Friday, April 9, 2021

Fremont Peak Park

Photos taken in June 2018

Fremont Peak Park is a small park in the Upper Fremont neighborhood of Seattle at 4357 Palatine Ave N, near the top of Phinney Ridge at its southern end. On a clear day, the view from here extends to the Olympic Mountains. The park has a very nice design. There are low, concrete walls that provide lots of seating & a good place to rest or eat. I got a sandwich at a nearby deli & ate it there. A small meadow, partially enclosed by low walls, lies at the center of the park. If you'd like to sit on the grass, this space (surrounded by trees) would be great for a picnic (or a nap).  Lots of big trees provide shaded areas even when the westering sun fills the park. 

Until 2001, this was a lot with 3 old houses.  The City of Seattle bought it. Seattle Parks & Recreation had the houses demolished, but kept the trees. A community initiative raised funds to help create the park. New plantings include native species that provide habitat for wildlife, including a Garry Oak (Quercus garryana). There are paths, walkways & stairs. This quiet park has no space for athletic games. You will find a lovely half-acre of landscape & an amazing view.  In a small concrete plaza, stone balls mark the solstices & equinoxes.  These sit near the edge of the slope, where views of land & water spread far & wide. 

Fremont Peak Park was envisioned as a neighborhood ‘walk to’ park, an urban oasis for people in the neighborhood. But I think this park is worth traveling some distance. I came here from 10 miles away & was glad I did. It is the goal of Seattle Parks & Recreation to build, improve & maintain parks throughout the city. Fremont Peak Park was designed by GGLO & Laura Haddad of Haddad|Drugan. The design won awards from the Seattle Design Commission & Americans for the Arts.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Franklin High School Seattle

West facade from S Mt Baker Boulevard

West facade

Southwest corner

Southwest entrance

South facade

Detail of ornamentation

Northwest entrance.  Photos taken in 2018

Franklin High School (3013 S Mt Baker Blvd) was designed by Edgar Blair (District Architect, Seattle Public Schools, 1910-1918).  The 4th school built as a high school in Seattle, it is a fine example of the Beaux Arts style, a type of Neoclassical/Greek Revival architecture.  The school is 4 stories tall.  Franklin High School opened in 1912 with 2.2 acres of land on the west slope of Mt Baker Ridge.  It was said to be the most beautiful school building west of the Mississippi.  While that may have been excessive praise then, it was certainly no longer true after a modern & utilitarian addition covered the west facade, overlooking the Rainier Valley, in 1958.  An addition closely matching the original architecture had been made on the south side of the building in 1925.  A 4.13-acre athletic field was added in 1916, 10.6 acres were added in 1925 & 12.7 more acres were added in 1942. 

In 1982, an engineering study warned that the building was vulnerable to earthquake damage. The school board voted in 1986 to demolish it. Students, alumni & Mt Baker neighborhood residents protested that decision. Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board designated Franklin High School as a historic landmark & denied the request to tear it down. 

In the City of Seattle, a building, object, or structure may be eligible to be listed as a historic landmark if it is more than 25 years old and the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board determines it fits one or more categories.  Franklin High School met 3 categories: 1. It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, period, or a method of construction. 2. It is an outstanding work of a designer or builder. 3. Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood.

Bassetti Architects completed a renovation of Franklin High School in 1990 with seismic, safety, mechanical, & electrical upgrades. They removed the unattractive 1958 addition that covered the beautiful west facade & turned the space behind the arched windows into a student commons. An addition was built in the center of the U-shaped building with a new wall on the east side.  A new auditorium & classrooms filled that space. Other new additions were more classrooms, science labs, art studios, vocational tech labs & a media center.  The rehabilitation inspired other school districts to preserve landmark schools.  Awards included the 2001 Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Award of Merit; 1991 AIA Seattle, Award of Commendation; and 1991 Association of King County Historical Organization, Project Award.  

Bassetti Architects also restored the building's entire facade in 2015. That included the replacing damaged terra cotta tiles & corroded steel anchors, pinning with seismic anchors, re-pointing of mortar, & repairing the cornice.


Friday, March 12, 2021

Occidental Square Park Seattle

The Weyerhaeuser headquarters, offered for sale in 2020.

The old information kiosk, now gone.

