King Street Station (Seattle)

King Street Station (Seattle)

Infobox station
name=King Street Station, Seattle

image_caption=View from southeast, city skyline in background
address=303 S. Jackson St. Seattle, Washington 98104
line=Amtrak Services:Sound Transit Services:
platform=bay, side, island
parking=Yes; paid
opened=May 1906
other=Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach
owned=City of Seattle

King Street Station is a train station in Seattle, Washington. Located between S. King and S. Jackson Streets and 2nd and 4th Avenues S. in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle, the station is just south of downtown. King Street station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

The station is served by Amtrak Cascades, Empire Builder, and Coast Starlight lines and by Sound Transit's Sounder commuter trains. In 2006, Amtrak ridership totaled 583,766 boardings. For the first 9 months of 2006, Sounder service boarded almost 1.2 million passengers at King Street Station. [cite news |last= Riley |first= Kate |title= Crowning the King |publisher= Seattle Times |date= 2006-12-17 |url=
accessdate= 2007-02-02


Built between 1904 and 1906 by the Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific Railway, the station replaced an antiquated station on Railroad Avenue, today's Alaskan Way. Designed by the firm of Reed and Stern (of Saint Paul, Minnesota), who acted as associate architects for the design of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, the station was part of a larger project that moved the mainline away from the waterfront and into a 5,245 foot (1,590 m) tunnel under downtown. [cite book |last=Schwantes |first=Carlos |title=Railroad Signatures across the Pacific Northwest |publisher=University of Washington Press |date=1993 |location=Seattle |pages=226 |isbn=0295975350] [cite web |title = King Street Station--Seattle, Washington: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary |publisher = National Park Service |url =
accessdate =2007-08-12
] The depot's 242 foot tower was modeled after Campanile di San Marco in Venice, Italy,cite web |last= Seattle Historical Society |authors= Margaret A. Corley |title= National Register of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form |publisher= National Park Service, Department of Interior |date= March 1973 |url= |format= PDF |accessdate= 2007-08-27] making it the tallest building in Seattle at the time of its construction. This tower contained four huge mechanical clock faces offering the time to each of the four cardinal directions. Later, this tower also served as a microwave tower for the Burlington Northern Railroad, the successor of both the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads, which occupied the second and third floors of the station, now deserted.

Over the years, remodeling has concealed the station's original interior. The ornate ceiling of the main waiting room, and a balcony and second level arcade were hidden by a lower dropped ceiling. The waiting room was walled off and marble was removed from columns. A grand staircase linking South Jackson Street with the west entrance was reduced to half its original size, and an addition was constructed on the west elevation of the building that was not in keeping with the building's architecture.

From a practical standpoint, the station is close to downtown. However, unlike cities such as Boston, it is not near the intercity bus terminal. What appears to be an upper entrance is not used. The main entrance on the first floor is at a dead-end road, rather than providing a loop.


Plans are underway to restore the entire building to its former prominence. Cosmetic renovations began in 2003. As part of these renovations the Compass Room and restrooms were refurbished; and the exterior awnings were replaced. New mahogany entry doors and wood framed windows were installed in the waiting room and Compass Room. New brass door hardware and reproduction period light fixtures and plaster decorative work were included to reproduce the former character of the station's interior.cite web |title= Seattle, WA - Great American Stations |publisher= Amtrak |url= |accessdate= 2007-02-02] Additional interior work remains. Also, the four clocks within the tower will be repaired and the microwave dishes perched on the roof of the tower will be removed.

In November 2006, the office of Seattle mayor Greg Nickels announced a preliminary agreement between the City of Seattle and BNSF Railway to purchase the station for $1. The Seattle City Council formalized the agreement by passing legislation in December 2006. [cite web |title= Seattle City Ordinance, No. 122312 |publisher= Office of City Clerk, City of Seattle |date= 2006-12-11 |url=
accessdate= 2007-02-02
] The deal, revised to $10, was signed on March 5, 2008. [ [ Local News | New round of fixes for King Street Station | Seattle Times Newspaper ] ] The purchase by the city freed up US$19 million of state and federal funds that can be used for further restoration of the station. The city has earmarked a further US$10 million for the restoration as part of a recently passed local transportation levy. [cite news |last= Young |first= Bob |title= $1 deal struck for King Street Station |publisher= Seattle Times |date= 2006-11-21 |url=
accessdate= 2007-02-02

As of October 1, 2008, The clocks in the clock tower have been repaired, and the roof replacement has begun.


King Street Station is a red brick masonry building with terra cotta and cast stone ornamentation. The building is L-shaped with the clock tower marking the main entry on the west facade. The clock tower and main entry terminate the axis of King Street in Pioneer Square. Note the bronze marker placed on the building in 1989 has incorrectly spelled the architecture firm as "Reed and Stem". The correct spelling is "Reed and Stern".

Inside the main entry, at the base of the clock tower, is the entry hall, known as the Compass Room. The name references the navigational star compass rose design laid out in hand-cut marble tiles on the floor at its center. The Compass Room has marble wainscotting, and is lighted by a multi-globe chandelier suspended above the compass rose from an elaborate plaster rosette. Triple globe wall sconces around the perimeter illuminate a band of inlaid green iridescent glass tile on the walls. Circular clerestory windows are trimmed in plaster relief decoration.

Notable places nearby

*Pioneer Square National Historic District
*Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
*International District
*Metro Transit Tunnel
*Qwest Field
*Safeco Field
*Union Station


Notes and references

External links

* [ King Street Station (National Register of Historic Places)]
* [ King Street Station (Sound Transit)]
* [ King Street Station (Washington State Department of Transportation)]

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