Seattle's early surveyors attempted to lay out the city's streets on a square grid plan. The varying angles of the shoreline, however, created overlapping grids that converged at points to produce a series of triangular lots. Building on these properties was difficult until the start of the 20th century, when the development of reinforced concrete freed architects of certain structural constraints. In 1901, architect Daniel Burnham designed the first and most famous modern triangular building, the Flatiron Building of New York City. Named for its similarity to the hand-held irons of the time, Burnham's work spurred the construction of a series of similar buildings throughout the United States that, as architectural historian Alan Gowans has pointed out, testified to the idea's popularity.
Seattle received its version of the Flatiron Building as part of the "Tidelands Real Estate Boom," which featured the aggressive promotion of property created by the massive filling in of Seattle's swampy coastal areas. In order to attract business to this new property, real estate magnate Victor Hugo Smith paid for the construction of a triangular shaped building with eclectic Italianate features. Although the Triangle Hotel and Bar and the surrounding area prospered for a time, development slowed in the 1920s. The ground floor remained the Triangle Bar until Western Union Telegraph Company located its "C" Branch here from 1929 until 1954. Later, as the Great Depression caused further decline, the other floors of the Triangle Hotel and Bar became the home of a brothel. Today the building has been restored and stands as a symbol of Tidelands development and as a tribute to the original Flatiron Building.
The Triangle Hotel and Bar is located in the southern tip of the Pioneer Square-Skid Road Historic District at 551 First Ave. South. The Triangle Pub is open from 1:00pm to 6:00pm daily, staying open until 10:00pm weekdays. Call 206-628-0474 or visit the website for more information.
Triangle Hotel and Bar
Photograph by Jennifer Meisner, Seattle Urban Conservation Division
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