Top 20 Seattle attractions

Smith Tower

Enjoy 360 degree views of Seattle from the 35th floor of a vintage skyscraper.

The Smith Tower Observatory is on the 35th floor of the Smith Tower building in Seattle's Old Town, and also includes a speakeasy themed bar.

When it was completed in 1914, the Smith Tower was the tallest skyscraper in the United States outside of New York. For nearly fifty years it was also the tallest building on the West Coast until the Space Needle eclipsed it in 1962.  

Tickets can be purchased to the Smith Tower Observatory at 506 2nd Avenue, at the Smith Tower Provisions Store

Check hours & tickets.

10 best things to do at Smith Tower Observatory

1. Purchase a ticket at the Smith Tower Provisions Store.

Purchase a ticket to the Smith Tower Observatory at the Smith Tower Provisions general store at 506 2nd Avenue, just south of Seattle's downtown.

The Smith Tower Provisions Store has been beautifully staged to resemble an early business. It features a cafe and vintage soda fountain, with sandwiches, salads, and drinks, and a great selection of Smith Tower themed gifts and souvenirs.

When the Smith Tower opened in 1914, it had six shops on the main floor, and a restaurant, beauty shop and barber in the basement. There were a total of 540 offices inside the building, including two telegraph offices and a telephone booth.

2. After purchasing your ticket, follow the signs and take three steps down to the "Legends of Smith Tower" exhibits.

3. Browse fascinating exhibits about the Smith Tower's ambitious construction. 

The Smith Tower was built by L.C. Smith of the Smith-Corona typewriter fortune, who was based in Syracuse, New York.  Seattle was booming after the Klondike Gold Rush, and he thought it a wise property investment. 

The Smith Tower took three years to build from 1911 to 1914, at a cost of $1.5 million. Originally the plan was for a 25 story building, but Smith's son convinced him to compete with the lofty skyscrapers going up in New York.  Therefore, the building gradually increased to 42 stories!

The Smith Tower was designed by New York architectural firm Gaggin & Gaggin, who had never constructed anything higher than 5 stories.

On opening day on July 4, 1914, there was excitement in the air, because Seattle's Smith Tower was the tallest skyscraper in the world!  This 42 story building has 21 stories in the main building, and 21 stories in the tower.

4. Take the original marble stairs in Smith Tower, that lead to the lobby and elevators.  

5. Admire the elegant, marble hallway at the elevator level, with a row of seven copper and brass elevators with latticed doors. One of the elevators still has its original DC motor!

6. An attendant will whisk you up the 35th floor and Observation Deck at Smith Tower, on the manually operated Otis elevator.

7. Step out of the elevator into the beautiful Temperance Bar, and purchase some prohibition-themed food and cocktails.

Choose from delicious food selections, like a bento box, prawn cocktail, yummy sandwiches, salads, flatbread pizzas, and desserts.  There's also beer and wine, cocktails and spirits, and non-alcoholic temperance drinks like a house made ginger beer, and a Lil' Tommy Collins.

8. Admire the Chinese decorative features in the Temperance Bar.

The Temperance Bar at Smith Tower is an interesting combination of 1920s style temperance bar, with a Chinese twist!  

This is because this beautiful room was known as the Chinese Banquet Room for many years before being closed in 2014. The black and gold carved teak ceilings from the Chinese Banquet Room are still there, as is the Chinese Wishing Chair.  Legend has it that anyone sitting on the Chinese Wishing Chair will receive a wedding proposal within one year!  

The Chinese Wishing Chair was gifted to the builder of the Smith Tower (L.C. Smith) by Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi. Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi ruled China from 1861 to 1908, and was a trailblazer and feminist, banning the practise of foot binding in China, and openly encouraging education for women.

The bar re-opened in 2016 as the Temperance bar and thankfully retained many of it's original Chinese features. 

9. Step outside to the open air deck at Smith Tower, to enjoy incredible 360 degree views of Seattle and Puget Sound.

10. Look up at the Smith Tower Observatory on the 35th floor, just below the pyramid.

After you leave the Smith Tower building, look back up at it from street level to admire its impressive architecture. The 35th floor Smith Tower Observatory is visible, just below the pyramid.

It's fascinating to know that the upper three floors of the Smith Tower pyramid used to contain a water tower.  The water tower was removed in 2010 and the space converted into a three-story penthouse leased to a family.  The rest of the floors are leased for office space.

Know before you go

  • Smith Tower Observatory address:  506 2nd Avenue, Seattle WA 98104, Level 35.
  • Ticket prices: here.
  • Talking tower tours: here.
  • Hours: here.
  • Attractions near the Smith Tower:  UPS Waterfall Park, Sky View Observatory, Wing Luke Museum, and free Klondike Gold Rush Museum.

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