One Foot in Front of the Other
Whether you love art or just want to bank some selfies for the year, this walk is for you. It explores funky wall art in multiple media — from mosaics to aerosol and, of course, gum.
Start at the heart of Pike Place Market — we begin at Rachel, the OG Market pig (there are a few more now) who greets visitors at the elbow of the main Market building at 86 Pike Place. Go inside at the Pike Place Fish Market, take the stairs on the left down to Ghost Alley and left again to Post Alley to find the famous Gum Wall — itself a kind of mural.
Take a right after the Selfie Museum on Union Street and the next right on Western Avenue. Look for signs for the “Hill Climb” on the south side and stairs heading toward the waterfront. (Don’t worry, you won’t go all the way down.)
At the landing, the stairs and walls are wrapped in pink and black flowers by ceramics artist Carolina Silva in a mural titled “Room for Change.” Go back up the stairs to Western Avenue and head north. Just beyond the parking garage, duck left to the new MarketFront Pavilion, where you’ll find a three-level mosaic mural around the Grand Staircase by Clare Dohna called “Northwest Microcosm” — celebrating the biomes of the Market.
Enter at the lowest level, which is writhing with an undersea melee of alienlike fish and other creatures in festive colors. An amazing view opens ahead. Pause to soak up the interplay of sky and water across the Puget Sound along with the Great Wheel and ships of all sizes. Returning to the stairs, you’ll reach the second level of flowers and wildlife, followed by the third level celebrating the Market’s fruits and veggies.
Go through the Pavilion on the left, meet your second pig — Billie — and exit. Consider following signs to Indi Chocolate — which has cocoa-made spice rubs and skin-care products as well — before the incline starts.
Go left on Western Avenue, passing Victor Steinbrueck Park and taking a right on Virginia Street up to First Avenue. This is the calf-burning part of the walk. Take a left on First Avenue and a right at the Federal Army & Navy Surplus Inc. store at 2112 First Ave. — which has been fronting the camo trend since 1955.
You’ll find “Careless Whisper” hugging the surplus store facing a parking lot. It’s a Lichtenstein-style mural with a twist — a woman in an embrace, her quote bubble saying, “I don’t care what they say — I KNOW we belong together!” Note the tag on the top cornice of the building, “D. Face and Daughters … Street Improvement Services since 1999” — designed to blend with the likely original signage of “Frank Duncan Shoe Finders and Footwear Distributors.” The London-based artist D*face created the mural in 2018.
On the north side of the parking lot is a mural spelling “Belltown” filled with a keyboard, chess pieces, a skateboard and a Rainier beer. Cut through the parking lot and turn right onto Blanchard Street.
Cross Second Avenue and take a right down the alley — you can’t miss it. Called the “Belltown Corridor,” this street-length alley is mural heaven, with something for every style. It was created by Joe Nix, owner of the adjacent Jupiter Bar. You can learn about the artists on their Instagram page. They go by the handle Belltown Corridor.
A defiant blonde looks down from two stories above. A suspicious red dragon eyeballs you from the east wall. A ballooning figure floats away up a chimney. Two sepia musicians serenade from the west in an apparent tribute tagged, “I’ll come visit you in my dreams.” Unfortunately, a Converse-wearing rat is crawling under them from the next mural — holding a tube of TNT. Well, I guess he can’t hurt them.
Unless you want to do some self-hypnosis, don’t stand for too long in front of the west wall’s flower — I’m pretty sure it’s vibrating.
The east wall past the dragon is hard to describe — kind of a dreamscape comic book in tan. The people have no faces, but the house does, and there are happy face emojis. The rest of the wall is just feathers. Like you are a baby hawk nestling into your mother’s wing.
Take a right outside the alley, return to Second Avenue, take another right. If you are visiting in the afternoon or early evening, stop in the Jupiter Bar at 2126 Second Ave. — which itself is filled with murals — and choice pinball machines. Tip: Shoot for the castle gate in “Medieval Madness.”
Continue along First Avenue, passing a fungi-filled wall to Bell Street. Dog lovers can opt to go right two blocks to the Regrade Park off-leash area, with a doggo-themed backdrop.
Or head straight to Block 41 at 115 Bell St., which has the postcard shot — the “Greetings from Seattle” mural. A private event space, Block 41 keeps irregular hours. You can glimpse the mural through the gate, but for a close-up, call them (206-347-0541). If they’re there, they’re happy to let you in for a photo op.
Conclude your walk taking Bell toward Western Avenue, with your final mural mimicking a vintage street photo from the early 1900s. Your home might suddenly look a little … bare. What would you paint on your walls?
Pike Place Market and Belltown Mural Walk
Round-trip distance: Approximately 1.25 miles
Parking: Pike Place Market has two parking garages with entrances at 1531 Western Ave., 1901 Western Ave. and 1530 Alaskan Way. Street parking is also available.
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