Photos above taken in 2017

Photos above taken in 2018

Occidental Square (117 Washington St) is a city park covering 0.6 acres at the center of  Pioneer Square in Seattle, entirely paved with bricks & concrete pavers.  It was cobbled together when 2 blocks of Occidental Avenue S were closed to vehicular traffic & joined with half a city block behind the Grand Central Building, that had been a parking lot.  That happened in 1971, during the general renovation of Pioneer Square, Seattle's oldest neighborhood.  Dozens of mature shade trees now stand in graveled wells.  The park has 4 monumental sculptures (2 are totem poles) carved from cedar in the northwest coast native style.  A tasteful children's play area was added in 2019.  Construction of a wood & glass pavilion began in June of 2020 & was expected to be completed in Spring 2021.  It will cover a 30-by-90-foot area with a glass canopy supported by timber beams & steel columns. This sleek shelter will have an information center & can be used as an outdoor classroom, stage, or covered seating area. Events, such as a weekly crafts fair, live music, food trucks & art installations are normally scheduled during the summer, when you can also find tables & chairs, ping pong tables & a giant chess set during more quiet times of the week.  The Grand Central Building, a historic building with ground floor retail, opens onto the park.  Facing the park on the opposite side, is an elegant modern building of brick & glass built by the Weyerhaeuser Company as its new headquarters in 2016.  Many shops & restaurants can be found nearby.  Some flank the single block of Occidental Ave, now known as Occidental Mall (between S Main St & S Jackson St) closed to cars, nicely paved in brick & lined with historic buildings.

Friday, February 26, 2021

King Street Station Seattle

Photos above taken in 2018

Photo taken in 2017

King Street Station was built between 1904 & 1906 using concrete, granite, & brick.  The structure was financed by James J Hill who controlled Great Northern Railway & the Northern Pacific Railway. It was Seattle's 1st substantial passenger station, replacing a much smaller wooden building closer to the waterfront. A series of renovations in the mid-20th century removed marble walls & glass mosaic tiles, boarded up windows & replaced doors. The ceiling was lowered with a hanging framework of acoustical tiles & fluorescent light panels.  It reminded me of my junior high school, built in 1957.  That was the state of King Street Station as I greeted my grandma when she came to visit from Montana in the 1960s & 70s: shabby & unattractive.  I was amazed when I saw the restored interior in 2018. 

Increasing use from Sounder (commuter) & Amtrak (long-distance) passengers led to the improvement of King Street Station.  It was included in the Pioneer Square-Skid Road National Historic District in 1970 & listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.  The City of Seattle purchased the property from the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad in 2008 for $10.  The BNSF Railroad carried freight only & leased the passenger facility to Amtrak & Sound Transit. The station's designation as a historic place prevented it from being demolished & replaced. The restoration project was completed in 2013 at a cost more than $55 million. 

In 2018, King Street Station had 25 daily train departures: 13 Sounder commuter trains south to Tacoma with 8 trains continuing to Lakewood (weekdays only). 4 Sounder commuter trains north to Everett (weekdays only). 2 Amtrak Cascades regional trains north to Vancouver. 4 Amtrak Cascades regional trains south to Portland with one train continuing to Eugene. 1 Amtrak Empire Builder long-distance train east to Chicago. 1 Amtrak Coast Starlight long-distance train south to Los Angeles.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Pioneer Building Seattle

South facade

West facade

with the Smith Tower.  Photos above taken in 2018

with the Pergola

with the Totem Pole. 2 photos above taken in 2014

The Pioneer Building is located at 600 1st Ave in Pioneer Square in Seattle.  It was built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style with a facade of Bellingham Bay gray sandstone, red brick, terra cotta, & cast iron bays.  The building can be considered a transition between Victorian & Romanesque Revival styles.  Completed in 1892, the Pioneer Building was designed by architect Elmer Fisher, who designed several Pioneer Square buildings after the Great Fire of 1889.  It was the first of 3 buildings built by Seattle pioneer Henry Yesler & stands on the ground where Yesler built his 1st sawmill in 1853.  It was constructed with permanent partitions forming 185 office rooms.  Natural light flows into the interior through 2 atria.  The building became an important business location.  During the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897, there were 48 mining company offices there.  The Pioneer Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.  It was completely rehabilitated in 1973, then renovated in 1980 & 2016.  It has always been an office building.  The Underground Seattle Tours ticket office has been located in the Pioneer Building for many years.  

In June of 2020, these offices were listed for rent in the Pioneer Building:

1. Great one person office overlooking the co-working lounge. The Pioneer Building is located in the center of the cultural hub of Seattle. Walkable to abundant restaurants, cafes, antique shops, bookstores & boutiques, Pioneer Square is a vibrant neighborhood close to all major public transportation. 

