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<< Back to Start | < Previous Point | Next Point > Point 9 of 10

Point 9: Skid Road Meets the Sea, foot of Yesler Way: Pier 48
Seattle's economy was really established in the fall of 1852 when Henry Yesler built Puget Sound's first steam-powered sawmill on a wharf extending from the foot of "Skid Road" (also Mill Street and now Yesler Way). This pier was the center of local maritime trade until destroyed by the Great Fire of 1889.

Yesler's Wharf was replaced by piers 1 and 2 by pioneer arithmetic (50 and 51 by modern numbers) built by the Northern Pacific Railroad, and later operated by the Alaska Steamship Company. The piers were removed in the 1960s to accommodate the needs of the Washington State Ferry System.

The present Pier 48 was built in the mid-1930s and taken over by the Port of Seattle in 1950 to serve a variety of shippers. Between 1967 and 1989, Pier 48 was the Seattle terminal for the ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway System, and later accommodated summer steamship service to Vancouver, B.C.

The pier became vacant and in the late 1990s, the first Northwest Bookfest was held there, with hundreds of booths, readings, and book-related events.

The pier is currently (2004) vacant pending possible expansion of the Washington State Ferry Terminal to the north, but visitors can find giant periscopes on its south side, offering magnified views of the Port's container activity.

The adjacent park was built by the Port in the 1970s. Its neighboring Washington Street Boat Landing was built in 1920 to house Seattle's harbor master. It was restored 50 years later as a landmark.

<< Back to Start | < Previous Point | Next Point > Point 9 of 10

Trestles and docks perched over the tideflats south of Pioneer Square, Seattle, ca. 1884
Courtesy Kurt Jackson

Steamer Mexico at Ocean Dock, foot of Main Street, 1888
Courtesy Paul Dorpat

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