Something Old, Something New – Colorado Ave South & Alaska Way South – Seattle, WA

This is a view of Seattle that is rarely photographed though I think this will change once the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct is completed. For now, I think this is one of the first shots from this location and is a rather iconic view of the Smith Tower, the first skyscraper in Seattle, and the Columbia Center. Seattle’s current tallest building.

A few details about these two buildings.

In 1909 Lyman Cornelius Smith, the founder of the Smith Corona Typewriter Company, decided Seattle needed a really tall building.

At first he was going to build a 14 story building but his son, and I suspect, his overly large ego, was soon convinced that a 38 story building with a roof height of 463 feet and a total height of 489 feet when the antenna spire is included was a much better idea.

It also helped that a 38 story building, that bore his name, would be the tallest building west of Mississippi River.

Construction commenced in 1910 and and the building was completed in 1914 which also happens to be the year that my Great Great Uncle Carl Anderson arrived in America from Sweden.

The Smith Tower stayed the tallest building west of the Mississippi until 1931 when the Kansas City Power and Light Building was completed with a roof height of 476 feet. I being a rabid Seattle fan contend that the 489 total feet was the correct height and the that Kansas City building should never have been given that distinction.

The Smith Tower did remain the tallest building in Seattle for the next 48 years and was only dethroned when our next great defining building, the Space Needle was completed in 1962. For those keeping score the Space Needle has a roof height of 518.8 feet with total height of 605 feet when the antenna spire is included.

Currently the crowning pyramid is the single private residence Petra Franklin, David Lahaie, and their two daughters.

The 76 story Columbia Center was stared in 1981, was completed in 1985, and was the brain child of Martin Selig, a major developer in Seattle. The roof height is 943 feet and has a total height of 967 feet. It also has a public observation deck on the 73rd floor which is at 902 feet.

This building was a target of the original September 11, 2001 attacks which called for 10 planes to be hijacked and flown into various buildings around the USA.

Copyright 2015 – Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved