Skip to main content

Pioneer Square, Seattle

Pioneer Square is triangular shaped park bounded by 1st Avenue and Yesler Way in downtown Seattle.  The Pioneer Square neighborhood is the traditional center for the City of Seattle.






Seattle was originally settled as New York Alki in the winter of 1851 at Alki Point.  By Spring of the following year the settlement was moved east over Elliott Bay to a naturally flat track of land which became Pioneer Square.  Pioneer Square was originally 20-30 lower than it today and was prone to flooding from the unguarded shoreline of Elliott Bay.  Pioneer Square is roughly bounded by; Alaskan Bay to the west, King Street to the south, 5th Avenue to the east and generally a block or two north of Yesler Way.


Downtown Seattle and Pioneer Square originally mostly consisted of wooden buildings.  In 1889 the great Seattle Fire was started accidentally in Pioneer Square when a cabinet maker accidentally overturned and ignited a glue bucket.  The grease based fire caused by the burning glue quickly overwhelmed the poorly maintained water system of the city and burned 31 blocks.  Pioneer Square was quickly rebuilt but the City of Seattle took the opportunity to regrade the streets 20-30 higher to mitigate flooding and install a better plumbing system.  Buildings were largely masonry in design and built with an entrance on the first floor at the original street grade in addition to entrances at the second level at the anticipated grade.  The increased street grades in Pioneer Square buried the original entrances to the rebuilt buildings which led to what is known as the Seattle Underground.

Pioneer Square has a large number of the historic downtown buildings in Seattle.  The Pioneer Building was the largest in Washington State from 1892 to 1904 is located in Pioneer Square Park.  The structure is 6 stories high and consists of various types of masonry stones.






There is evidence of Pioneer Square's past due to the hugely subsiding bricks on Yesler Way.


The Iron Pergola ahead in the photo was a street car waiting area installed in 1909.  The totem pole is a 1938 replacement for a structure that was given to the city of Seattle in 1899.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Donner Pass; hunting for the Dutch Flat & Donner Lake Road and abandoned Central Pacific Railroad Tunnels

This past weekend while returning from Lake Tahoe I crossed over the crest of the Sierras at Donner Pass.  My goal was to seek out the old Dutch Flat & Donner Lake Road and the abandoned Central Pacific Railroad tunnels.


I've written about Donner Pass several times before; the history of crossing dating back to 1844 up to the construction of Interstate 80 can be found here:

Old US Route 40 on Donner Pass Road

As stated in the Donner Pass Road article above the original purpose built road over Donner Pass was the Dutch Flat & Donner Lake Road (DF&DLR).  The DF&DLR was a wagon route over Donner Pass which was constructed by the Central Pacific Railroad to assist in construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad.  In 1861 the State of California granted the Central Pacific a 10 year franchise on toll rights to the DF&DLR which completed by 1864.  The DF&DLR was used to finance the Central Pacific's construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad fr…

History of the Big Oak Flat Road (Yosemite National Park)

This week I hiked much of what was the original alignment of the Big Oak Flat Road which is located to the north of the modern roadway.  Unlike the original alignment of the Wawona Road the Old Big Oak Flat Road is surprisingly intact.


The complete history of the Big Oak Flat Road including the original alignment can be found on a 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Interior on the Old Big Oak Flat Road.

U.S. Department of the Interior on the Old Big Oak Flat Road

The Big Oak Flat Road began construction east from the mining community of Big Oak Flat in towards Yosemite Valley in 1869.  The Big Oak Flat Road was constructed by the Chinese Camp and Yosemite Turnpike Company which had secured the franchise rights for a toll road to the Yosemite Grant (the designation prior to Yosemite National Park).  By the summer of 1871 the Big Oak Flat Road reached the northern cliffs above Yosemite Valley which is when the Chinese Camp and Yosemite Turnpike Company ran out of funding.  After the…

Old US Route 40 on Donner Pass Road

While completing California State Route 89 between Lassen Volcanic National Park and US Route I took a detour in Truckee up the infamous Donner Pass Road.


Generally I don't dispense with the history of a roadway before the route photos but the history of Donner Pass is steeped within California lore and western migration.  The first recorded Wagon Crossing of Donner Pass was back in 1844.  The infamous Donner Party saga occurred in the winter of 1846-47 in which only 48 of the 87 party members survived.  Although the Donner Party incident is largely attributed to poor planning and ill conceived Hastings Cutoff it largely led to the infamous reputation of Donner Pass.

The first true road over the Sierra Nevada Range via the Donner Pass was known as the Dutch Flat & Donner Lake Road.  The Dutch Flat & Donner Lake Wagon Road was completed by 1864 to assist with construction of the Central Pacific build the First Trans-Continental Railroad over Donner Pass.  The website belo…