King Street Station

King Street Station

303 S Jackson St

(206) 398-5000


Open Daily


A Little More About Us

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 Stem of St. 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.[6][7] The depot's 242-foot (74 m) tower was modeled after Campanile di San Marco in Venice, Italy,[8] making it the tallest building in Seattle at the time of its construction. This tower contained four huge mechanical clock faces built by E. Howard & Co. of Boston, Massachusetts, offering the time to each of the four cardinal directions. At the time of installation it was said to be the second largest timepiece on the Pacific Coast, second only to the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California.[9] Later, this tower also served as a microwave tower for the Burlington Northern Railroad, the successor of both the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railways, whose offices occupied the second and third floors of the station.

Over the years, remodeling concealed the station's original ornate interior. The final blow occurred in 1965 when the hand-carved coffered ceiling of the main waiting room, and a balcony and second level arcade were hidden by a lower dropped ceiling, which was installed 10 feet (3.0 m) below the original. Under the direction of Northern Pacific Architect A.C. Cayou, the waiting room was walled off and marble was removed from columns as well as ornamental plaster being sheared from the walls as high as the new dropped ceiling.[10] The grand staircase linking South Jackson Street with the west entrance was reduced to half its original size, and an addition housing escalators was constructed on the west elevation of the building, which was not in keeping with the building's architecture. After the remodel, the only original remaining features left visible in the main waiting area were the terrazzo tile floor and the clock on the west wall above the restrooms.

From a practical standpoint, the station is close to downtown. However, unlike cities such as Boston, it is not near the intercity bus terminal, although the station is less than a block from the International District of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. For many years, the original upper entrance off of Jackson Street was not used. Instead, the main entrance was located on the first floor off of a small parking lot, rather than a drop off loop.