Seattle’s historic districts: Pioneer Square

Let’s step back in time to 1852

The facades of historic buildings in Seattle's Pioneer Square

The Pioneer Square Preservation District spans ~30 blocks.


Table of Contents

Those who find themselves wandering through the streets of Pioneer Square on their way back to their car or public transit after a Seahawks or Mariners game will be quite familiar with the neighborhood’s stunning brick buildings and bustling streets. But let’s take a closer look at the eighth historic district in our walkthrough.

Flashback ⏳

Just in case its beautiful architecture didn’t give it away, Pioneer Square actually marks the site of Seattle’s original downtown. It was chosen by settlers in 1852 as one of the only areas that was flat enough for construction, while still being close to the water.

On June 6, 1889, 25 blocks of the mostly wooden structures burned down in the Great Seattle Fire — however, because the local economy was strong, it was easy for the city to rebuild on top of the destruction. The famous Underground Seattle highlights many of the former sites and is still open to tours.

Pioneer Square was established as a Preservation District in 1970 to protect what is one of the US’s best surviving collection of Romanesque Revival urban architecture.

Lay of the land now 🌳

Pioneer Square is one of Seattle’s largest historical districts and encompasses several blocks between S. Royal Brougham Way to the south, Columbia Street to the north, Alaskan Way to the west, and Fifth Avenue to the east.

Approximately 4,300 people call the area home, with a median age of 44 — 11 years higher than Seattle’s overall median age of 35.

Digs for sale 🏡

Biz + nearby things to do 📋

  • Damn the Weather | Looking for a burger, but want it just a bit fancier? This restaurant’s menu is chock full of elevated American favorites like duck fat french fries + fried chicken sandwiches.
  • Yellow Butterfly Coffee | This Puerto Rican coffeehouse is run by folks who are passionate about flavor — even your coffee snob friends will love it.
  • Arundel Books | The wide variety of books are enough to ogle at, but the building’s vaulted ceilings, stunning tile floors, and Edison light bulbs will also capture a history nerd’s heart.
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