Smith Tower is the first an the oldest skyscraper in Seattle, Washington completed in 1914 and named after its builder, magnate Lyman Cornelius Smith. Containing 38 floors, it was the tallest office building west of the Mississippi River till 1931 and remained the tallest building on the West Coast until the Space Needle was built in 1962.
In 1909 Smith planned to build a 14-story building in Seattle but his son convinced him to build instead a much taller skyscraper . Ground was broke in 1910 and the building was completed in 1914 with a height of 143 m (462 ft) . Opened on July 4th, 1914 the Smith Tower was the fourth tallest building in the world. It remained the tallest west of Chicago for almost 50 years.
The tower had couple of owners . Ivar Haglund bought the tower for $1.8 million in 1976. The Samis Foundation owned since 1996 and in 2006 the tower was purchased by Walton Street Capital. The building has been renovated in 1986 and in 2000, the building received a $28 million dollar restoration including a complete seismic retrofit. By 2007, the occupancy rate had rebounded to about 90% .Walton Street Capital filed an application to convert the building into condominiums after the departure announcement of the two largest occupants including Disney.
Smith Tower is an example of neoclassical architecture. Its outer skin is granite on the first and second floors, and terra cotta on the rest. It has been washed only once since its construction, in 1976, because the building stays clean. The building is crowned by an 8-foot-wide (2.4 m) glass dome which is illuminated by blue light, except for the month of December, when it is changed to green. An interesting fact is that the building is one of the last to have live elevator operators. The Otis Elevator Company provided the elevators . The doors are latticed, so a rider can see into each hallway and through the glass walls in front of each office.
The crown jewel of the Smith Tower is the 35th floor Chinese Room, originally furnished by the last Empress of China as a gift to Mr. Smith. Featuring a hand-carved wood and porcelain-inlay ceiling, ornately carved blackwood furniture, and 17th century works of art, the Chinese Room offers commanding views of Seattle from the complete wrap around outside deck of this 522′ tall building. Also in the Chinese Room is the famed Wishing Chair, which imports the promise of marriage within one year to wishful women who sit there.
Smith Tower Observation Deck
The Smith Tower Observation Deck is providing one of the best aerial views in Seattle . No other observatory can put visitors in the middle of the downtown skyline or closer to Seattle’s historic waterfront . The 35th floor, outside, open-air Observation Deck is providing breathtaking panoramic views of Mt. Rainier, Olympic or Cascade Mountain ranges and the closest views of Safeco Field, the Colman Ferry Terminal or Pioneer Square.