Seattle may be a young city, but it certainly has a rich history dating back at least 4,000 years with the Duwamish & Suquamish tribes. In 1792, George Vancouver became the first European to visit the area, but it wasn’t until the 1850’s that the Denny Party & the Collins party settled in the area. In the past 163 years, Seattle has experienced a lot—from the booming lumber industry and a bawdy underworld, to a fire that leveled the city, railroads, gold rush, Word Wars, street cars, regrades and more.
Here are some historic destinations around Pensione Nichols:
- In 1907, Seattle’s City Council acted on rumors they had heard of price fixing and established a centralized city market. From its very first day, Pike Place Market was a hit. By 1911, the demand for the market had grown so much that the number of stalls and doubled, and it had doubled in length. In the past 107 years, hotels, venues and shops have set up surrounding the market, and it has become a destination for visitors and locals to get produce, flowers, meats and more. In the 60s, a proposal to demolish the market was floated—and after significant community opposition was historically preserved in 1971.
- The quintessential to-do for histourism is Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. It starts just about 11 blocks from the hotel, and gives you the option between a daytime family-friendly Underground Tour or the nighttime Underworld Tour which incorporates the tales of Seattle’s debauched shenanigans. The tour takes you underground, exploring the what-was of Seattle. Tour guides tell the stories of different eras of history, scandals and politics that shaped the city you’re in today.
- Once you’re done with the Underground Tour, head up the street to the historic Smith Tower. The Smith Tower turns 100 this summer and for a number of years held the title of the tallest building on the west coast. It has an observation deck and the famed Chinese Room for tourists to visit daily.
- If you’re looking to visit some historical architecture, head to Banana Republic at 5th & Pike. The building that holds the modern store is the Coliseum Theater—a 1915 construction that was Seattle’s first dedicated movie theater.
- And now it’s time for the World’s Fair! The 1962 World’s Fair brought the Seattle Center to Seattle—including the 605-foot tall Space Needle, the synchronized-to-music International Fountain, Seattle’s Monorail line terminal, and recently the Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum. It’s also home to the Seattle Ballet, the Pacific Science Center, IMAX theaters, and much more!
- For a mix of history & entertainment, get a ticket to whatever show the 5th Ave Theater is running. During its construction and design 87 years ago, it was decorated in an ornate Chinese timber architecture style with elaborate patterns, paintings, and Imperial guardian lions—and has lost none of that flavor despite it’s 1979 very careful renovation.
Upon the opening of the 5th Ave Theater in 1926, The Seattle Times wrote, “It is doubtful that any Friday night in Seattle’s history saw more people circulating through all the downtown streets than were there last night. The density in the center of the activities was such that street cars were diverted…”—of course, they never could have predicted the Seahawks winning the Superbowl at that point.
Featured photo of 1st Avenue and Pike Street, circa the 1920s, credit the Museum of History and Industry.