For the past 100 years pert near every description of Seattle contains the phrase “largest city in the Pacific Northwest.” The original settling party in 1851 seemed to sense this would be the case. They had come overland by wagon train from Illinois and boldly named their encampment “New York.” Similar grandiose thinking saw party leader Arthur A. Denny wrote to his brother that he had found “a valley that will support a thousand families.” But alas the settlers were on the west side of Puget Sound on Alki Point with sandy beaches that did not allow for easy loading and unloading of ships. Denny staked claims across the water along Elliott Bay and named the new settlement after the chief of the friendly Duwamish Indians. In short order the original cabins on Alki Point were abandoned and all the pioneers gathered at the site of current Seattle.

Seattle’s growth was never steady but came in waves of prosperity sandwiched around troughs of hard times. In the early days Seattle got the Territorial University while rivals Tacoma and Olympia got the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway and the capital, respectively. After thirty years Seattle’s population still numbered around 3,000 and the streets were unpaved when the first boom - in timber - caused the population to jump to over 40,000.  

In the middle of the afternoon on June 6, 1889 fire broke out in a cabinet shop at First Avenue and Madison Street and before the day was over 50 downtown blocks and $15 million of property were consumed. The City wasted no time in reinventing itself. Eight-foot retaining walls were built around the remains of charred buildings, filled in to raise the grade over muddy tidal flats and paved for the first time. Plans were launched to level the hills near the shoreline. There would be no more wooden buildings downtown. Then the financial Panic of 1893 ground progress to a halt.

The dark days did not last long. In 1897 the transport Portland steamed into port with “a ton of gold” from the Yukon River district in Alaska. In the years to come it was estimated that Seattle controlled 95 percent of the the total amount of Alaskan shipping. When many of the prospectors returned they didn’t travel much past Seattle. By 1910 the population was pushing 250,000 and Seattle was one of the 25 largest cities in America. 

During this time the Pike Place Market organized to enable small truck farmers, many Japanese, to sell goods directly to the public. Stalls were assigned by drawing lots daily to prevent any one vendor from monopolizing the trade as the market expanded over several buildings. This is where our walking tour will begin and from here we will move up into the retail district where we will encounter such familiar names as Starbucks and Nordstrom and Eddie Bauer but we will start with a pig named Rachel...

Rachel The Pig
Pike Place and Pike Street

This 550-pound bronze piggy bank has been on display at the Market since 1986, sculpted by local artist Georgia Gerber and modeled by a real life pig on Whidbey Island of the same name. Rachel collects several thousand dollars in coin and currency from visitors from around the world that help fund the Market’s social services. Rachel’s stay here was rudely interrupted by a yellow Toyota Prius taxi but she was refurbished and returned to her position as Pike Place Market’s unofficial mascot. 

Pike Place Market
Pike Place and Pike Street

Opened on August 17, 1907, Pike Place Market is one of America’s oldest farmers’ markets. The first stalls operated on a boardwalk adjacent to the three-story Leland Hotel (the building with the “Meet the Producer” sign. The La Salle Hotel on the other side of the iconic neon sign and clock opened just after the Market in 1908; it was a workingman’s inn serving the needs of seamen and dock workers who toiled on the Elliott Bay waterfront. 


Sanitary Public Market
Pike Place

When this market banned horses from inside the premises it was such a novelty in selling produce in the early 1900s that it became the “Sanitary Public Market.” The original building was designed by Daniel Huntington, an architect known as much for his landscape paintings as his buildings. After a fire on December 15, 1941 that was linked to the attack on Pearl Harbor eight days earlier but whose origins were never discovered, the market was reconfigured as a two-story building with rooftop parking. The car stalls have been replaced with residences.

Silver Okum Building
southeast corner of Pike Place and Pine Street

This 1910 brick building was where Ben Silver manufactured and supplied oakum. a fiber used in shipbuilding, for caulking or packing the joints of timbers in wooden vessels and the deck planking of iron and steel ships, as well as cast iron pipe plumbing applications. Oakum was at one time recycled from old tarry ropes and cordage. The upper stories served as apartments and hotels.

