Washington Street Boat Landing
No boats land here any more. At this site just south of the Washington State Ferry Terminal, you'll find only a historic pergola built for the long-defunct Seattle Harbor Department in 1920, and views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. Note particularly the truncated ships' prows decorating the pergola high in front. Out in the water, you can still see the upright posts delineating the pier that was originally attached to the site. Immediately adjacent, the Port of Seattle's small Alaska Square has been closed to public access because its concrete has collapsed in places.
"In 1920, the city created a new waterfront landmark when it opened the Washington Street Public Boat Landing Facility. This galvanized iron shelter, supported by 16 decorated steel columns, is very similar in appearance to the earlier iron pergola [in Pioneer Square]. Over the years this building has fulfilled a number of uses: as a landing for ferries and ocean-going ships, as the headquarters of the Seattle Harbor Patrol, and as the U.S. Navy's official shore-leave landing and departure point." - see the National Park Service website for more information.
A plaque at the pergola reads "Beneath your feet lies the wreckage of the pioneer sidewheel steamer Idaho, which served from 1900 until 1909 as Dr. Alexander De Soto's famous wayside mission hospital. Here Dr. De Soto ministered to the needs of seafarers and the destitute, donating his time and funds to their care." Similar plaques show historical points of interest nearby. Just south of the Washington Street Public Boat Landing is the site of Ballast Island, where vessels from ports all over the world dumped their ballast into the bay, including 40,000 tons of earth removed from San Francisco's Telegraph Hill. "The island, long a gathering place for Indians on their annual migrations, was covered in the 1890s by construction of Railroad Avenue (now called Alaskan Way)." A plaque just north of the park marks the site where, on January 26, 1856 the U.S. sloop of war Decatur defended a settlement from attack.