Pier 66/Bell Street Pier
Everything Old is New Again | A Pier of Many Uses | Revitalization | World Trade Center |
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Everything Old Is New Again
Pier 66 is just about as old as the Port itself. It was one of the first six properties the Port developed after its formation in 1911; construction began in 1914. Over the years it’s had almost as many names as uses. It’s been known as The Bell Street Wharf, Bell Street Terminal and got its current nomenclature in 1944 when the military renumbered all of the waterfront piers.
As soon as construction was finished on the main four-story building, it became the first headquarters for the Port of Seattle in 1915. The wharf building was built in 1914 and a cold storage facility quickly followed.
Pier 66’s rooftop was transformed into a very happy place in 1915. The Port opened "Happy Land," a rooftop public park complete with a solarium and swimming pool. The park served as the perfect place for moms to drop their kids off while they went shopping at Pike Place Market. But Happy Land was short lived. The activities of sailors and their female shore companions earned it an unsavory reputation. It closed in the 1920s.
The dynamic range of marine trade facilities here, including cold storage, warehousing, on-dock rail, and passenger accommodations, made Pier 66 key to the city and commerce. Several steamship companies called here, including Ketchikan Transportation Company, Alaska Engineering Commission, U.S. Bureau of Education and Canadian Pacific Railway, which whisked passengers off to Vancouver and Victoria.
In 1931, the original wooden trestle connecting Bell St. Terminal to the bluff was replaced by a concrete bridge. Car traffic was growing and a stronger structure was needed to support it. Canadian Pacific Railway’s "Princess Marguerite II," a luxury passenger and auto liner, sailed from Pier 66 from 1949 to 1974.
As the Port’s container terminals became increasingly important in cargo operations, Bell Street’s use declined and much less bulk cargo moved across its dock. The cold storage and warehouse facilities continued operations, but their wharf and terminal buildings began deteriorating. The bridge was closed. It was time for a change at Pier 66.
The Port’s headquarters moved to a newly renovated home at Pier 69 in 1993 and Pier 66 was set to get a complete makeover as part of the Central Waterfront Redevelopment, completed in 1996.The Port tore down the old structures, and built the new Bell Street Pier, Bell Harbor Marina and Bell Harbor International Conference Center.
The Bell Harbor Marina offers prime waterfront moorage. Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center, a non-profit, interactive nautical museum, opened in 1998. Most recently, Odyssey was replaced by the Maritime Event Center, a private event venue. In 1998, the Pier 66 roof-top was once again opened to the public. This
time as an observation center, homage to the original "Happy Land" on
the old Bell Street Terminal.
With the new millennium, came a new and growing business for Seattle’s Seaport - luxury cruises. Just in time for the first full cruise season on our shores, the Port opened the cruise terminal at Pier 66, in 1999. Thirty-five cruises set sail from the new terminal that summer, heading north for both short-trips through the Pacific Northwest and for longer journeys up to southern Alaska. In addition to the cruise terminal, marina, conference center and Anthony’s Restaurant, Pier 66 offers 11 acres of waterfront access with a wading pool for kids. Pier 66 also features art by Northwest artist d’Elaine Johnson and architecture by Hewitt Isley, also responsible for Pier 69 architecture.
Read more about cruising out of Seattle today!
Anthony's Pier 66
In 1966, the Port of Seattle sought to build an international meeting and event center on the waterfront, but the project was stalled and ground to a complete stop in 1970 by financial, technical and legal issues.
The building was stopped, but not the Port's enthusiasm for the project. The Port created a World Trade Center Department and Library and became a member of the World Trade Center's Association, joining others across the globe.
The Port’s first World Trade Center finally opened in 1973 at Sea-Tac Airport and plans were revived for a waterfront location in the late 1980s as part of the Central Waterfront Redevelopment project. In 1994, a licensing agreement linked the Port with 300 other World Trade Centers worldwide. In 1998, the long-awaited World Trade Center opened across the street from Pier 66.
Plans for a second building, World Trade Center East, were stalled in 1998, when an eerie discovery was unearthed at an excavation site during construction – human remains. Concerned that the site could be an Indian Burial Ground, the Port commissioned historian Paul Dorpat to investigate. Dorpat tentatively concluded that the bones could have come from land at the old Denny School at Fifth and Battery, during a fill of Belltown Ravine in 1911, possibly the same fill that had been used for the Bell Street Terminal in 1914. Indian grave sites on the waterfront were not uncommon, but this land was fill, not "native soil," so it appeared this was not an original burial ground.
Despite the setbacks, the Port’s dream of offering a meeting place to the community and the region’s businesses involved in international trade was finally fulfilled.
Visit the World Trade Center Seattle website
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