Post Alley
behind Silver Okum Building on Pine Street

Post Alley contains some original cobblestones and the Seattle Gum Wall, a local landmark that began in the early 1990s when patrons of the Market Theater adhered coins to the wall with blobs of gum. After scraping the wall a couple of times the Market abandoned the tedious and futile pursuit and declared the wall a tourist attraction in 1999. Now the wall is coated with several inches of used chicle that give off a fruity aroma. In a 2010 poll by TripAdvisor the Seattle Gum Wall received the second most votes as “The Germiest Tourist Attraction in the World,” trailing only Ireland’s much-mouthed Blarney Stone. 

1912 Pike Place

Two teachers and a writer founded Starbucks, named after the chief mate to the tyrannical Captain Ahab on the Pequod that was chasing Moby Dick, in 1971 at 2000 Western Avenue. In 1977 the coffee came one block to this location where the sign outside retains the original logo - unlike the other 19,763 or so stores.


Victor Steinbrueck Park
Pike Place at Virginia Street

This was the location of a city armory beginning in 1909 but after it was heavily damaged by fire in 1962 there were calls to not only raze it but to take aging Pike Place Market down as well at the same time. Architect Victor Steinbrueck helped lead the preservationist rally that led to the creation of a historic preservation zone for Pike Place Market. The armory was demolished but it was replaced with the small grassy Market Park of about an acre. Steinbrueck designed two cedar totem poles in 1984 and after he died the following year the park was named for him.    


Alaska Trade Building
1919 1st Avenue at northwest corner of Stewart Street 

This reinforced concrete-and-brick building designed by Seattle architect J.C. Taft was supposed to be eight stories and trimmed in granite and terra-cotta when it got underway in 1909 but never made it. Its most interesting occupant was the Central Labor Council who purchased the property in 1915. The Council had started a small weekly organization organ distributed to a couple thousand members in 1910 but after hiring experienced editor Harry E.B. Ault the Union Record grew into the first labor-owned daily newspaper in the United States with a circulation of over 100,000. Inside its pages Seattle working men found a voice for aspiration and communication of purpose. Despite harassment by the government and a constant lack of dollars the Union Record moved into this space in 1921 and chugged on until 1928, leaving its footprint on the chronicles of labor’s struggles in America.

Butterworh Building
1921 1st Avenue

This was Seattle’s first one-stop death shop which offered everything from pick-up of the corpse to a selection of coffins. In fact, Edgar Ray Butterworth is credited with coining the professional tags “mortuary” and “mortician.” The grandson of an American Revolution veteran, Butterworth was born in a Massachusetts mill town where he apprenticed as a hatter. Despite practically no formal education he was admitted to the Massachusetts bar when he was 21 but migrated West to Kansas and Missouri where he resumed his work as a hatter and became a cattleman. For extra money he hauled the bones of dead bison distances of over 100 miles to the nearest railroad for $10 per ton. In the 1880s he moved again to Washington, planning to run cattle but quickly found no cattle country yet formed so he built the first steam-powered flour mill west of the Cascade Range while serving in politics in Centralia. When the town was crippled by an outbreak of deadly diphtheria Butterworth was recruited to make coffins and he was in the undertaking business. At the age of 45 he brought his business to Seattle in 1892. In 1903, with his five sons working the business, E. R. Butterworth & Sons moved into the city’s first custom-built mortuary here, featuring a contraption never before seen on the West Coast - an elevator. Edgar Butterworth also owned the first hearse in Washington. Cut into the slope of the hill, the mortuary consisted of five stories despite its’ three-story street facade. Butterworth’s moved in 1923 shortly after the founder died but it remained in the family until 1998 - Seattle’s longest family-run business.    

Terminal Sales Building
1932 1st Avenue at southeast corner of Virginia Street

Brooklyn-born Henry W. Bittman began his working career in Seattle as a bridge engineer at the age of 24 in 1906. By his forties Bittman had shifted to architecture and he won many commissions for downtown commercial buildings, including this 11-story, 132-foot reinforced concrete structure that was completed in 1925. Dressed in Jacobethan Revival ornamentation, the building featured shops on the ground floor and office space above, plus, relatively rare for Seattle, a basement grade.


Terminal Sales Annex Building
1931 2nd Avenue at southwest corner of Virginia Street

This commercial building was constructed in 1915 for the Puget Sound News Company, “Wholesale Booksellers, Newsdealers, Stationers, School Supplies, and Holiday Goods.” Perhaps the firm is best known for their many colorful postcards it manufactured of scenes around Puget Sound. Prolific architects Charles Herbert Bebb and Carl Freylinghausen Gould, designers of some 200 buildings in Seattle, here attempted to emulate the Collegiate Gothic style that had originated at Yale University and was recently adopted by the University of Washington. For many years in niches between the first and second floor were model paperboys from the days of Puget Sound News Company’s occupancy, which ended in 1948.

