Historic District: Seattle Area Timeline

Pioneer Square Founded in 1852
Settlers first settled along Alki beach in 1851, but shortly moved across Elliott Bay to what is now known as Pioneer Square. Early settlers would called the settlement New York-Alki, Alki being a Chinook word for by and by. It was also called Duwamps, though the name was later changed to Seattle in honor of the Duwamish chieftain Sealth, who advocated for the accommodation of the American settlers.

Great Seattle Fire in 1889


Early Seattle was a logging town and the Henry Yesler logging mill based in Pioneer Square made timber the material of choice for building in the nascent city.  In fact, timber was so popular that hollowed out logs would be used for sewer and water pipes. However, the popularity of wood came with a price, and in the summer heat of 1889 a cabinetry shop caught fire. The attempts to put it out with water only fed the it, because of the turpentine covered floors, causing the fire to spread to other buildings.  32 city blocks were destroyed, including the business district, wharves, and rail terminals.  This prompted construction reform and resulted in the mason and brick buildings seen throughout Pioneer Square today.

- Interesting fact:

The Nations smallest national park is the Klondike Gold Rush museum.

Klondike Gold Rush in 1897
No single event in history put Seattle on the map the way the Klondike gold rush did.  Prior to the gold rush Tacoma was the economic hub of Western Washington.  With the discovery of gold in Klondike, the resulting flood of thousands of prospectors, known as sourdoughs, turned the small logging town into a major mercantile center for the Northwestern portion of the United States.

Tinglit Totem Pole in 1899
In 1899 a group of rogue businessmen ‘procured’ a totem pole from the Tinglit people and placed it in Pioneer Place Park.  It wasn’t until 1938, when an arsonist burned down the original, that the Tinglit were compensated for the original and carved a new totem pole for the city.

King Street Station in 1904
Seattle’s first major train station; it was operated by the Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific railroad until the creation of Amtrak in 1971. Today it serves as the regional center for rail and a major hub for local transit.  It is currently being restored to its former glory by the city, with restoration being scheduled to finish in 2012.


- Union Station Interior

Oregon & Washington (Union) Station in 1911
Constructed in 1911 it was Seattles major train hub until the discontinuation of its last rail line in 1971.  It sat dormant and neglected for decades until it was restored in the late 1990s and is now the headquarters of Sound Transit and is a major regional and intercity transit hub.

Sinking ship in 1962
Pioneer Square, no longer the heart of Seattle, had gone through a period of neglect and decay.  During the 1960s it became a focus of urban renewal, with some proposing to replace much of Pioneer Square with parking garages.  One such garage, known as the sinking ship, sits where the old Seattle Hotel used to stand.  This prompted surge of activism by locals to protect historic Seattle.

Seattle Pilots 1969
Seattle had long been a hotbed for minor league baseball boasting a popular pacific coast league team, the Rainiers.  The Cleveland Indians nearly moved to the city in 1965 and the city was considered a plum choice for the expansion of the MLB in 1969.  So the Seattle Pilots were born, unfortunately, the team performed poorly and financial difficulty forced the team to move to Milwaukee were they are now known as the Brewers. 
It would be almost a decade until Seattle would get another baseball team.

Preservation district in 1970
After nearly a decade of work by local preservationists were able to secure a place on the National Historic Register for Pioneer Square and later that year it became a city preservation district.

King Dome in 1976
A multipurpose stadiums built in the SODO district bordering Pioneer Square to the south.  It would become the home of Seattle Seahawks, Mariners, and other sports teams until its demolishment in 2000.

Seattle Seahawks 1976
A league expansion in 1976 brought football to Seattle.  The Seahawks have the distinction of being the only team to play in the championship games for both he AFC and NFC.  The name for the team was the result of a naming contest where the Seahawks, a nick name for the osprey, was selected out of 1,700 different names.  In 2006 the Seahawks lost a controversial super bowl to the Pittsburg Steelers.

Seattle Mariners in 1977
Enfranchised in 1977 the Seattle Mariners were a lovable bunch of loser, unable to field a winning team until the miracle of ’95 where they won their first division championship.  In 2001 the Marines set the American league record, and tied the major league record set by the 1906 Chicago Cubs, for most wins in a single season.

Safeco Field in 1999
Home of the Seattle Mariners, Safeco field, and known as the house that Griffey built, it is retro modern in design, incorporating many of the features that ball parks of the 1950s had along with modern amenities.

Qwest Field in 2002
Home of the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC it is also used as a venue for trade shows and concerts.  It was the first field to utilize FieldTurf artificial field and has the reputation of being one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL.



Seattle Sounders FC in 1974/1994/2009
Originally founded in 1974, as the Seattle Sounders, for the North American Soccer League and went defunct in 1983, the Sounders are a team that just wouldn’t disappear.  A little over a decade later the Sounders came back as part of the United States Football league and continued to play in the league until it was franchised into Major League Soccer under the name Seattle Sounders FC.  In 2009 they became the second expansion team ever to win the U.S. Open Cup and the only team to repeat as Champions in 2010.