2. 5th floor office with gorgeous south-facing view. With a peek at Century Link Field & walls with charming brick detail, this suite is great for companies with 8 to 15 employees. This comes with a conference room, kitchen, 2 large offices & open work space. The Pioneer Building is a historic landmark outstanding for its importance in Seattle's oldest business district & for the beauty of its architecture.

Right in front of the Pioneer Building is the small park called Pioneer Square, which is confusing because the whole neighborhood is called Pioneer Square.  It's not officially called Pioneer Square Park (which might help) & it's not even square, it's triangular.  It used to be called Pioneer Place.  Why did they change the name?  In Pioneer Square (the park) you can see a Tlingit totem pole, a bust of Chief Seattle, & Day/Night (two enamel-on-steel panels with Chief Seattle quotations in English & Lushootseed, created by Edgar Heap of Birds).  Best of all, you can see the Pioneer Square Pergola, a national historic landmark.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Smith Tower Seattle

Photos above taken in 2014

Photos above taken in November 2018

The Smith Tower is oldest skyscraper (38 floors, 469 feet) in the city.  Built between 1911 & 1914, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River until 1931 & tallest on the West Coast until the Space Needle was built in 1962. It's named after its builder:  Lyman Cornelius Smith. Smith originally planned on a 14-story building.  But his son convinced him to build taller than the National Realty Building in Tacoma, the tallest west of the Mississippi River at that time. Designated as a Seattle landmark in 1984, it is a lofty example of neoclassical architecture.  The surface is granite to the 2nd floor, then gleaming white terracotta from the 3rd floor on up.  The building has had a number of owners including Ivar Haglund, founder of Ivar's restaurants. It has been renovated several times.  The 35th-floor observation deck (near the top) has a 360-degree view of downtown, SoDo, Elliott Bay & more.  (The Space Needle has broader views, with the viewing deck at 518 feet, but the Smith Tower is less expensive & much less crowded.)  I went to the top of the Smith Tower for the 1st time with my Cub Scout den in 1968, many thanks to Mrs. del Fierro.  I have gone back twice.  At the top of the Smith Tower is a pyramid with a 1,750-square-foot, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment.  Last I heard, people lived in it.  The observation deck is just below the pyramid.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Pioneer Square Seattle

The Pioneer Square Pergola was built in 1909 as cable car stop. In January 2001, the iron & glass structure collapsed when it was hit by a truck. It was replaced in August 2002.

The Pioneer Building was completed in 1892. 4 photos above taken in January 2014

King Street Station was built in 1904-06. The clocktower was inspired by St Mark's Campanile in Venice. Photo taken in June 2017

3 photos above taken in December 2017

Click here for more photos of Pioneer Square.

Pioneer Square is one of my favorite places in Seattle.  It's popular with Seattleites & also a popular tourist attraction.  Many people live & work there.  Shops & restaurants cater to locals more than to tourists, even during the short tourist season.  Pioneer Square's derelict period ended many years ago.  It is now more urban chic.      

The area now called Pioneer Square became Seattle's first permanent American settlement in 1852. It was the only sizable piece of level ground on Elliott Bay.  It developed quickly into a residential & business district of wooden buildings.  Those were all destroyed in the Great Fire of 1889.  It was quickly rebuilt as the central business district by 1892 with brick & stone buildings in the Richardsonian Romanesque style popular in the United States from 1885 to 1905. Pioneer Square has one of the best surviving collections of Richardsonian Romanesque commercial architecture in the US & became a National Historic District in 1970.  An interesting feature of Pioneer Square is the Seattle Underground which can be explored in the Underground Tour. Because the area was built on low ground, high tides sometimes filled the streets, which were raised by one level.  That turned the former 1st floors into basements with front doors, windows, signage & sidewalks still intact. 

Pioneer Square peaked during the Klondike Gold Rush (1896-99) then fell into decline. By the 1920s, it was seen as the southern part of downtown, rather than Seattle’s main commercial center. It became a district of taverns & seedy hotels. The city government reversed that decline when it named Pioneer Square Preservation District as Seattle's first such district in May 1970. The Pioneer Square-Skid Road Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in June 1970. The neighborhood takes its name from a small triangular plaza near the corner of First Ave & Yesler Way, originally known as Pioneer Place. Yesler Way was known as "skid road" during the early days of settlement when logs were skidded down the steeply sloping road to the Yesler Sawmill located on Elliott Bay. It is the likely origin of the term "skid row" from the seedy period of Pioneer Square.