Hotel Calhoun/The Palladian
2000 2nd Avenue at northeast corner of Virginia Street

This nine-story brick edifice was one of scores of hotels raised in Seattle in preparation for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909, using $175,000 of Scott Calhoun’s money. Calhoun was a lawyer and business investor who as a member of Stanford University’s first graduating class proposed the school colors of cardinal and white. He championed the Port of Seattle and authored the creation of port districts in the state legislature. Calhoun is thought to have come by this property by swapping some vacation land on Mercer Island. Architect William P. White was a specialist in multi-unit structures and here he provided a Beaux Arts design with terra-cotta trim. The Calhoun advertised “every room an outside one - many with grand marine view.” You could get one of the 152 rooms for $1.50 and another dollar would buy breakfast and dinner. Calhoun moved from Seattle to New York City in 1923 and his hotel wound up being converted into apartments called The Palladian, taking their cue from White’s designs of the window surrounds.

Moore Theatre
1932 2nd Avenue at southeast corner of Virginia Street

Real estate developer J.A. Moore hurriedly raised a theater and hotel in 1907, mostly to pick up tourist dollars from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition planned for that year. The Exposition didn’t get under way until 1909 and over 100 years later the Moore is the oldest theater still active in Seattle. Architect E.W. Houghton blended elements of the Byzantine and Italianate styles with a facade of white tile and terra-cotta although most of the decorative effort was saved for the interior.

New Washington Hotel
1902 2nd Avenue at northeast corner of Stewart Street

The regrade of the city’s streets that flattened Denny Hill north of the central business district in the first years of the 20th century claimed the town’s grandest hotel - the Denny/Washington at Third and Virginia streets. The ambitious Arthur Denny reigned over the area, attempting to lure the territorial legislature to his hilltop but, failing that, started a hotel that that financial Panic of 1893 left as an unfinished shell. James Moore swooped in, finished the hotel and built a tram to bring guests up to his front door. He personally greeted the first arrivals - President Theodore Roosevelt and his traveling party - on May 23, 1903. All the while city engineer Reginald Heber Thomson was campaigning to level the ground of the city’s northern flank. When profits at his hotel did not match expectations Moore abandoned the hill to the hungry steam shovels and erected the even larger New Washington Hotel in 1908. Celebrated St. Louis architects Thomas Crane Young and William Sylvester Eames designed the 250-room, classically-flavored hotel that trumpeted itself as the “Finest in the Northwest.” Great expanses of terra-cotta covered the outside and marble decorated the inside. Seattle’s premier hotel was converted into low-income housing in 1963.      

Doyle Bullding/J.S. Graham Store
119 Pine Street at southwest corner of 2nd Avenue 

Although Albert Ernest Doyle lived only 51 years he left his mark in the Northwest with Italian Renaissance buildings designed from his base in Portland. This one was constructed in 1919 for J.S. Graham, Incorporated, one of the town’s leading women’s stores. Graham showed up in Seattle from Sacramento in 1889 and began peddling his wares from a tent amidst the ruins in Pioneer Square from the Great Fire. The Graham Store went out of business during the Great Depression and the building’s interior has been completely renovated to serve other masters but Seattle’s finest expression of Italian Renaissance architecture on the exterior remains.


United Shopping Tower/Olympic Tower
217 Pine Street at southwest corner of 3rd Avenue

This was a concept tower when it was raised in 1929 to shelter one retailer on each of its ten floors with a tea room at the top. On the roof of the three-story front shelf grass was hoped to grow into a putting green for a sporting goods store. It was the only indoor shopping experience of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. The Shopping Tower unofficially opened on Saturday October 26, 1929 - three days before the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday. After battling the dark economic days of the Great Depression for three years the retail experiment was declared a failure at the end of 1932 and the building was converted into offices for the Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company. Architect Henry Bittman was called back in 1939 to make additions to his Gothic-influenced Art Deco building which became headquarters for Olympic Savings Bank from 1980 until 1994. 

