The 42 story Smith Tower is Seattle’s first skyscraper. It opened on July 4, 1914, as the tallest building outside New York City. Construction of the building, located in Pioneer Square, was funded by Lyman Smith from the Smith-Corona company.
Admission is US$19 for adults (as of January 2018), and tickets can be purchased in a small gift shop at the base of the tower. The tower is closed to visitors on Mondays.
After buying tickets, there is a short film and a fun interactive museum about the building’s history. Visitors can explore stories about real people who once occupied Smith Tower, and see the original telephone switchboard.
From there, it’s a long ride up the building’s original elevator to the 35th floor. An elevator operator dressed in period costume cracks jokes about having a day full of “ups and downs”. The ride takes longer than a modern elevator, and you can see the floors as you ride. Finally, after a big jolt, you arrive at the Observatory.
When you walk out of the elevator, there’s the Chinese Room, a bar inspired by a speakeasy. The tower played a major role in the illegal alcohol trade during Prohibition.
The Observatory is located on the outside of the building behind iron bars. It can get windy out there, so be careful! You might want to bring a jacket as well.
From the Observatory, it’s possible to spot several Seattle landmarks such as the Space Needle, Columbia Center, stadiums, and a good look at the International District. I actually preferred the views at Smith Tower to the ones at the Space Needle and Columbia Center.