The Washington Street Public Boat Landing Facility illustrates Seattle's long-running reliance on the waters of Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. The earliest European American settlers chose the area in the 1850s partly because of its natural harbor, and since then the city's population has used the water in myriad ways. From its earliest timber products to its most modern computer equipment, Seattle business has sent much of its output by ship. The harbor helped make Seattle America's primary arrival and departure point for the Klondike gold fields, and for years newcomers took their first steps in the city on the docks at which they had arrived. Fishing continues to be an important part of the region's trade, and since the early 1900s, ferries have offered a reliable way to travel Seattle's bays and inlets.
In 1920, the city created a new waterfront landmark when it opened the Washington Street Public Boat Landing Facility. This galvanized iron shelter, supported by 16 decorated steel columns, is very similar in appearance to the earlier Iron Pergola. Over the years this building has fulfilled a number of uses: as a landing for ferries and ocean-going ships, as the headquarters of the Seattle Harbor Patrol and as the U.S. Navy's official shore-leave landing and departure point. Still used daily, the Public Boat Landing Facility remains the gateway to the city from Puget Sound and is the only remaining link from the historic Pioneer Square-Skid Road Historic District to the waterfront that it relied upon.
The Washington Street Public Boat Landing Facility is located just south Alaska Way Viaduct, on South Washington St. The facility is open to the public.
Washington St. Public Boat Landing
Photograph by Jennifer Meisner, Seattle Urban Conservation Division
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