Bon Marche/Macy’s Department Store
3rd to 4th avenues, Olive to Pine streets

Edward Nordhoff was born in Germany but learned his selling in the Louvre Department Store in Paris, France. In his early twenties he sailed to America and went into retailing in Chicago. He married a shop girl and brought his family to Seattle in 1890 to open a retail shop with their life savings of $1,200. Drawing on his admiration for the Paris stores of his youth, Nordhoff christened the shop Bon Marche, meaning “good deal,” after the pioneering French department store. Nordhoff died of respiratory disease and never saw Bon March expand beyond a one-story, L-shaped building. His wife Josephine carried on with her brother-in-law Rudolf Nordhoff and new husband Frank McDermott until she died of cancer in 1920. John Graham designedmulti-million dollar Bon Marche Department Store #3 in 1929, giving the original three-story building splashes of Art Deco ornamentation. Expansions and remodelings arrived at a regular clip for the flagship as Bon Marche grew to a chain of 50 stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming before being acquired by Federated Department Stores and rebranded as Macy’s. 

Securities Building
1904 3rd Avenue at northeast corner at Stewart Street

John Graham was an English architect and engineer who showed up in Seattle in 1901. Followed by his son, there would be a Graham designing buildings in Seattle for more than 80 years, including the Space Needle. The core of this elegant office tower came from Graham in 1913 and has picked up expansions in 1925 and 1947. C.J. Smith led the Washington Securities Company investment group that picked up the $500,000 price tag for the only substantial commercial office constructed north of Pine Street in this period. A good chunk of the money went into the lobby that featured cream-colored Mexican onyx with red and yellow veins above a base of green Vermont marble. The building began expanding after retailer Frederick and Nelson moved in during the 1920s and provided a secure flow of income. Look up at the Stewart and 3rd corner to see the badges of the Washington Securities Company.


Bergonian/Mayflower Park Hotel
405 Olive Way at northeast corner of 4th Avenue 

This hotel has been in operation since 1927 when hotelier Stephen Berg spent $750,000 to build what he called the Bergonian. Each of the 240 rooms came with its own bath, a mark of luxury at the time. English architect Bertram Dudley Stuart who spent the last 61 of his 92 years in Seattle, drew up the plans for the Renaissance Revival tower. The hotel struggled through its middle years under various owners until tax attorney Birney Dempey purchased the distressed property for $1.1 million in 1974 as a tax shelter. Instead, the Dempey family has poured over five million dollars into its rebirth as the upscale Mayflower Park Hotel.

Times Building
414 Olive Way at Stewart Street and 4th Avenue

This little Beaux Arts gem displayed to great effect by its unusual position in the Seattle street grid is another creation from Charles Herbert Bebb and Carl Freylinghausen Gould. The client was the Seattle Daily Times, a four-page rag of minor consequence when Alan J. Blethen bought it in 1896 and assumed editorial responsibilities. Blethen spiced up the content with society and theater pages and tighter news reporting and circulation was up to 70,000 papers a day when the Times settled into this five-story, flatiron building in 1915, also the year Blethen died at the age of 70. The Times continued to grow with such innovations as telephone information lines and an illuminated baseball diamond that relayed pitch-by-pitch game action from results received over Teletype. By 1931 the Times had outgrown this home and moved on; still controlled by the Blethen family it is today the largest daily newspaper in the state of Washington. 

Medical-Dental Building
509 Olive Way at southeast corner of 5th Avenue

Swedish-born architect John Alfred Creutzer added this brawny office building for doctors and dentists to the streetscape in 1925, dwarfing the others structures on nearby blocks at the time. Creutzer dressed his Neoclassical structure in terra-cotta tiles; it picked up an east wing addition along Olive Street in 1951. The building is still serving its original purpose and appropriately a ground floor retail space is taken by a Bartell Drug Store. George H. Bartell was born in Kansas in 1869 and was a pharmacist at the age of 18 when he set out for the frontier in Washington Territory. He showed up in Seattle with $15 in his pocket. It took a few years of working odd jobs before he could buy his first apothecary in 1890. He would work the next 66 years in the business, save for a year out in 1897 chasing gold in the Yukon. Bartell would be one of the first drug stores in the West to offer a soda fountain, develop film and make its own candy as he opened locations throughout Seattle. 


Frederick & Nelson/Nordstrom
500 Pine Street at northeast corner of 5th Avenue

After serving as the flagship store for Frederick & Nelson for some 75 years this became the flagship for Nordstrom in 1998, the chain’s largest store at 383,000 square feet. Donald E. Frederick and Nels B. Nelson acquired the Queen City Furniture Company in 1891. Nelson fell ill while returning from a medical spa in Bohemia and died at sea in 1907, leaving Frederick to aggressively expand the business into a department store and into this John Graham-designed home in 1918. Frederick would sell the business to the Marshall Field Company in 1929 which operated the Frederick & Nelson nameplate until the 1980s and expanded into 15 markets. By 1992 the chain was bankrupt. Swedish immigrant John W. Nordstrom started a shoe store at the age of 30 in 1901 after striking gold in the Klondike Gold Rush. The company would not sell anything but shoes until the 1960s; today it has over 100 full-service department stores in 31 states. 

Coliseum Theater
northeast corner of 5th Avenue and Pike Street

At a time when theaters when constructed to handle live performances and, secondarily, the emerging entertainment of motion pictures, the Coliseum was one of the first venues built specifically for movies. It was designed by B. Marcus Priteca to be a true movie palace, exuberantly decorated in terra-cotta and boasting a seven-piece orchestra accompanying a massive Moller Pipe Organ from Hagerstown, Maryland. When the Coliseum Theater opened in 1915 it was promoted as “the world’s largest and finest photoplay palace.” The Coliseum fought the losing battle of all downtown American movie palaces into the 1990s when the space was reconfigured into a Banana Republic store.


Washington Athletic Club
1325 6th Avenue at southwest corner of Union Street

Athletic clubs were a staple of major downtown American cities beginning in the last years of the 19th century but by the 1920s the trend was to build ever-bigger, manifested here in Seattle. What began as plans for a million-dollar building with 2,000 members in 1928 wound up as a 21-story behemoth with a $2.5 million price tag in 1930. Sherwood Ford provided the final Art Deco design for the reinforced concrete and steel structure that is wrapped in brick and decorative terra-cotta. Athletic facilities were on the lower floors (the swimming pool occupied the entirety of the seventh and eight floors) above retail space and rooms for members and guests filled the upper stories. During the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, the Washington Athletic Club and University of Washington were represented by 23 athletes. Eddie Bauer rented shop space here in 1940, the same year he patented the first quilted down jacket. By the 1950s membership was over 5,000 and a three-story annex added which became eight more stories as the club continued to grow. By the year 2000 the Washington Athletic Club boasted over 21,000 members and proclaimed itself the largest health club in America.  


Skinner Building
1308 5th Avenue at southeast corner of Union Street

This building carries the name of David E. “Ned” Skinner, a director of the Metropolitan Building Company that developed this property in 1926. Skinner was a mill owner who founded the Skinner & Eddy shipbuilding corporation with John W. Eddy in 1916. The Skinner & Eddy shipyard built more ships for World War I than any American yard, breaking world production speed records for individual ship construction. After launching 72 cargo ships and three oil tankers the yard was closed in 1921 when the need for ocean-going ships crashed after the war. Architect Robert Reamer guided the $1.5 million, eight-story building with a Spanish Renaissance styling to completion, earning a Seattle Highest Honor Award, Washington State Chapter, American Institute of Architects, for “Mercantile Buildings” in 1928. The Skinner Building has been home to the Fifth Avenue Theater since the beginning. Designer Gustav F. Liljestrom gave the stage an eye-catching interior modeled after Imperial China landmarks: the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heavenly Peace, and the Summer Palace. 

Rainier Tower
1301 5th Avenue at northwest corner of University Avenue

This 31-story inverted pyramid was designed by Minoru Yamasaki of World Trade Center fame in 1977. The concrete pedestal rises eleven stories and beneath “the wine glass” is an underground shopping mall.


