Pioneer Square is Seattle’s second oldest neighborhood that was once the heart of the city. The neighborhood takes its name from a small triangular plaza originally known as Pioneer Place. Pioneer Square District is the definitive center of Seattle’s vibrant art universe with high concentration of fine art galleries and studios. The district is characterized by late nineteenth century brick and stone buildings, and one of the nation’s best surviving collections of Romanesque Revival style urban architecture.
Pioneer Square sits from East to West, between 2nd Ave and the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and from South to North, between Columbia St. and King St. Pioneer Square is between downtown proper to the North, and the sports stadiums and International District to the South.
Pioneer Square marks Seattle’s original downtown, dating back to 1852 when the founders settled here, following a brief six-month settlement at Alki Point on the far side of Elliott Bay. The early structures in the neighborhood were mostly wooden, and nearly all burned in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. The civic leaders of the day took advantage of the fire to raise the streets and by the end of 1890, dozens of brick and stone buildings designed in Richardsonian Romanesque style were constructed .
Pioneer Square was also shaped by the Yukon Gold Rush of 1897. Seattle successfully sold itself as the gateway to Alaska, and the best place to outfit a gold mining expedition. The area underwent a revival in the late 70’s and early 80’s when historic preservation became a priority in Seattle. Pioneer Square was the city’s first designated historic district and it’s vitality and survival remain a priority today.
Each spring since 1989, on the weekend nearest June 6, the city celebrates the Pioneer Square Fire Festival with a parade and display of antique and modern fire technology, demonstrations of fire fighter skills, food , craft booths, and a party.
Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square District features 88 acres of beautifully restored architectural masterpieces, including buildings designed in the Second Renaissance-Revival, Beaux-Arts Classical, and Richardsonian-Romanesque styles . Pioneer square is in fact one of the largest collections of unique architecture in the United States.
Seattle’s Historic Pioneer Square District boasts more unique and independently owned shops than any other part of the city. These dusty bookstores, creaky-floored galleries, small boutiques, and quaint eateries now inhabit the Emerald City’s most historic buildings. Pioneer Square is also home to art galleries, internet companies, cafes, sports bars, nightclubs, bookstores, the Seattle Underground Tour, and a museum for the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
Pioneer Square’s historic district of Seattle offers a wealth of art galleries, bookstores, antique shops, cool restaurants, and buzzing nightclubs within walking distance .Pioneer Square is the busiest after dark, when dancing, live music, and spicy food shake up the City but be careful because Pioneer Square is near the city courthouses as well as the county jail and unfortunately the area is also popular with the homeless . The area’s shopping is particularly good for used or classic books and antiques. Every first Thursday of the month there is a free tour of the art galleries held in the early evening.