Topic: Pioneer Square
You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.
August 2, 2013 at 6:25 PM
Jonny Taylor and Paola Gonzalez serve bags full of Rainier cherries from the Martin Family Orchards at this Pike Place Market stand. The warm colors of peaches and apricots contrast with a blanket of greens on the stall a few feet away, where Chai Cha, of the Shong Chao’s Farm, sells Swiss chard, parsley, cilantro and romain lettuce.
It’s a typical scene of smells and colors, but you may have noticed something odd about my picture. Are there trees at Pike Place? And where are the crowds of tourists?
The produce stalls aren’t where you may think. This newest “express” version of the market, which opened in June, sets up in Occidental Square every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The idea, explained Taylor, is to reach out to downtown residents and office workers who can’t go to Pike Place Market for their produce. Two other employment hubs, South Lake Union and City Hall, have hosted the market’s vendors every summer since 2009, but this is the first year the stands have come to Pioneer Square. Word is starting to spread, said Taylor, as customers start to bring their office mates.
July 5, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Sketched June 20 and 26, 2013
All this time I’ve thought the closest national parks to Seattle were Mount Rainier, the North Cascades and the Olympics. But here’s one that is even closer: the Klondike Gold Rush National Park in Pioneer Square.
Veteran park ranger Tim J. Karle said I’m not the only visitor who is surprised when stepping into the building. People expect trees and mountains, he said. Instead, they find themselves wandering through two floors of exhibits.
I’m more of an urban hiker than an outdoors explorer anyway, so I wasn’t at all disappointed. I enjoyed the 23-minute movie “Gold Fever: Rush to the Klondike” and watching Karle’s demonstration of gold panning techniques.
The park gave me a better understanding of Seattle’s history and its entrepreneurial spirit. Most stampeders who came through town on their way to the Klondike River never saw gold on their pans, said Karle, but they helped launch Seattle as the gateway to Alaska. These days, “tourism is the modern gold rush.”
February 1, 2013 at 8:35 PM
Sketched Jan. 23, 2013
Tour guide Rose Zeringer turns off the lights and points to a 120-year-old skylight above us: “This is how they lit up the underground before electricity.”
The Underground Tour, created by Bill Speidel in 1965, is no staged production. You get to walk through the subterranean sidewalks and building spaces left behind when the city raised the street levels of downtown Seattle during the Great Fire rebuild of the 1890s.
I used to dismiss this Pioneer Square attraction as a tourist trap, but a visit proved me wrong. The experience is both educational and thrilling. Sketching along the dimly lit corridors, I felt like an old-time newspaper artist at work in the years before photography — I actually took the tour twice to pencil enough detail into my drawings to be able to complete them later from memory.
“If people see what history looks like, they’ll be more likely to preserve it,” said Zeringer. “Bill started this walking tour to save the neighborhood from the wrecking ball.”
Since it was a weekday in January, the tours I took were not as crowded as they normally are in the summer, said Zeringer. We started at a restored saloon inside the Pioneer Building, where she did a brief introduction perched on the bar.
The tour took us into three different underground segments. We accessed the first one through a building door across the street on Yesler Way. Before stepping in, Zeringer pointed to the top of the hill. This used to be a very steep grade, she said, and logs where rolled down from the top toward the sawmills by the beach. “This is the original Skid Road.”
A flight of stairs inside the building took us 15 feet below ground level. What feels like a basement now, however, used to be a lounge, and the windows you see in my sketch faced the street. We are standing just a few feet above sea level, said Zeringer.
After the Great Seattle Fire, it became evident that the growing city needed proper sewage and draining systems. When the tide would go up, the toilets would explode, explained Zeringer. But the whole downtown had been built pretty much on the beach, within feet of sea level, so there was no room to dig down to install pipes. By raising the streets, however, the city gained enough room to run sewage and drainage pipes.
It took me a while to understand how they actually raised the streets, but this moment on the tour did the trick. Picture yourself back in 1890. You are standing on the street sidewalk and to your right is the entrance to the Oriental Hotel. To the left is a granite retaining wall. If you were to look up above it, you’d see horse carriages and people walking at the new street level. To get in an out of the hotel, you had to climb ladders or use planks that connected the new street level with the buildings’ second floors. This underground level where I stood to sketch the scene was later covered up. Skylights like the one you see on my first sketch were used to provide illumination, but you can imagine what a shady place the undeground became! Eventually, a bubonic plague forced all business activity in the underground to stop, said Zeringer.
We entered the second segment of the tour through this stairway on First Avenue. As I sketched the view later, a new tour group showed up and I was able to catch the figure of the last person going down the stairs.
Throughout the tour, you can see rubble from the 1949 earthquake that has been shoveled to the side. In this sketch, Zeringer points her flashlight to a historic picture of the area where we are standing. A general store used to be further down the corridor, and the space is now used as a wedding hall.
Back on ground level after about 90 minutes, Zeringer pointed to the same skylight we had looked up to from below. You’ll recognize the location as the corner of Yesler Way and 1st Avenue South.
After almost seven years living here, I’m glad I finally took the tour. Can you think of another good Seattle attraction to explore on a rainy day?
January 23, 2013 at 6:18 PM
You’ve seen the bronze bust of Chief Seattle in Pioneer Square. I’m pretty sure more than one sketcher must have drawn the real person back in the day. Wouldn’t it be great to see those drawings today? On the University of Washington Libraries digital collections website I found at least one drawing of him, signed by Raphael Coombs in 1891.
January 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Sketched Jan. 17
On Tuesday afternoon, as Seattle was bracing for today’s snowfall, I stumbled upon another tree-socks art installation by Suzanne Tidwell at Occidental Park. Tidwell is one of the Sammamish guerrilla knitters I sketched and wrote about last spring.
The multi-colored tree-socks couldn’t be more fitting during these cold days we are having. At Occidental Park, they also add a welcoming sense of cheer and whimsy to the neighborhood. I was pulled into the park as soon as I saw the trees from a distance.
Art installations like Tidwell’s are one of the things that Pioneer Square’s historic district needs to attract more people and become a thriving neighborhood. I can’t wait to see what other art project may pop up here next.
April 9, 2010 at 5:12 PM
April 8, 12:07 p.m. [Click on sketches to view larger]
Pioneer Square is not my usual stomping ground, but I could spend days walking around the historic district. Architectural gems from the late 19th century and early 20th century are hidden in plain view: walruses at the 1917 Arctic Building or this red terra-cotta lion at the 1892 Interurban Building, to name a few.
As I visited this week accompanied by University of Washington professor Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, I was introduced to more interesting details: stone-carved signatures of the architects who reshaped the city after the great fire of 1889, intriguing terra-cotta designs and Romanesque revival entrances. I also found out why the 1914 Smith Tower has so many windows. “Every office has an exterior window because in those days artificial illumination was not very good,” said Ochsner, who was as excited to talk about architecture as I was to sketch it.
This Saturday and next, Ochsner talks about 125 years of Seattle’s architectural history at the Seattle Central Library (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.) More information at www.spl.org.
December 14, 2009 at 4:34 PM
I came to Elliott Bay Books when the news of their possible relocation first came out in October (see my post.)
Now that their move to Capitol Hill is official — read this story by business reporter Melissa Allison — I returned on Sunday with my Seattle sketching friends to capture our last impressions of the bookstore at the building where it’s been for 36 years.
Dec. 13, 11:57 a.m. [Click sketch to view larger]
Dec. 13, 12:30 p.m. [Click sketch to view larger]
Don’t miss what my fellow sketchers drew. Check out their work at the Seattle urban sketchers blog.
About Seattle Sketcher
Trending with readers