home . index

In (and Under & Above) the Emerald City

June 26, 2010

< < previous | next > >

The guide for our Underground Tour told us that when early 20th-century Seattle took a census of the city, there were thousands of women living in the old neighborhood around Pioneer Square who listed their profession as "seamstress." Oddly, there were no sewing machines to be found in the area, "which led the city officials to conclude they must have done most of their work by hand." The city imposed a tax on seamstresses and did well off the revenues from the ladies and even a few "cross-stitchers." As she wrapped up the tour, our guide urged us to be generous at the tip jar since that determined "whether or not I have to go to my sewing job tonight."

After that, we went up to the Smith Building, which was the tallest skyscraper outside of New York when it was completed in 1913. The observation floor is called the China Room, and it's still decorated with furniture donated by the Empress of China, Su-xhi, whose summer palace outside of Beijing we visited some years ago. It offers awesome views of the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, and the ferries heading out to Puget Sound.