King Street Station

King Street Station is a public asset and an important part of Seattle's history. For over 110 years, it has improved connections, serving as a gateway for millions of travelers coming into Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The station has spurred economic growth and helped establish Seattle as a major metropolitan city. Today, over 2.7 million passengers a year use King Street Station to board Amtrak trains, Sounder commuter trains, and Amtrak Thruway intercity bus services to get into and out of Seattle. It includes convenient connections to Sound Transit commuter rail, local and regional buses, Sound Transit Link light rail, and the First Hill Seattle Streetcar.

King Street Station first opened to the public in May 1906. Reed and Stem, the architectural firm responsible for New York City's historic Grand Central Terminal, designed the station. The San Marco bell tower of Venice, Italy, served as the model for the building's familiar clock tower. The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

King Street Station, located on Jackson St between 3rd and 4th Ave S, is a brick and granite three-story building with a twelve-story clock tower. The ground floor, accessed from King St, is clad in granite. The walls of the second and third floors, as well as the clock tower, are faced in pressed brick with decorative terra cotta elements such as cornices and window lintels.

The interior boasts a grand waiting room with ornamental plaster ceilings and fluted Corinthian columns. Bronze chandeliers and wall sconces provide illumination for the passengers inside the station. The terrazzo floor has inlaid square mosaic tiles.  This creates a compass shaped pattern at the station entrance and other rectangular patterns throughout the rest of the areas.

While much of the exterior of King Street Station remained intact since the building was constructed in 1906, parts of the interior were substantially altered in a series of renovations in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s and others suffered neglect.  In February 2008, the City of Seattle purchased the landmark building from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (for $10!) with the goal of bringing back the grandeur of America's Gilded Age. The restoration of King Street Station ensured that it remains a critical transportation hub and gateway into Seattle for the next hundred years.

Now Seattle is transforming King Street Station into a hub for arts and culture.

SDOT, in partnership with ARTS and the Office of Economic Development, will create a dynamic space for arts and culture in the heart of the city.

Renovation Details

In March 2008, King Street Station underwent a $50 million renovation that achieved the following goals:

  • Restore the building's historic character and grandeur
  • Upgrade facilities to meet present and future needs of rail and transit users
  • Enhance passenger safety and security
  • Promote sustainable design with a LEED building certification
  • Support efforts to transform the station into a modern transit hub

Scope of work

  • Replace existing roof with original terra cotta tile roof
  • Repair lighting and remove microwave dish on clock tower
  • Fix the four tower clocks to make them operational
  • Restore interior finishes and exterior building facade
  • Remove suspended tiles from lobby to restore original ornate ceiling
  • Complete seismic and structural upgrades

Restoration of King Street Station was funded by contributions from city, state, and federal governments as well as nonprofit organizations. The voter-approved Bridging the Gap levy provided $10 million to the project. Funds from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the Washington State Historical Society, the South Downtown Foundation, and 4Culture contributed $40 million to the project.

For additional details view examples of renovation work in progress