Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square is the heart of historic Seattle. As one of the first neighborhoods settled in the area, it has seen Seattle through any number of growing pains. Walking through the neighborhood you can see old buildings and significant sites, such as the street that was the origin of the name ‘skid road’. To get even more perspective on the history of Seattle and Pioneer Square, sightseers can take the Seattle Underground Tour. The neighborhood has gone through good times and bad, but is in the midst of a revival of sorts, and is currently chock full of nightlife and art galleries.

First settled in 1852, Pioneer Square was the original downtown for Seattle. However, the buildings were constructed from the timber that was being exported from Seattle’s port, and flames later destroyed the area. It was rebuilt following the fire of 1889, meaning that a large number of building were built at the same time, making for a fascinating study of the architecture of the era. In the period after World War I, however, the area became known more for the unsavory characters and the business they conducted outside of the buildings than for the beauty of the neighborhood.

As Seattle boomed in the late 60s and early 70s, community groups worked hard to enliven the area. In 1976 the first large sports arena in the area went up (the Kingdome) though was later destroyed. The area, however, remained a place suitable for walking through, and daytime now finds it filled with technology businesses, artists and art galleries, while at night it draws in revelers from around the area with its large bars and dance clubs.

For an interesting and historic perspective on the neighborhood, the Underground Tour offers walking tours of the original Seattle downtown, located under what is now Pioneer Square. The tour is informative while also being entertaining and educating tourists on a little slice of Seattle’s past.