Seattle Historic Neighborhoods: Pioneer Square

Seattle Historic Neighborhoods: Pioneer Square

Seattle is home to a collection of distinctly different neighborhoods, each with their own history and their own culture. The first of these, fittingly, was Pioneer Square.

Pioneer square is a neighborhood known for its blend of historic Richardsonian Romanesque buildings, restaurants, shops, and art galleries. Cobblestone streets mingle with modern construction, hosting antique shops, book stores, and architect firms alike.

The evening brings its own flavor- a lively nightlife in the bars and eateries, as well as a share of fringe alleys and shady corners that are best avoided.

With a focus on history and culture, pioneer square doesn't have a large residential presence, but there is a number of apartment buildings within the area, and hotels within easy walking distance.

Where is Pioneer Square located?

Pioneer Square sits on the north side of downtown. The Elliot bay docks and the waterfront lay to the west, while the Chinese-influenced International District resides east. Century Link Field and (recently renamed Mariners ballpark) T-Mobile Park are a few blocks south. The neighborhood covers an area of approximately 3 acres, and roughly 20 blocks.

Transportation in the area

A few minutes from anywhere in the neighborhood is enough to reach a bike lane, city bus, ferry, or the Sound Transit Light Rail. I-90 and I-5 both pass by within a few blocks.

What is there to do in Pioneer Square?

Common tourist destinations include:

For more information on restaurants, events and attractions in the Pioneer Square area, visit the Pioneer Square Website

The story of Seattle’s oldest neighborhood

The Seattle totem, Kingstreet Station, brick roads - Pioneer Square’s history is woven throughout the neighborhood. While hardly an exhaustive list, below are a few key points of the neighborhood’s life.

1852 : Pioneer Square is settled

The Denny Party first landed at Alki Point in 1851. The following spring, they relocated to present-day Pioneer Square.

1852 - Henry Yesler decides to build in Seattle

By building the Puget Sound’s first steam-powered lumber mill in Seattle, Yesler provided jobs to Seattle residents and provided lumber and commerce to the city.

1869: City of Seattle is incorporated

1889: Great Fire

After the fire burned 29 blocks of the city, including most of Pioneer Square, brick and stone buildings were erected. These buildings characterize much of Pioneer Square today.

1897: Klondike Gold Rush

Seattle prospered by selling supplies to fortune seekers, helping to pull the region out of depression

1970: Smith Tower opens

Seattle’s first skyscraper, Smith Tower was 42 stories tall

1976: Kingdome opens

The home field for the Mariners and Seahawks, the Kingdome hosted a variety of sports and events until its demolition in the year 2000

2008: King Street Station Purchased

The city of Seattle purchased the station from Burlington Northern Railroad for a staggering total of $10. This began a historic renovation of the building, undoing years of modernization and neglect. The station currently serves as a transportation hub for trains and buses.

For more ambitious consumers of history, we recommend History Link or the P ioneer Square website.

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