Washington State: Exploring Pioneer Square, Seattle’s Oldest Neighborhood

Pacific Northwest Travelogue Part 11

The front desk clerk at the motel Michael Taylor is staying at suggests he explore Pioneer Square, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood and home to the largest collection of Victorian era buildings in the country.

Pioneer Square is more than a square. It is an entire neighborhood, Seattle’s oldest and arguably most interesting neighborhood.

Settled in 1852, Pioneer Square is the antithesis of the city’s other, more famous, symbol. If the Space Needle represents aspirations for Seattle’s future, Pioneer Square celebrates the city’s past.

Spanning about 30 square blocks, Pioneer Square has the largest collection of Victorian-Romanesque buildings in the United States, most of them built soon after the Great Fire of 1889.

Is that why most of the buildings in this part of Seattle are made of red brick?

The neighborhood has a certain architectural consistency because more than 50 of the buildings in it were designed by the same man, the renowned architect, Elmer Fisher.

Crown Jewel

The jewel in Pioneer Square’s crown is the Pergola, an ornate steel and glass structure built in 1905 to shelter passengers waiting for the cable car, which used to run through the district.

All I can say is, what a shame those cable car lines were dug up! The Pergola is spectacular, but out of place.

It deserves to serve its original purpose, sheltering passengers from the elements rather than serving as a mere backdrop for selfies, of which I’m sure there are many …

Pioneer Square is a 10 minutes walk from Pike Place Market and a 15 minutes walk from downtown. It also borders King Street Station and CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, reputedly the noisiest fans in the National Football League.

While Pioneer Square has lots of things that would make it of interest to tourists, it is – THANKFULLY!!! – not the least bit touristy. I don’t recall many shops selling T-shirts or postcards.

What I did notice was a lot of independently owned businesses – art galleries, antique stores, and clothing boutiques.

There were also scores of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. And not a McDonald’s in sight!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: