The two big stadiums, Safeco Field and Qwest Field, in SODO, are what draw many people to Pioneer Square anymore. But this is Seattle’s original downtown. In 1852, the handful of white settlers who had wintered on Alki Beach chose this place, the only flat surface along the shoreline then, to stake their claim. For the Native Americans already here, this area was known as “Little Crossing Over Place.” The next year the logging off began and Henry Yesler’s sawmill was in full operation. The Great Fire of 1889 set off a round of re-building. The late 19th century brick and stone buildings in this 88-acre neighborhood are architectural treasures.
Pioneer Square is still art gallery central. This is the venue for perhaps the country’s first Art Walk, which started in 1981. First Thursdays, noon to 8 p. m., are now a Seattle fixture.Info:www.firstthursdayseattle.comThe district is home to numerous, one-of-a-kind shops worth making the trek for: Wessel & Lieberman Books, one of the best used bookstores in the city, 208 First Ave. S.; FX McRory’s, 419 Occidental Ave. S.; Flury & Company, 322 First Ave. S., which specializes in Edward S. Curtis photographs of Native Americans; Foster/White Gallery, 220 Third Ave. S. and Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S.
These are considerable civic presences, which is why Pioneer Square continues to have a vital heartbeat, despite the loss of two institutions, Elliott Bay Book Co., now on First Hill, and Trattoria Mitchelli, which closed a couple of years ago.
Zip: 98104. Boundaries: Roughly: West: Alaskan Way S.; South: King Street; East: Fifth Avenue: North: Yesler Street, or a couple of blocks beyond Yesler Street.