Olympic Hotel
411 University Street between 4th and 5th avenues

On November 4, 1861 the Territorial University opened its doors here with 30 students and one teacher. By the time the school left for the outskirts of Portage Bay in 1895 it was the University of Washington. The University retained its original land, however, and in 1904 leased it to the Metropolitan Building Company to subdivide and develop its parcel for the next 50 years. By the 1920s business leaders in a bustling Seattle were clamoring for a first-rank hotel and this is the spot they wanted. It would take $5.5 million to reach opening night on December 6, 1924 when over 2,000 people showed up to gawk. Every room of the Charles Herbert Bebb and Carl Freylinghausen Gould-designed hotel featured walnut furniture and of course every room sported a bath, the mark of quality. The following day the Seattle Times gushed, “With the formal opening of the Olympic, Page One in a new social era was turned.” The Olympic, crafted of buff-colored brick above a base of granite and Belgian marble, became the place in Seattle where Presidents, heads of state, and captains of industry would sign the guest register. In the 1950s it became one of the original Western Hotels, later Western International and today Westin. After a complete makeover in the 1980s it was operated by Four Seasons and trundles on today as a Fairmont property.


Northern Life Tower/Seattle Tower
1212 3rd Avenue

David Bruce Morgan and Tasso Mayne Morgan started selling accident and life insurance in Albany, Oregon after moving west from Cincinnati; the brothers founded the Northern Life Insurance Company in Seattle in 1906. From its start in a 12-foot by 12-foot room the company grew steadily, even weathering the passing of Tasso in 1918. In 1927 D.B. Morgan committed $1.5 million to this 27-story tower that he envisioned to be “finer than anything on the Pacific Coast.” Lead architect Abraham Horace Albertson delivered Seattle’s first Art Deco skyscraper, utilizing setbacks pioneered a few years earlier by Eliel Saarinen in a celebrated failed effort to win a design contest for the Chicago Tribune. Here, Albertson used the technique to mimic the snow-capped Cascade peaks. Although a few feet shorter than the Smith Tower, the Northern Life Tower was sited on a hillside and came to dominate the Seattle skyline for decades - to help achieve the effect 33 shades of bricks encase the tower. Northern Life operated into the second generation of Morgans until it was sold in 1977. 

Cobb Building
1301 4th Avenue at northwest corner of University Street

This is the only souvenir from a grand development scheme undertaken by the University of Washington when they departed downtown Seattle for the shores of Lake Washington at the dawn of the 20th century. The school leased the land to the Metropolitan Building Company which hired a group out of New York City in 1907 to cobble together an integrated master development plan. On the drawing board were ten structures, all eleven stories high and fashioned in the tripartite high-rise assembly style then popular - an ornate base wrapped in terra-cotta, plain brick center stories and a decorative cornice, again highlighted with terra-cotta. Five of the structures for “the city within a city” were actually completed but four have since been redeveloped. Only the Cobb Building, designed as office space for doctors and dentists, still stands. 


The 1411 Fourth Avenue Building
1411 4th Avenue at northwest corner of Union Street

This is another creation of Robert Reamer, house architect for the Metropolitan Building Company that developed this land for the University of Washington. Reamer was a versatile designer who made his reputation building shelters, hotels and rustic lodges in Yellowstone National Park. From the start, in 1928, it was decided this building would be named for its address, an East Coast affectation at the time, so Reamer adapted the Art Deco stylings then appearing in New York City. He kept outside ornamentation at a minimum since it was the largest building in Seattle to be fully faced in stone and he needed to bring the 15-story tower in at $1.1 million for Charles Stimson’s real estate company.

Great Northern Building
1404 4th Avenue at northeast corner of Union Street

Robert Reamer continued his experimentation with the Art Deco style, covering this four-story commercial building with ferns and sunflowers and chevrons. It was built in 1929 as a ticket office for the Great Northern Railway, James J. Hill’s transcontinental railroad that ran across America’s northern tier from St. Paul, Minnesota to its western terminus in Seattle.

Holland-Equitable Building/Miken Building
1417 4th Avenue

This Chicago-style mid-block commercial tower with classical detailing is an early effort of Arthur Wheatley from 1920. The facade is dominated by an orderly grid of windows surrounded by cream-colored terra-cotta.

Joshua Green Building
1425 4th Avenue at southwest corner of Pike Street

Mississippi-born Joshua Green arrived with his family at Puget Sound in 1886 when he was 17 years old. He found work on a sternwheeler plying the Puget Sound and in 1889 he borrowed $5,000 to co-purchase his own craft, the Henry Bailey, joining the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet as one of the many private transportation companies running smaller passenger and freight boats on Puget Sound and nearby waterways and rivers. Green came to dominate the trade with his fleet of vessels, helping cement Seattle’s own dominance of the Sound over rivals Olympia and Tacoma. In 1914 Green hired go-to Seattle architect John Graham to design this headquarters for his Puget Sound Navigation Company. In the 1920s Green shifted from water transportation to banking and purchased the Peoples Savings Bank in 1925. For the better part of the next 50 years Green would remain active in the business until he died in 1975 at the age of 105.

Liggett Building
1424 4th Avenue at southeast corner of Pike Street

Architects George Willis Lawton and Herman A. Moldenhour, who enjoyed a brief partnership during the 1920s, designed this Gothic Revival tower for New York-based Louis K. Liggett Drug Company. This was the chain’s 380th store and first in the Seattle market, which they celebrated with a million-dollar investment. The ten-story tower is dressed in terra-cotta above a polished granite base. One of the original tenants from 1928 was jeweler Ben Bridge who bought out his father-in-law’s 1912 business. Out front is the Ben Bridge Clock, one of nine Seattle street clocks that are designated city landmarks; it is the last clock remaining on Pike Street.

Northern Bank and Trust Building/Seaboard Building
1500 4th Avenue at northeast corner of Pike Street

This ten-story Beaux Arts building lorded over its Westlake neighborhood when it was raised in 1909; look up to see one of downtown’s most fanciful crowns. The architect was William Doty Van Siclen who was born in Michigan and practiced in San Jose, Vancouver (BC), Edmonton, Texas and the first decade of the 20th century in Seattle. The client was the Northern Bank and Trust that was taken over by the State of Washington as insolventin 1917 and liquidated. The one-time office building has been re-adapted for use as retail space and condominiums. 


F.W. Woolworth’s/Ross
301 Pike Street at southeast corner of 3rd Avenue

New construction practically dried up in Seattle during the Great Depression of the 1930s but one company that could continue to build was, appropriately for the times, Woolworth’s five-and-dime. Founder Frank Winfield Woolworth had constructed the world’s tallest building in New York City in 1913, paid for in cash from all those nickels and dimes he collected. This Streamline Moderne building was raised in 1940 on plans drawn by architect Harold B. Hillman and was trumpeted as the largest Woolworth’s on the West Coast. The store is dressed in a wrap of cream and salmon terra-cotta, one of the last times a Seattle building would wear the decorative architectural tiles.  

Kress Building
1423 3rd Avenue at southwest corner of Pike Street

Samuel Henry Kress looked on his stores as public works of art and he retained a staff of architects to achieve that end. He took as much pride in the appearance of those stores as the nickels and dimes that piled up in his coffers. There would eventually be 264 Kress five-and-dime stores throughout the United States and many of them adopted the Art Deco style in the 1920s and 1930s. The Seattle store operated from 1924 until 1974. Originally created with a Gothic Revival vibe, company architect Edward F. Sibbett gave the store a Deco makeover in 1934. In recent years the three-story Kress Building has done duty as a supermarket and, of course, a Starbucks; you can look up to see some of the Art Deco flair that is the Kress trademark.  

Republic Building/Melbourne Tower
1511 Third Avenue at northwest corner of Pike Street

George Willis Lawton began designing buildings in Seattle in the Victorian Age. He found commissions in big projects such as hotels, apartments and, especially, warehouses. In 1922 he formed a partnership with Harman A. Moldenhour who had started as an office boy with his firm after migrating to Seattle from the Midwest as he had done 36 years earlier. The eleven-story, classically flavored Republic Building was one of their last projects before Lawton died without warning on March 28, 1928. 

Eitel Building
1501 2nd Avenue at northwest corner of Pike Street

Fred Eitel showed up in Seattle in 1902 and put together the Eitel Land Company with his brother David. This was their first major project, designed by William Doty Van Siclen in 1904. With a price tag of $75,000 the six-story commercial building was one of the first structure of substance to homestead in this area of downtown. The brothers moved their offices into their new building but sold the property in 1906 and moved on to other investments. In the 1930s most of the elaborate upper terra-cotta cornices were removed.

Green Tortoise
105 Pike Street at southeast corner of 1st Avenue

Gardner Kent founded an adventure bus tour company he called the Green Tortoise in San Francisco in 1974, catering to backpackers and trekkers. Customized buses outfitted with bunk beds allowed passengers to sleep during night travel which served the dual purpose of saving on lodging and reserving the daylight hours for exploring destinations. The Green Tortoise operates two internationally acclaimed hostels, this one, that was originally on 2nd Avenue, and one back in San Francisco.