The oldest skyscraper in the city! A 38-story tower built in 1914.

You can pay money to visit the observation deck on the 35th floor and check out the city.

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Address: 506 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104

On the corner of Yesler and 2nd

















There are options for street parking around pioneer square where the tower is located however this can be difficult, so the website recommends the Butler Garage located at (114 James St, Seattle, WA 98104). They even provide a promo code on their website to get discounted parking up to 2 hours! Code: smithtower if you purchase parking in advance on the Butler Garage website (, which is something you can do now! Life hack! If driving and parking in Seattle is not something that interests you, have an Uber, Lyft or a friend drop you off on the corner of Yesler and 2nd.


The Smith tower was built in 1914 as the very first skyscraper in Seattle,WA and one of the tallest ones on the West Coast until 1962. With around 38 floors and a height of about 484 feet, depending on what you determine to count as a floor or part of a building height, there is technical controversy around these facts. But nonetheless, this asymmetrical building reigned as the tallest building in the area until the Space Needle was built. Lymen Cornelius Smith, the architect of the building was originally from New York City which shows in the design of the building. The concept of the building wider base with an extended thin, pointed tower gives off a very New York City feel. According to multiple sources the costs surrounding the building were upward of 1.5 million dollars. This high cost was partly due to the fact that the building was built with immense consideration to make it completely fireproof. This historical building had more than 10 different holders after the 10 years the Smiths kept it. There are many interesting facts to what happened inside the Smith Tower over the years. Most of the 38 floors of the building were intended for office spaces, retailers, telegraph offices and broadcasting stations which included what is now, the very popular KING, and an observatory deck at the top with breathtaking panoramic views of the city. The building was also a center location during the prohibition era. Inside the building, one of Seattle’s well-known Bootleggers, Roy Olmstead and his wife ran a radio station that is said to have been a way for his wife to subtly add coded signals into her stories for the bootlegging business. They have had cocktails named after him in the bar in recent years. The tower was used for almost 100 years before being renovated and rewired in 1999, and then later, in 2015, the observation deck also got a remodel to better attract visitors and tourist.


Today, you can visit the Smith Tower and all of its history for a small fee. You can get tickets online or in person at $12 for locals with a WA ID (in person only) from 11am-6pm and $14 after 6. For tourists, it is $20 for adults, $16 for kids, seniors and military, but there is happy hour Tuesday through Thursday from 4-6pm where you can get a $12 ticket. There is plenty of history to discover throughout the building including photos all over the walls, a graffiti wall and an original back office with old school gadgets and experience an elevator that is over 100 years old. One of the most unique but also terrifying parts of visiting the Smith Tower are the original elevators that bring you up to the observatory level using their original motors. A little scary but a very cool experience, they have a vintage gold look finish an elevator attendant to guide you up while telling you interesting facts or stories about the building. Once you reach the observatory deck, there is a prohibition inspired restaurant and a speak easy bar with small bites and cocktail specials. The Smith Tower is open to hosting private events on the observatory deck with plenty of information about it on their website. One of the age-old legends associated with the Smith Tower lies within what they call the Wishing Chair, located on the observation level. It’s the original chair given to Mr. Smith himself as a gift from the empress of China in around 1908. The legend is that if you sit in the chair while being single, you will find love and get married within the year. So, don’t sit unless you’re ready to settle down! The Smith tower is definitely a top location to visit in Seattle if you love history and a breathtaking view. Currently there is a woman and her family who live on the top few floors of the building in a 20-year lease agreement. The family occasionally will open up the space for public concerts or lectures involving the community.

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By Christopher S. Maloney