Pioneer Square Park

Pioneer Square, International District & SoDo

The original Pioneer Square is a cobbled triangular plaza where Henry Yesler’s sawmill cut the giant trees that marked Seattle’s first industry. Known officially as Pioneer Square Park, the plaza features a bust of Chief Seattle (Seattle being an Anglicized version of the Duwamish name Si'ahl or Sealth), an ornate pergola and a Tlingit totem pole,the first to be erected in Seattle as the Salish people native to the region did not build them.

Some wayward early Seattleites, so the story goes, stole the totem pole from the Tlingit native people in southeastern Alaska in 1890. The tribe successfully sued and received $500 in damages for the stolen art (although they originally demanded $20,000). An arsonist lit the pole aflame in 1938, burning it to the ground, leading the city to request the Tlingit to carve a new one, which you see today.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Pioneer Square, International District & SoDo attractions

1. Pergola

0.01 MILES

This decorative iron pergola in Pioneer Square Park was built in 1909 to serve as an entryway to an underground lavatory and to shelter those waiting for…

2. Pioneer Square Historical District

0.01 MILES

Many important architectural heirlooms are concentrated in Pioneer Square, the district that sprang up in the wake of the 1889 Great Fire. Instantly…

3. Pioneer Building

0.02 MILES

Elmer Fisher, whose fingerprints are ubiquitous in Pioneer Square, designed this iconic Pioneer Square building.

4. Yesler Way

0.08 MILES

Seattle claims its Yesler Way was the basis for the term ‘skid road’, which became 'skid row' – logs would ‘skid’ down the steeply sloped road linking a…

5. Smith Tower


Sneak a peak at the beaux arts–inspired lobby while on your way to the 35th-floor Observatory of this landmark building. The views aren't as dramatic as…

6. Occidental Park

0.12 MILES

Once a rather rough-and-tumble place, Occidental Park has undergone a recent renaissance thanks largely to a partnership between the City of Seattle and a…

7. Grand Central Arcade

0.12 MILES

Once an opera house and hotel, this stately brick building now contains two floors of commercial businesses, including the excellent Grand Central Baking…

8. Arctic Building

0.16 MILES

Like the psychedelic Beatles' song, the unique Arctic Building, completed in 1917, is celebrated for its walruses. Their heads (25 of them), surrounded by…