Seattle 1978

Seattle 1978

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Seattle's Smith Tower

Not to take anything away from the 236th birthday of the U.S.A. but it's also the 98th anniversary of the dedication of Seattle's Smith Tower according to this article from History Link -
On July 4, 1914, the 462-foot-high Smith Tower, located in downtown Seattle, is dedicated. At the time it is one of the tallest buildings west of New York and the tallest building west of Ohio.
Located at 506 2nd Avenue, the building took three and a half years to construct. The architects were Gaggin & Gaggin (Edwin H. and T. Walker Gaggin) of Syracuse, New York, and the owner was Lyman Cornelius Smith, a typewriter tycoon whose firm eventually became the Smith-Corona Company.
 More interesting Smith Tower history from History Link can be found in this informative article.

I've been growing my Seattle postcard collection. Here are some that include the primary Seattle icon prior to "Century 21", the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 when the Space Needle became the identifying Seattle landmark. I found this jumbo postcard at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop last summer - I think I paid one dollar.

"Seattle Business District. Tallest building in the city, the 42 - story Smith Tower dominates the downtown skyline. Other notable buildings include the Exchange Building, the Dexter-Norton (sic) Building and (in lower right foreground) the County-City Building. Seattle has grown rapidly in importance as a sea port and trading center, since its fine harbor and natural geographical location make it an ideal distribution point, and a focus of trade from the Far East. SA-4. Photograph Courtesy Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Jumbo Post-Card Company - 2017 South Michigan Avenue - Chicago 16, Illinois"

A few more:

"42 Story L. C. Smith Building, Seattle" "Pub. by the Puget Sound News Co., Seattle Wash." Postcard mailed in 1917

L. C. Smith Tower

This is a blurry postcard but you can still make out the lit Smith Tower in the distance. Can anyone help me date it? (It's pre Space Needle)

"Sunset on Mount Rainier as viewed from Queen Anne Hill, Seattle, Washington. Lights from the city center and waterfront enhance the beauty of this evening scene Ektachrome by Bob and Ira Spring"

"Union Oil Company's Natural Color Scenes of the West. Seattle, a major Pacific Coast port and gateway to Alaska and the Orient. Tour the West this year with 76 gasoline"
I love this postcard because not only does it have the Smith Tower but it has the Silver Slug - The Kalakala ferry!

Yep - almost cropped out of the postcard - the Smith Tower on the far right. Named building focal point is now the Space Needle . . .

"Seattle, Washington. This aerial view shows a portion of Elliott Bay, the waterfront, metropolitan area, Space Needle in the distance, Lake Union at upper right and the new freeway borders the far right of the picture. Color by Bud Kimball. Plastichrome by ColourPicture Boston, Mass. 02130"

Last summer, my pen-pal (since we were 14!), Marcus from London visited the USA. I had never been to the observation floor of the Columbia Center (Seattle's current tallest building) and that's where I took him to get some views of the region. I HIGHLY recommend it! The Smith Tower is a bit dwarfed these days but still a significant part of the Seattle landscape.

Someday maybe I'll get to visit the interior of the Smith. I really enjoyed this article from the New York Times of the family that lives in the Tower's Pyramid. Be sure to view the slideshow.

Happy 98th Smith Tower!


matt said...

That first image is one I've never seen before, a real beaut, too. A surprising number of the buildings in that photo are still there!

Jana said...

Hi Matt! I hadn't been to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in years - I found that cheap old Seattle postcard AND a nuts-and-bolts-and-copper figurine of a bassoon player (my daughter's somewhat unique band instrument). A eclectic shopping experience just as it should be!