Sunday/ along First Avenue 🏢

We had sun and blue sky today, and I went down to Pioneer Square station to do a another little self-directed architecture tour.

I had the platform all to myself after hopping off the train at Pioneer Square station. 🤗
The Interurban Building on Yesler Way started out as the Seattle National Bank Building (1890–1899). It was built after the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889, in the Romanesque Revival architecture.
There was a tour guide and tourists at the Merchant’s Cafe and Saloon, Seattle’s oldest bar & restaurant. Just then a confused and angry woman walked by yelling expletives for all of two city blocks. ‘It’s going to be downhill from here’ said the tour guide to his group, and I don’t think he was referring to the terrain. (Pioneer Square is nearby and is notorious for the street people hanging out over there. It was deserted and quiet there today, though).
All the way across Alaskan Way to the waterfront, now. This is the newly-opened waiting lounge for the Bainbridge Island and Bremerton ferries, five years in the making. The large windows offer views of Elliott Bay (Puget Sound) and the Olympic Mountains. Crews are still working on a new entry building along Alaskan Way and the elevated pedestrian connector to this new terminal building.
The city’s skyline seen from the north side of the waiting lounge. That’s the Leschi fireboat in the foreground, commissioned in 2007. Missions for its crew include firefighting, search and rescue, and responses to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) emergencies.
Here’s the view looking north along Alaskan Way from the temporary pedestrian bridge at Columbia Street. The new pedestrian bridge is up ahead. Roughly three years after the completion of the demolition of the double-decker Alaskan Way Viaduct, there is still a ways to go to tidy up and complete all the construction. To be fair, the massive Colman Dock ferry terminal project (on the left) had started in 2017, and is still slated to be completed on time in 2023 despite the pandemic and a 140-day long concrete worker strike earlier this year.
The renovation project on the beautiful 1932 Federal Office Building on First Avenue is now complete. There is a plaque on the northeast corner of the building that reads ‘The Seattle Fire started here on June 6, 1889. This tablet was placed by survivors of the Seattle Volunteer Fire Department’.
The chic 1901 Alexis Hotel is to the north of the Federal Office Building.
Construction on the Holyoke Building across the street had actually started just before the Great Seattle fire of 1889. It was completed in 1890 in the Victorian Commercial style with a few Romanesque touches.
Now we’re jumping ahead almost a century in time, to the 22-story condominium building called the Watermark Tower. Constructed in 1983, it has lots of square and rectangular elements on the exterior. The canopy at the entrance, and the window pane above it is much more interesting to me.
I have made my way to the corner of Seneca Street and First Avenue. The Colonial Grand Pacific Condominium building of 1902 has 37 units (remodeled and converted to condominiums in 1983). It is considered to be one of Seattle’s finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque commercial architecture.
I can now easily squeeze the Qualtrics Tower (formerly known as 2+U and 2&U), completed in 2020, into my picture frame with my phone’s wide-angle lens. (Confession: these are all iPhone pictures. I left my heavy DSLR camera at home).
Look! A beautiful piece of blue sky, and the waters of Puget Sound. The elevated Seneca Street off-ramp that used to occupy this space has disappeared along with the the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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