Heart This Place – My Seattle

To celebrate historic preservation from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. For our final installment, Director of Preservation Services Eugenia Woo shows us her favorite views in Seattle:

My first time in Seattle was in 1991 as a visitor; I fell in love with the city and its environs instantly. On this visit, I went full-on tourist. Space Needle! Underground Tour! Pike Place Market! Mount Rainier! I loved it and wanted more. The unbeatable natural setting combined with its urban, yet still small town feel, and quirkiness called out to me. I knew I needed to come back and experience the Pacific Northwest more fully.

So, in September 1993, I drove my 1980 beige Volvo DL (aka “The Tank”), the family car that I learned how to drive in, from my hometown of Los Angeles to Seattle. After spending a hot and humid summer in Washington, DC as an intern, I was ready for Seattle weather. I’m one of those freaks of nature who loves rain. What brought me to the Pacific Northwest was graduate school in urban planning (with a focus on preservation planning) at UW. I remember learning about urban villages (so quaint sounding, right?), density, and growth management. Seattle was an ideal living laboratory for urban planning students to study. So many great neighborhoods and communities, each having its own history, culture, and character. Why would anyone want to destroy that? Little did I know then that I would spend such a large part of my professional life helping to fight save meaningful places that matter in this city.

It has now been 27(!) years since I first moved to Seattle (with a two-year stint back in L.A. in the late 1990s when I learned to love the City of Angels—I had to move away to really appreciate it). Over the years, my fondness for Seattle grew to encompass a great appreciation for the entire state, from small towns and rural areas to the mid-sized cities of Tacoma and Spokane. I have had the pleasure of traveling to and through all 39 counties in Washington State (logging A LOT of miles on my MINI Cooper). Whenever travel goes back to pre-COVID ease, I highly recommend exploring this amazing state. All of it. You might even see my husband and me on the backroads! Closer to home, I look forward to resuming my urban sleuthing of Seattle neighborhoods (documenting with photographs along the way), something I have done since my first visit in the early ’90s.

This brings me to my photo essay of some select favorite views in Seattle. No matter how long I’ve lived here or how cynical or jaded I may get lamenting my “lost” Seattle, nothing makes me happier than seeing the Space Needle, the Public Market neon sign, Smith Tower, or Mount Rainier. The Space Needle and Mount Rainier in particular just pop up out of nowhere at times—there’s always a new view of each that is unexpected. Fortunately, these icons are here to stay because they are landmarks or part of a historic district (well, Mother Nature will decide the mountain’s fate, but it won’t disappear entirely).


All photos courtesy of Eugenia Woo. Click to enlarge:

View of Belltown and downtown from the Space Needle, 2010. (I’ve been taking views of the city from the top of the Space Needle since 1991.)

Same view looking south in 2019. Only the top of one of the Westin Hotel round towers is visible.

View of Pioneer Square in 2014 from the rooftop of the 619 Western Avenue building.

Pike Place Market and the iconic neon sign, Spring 2018.

Seneca Street looking west from First Avenue, a reopened view after the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Seneca Street offramp, Summer 2019.

Seattle’s maritime heritage is on display on Lake Union in this spectacularly beautiful summer day in 2019.

This view of the Camlin from the Paramount Theatre (December 2019) will no longer be visible once the Washington State Convention Center expansion is completed.

View of Mount Rainier from a plane. I choose my seat for maximum view opportunities of the Cascades when I fly.

One of those unexpected views of the Space Needle that pop up out of nowhere. This one is on Capitol Hill near the Roundcliffe Apartments and the Lookout Bar (aptly named) on the corner of Bellevue Pl E / Bellevue Ave E / Bellevue Ct E.

View of Smith Tower, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains from Yesler Way.

That’s me at Archie McPhee!