Significant structures & sites in Pioneer Square: 

Grand Central Building 216 1st Avenue S: It was built in 1889-90 as an office building & converted to the Grand Central Hotel during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897.  It was renovated 1971 as an office building with the Grand Central Bakery (established 1972) & other shops on the ground level.

King Street Station 303 South Jackson St: It was built in 1904-06 by the Great Northern Railway & Northern Pacific Railway.  It was most recently renovated in 2013, restoring its original fixtures. Inside the main entry, at the base of the clock tower, is the main hall, known as the Compass Room. Its ceiling resembles one at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.  It is served by 3 Amtrak routes & commuter trains run by Sound Transit.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
319 2nd Ave S: A museum located in the Cadillac Hotel, an 1889 building that was a major point of outfitting & departure during the gold rush.

Merchants Cafe 109 Yesler Way: Seattle's oldest restaurant opened in 1890.

Occidental Square 117 S Washington St: A 0.6 acre public park located between the 19th-century Grand Central Building & the 21st-century Weyerhaeuser Company Headquarters.  In summer, it's filled with park furniture, bocce courts, ping pong tables, occasional festivals & crafts markets.

Pioneer Building 600 1st Ave: One of the most impressive of the historic structures in Pioneer Square, it was built in 1889-92.  It is 94 feet tall with a beautiful facade.  It was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1977.  It stands behind the Pioneer Square Pergola & totem pole.  You can buy tickets for the Seattle Underground Tour there. It was built as & remains an office building.

Pioneer Square Pergola at 1st Avenue & Yesler Way: The small park also includes a totem pole & plaza with benches in front of the Pioneer Building.

Smith Tower 506 2nd Ave: The oldest skyscraper in the city (38 floors) was built 1911-14.  It was the tallest building on the West Coast until 1962.  Designated as a Seattle landmark in 1984, it is a lofty example of neoclassical architecture.  The surface is granite to the 2rd floor, then gleaming white terracotta from the 3rd floor on up. The observation deck near the top has a 360-degree view of 
downtown, SoDo, Elliott Bay & more.

Union Station 401 S Jackson St: Built in 1910-11, 3 train lines used this station until 1971.  Then it was unused until an expansive renovation was finished in 1999.  The renovation won the 2000 National Historic Preservation Award. The beautiful Great Hall is open to the public during business hours.  Union Station is now the headquarters of Sound Transit.

UPS Waterfall Garden Park 2nd Ave & Main St: The small private park was created in 1978 at the site of the original UPS (United Parcel Service) building.  It is open to the public during the day.  The Japanese-style garden has a 22-foot tall waterfall flowing at 5,000 gallons per minute.  It is one of the most expensive parks per square foot built in the US.

Friday, November 20, 2020

California State Capitol Sacramento

California State Capitol

Neoclassical California State Capitol main entrance. Compare this to the classical Roman temple below (Maison Caree in Nimes, France) also copied from the Greek style & built in 12 BC.

East Annex (added in 1952) is at the far right of photo.  The style has been called neo-fascist.

Interior of the rotunda. Photos taken in 2018.

From my travel journal on 4-13-18: We got to Sacramento at 1, had Chinese food for lunch & walked around Downtown. We saw Downtown Commons, Cesar Chavez Square, Cathedral Square, K Street Mall, the California State Capitol Building & Capitol Park. Downtown Sacramento was not very impressive. It covered a small area. There were few people on the streets. Many buildings were empty, soon to be demolished & replaced. The tallest building had 43 floors & there were only 17 buildings over 20 floors. The renovation at Downtown Commons was almost finished & nicely done. Chavez Square was pleasing, the center of Downtown. The Capitol was a beautiful old building, partly a museum. The interior was lovely, especially the rotunda. 
The California State Capitol in Sacramento sits at the west end of Capitol Park, facing west on 10th Street between L St & N St. The California State Capitol was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 & named a California Historical Landmark in 1974. The neoclassical structure was built between 1861 & 1874 with major renovations between 1975 & 1982. Neoclassical architecture attempted to replicate the architectural style & details in ancient Greece. The building was based on the United States Capitol in Washington DC.  But the California State Capitol is smaller & better proportioned. The California Senate chamber seats 40 members. The California Assembly chamber is located at the opposite end of the building. Almost identical to the Senate chamber, it accommodates 80 members. Two new Capitol buildings were completed in 1928, the State Library & the Courts Building. The East Annex was completed in 1952, creating offices for the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, legislators & other state officials. It has quite a different, modern style.