The heart of the city, where it all began. Thriving in history and many tales of times passed. This historic section of Seattle will enrich your spirit just from strolling past the historically preserved architecture that looms above you. There is over 20 blocks of Victorian Romanesque architecture, over 30 fine art galleries, and over 200 unique shoppes. In addition to coffee houses and restaurants, its also a section of Seattle's thriving nightclubs - bringing entertainment to the city from the city's birth. Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
One of Seattle's oldest neighborhoods, Pioneer Square has an interesting history. In the late 1880's the area was totally destroyed by fire. When the Alaskan gold rush began a few years later the square was rebuilt to accommodate the needs of the miners passing through the city. Today the area still has most of its beautiful Victorian architecture.
First Avenue, the square's main street, was also much lower when the area was first rebuilt. When the street was raised to accommodate the area's large hills, many of the businesses at street level went, literally, underground. Today some of the First Street's best spots are below street level.
Pioneer Square is a hip neighborhood full of cool shops and boutiques, bars and coffee houses, cafés and jazz clubs. The focal point of the area is a small grassy area with a large totem pole. This is a great neighborhood to just walk around in and see what you can find. When the Mariners or the Seahawks have home games Pioneer Square is also a great place to go for dinner or drinks before or after the game, as it is within walking distance from both of the teams' stadiums.
At the corner of 2nd Avenue and Yesler Way, stands the ornate white terra cotta and granite building called Smith Tower. It has an observation floor open to the public. This grand old building was Seattle's first 'skyscraper' and for a while after it was finished in 1914, was the tallest office building outside New York City and anywhere else in the world for that matter. The building is 174m high and, thankfully, it hasn't been surrounded by more modern and taller buildings. This means that the view from the observation deck on the 35th floor is virtually unobstructed. The 35th floor is the location of the fancy Chinese Room, with spectacular carved wooden ceilings. You can get a faint nostaligc feeling for what it might have been like in this room during the hedonistic 1920s! To get to the observation level you take a lift. The elevators are beautiful old things that have been preserved in their original states. Smartlly uniformed elevator operators add to the historic quality of the whole experience here by guiding you into the lifts and pushing all the buttons for you! I think entry to the Smith Tower was US$6 in July 2006.
One of Seattle's most hyped tourist attractions is the "Bill Speidel's Underground Tour" which is located in the heart of Pioneer Square, the place where Seattle began. The tour cost US$11 in July 2006. The experience begins with a talk given by historians with great senses of humour in a restored 19th century saloon. It was a great way to start the tour and people were literally in tears with laughter! The crowd is then divided into groups and guided through the underground and overground parts of the tour.
The Seattle "underground" is nothing to do with subways! The very existence of the underground passageways is an intriguing story of mismanaged urban planning and plumbing problems on a particularly disgusting level; but I won't give away the whole story here! You'll have to go on the tour to find out more. Suffice to say, you will learn an incredible lot about the early development of this now modern and seemingly model city.
Pioneer Square isn't really a square but a ninety acre historical district between the current downtown to the north and the sport stadiums and International District to the south. It is the site of the original town site (if you don't count the original failed site out at Alki) and chocker block full of great art galleries, antique stores, book stores, coffee shops, restaurants, and night clubs.
It is fun to walk around during the day and poke into all the shops and check out all the red brick Victorian architecture. There's a Park Service Museum, an observation tower and an historic street car. But it is at night that the area really comes alive. Most of the bars and clubs have live music and one cover charge gets you in to most of them each night. There is a lively crowd every night and the places get packed Friday and Saturday nights.
The first Thursday of each month has Art in the Park at noon and The Gallery Walk starting at 6PM. And every Tuesday during the summer is a great concert at lunch time in Occidental Park.
A big issue in the area is the number of homeless and mentally challenged folks that live here. It is near the county jail and several courthouses. The folks are mainly harmless and not too militant in the panhandling department, but I wouldn't do the bar crawl on your own and I would stay in the 1st Avenue corridor. I've had some scarey encounters walking back to my hotel alone late at night and usually grab a cab these days.
