Ye Old Curiosity Shop is one attraction in Seattle that lives up to its name. Part souvenir shop and part repository for rarities, it is located at 1001 Alaska Way near Pier 54 on the waterfront and has predated many of the city's tourist attractions. Its selection of souvenirs and museum-quality oddities has appealed to visitors for more than a century. The shop is also remarkable for being designated in its own right as one of Seattle's seven wonders of the city.
Founder Joseph Edward Standley had always been fascinated by peculiarities and unusual items ever since he won a book on world wonders in the third grade. This interest spawned his passion for collecting rarities. That was in the nineteenth century. In 1899, just ten years after the Great Fire that destroyed much of the city, he opened the doors of his curio shop to the public for all to share in his fascination with novelties from around the globe.
Ye Old Curiosity Shop's permanent exhibit includes Medical Ed, a cadaver head that was used to instruct medical students at the turn of the century, Sylvester and Sylvia, the shop's residing mummies, a variety of shrunken heads, a walrus skull with three tusks, antique mechanical toys, the Fiji Mermaid, the Artizan Military Band Organ and sundry trinkets, many of which go back to the early days of the emporium.