Pioneer Square: Lumberjacks, Gold Diggers, Gamblers, Hipsters and the Story of Seattle

Seattle, WA

  • Businesses in Pioneer Square outfitted thousands of stampeders en route to Yukon. Photo: Seattle Times Archives.
  • The totem pole in Pioneer Square.
  • The only known picture of Chief Seattle.  Copyright Museum of History and Industry, Seattle.
  • Exterior of The Central Saloon.
  • The streets of early Seattle.
  • Carving of Tsonqua, a mythical figure that is both a bringer of wealth and a child-eating ogre.
  • Carving of a bear ready to pounce.
  • The flower shop at the London Plane.
  • Baked goods at The London Plane.
  • Look for the National Park Service signs for the entrance.
  • Advertisement from Gold Rush days.
  • A Cortado at Elm Coffee Roasters.
  • Baristas at work at Elm.
  • The Smith Tower stands above Pioneer Square.
  • Uptown views of the Space Needle, Ferris Wheel and city skyline.
  • The Sinking Ship Parking Lot.
  • Hotel Seattle photographed in 1900.  Photo: Seattle Times.

2 hours and 15 minutes
0.6 mi
Guided by Amanda
Amanda Simoni


Pioneer Square was the center of the city when Seattle was founded in 1852. Join us to explore the settling, scorching, reconstruction, decay and resurgence of the neighborhood. We chronologically unfold the story as we visit a skyscraper, national park, former brothel, cafe and other sites that explain the evolution of the district from 19th-century frontier outpost to today's nucleus of art galleries, tech startups and Seattle's farm-to-table culinary movement.

About Your Guide

Seattle has been home for the better part of a decade, and every year I find new things to do and see. Beyond the overcast skies and constant monsoon is a metropolis filled with with monumental art, artisanal espresso, gold rush dreams and rock 'n' roll bonafides.

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Guide Points

  1. Pioneer Square

    Welcome to Pioneer Square, the original downtown of Seattle. Before 1852, this area was known by the nearby Suquamish and Duwamish Indian …

  2. Central Saloon

    Despite what is claimed by the fluorescent light in the front window, the Central Saloon may or may not be the oldest in Seattle (Jules Mae…

  3. Occidental Square

    Let's stroll down these two blocks of treelined plaza to take in some more of the early 20th century architecture and Native American art.

  4. The London Plane

    The culinary scene of Pioneer Square and, in many regards, the entirety of Seattle have chef Matt Dillon to thank for putting them on the m…

  5. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

    This three-story red brick Victorian Italianate building is the former Cadillac Hotel. It was completed in 1890, a year after the great fi…

  6. Elm Coffee Roasters

    Each neighborhood of Seattle has its own great, independent artisanal coffee house that the locals support religiously and the out-of-towne…

  7. Smith Tower

    The typewriter industrialist L.C. Smith chose the best of times and worst of times to build his namesake monument.

  8. Sinking Ship Parking Lot

    Welcome to what the locals not-so-affectionately nicknamed, the Sinking Ship Parking Lot. It is less of a cerebral, avant-garde, post-Mode…

Sidewalk Reviews

  1. 2 Reviews

    1. Magon

    Feb 10, 2018

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