Within an Hour: Seattle

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Seattle is a hotspot for travel. Tourists flock the coastal city in search of the typical Pacific Northwest experience. Yet still, hidden gems preside in Seattle, including free street parking on Sundays, which also happens to be when it is easiest to drive to in under an hour.

Edith Macefield’s House

Julia Smiljanic
A modern shopping complex towers above, surrounding Macefield’s house. Onlookers notice the uncanny resemblance to Disney’s UP storyline with balloons featuring quotes from the movie.

In the heart of Ballard, businesses tower around a farmhouse, which is over a century old. Sound familiar? The story of one Seattle-ite, Edith Macefield, seems to parallel the Disney Pixar film UP.

UP tells the story of the Fredricksen house which developers are trying to purchase in order to progress with a developing project. Widower Carl Fredricksen refuses to sell, and as such the development is built around his home, towering stories above the classic home.

Edith Macefield’s story is similar: in 2006 she was approached by developers but refused to sell her historic home. This real-estate holdout earned Macefield fame until her death in 2008. Still to this day Macefield’s house remains surrounded by towering buildings filled with shopping stores.

Beth’s Cafe

Julia Smiljanic
Rather than a typical menu cover, each menu is its own piece of art complete with the cover drawn by a customer with crayons on white printer paper.

A bright blue building greets those who pass by 7311 Aurora Ave N, Seattle. Since 1954, this address has been home to a classic 24-hour American Style diner, complete with a jukebox which controls all the music for the cafe. Beth’s features a menu fit stuff your stomach, with heaping portion sizes for every meal. The best known on the menu is the omelets which come in only two sizes: six eggs, or twelve eggs.

Liz Beback, a server at Beth’s, has been frequenting the cafe since she was 14-years-old. Beth’s has transformed from Beback’s hang-out spot to her place of work for the past 11-years. She described the secret to the uniqueness of Beth’s as lying in the way “it kind of traps people.”

Julia Smiljanic
Lining the cooks counter, staring you in the face as you walk in the door, is a sign which teases: “no tweekers”.


Beth’s Cafe has been expanding since it opened, as popularity grows. Originally Beth’s was only a small shop with just a few tables and a kitchen. As popularity has matured Beth’s Cafe has absorbed the two businesses that were in the adjacent buildings. First Beth’s took over a  storefront shop, and then a barbershop in the next building over.

Pictures drawn by customers on white printer paper with crayons cover the walls. Yet still, customers and staff are continually adding more as paper and crayons are handed out to every customer who wants to draw.


The Fremont Troll

Julia Smiljanic
Towering at eighteen feet, the Fremont Troll was constructed by four local artists in the 90’s and is still popularly frequented by tourists.

Under the Aurora bridge, the childhood fairytale of a troll who lives under the bridge comes to life. In the 90’s, a collection of four local artists began to construct the troll of steel rebar, wire, and concrete. The fear of a troll beneath the bridge has not transferred from the fairy tale to those who come to Fremont. Tourists and locals come to scale the eighteen foot tall, towering creature.

World Famous Shoe Museum

A wall on the lower floor of Pikes Place market acts as home to Seattle’s World Famous Shoe museum. All exhibits are viewable for just one dollar in quarters.

The World Famous Shoe Museum is literally a hole in the wall of Pikes Place Market. Upon placing quarters into a pay slot, holes in the wall, encased in glass become illuminated to reveal collections of shoes and fun facts. One of the shoes featured belonged to and was at one time worn by, the world’s tallest man. At the size US 37AA,  Illinois-born Robert Wadlow also holds the world record for largest feet. Wadlow grew to the height of 8’11” but unfortunately died in 1940 at the age of 22. Wadlow is still the Guinness World Record Holder for world’s tallest man.

Ghost Alley Espresso


Julia Smiljanic
Ghost Alley Espresso resides in a room carved into the underside of Pike’s Place market along the pathway to the infamous gum wall.

Converted from the gents restroom into a liquor cabinet, Ghost Alley Espresso got its name and start from the Ghost Tours. The uniqueness of Ghost Alley Espresso lies not only in its location, and authenticity to its start, but also in the drinks. The most popular drink on the menu is the Mystery Mocha, a drink which is different for every customer. “It’s kind of like walking into a bar and saying: ‘Hey bartender I like Patrón, make me something special,’” Jessica Ness, one of the baristas, explained.


To Ness, Ghost Alley Espresso is her happy place. “I thought I would make coffee for a second before my next corporate gig. I’m still here three years later,” she explained.

Seattle Pinball Museum

Julia Smiljanic
Though the Seattle Pinball Museum is host to a collection of 250 games, a select portion of approximately 57 machines rotate the floor.

Loud music accompanies games, the ping of the metallic ball clanging off the bumpers, flipping back around to the flippers: all this noise floods the ears upon entering the small shop lined wall to wall with a range from classic to modern pinball machines. For fifteen dollars per person, a selection of 57 of the shop’s 250 pinball machines are up for grabs to play, and no time limit looms to threaten an end to the fun in this Chinatown shop.

The Hi-Life

The label Firehouse No. 18 still marks the exterior of an old brick building constructed in 1911, which now houses the Hi-Life restaurant. As soon as guests enter the building, they’re greeted by a warm, and homey atmosphere.  This unique spot serves everything from upscale dishes to classic American dining food such as their take on baked macaroni n’ cheese, or fried chicken Sunday dinner. A severed firepole still hangs from the ceiling as a reminder of the days when firefighters slid down the pole, ready for the call to climb into their rigs and run off to fight a fire or rescue those in need.

Julia Smiljanic
Constructed in 1911, what was originally Fire Station No. 18 now houses a family friendly restaurant – The Hi-Life.