new sites in progress.


William Anthony
Margaret Ashford-Trotter
Deborah Bacharach
Sara Brickman
Wes Browning
Diane Buckley
Mark Campos
Eric Carnell
Paul Constant
Crystal Curry
Brangien Davis
Elmer Dixon
Ma’Chell Duma LaVassar
Bryan Edenfield
Kathy Fennessy
Eroyn Franklin
Noel Franklin
Kelly Froh
Kelsey Gallo
Sarah Galvin
Janie Genovese Craig
Erin Gilbert
Mary Jean Gilman
Tom Giske
Madeleine Greaves
Allison Green
Merrilee Hagen
Elizabeth Halfacre

Dan Halligan
Gaylon Henry aka StreetNative
Jane Hodges
Dave Holden
Victoria Holt
Courtney Hudak
Graham Isaac
Anisa Jackson
Lisa Jaech
Tony Kay
Rachel Kessler
King Khazm
Renee Krulich
Cali Kopczick
David Lasky
Shelly Leavens
Kate Lebo
Julia Lipscomb
Mita Mahato
Pam Mandel
Corrinne Manning
Elizabeth K. Mauro
Ed Medeiros
Janet Nechama Miller
Willie Minor
Kibibi Monie
Ellen Monteith
Patrick Monteith
Peter Mountford

Jennifer Munro
Tomo Nakayama
Tamiko Nimura
Davey Oil
Judy Oldfield
Michelle Peñaloza
Kayla Pianh
Christopher Porter
DJ Nasty Nes Rodriguez
Vida Rose
Adrian Ryan
Janet Schuroll
Francine Seders
Roger Shimomura
Cari Simson
Jeff Stevens
Jon Strongbow
Madame Ashleigh Talbot
James Taylor
Sam Terry
Samantha Updegrave
Elissa Washuta
Alice Wheeler
Kathi “george” Wheeler
Chuck Wolfe
Dean Wong
Hollis Wong-Wear
Ken Workman
Robert Zverina