The original heart of Seattle, Pioneer Square is a neighborhood rich with history. Once considered the most scandalous part of the city, Pioneer Square is now home to thriving shops, restaurants and a stellar nightlife.
Rebuilt after the great Seattle fire, many of the brick and stone buildings of 1889 still stand in Pioneer Square today. The neighborhood became somewhat derelict in the first half of the 20th century, and was well known for its brothels, parlor houses and pawn shops. In the 1960's, the neighborhood became a target of urban renewal, and the historic Seattle hotel was torn down to make way for a parking garage. The move sparked outrage among historical preservationists and now nearly 90 acres of the neighborhood are part of "Pioneer Square Historic District."
Beginning in the 1970's the neighborhood became a magnet for urban professionals and entrepreneurs turned old, worn out buildings into updated taverns, clubs, offices and apartments. To this day, Pioneer Square is a sought after neighborhood for small business owners. The combination of historical buildings and modern shops give pioneer square a unique feel, different from any other part of Seattle.
The borders of Pioneer Square are loosely defined, and the approximately 20 square block neighborhood is easily accessible. Pioneer Square lies just south of downtown, and is bordered on the east by the International District, the west by Alaskan way and the Seattle waterfront, and the south by SODO, or south downtown. Pioneer Square is an easy walk from the Seattle's central shopping district of downtown, or the ferry terminals and piers of the waterfront. There is also plenty of on-street parking, but be ready to shell out four dollars an hour until 8 pm.
Pioneer Square is home to many shops, but it is best known for it's antiques and used books. There are also many specialty stores, selling everything from upscale children's toys to designer furniture. Food choices range from grab-and-go deli's, to authentic international fare from the other side of the world.
Occidental Park and the Smith tower are just a couple of the sights to check out on a nice day. Occidental Park offers a history exhibit, giving visitors a glimpse into Pioneer Square's past and the Smith Tower was for many years the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Pioneer Square is also home to many art galleries, and the neighborhood boasts a "First Thursday" walk each month, when art galleries stay open late and introduce new shows to the public.
If you plan on staying after the sun goes down, Pioneer Square really comes to life after dark. Live music, dance clubs and piano bars all reside in the neighborhood and there is something for every night owl along the city blocks.
Any time of day, Pioneer Square is a neighborhood worth strolling through. History buffs, Nightlife-lovers and antique shoppers will all find something in common in this neighborhood so full of Seattle's past and present.
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