The Seattle Architecture Foundation does quite a few different tours, but because it was our first time in Seattle, we figured we had better do the "Greatest Hits" tour in order to see the most interesting buildings that shape the city's skyline.
Made it there right at 10:00am, just like google maps said we would! We didn't have much room for error, but the earlier bus on a Saturday morning would have got us there much too early. So this worked out perfectly!
Seattle Architectural Foundation downtown office.
They have several nice display rooms detailing some of the history of Seattle's buildings.
White settlers came to Seattle area only in 1851, so of course it's a fairly new city compared to many in the world. By 1889 there were as many as 500 new buildings under construction, when a huge fire destroyed most of the city. Nobody died, but the buildings had been all made of wood so of course they were burned to the ground.
When the city rebuilt during the 1890's, new construction of commercial buildings had to be of metal and/or brick.
First stop was The Cobb Building.
The Cobb Building (right) was built in 1910.
Originally, the Cobb Building was one of five 11 story structures that were identical. Now, it's the only remaining one, and has been turned into 92 luxury rental apartments.
Detailed Indian head ornaments line the exterior of the 10th floor.
Right beside the Cobb Building is the Seattle Tower. Originally known as the Northern Life Tower, this structure was completed in 1929...
Notice the graduated coloring of the bricks.
The building is darker at the bottom and lighter at the top. The builder separated the bricks by color as they arrived, and started with the darker colors at the bottom. Interesting. One of Seattle's most elegant "art deco" buildings.
Only a short walk away was the Rainier Tower. Certainly one of the most interesting buildings from the bottom because the base looks like it's been chewed away by a beaver. In fact, it almost looks like the building could topple over at any time!
31 story Rainier Tower, completed in 1977.
This tower was the last building designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the same architect who designed the World Trade Center in New York.
From a distance, we viewed the Smith Tower. When it was built in 1914, the 38 story tower was the 4th tallest in the world...
Built by Lyman Smith (Smith-Corona typewriter money).
Oddly enough, there is a three story apartment (where you see the triangular shaped windows) at the very top of the building. Originally a caretakers apartment for the office tower, it's now leased to a family with two children. There's also an observation deck that costs $7.50 to access.
We then wandered to the Rainier Club, a private men's club opened in 1904.
The Rainier Club building.
And then, it was off to the public library. This building only opened in 2004. It's a little different, and it's one of those buildings that you either love it, or you hate it. Apparently a lot of thought went into the design and use of the building, and whether or not you agree with it aesthetically, the design is very functional to its use.
Seattle Public Library (pic borrowed from wikipedia).
Unfortunately, we didn't spend much time inside any of these buildings, other than the library. We like to see the lobby design and structure, and to be honest it would have been nice because it was a pretty chilly day! But the two hours went by quickly and we enjoyed the info given out by volunteer tour guides Jo and Mike.
To book your own tour, visit the Seattle Architecture Foundation at www.seattlearchitecture.org.