Smith Tower

Every time I come into downtown on a ferry, I can’t help but take a moment to admire this building. Completed in 1914, Smith Tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi for more than a decade and the tallest building on the west coast until the Space Needle (just on the other end of downtown) was completed for the World’s Fair in 1962.

Aside from the history, I worked in Smith Tower for a few months on an IT contract, during a strange period in its history when it was more or less vacant. Tech companies liked the prestigious address, until Amazonia took over the South Lake Union area and the biggies vacated Pioneer Square for those greener pastures. Then the building was sold and the new owners haven’t really done anything noticeable about drawing new tenants. I wonder if the elevator attendants are still there?

Anyway, I love the view of this plucky little “skyscraper,” holding strong at the southern end of town as it’s dwarfed by the ever expanding downtown to its north. Bookended by that other former tallest building at the foot of Queen Anne hill. Maybe next time I’ll draw lines indicating each successive expansion of downtown until it reached its current footprint nearly filling in the entire skyline between those historic bookends.

Or not. Frankly, I think I’d rather focus on the mountains in the background.