Out for a walk beside the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Heading to Nova Scotia around August 1st.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Seattle Architecture Tour

We got on the bus at 9:20am in order to get downtown by 10:00am for our tour.

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.


  1. Don't know what to say about that library building. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

    1. Have to admit that it is a unique kind of building from the outside. From the inside we really liked the open concept and can see how it is a very functional building.

  2. Lots of interesting designs in that area, wonderful bits of local history.

    1. Yes, there are some great buildings here along with some interesting history. Sure gives you a better understanding when you are able to hear some of that history.

  3. thanks for this great info. . .have added this tour to our list for Seattle.. .we love architecture tours. . .

    1. They have a number of different tours, so make sure you check out the description of each on their website to see which one would best suit you or even choose to do more than one.

      Hope you have fun when you come to Seattle, it's a great place to visit. I wish we had just a little more time here so that we could have done a couple other things that we couldn't do because of the rainy weather.

  4. Seattle is the perfect city to have this type of tour. So many types and sizes of buildings and condos and homes. Always something to turn your head this way or that way.

    1. Yes, it is a good city for this and they run a number of different tours too so there is something for just about everyone out there.

  5. Sorry we missed you while you were in Seattle. It would have been great fun to meet another pair of travel enthusiasts! We'd just arrived in Arizona. . .to escape those gray skies I see in your photos. Just liked your Facebook page - hope to see you back at www.travelnwrite.com again soon!

    1. Perhaps our paths will cross one day in the future! Looks like you timed you getaway perfectly, because that was about all we saw of the sky, grey clouds. The sun did peak out our first afternoon of exploring though, at least for a short while.

      Hope that you will enjoy Arizona, we are hoping to be able to explore it a bit in January.


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