Here we see Yesler Way at Pioneer Square in Seattle between 2nd Avenue (left) and 1st Avenue (right). On the left we see the old Metropole Building on the corner and then the Interurban Building. Crossing the tree-aligned Occidental Avenue we see more historic buildings including the Merchant’s Cafe before the street front concludes with the Olympic Block office building (built 1986) at the corner of 1st Avenue.
Yesler Way runs east-west through all of central Seattle from the Downtown Waterfront almost to Lake Washington in the west. It is named after Henry Yesler, an entrepeneur and politician, who is also regarded as a founder of the city of Seattle and served two non-consecutive terms as Mayor of Seattle. Originally known as Skid Road, when in the 1850s freshly cut logs were sent down the steep street, the street lent its name to several streets named Skid Row in other cities later. It was renamed to Yesler Way in 1903.
On the left, right across Seattle’s historic Smith Tower, we see the former Metropole Hotel, built in 1890 and damaged by a fire in 2007, which will be renovated for a new boutique hotel. The prominent red brick building next to it is the Interurban Building. It was designed by architect John Parkinson and built 1890-1892 in commission by William Rankin Ballard for the Seattle National Bank. It was also home for Seattle’s first interurban railway offices (Puget Sound Electric Railway Interurban Line) and depot until 1920, which earned it its current name. Later it was occupied by Boeing and now houses modern office spaces after a redevelopment in the years around 2010. The building in Romanesque Revival Style is one of the finest in Pioneer Square with brick masonry and exceptional stone carvings, especially the Romanesque columns at the front enterance and a lion’s head above the bank entrance at the corner.
The Merchant’s Cafe at the end of the next row of buildings to the right is Seattle’s oldest continuously-used restaurant, established in 1890. The building was errected in 1889 and much of the Klondike Gold is said to have passed it in the 1890s. For 74 years it was run by the Schreiner family and the last restoration was done during the 1970s. The modern Olympic Block office building at the end of this street front was errected in 1986.
This panorama was presented during our exhibition Germany Street Fronts in Houston and you can find another Seattle streetline preview of Pike Place Market in our review of the exhibition in Seattle.