Yesler Way

Pioneer Square, International District & SoDo

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 logging area above town to Henry Yesler’s mill.

As for Henry Yesler himself, local historians paint him as an ambitious business zealot who clashed frequently with the wild-and-woolly Doc Maynard. These two men, who by all accounts were equally stubborn, both owned part of the land that would eventually become Pioneer Sq. This resulted in a highly symbolic grid clash, in which Yesler’s section of the square had streets running parallel to the river, while Maynard’s came crashing in at a north–south angle. Yesler maintained, not unreasonably, that Doc was drunk when he submitted his portion of the plans.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Pioneer Square, International District & SoDo attractions

1. Pergola

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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 Park

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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…

3. Pioneer Square Historical District

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

4. Pioneer Building


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

5. 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…

6. Occidental Park

0.15 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. Smith Tower

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8. Waterfall Park

0.21 MILES

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