I spent a big chunk of last week in Seattle, Washington and, as you might expect, I took a lot of pictures. I took a lot of pictures of doors, but it’s going to take me a while to sort through and organize them into the one or two collections of “Seattle Doors” that I can feature here later on in the year.
As soon as I saw the letter box in the lobby of my hotel, I knew it was going to be the door I would feature. I worked for the Post Office for a few summers and I actually had to empty one of these boxes on my route. As it turns out, the Alaska Building was Seattle’s first skyscraper. It’s now a Courtyard, and sadly, it has the most uninteresting sliding glass door ever made.
I lived in Seattle from September 1978 until July 1981. I always thought that the Smith Tower had been Seattle’s first skyscraper. I only discovered my error while visiting the observation deck of Seattle’s current tallest building, Columbia Center.
The Alaska Building is accepted as the first steel frame skyscraper in Seattle. It was the tallest building for a brief span of two years (1904-1906). At 14 floors, it towered over the six-story Pioneer Building, but it quickly lost the title to the eight-story King Street Station. That’s not a typo, although I should have said the King Street Station Tower.
I think the designation of “tallest” should be based on the practical aspects of the building. The King Street Station has a tall tower protruding from a relatively short building. Much the way today’s “tallest” of tall buildings often claim their height from the top of an antennae, I think the tall-thing-added-onto-my-building is kind of gaming it.
The Smith Tower, with 38 floors in a functional tower-like section, held the designation as tallest building for about 55 years and recently celebrated its 100th birthday. You should check out the building’s website for a cool skyline comparison from 1914 to 2014. The Smith Tower was the tallest office building west of the Mississippi River until 1931 and was the tallest “structure” on the west coast until the Space Needle was built in 1962.
At a mere 204 feet, my hotel, the Alaska Building is hardly tall by today’s standards. Still, I thought it was pretty cool that my room was on the 14th floor. Although the building’s description says that “the building rises 14 floors,” the elevator had a button for floor 15. Somewhat unusual in a hotel, there was also a button for floor 13.
I hope you enjoy the photos of the other skyscrapers dotting the Seattle skyline. The photos were taken from the observation decks at the Columbia Tower and the Space Needle, and some were taken from good old terra-firma. There are a lot of photos today, but there are a lot of skyscrapers in Seattle.
This post is part of Norm Frampton’s fascinating Thursday Doors series. You can see lots of other amazing doors and even join the fun with your own door.