Top 10 Hobo Lairs in Seattle

hoboprimary10) Georgetown: Particularly around Lucile and 6th Ave. Hobos have long been attracted to this gritty industrial underbelly of Seattle. It offers  a relatively unregulated mix of residential, retail core, and light industrial zones favorable to the lifestyle. Lately the area has become popular with hipsters who appear to be tolerant of hobo life.

Notable Area Hobos (N.A.H.):

  • George Slay, the Duck Throttler
  • Fleabottle Boone
  • Huge Crybaby McWeepy

9) Hobo Mike aka Mike the Rock Hobo aka Rock the Mike Hobo: Though his hobo status (and inclusion on this list) is disputed (he has a permanent “residence”).   He dwells in prime hobo territory, in the industrial netherworld south of the city.  Mike has become a legend amongst a small substrata of the local music scene.  A hard living man., Mike straddles the line between decrepit hobo, talented musician, and amateur cosmologist. Operating on the fringes, Mike defies categorization though the author believes he has the heart of a hobo.

N.A.H.:

  • Mike the Rock Hobo
  • Horace the Noosemaker
  • Free Peanuts Doug

8) Seattle Public Library: A long time haven for downtown-based hobos, this public space not only offers shelter, warmth, and bathrooms, but a place for hobo intelllectual exploration.. A skillful hobo can avoid detection by staff for extended periods. The new library’s cutting edge architecture results in an interesting juxtaposition between ultra-modern design and traditional hobo culture,. Library staff declined to be interviewed for this list.

N.A.H.:

  • Graybelly Dunstan
  • Myron Biscuitspear, the Dumpster Archeologist
  • Oregon Perry Hashpipe

7) Railroad Tunnel: North of King Street Station. The most foreboding of the city’s lairs, this subterranean hideout houses the dangerous mole-like hobo. This elusive type of hobo rarely emerges and sightings are few and far between but reports indicate the usual muttering, along with much squinting and sniffing. However, when cornered the mole-like hobo becomes deceptively dangerous usually brandishing any one of a formidable array of weapons. These martial skills are honed from years in the brutal tunnel culture not just here but in places like the famous abandoned New York subway tunnels. The city has sent several crews in to try and evict the underground denizens, all unsuccessfull. This has granted the community a measure of independence, a major appeal to disaffected hobo types.

N.A.H.:

  • Beef Grease Porter Dripchin
  • Harry Coughblood
  • Smokehouse Frankie the Jowl-poker

6) Ballard: Here we see a neighborhood in headlong transition from sleepy Scandinavian area with maritime backbone to high density gentrifying urban village. Area hobos have struggled to cope and Ballard has seen their numbers dwindle in the past ten years. Currently the city is experimenting with a designated hobo zone at the site of the former Red Apple Market on 15th Avenue. Ballard is also the site of one of Seattle’s car-based hobo communities though persecution by law enforcement has decimated these agglomerations. It remains to be seen wether hobos can survive here or go the way of the dodo.

N.A.H.:

  • Foreign Thomas the Strange Talker
  • Lil Johnny Songbird
  • The Fishin Physician

5) The Viaduct: hobos seem to be inextricably drawn to this concrete monolith.. From the Battery Street Tunnel to it’s terminus near the stadiums the Viaduct has sheltered many a hobo since it’s construction in 1962. The area is steeped in hobo history as it was just south of here that Seattle saw it’s biggest hobo encampent ever. It was called Hooverville after the Depression era president and the shantytown encompassed over 20 square acres. This was the hobo heyday when conditions granted hobos a degree of social acceptability., when the romantic notion of riding the rails was entirely feasible. With the Viaduct’s imminent demise comes yet another hobo displacement. The downtown core will be hard pressed to absorb the diaspora though for the hobo it is part of their peripatetic nature.

N.A.H.: (contemporary)

  • Stun Gun Jones
  • Name Withheld
  • Rex Spangler the Bedazzler

4) Sidewalk under Seneca Street offramp (just off Viaduct): A nighttime visitor to this neighborhood might be surprised to see a long row of hobos bedding down for the evening. The image is made stranger by the fact that this hobo camp is directly outside the high end furniture store Roche-Bobois. Bathing in the glow of $5,000 couches area hobos seem to have reached an uneasy agreement with authorities which allows this highly visible gathering. Despite the lack of privacy witnesses have reported several sightings of hobo on hobo sex, a truly pathetic spectacle from which we can only divert our eyes.

N.A.H.:

  • Decappo the Hound
  • Fonzi
  • The Unanswered Question of Timothy

3) The Jungle (and surrounding environs): Just south of downtown next to I-5 lies a green belt home to many a hobo. The “Jungle” as it is called offers an alternative to the concrete variety.. At it’s peak home to approximately 150 hobos who live in tents and crudely constructed shelters, the Jungle even had a loose hierarchy and system of government. This verdant refuge was rocked by tragedy however on the night of July 17, 2015  when two residents, Pierre Tin Hat and Thoughtless Harry Shoe were brutally murdered. It was widely reported that the cause was a drug deal gone wrong but inside sources say the argument started over fried chicken, a highly sought after commodity in hobo communities. In the wake of the killings came the media spotlight and increased police regulation. Area hobos speak of a tearing of the Jungle’s social fabric and increasing squalor led by what they call “the spoilers of the forest”.

N.A.H.:

  • Dr. Bill Stengen, the Boxcar Surgeon
  • Peter Oxhands
  • X  the Anonymous Man or Woman

2) Union Gospel Mission / Pioneer Square: Seattle’s venerable Union Gospel Mission has been a hobo institution since it’s inception in 1937. Offering spiritual guidance, shelter, and an all-you-can-eat Tostada bar, the Mission continues to provide safe harbor in 2016. Space is limited however and the overflowing hobo tide spills on to the streets of surrounding Pioneer Square. This is where it gets interesting. The neighborhood is home to many bars and nightclubs and the scene on a friday or saturday night brings raucous partiers into prime hobo territory. The interplay is mostly harmless except for the aggressive hobo minority and the amateur drunkard  . Seattle sports fans are also familiar with this hobo gauntlet as they travel through on the way to the stadiums.

N.A.H.:

  • Drinky Drunky Tom the Drunk
  • Jethro the Pagan
  • Meat Meat the Italian Tailor

1) Nickelsville: A city sanctioned hobo settlement, Nickelsville has been “NIMBYed” around the city since Mayor Nickels proposed it in 2008. Currently located just south of the International District next to I-5 the hobo village houses between 100-180 residents.. Some have said you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy but aside from the scuffling and smell of urine the various Nickelsvilles have proven to be more peaceful than community activists had feared. Again, there is a semblance of organization in place. Currently The Hollering Jew and Teary Eyed Fingle represent the community on the council entrusted with administering encampment affairs. There is considerable debate within hobo circles as to whether residents of such places as Nickelsville are true hobos or whether they violate the nomadic “Code of the Hobo”.

N.A.H.:

  • BLAMMO the Drunk and Surly Clown
  • Robert Fits in a Case
  • Skywise the Sexual Elf

* thanks to Jeff Pedersen, Bill Ibsen, and John Hodgman


Leave a Comment & Email Directly with Jeremy!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s