The Seattle Hotel (also known as Hotel Seattle) was the third of three hotels located in Pioneer Square in a triangular block bound by James Street to the north, Yesler Way to the south, and 2nd Avenue to the east, and just steps away from the Pioneer Building. It was built in 1890 from the ashes of the Great Seattle Fire and served as a hotel until early in the 20th Century. By the time neighboring Smith Tower was completed in 1914, the Seattle Hotel had become an office building.
The Seattle Hotel was a triangular-shaped building (much like the Flatiron Building in Manhattan, New York), with its narrow face located at the junction of James and Yesler. It stood five stories high and for much of its existence bore the inscription "1890" above the fifth-story window, signifying the year it was completed.
Significance of its Demolition
Abandoned by 1961, the Seattle Hotel was torn down and replaced with a parking garage, derisively called the "Sinking Ship" as part of the initial stages of an urban-renewal plan that would level all the old buildings in the district. That was as far as the plan went. The old hotel's demise kicked off a preservation movement spearheaded by the likes of Alan Black, Victor Steinbrueck and historian/author Bill Speidel which led to a revival of the Pioneer Square district. By 1970, with its buildings refurbished, a historic district area including the Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Occidental Hotel, I and II (1861-1889)
Before the Seattle Hotel rose in 1890, there was the Occidental Hotel. The first Occidental, which opened in 1861, was a wooden building. Twenty years later, on September 26, 1881, it held a memorial service for President James Garfield, who had died five days earlier from injuries sustained when he was shot in July.
In 1883, the wooden structure was torn down and John Collins built a bigger, grander one in the same location. It lasted just four years, before burning down in the Great Seattle Fire on June 6, 1889. The second Occidental Hotel, like the Seattle Hotel, was also triangular-shaped.
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- HistoryLink Essay - Occidental Hotel: The Rise, Fall, Rise, and Fall of Pioneer Square's Historic Hotel
- HistoryLink Essay - Now & Then -- Seattle Hotel vs. the Sinking Ship
- Historic Seattle: History of Historic Preservation In Seattle
- WhiteHouse.gov: Biography of James Garfield
- Glass Steel and Stone: Flatiron Building