NFT Seattle Landmarks

Seattle / Landmarks

Seattle is a city of few monuments and has little in the way of epic architecture (the Central Library (Map 3) notwithstanding). When other American cities were stockpiling marble and granite, Seattle was still a muddy outpost with wooden sidewalks. Today, post-boom, there remains an unfinished feeling to the landscape. Our most iconic landmark, The Space Needle (Map 15), is largely ignored and sometimes reviled by Seattleites. Same goes for that useless hunk-o-metal better known as the Monorail (Map 15). On the other hand, Seattle possesses no shortage of humorous, weird, usually misguided displays of civic pride and identity.

Historic Seattle
An obvious place to start is the 100-plus-year-old Pike Place Market (Map 3). Beset though it is by tourists determined to see airborne fish, the market still has a lot to offer local residents. Smith Tower (Map 7) was the tallest building west of the Mississippi for nearly 50 years. Both the Paramount Theatre (Map 3) and 5th Avenue Theatre (Map 3) take visitors back to vaudeville days. The Seattle Asian Art Museum (Map 17) is a 1933 Art Deco wonder in the middle of Volunteer Park. To go back even further, the Birthplace of Seattle Monument (Map 35), an obelisk on Alki Point, marks the arrival of the first white folk in 1851.

Open Spaces
Though there have been a few missteps in the parks department--consider the scary, concrete wonderland of Freeway Park (Map 3)--the out-of-doors is what Seattle does best. From the untouched to the intricately landscaped, you are never far away from a patch of green in the Emerald City. For complete respite from the urban din, Discovery Park (Map 11) is the largest, and perhaps wildest, park within city limits. If it's botany you're after, Washington Arboretum (Map 22) on Union Bay contains an herbarium, horticulture center, the Japanese Garden (Map 19), and it's accessible by kayak. The gardens at Woodland Park (Map 30) and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Map 28) (a.k.a. the Ballard Locks) are gorgeous in season. Both Gas Works Park (Map 24) and Kerry Park (Map 14) afford postcard-worthy views of the skyline. Finally, Volunteer Park (Map 18) on the Hill is Seattle's ultimate urban oasis.

Public Art
Despite Seattle's reputation for lefty-leaning political attitudes, the existence of a mammoth statue of Vladimir Lenin (Map 24) in the heart of the Fremont neighborhood strikes most spectators as puzzling. Built in Slovakia and transported to the Emerald City after the fall of communism, this handsome piece now stands among Mexican restaurants, fashionable clothing boutiques, and other bastions of capitalism. Other public sculptures make for easier contextualization, such as Pioneer Square's life-size bronze Fallen Firefighters' Memorial (Map 7), Fremont's six cast-aluminum Waiting for the Interurban (Map 24), and the Jimi Hendrix Statue (Map 4) on Capitol Hill. The alluring Bettie Page Mural (Map 31) makes commuting interesting for those stuck on I-5, while the Martin Luther King Jr. Mural (Map 5) inspires contemplation and reflection each time you stroll by.

Lowbrow Landmarks
With esoterica such as the mammoth, hippy-hating Fremont Troll (Map 24), Seattle's oddball landmarks expose the real character of the city. Not even Wikipedia can explain the existence of Post Alley's Gum Wall (Map 3) or the Wall of Death (Map 26), a sculpture that pays homage to, of all things, a motorcycle stunt. The pink pachyderms of the Elephant Carwash (Map 2) offer a comment on the historic value of neon. The Spooky Coke Machine (Map 17) is a thirst-quenching mystery. Georgetown's Hat 'n' Boots (Map 39) is pure Americana--a roadside wonder built for a gas station now ensconced in a local park. As funky bars go, none is so well-steeped in grime and history as the Blue Moon Tavern (Map 25), a former haunt of beat poets and other counterculture figures.

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Ride the Ducks
What unsuspecting local hasn't bitched once or twice after a truckload of happily quacking tourists scared the crap out of them while passing thru downtown on a Ride the Duck tour? Annoying, yes, but the Duck tours are also undeniably quirky and irreverent. The tour guides, you also happen to be licensed Captains,who have silly names like Captain Clem Chowder and Chip Ahoy include plenty of city history along with a healthy dose of corny jokes. Their enthusiasm is infectious and trust me, by the end of the two hour voyage they will have even the most hardened Seattle native singing along to "We Will Rock You." The Ducks' amphibious capabilities allow visitors to view the city by both land and lake, a highlight of the trip is dodging the seaplanes landing on Lake Union. Ahoy, Seattle.

Posted By:  Tirza Magdiel
Photo:  Tirza Magdiel

Vladimir Lenin Statue
For you 20th century Europe history buffs, this statue used to stand in Poprad, Czechoslovakia. During the fall of communism, it was quietly removed from its place in Lenin Square. It was found at a junk yard by a guy from Issaquah who purchased it for $13,000. Getting the statue to the US cost him over $41,000! He actually mortgaged his home. The things you'd do for Lenin... The great irony. A massive statue of a Bolshevik key figure in the United States. Only in Fremont. It's a good thing that guy didn't put Lenin up in Issaquah. He would have to deal with the angry mob!

Posted By:  Julia Farhat
Photo:  Julia Farhat

Pike Place Market Gum Wall
This public-generated "art" is supposedly the result of failed attempts to remove chewed gum that Market Theater patrons were sticking on the brick wall while they waited in line. Upon closer inspection, one finds that the collection hasn't stagnated in the medium of gum, but has also grown to encompass wrappers, cigarette butts, coins, and other mementos from visitors. Does it smell fruity and minty? No, not really. Is it a little gross? You be the judge.

Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Qwest Field
Scarves up Seattle. We have a new game in town that draws sell out crowds, comes with its own marching band, and showers the supporters in confetti. No, it isn't drag queen softball. I'm talking about soccer and the Sounders, our new MLS team. The unbelievable atmosphere created by the fans and the fast paced nature of the game is what sets the Sounders apart from the snoozefest of Seattle's other pro sports teams. We've caught footie fever in a big way and you can't go anywhere without seeing Sounders flags, posters, t-shirts, or scarves. Many ladies of my acquaintance have caught Freddie fever. Freddie Ljungberg that is, the former Arsenal player and star of the team. With 22,000 season ticket holders and four months of sold out home games, you better plan way ahead if you want to get a piece of this action.

Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Former Location of TUBS
In its glory days, TUBS was spa. A spa enveloped in rumor. These rumors suggested everything from anonymous sex in the secluded hot tubs to a full on prostitution ring. I don't know what, if any of it, was true. I suspect there were some sexual indiscretions in the tubs at one point or another but what hot tub hasn't seen at least one happy ending? And anyway, the speculation was half the fun of Tubs. It was a great conversation piece with a cool exterior. And now it's about to be torn down. In recent months, a group called the Free Sheep Foundation started to paint the outside. Not graffiti but actual art. Really good stuff. The city let them because they were tearing it down anyway. Last Sunday, they held an open house and the artists were there. You could also go inside. Sadly, I encountered no ghostly reach-arounds. Just tons of broke tile and dust. An old TV. More art. I know we have a lot of art spaces in Seattle already but it felt like a waste to just haul it away. On the other hand, the coolest things in this world are only temporary.

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NFT Top Picks:
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Archie McPhee
Bettie Page Mural
Blue Moon Tavern
Cal Anderson Park
Dick's Drive-In
Discovery Park
Fremont Troll
Gas Works Park
Hat 'n' Boots
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
Japanese Garden
Jimi Hendrix Statue
Lake View Cemetery
Museum of History & Industry
Olympic Sculpture Park
Pacific Science Center
Paramount Theatre
Pike Place Market
Scarecrow Video
Seattle Art Museum Downtown
Seattle Asian Art Museum
Seattle Central Library
Seattle Police Are Communists Guy
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Sound Garden
The Edgewater Hotel
Vladimir Lenin Statue
Woodland Park Zoo

The Specifics:
NFT Pick