There is an underground tour of historic Seattle that is supposed to be very interesting but I've never taken it so I can't comment on it except to say I've heard good things from those that have.
I have never seen a park like this. You barely see it from the street because it is fenced and gated. But seek it out if you are nearby - it is a lovely spot to bring a lunch or to read. There are many tables and benches (many sheltered), a waterfall and fountain, much green and a very pleasant atmosphere. It is a lovely sheltered tranquil spot.
When people told me that the Underground Tour of Seattle was worth going on, I never imagined that it'd be as good as it is! The guide was fantastic, very funny, and clearly knew his stuff. The tour itself was very informative, detailing the history of Seattle since it was originally founded, with lots of interesting little anecdotes about people and places, and explaining how a whole new city came to be built one story above the original one, creating the Seattle underground. I quickly decided that this was one of the best things I'd done in a long time, and was well worth the $11 for the ticket! If you only do one thing in Seattle, then this should be it.
This historic district of Seattle houses some of the oldest buildings in the city and is home to the Seattle Underground tour, Pergola, Occidental Park, Grand Central Arcade, Waterfall Garden, Smith Tower, and many great cafes and restaurants.
Seattle is built on landfill and also is currently built one level higher than it's original construction. This means that the underground holds old musty 'first floors' of restaurants, saloons, shops, etc. that are now underground. The tour is great and informative, but watch out if you're allergic to mold, mildew, and dust.
Pioneer Square is Seattle's birthplace. It is where Seattle got it's start. It is home to many of the local arts and crafts, sightseeing, entertainment for both day and night , as well as a museum.
Pioneer Square is very eclectic, with The Underground Tour, Smith Tower, a memorial, as well as a novelity area.
There is also a statue of Chief Seattle, as well as the famous Pergola.
"Where Seattle Begins!" This is the catchy slogan some marketing firm decided to put on Pioneer Square. Technically that is not true today it might be better put "Where Seattle Began!"
When you read a bit of Seattle history you will discover this area is where many of the original Seattleites started to settle in the beginning.
Through good advocacy the district has been preserved in a lot of ways. You will notice the architecture is much older than the modern sky scrapers with historic murals still in tact.
In the buildings you will find a very vibrant downtown area filled with art galleries, nightclubs and a variety of restaurants. It's a great downtown area.
A couple of unique monuments in the area include the Klondike Museum, Fireman's Monument and Waterfalls Park. It's the type of area if I get to return I would like to eat, hang out, explore around some more and just enjoy the beat of the city.
Go to Pioneer Square, Seattle's oldest neighborhood, aptly called the "City's Birthplace". Make your way over to Doc Maynard's for Bill Speidel's Underground Tour. It's a walking tour that guides you through 'old' Seattle, but it's all undeground, beneath modern Seattle's sidewalks and streets.
On this tour, guides will explain the whys and hows of Seattle's construction and it's a great way to see the evolution of a struggling western frontier town to the world class city that is Seattle today.
Remember, it is all underground with very little lighthing, but the guides know their way around and they provide humorous commentary on the accomplishments and foibles of Seattle's early settlers.
I won't go into the specific content of the tour since it's better hearing it from the experts themselves, so go. I highly recommend this tour.
Wear comfortable shoes. $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (60+ yrs) and students (13-17 yrs or college ID), and $5 for children. CASH ONLY.
It's also first come first served, but look into booking private tours for big groups.
Right at the heart of downtown Seattle, it can be considered the historic district of the city .
Its a lovely walk amongst galleries and coffee shops, and can be combined with the nearby elegant Occidental Square.
The Smith Tower, which overlooks the Pioneer Square district, is Seattle's oldest skyscraper. It was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River when it was completed in 1914. You can climb up to the observation deck at the 35th floor for a great view of Seattle and even the mountains in the area. The building stands 467 ft (or 142 m).
Seattle's Pioneer Square district should not be missed because it's the oldest neighborhood in the city. Here you will find lots of old brick buildings and structures. You will also find several nice art galleries and excellent restaurants. The Underground Tour in Pioneer Square is great for learning the history here. Finally, also find the Smith Tower here, which is the oldest skyscraper in Seattle.