Seattle Central Waterfront, Part 7: Waterfront Park

  • By Paul Dorpat
  • Posted 5/24/2000
  • Essay 2477

Pier 57, now Waterfront Park, was once the renowned Schwabacher's Wharf. Pier 57 was built in 1902 and taken over in 1909 by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad ("Milwaukee Road"), the last of four transcontinental railroads to reach Seattle.

Schwabacher Wharf

Built by hardware retailers from San Francisco, Schwabacher's Wharf was the site of several historic events. The freighter Miike Maru docked here on August 31, 1896, and opened trade between Seattle and Japan.

The following year, on July 17, 1897, the steamship Portland arrived bearing a "ton of gold" from Canada's Klondike River valley via Alaska. The ensuing gold rush would make Seattle "The Gateway to Alaska" and enrich local merchants like the Schwabachers, who provisioned tens of thousands of eager prospectors.

The pier was remodeled in 1974 as part of Seattle's new Waterfront Park, whose basin replaced the Schwabacher Wharf.


Clarence B. Bagley, History of Seattle (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1916) and History of King County (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1929); Richard C. Berner, Seattle in the 20th Century, Vols. 1, 2 & 3 (Seattle: Charles Press, 1991, 1992 & 1999); Padraic Burke, et al., Pioneers and Partnerships: A History of the Port of Seattle (Seattle: Port of Seattle, 1995); Walt Crowley, National Trust Guide: Seattle (New York: Preservation Press, 1998); Paul Dorpat, Seattle Now & Then, Vols. I, II & III (Seattle: Tartu Press, 1984, 1988 & 1989); Edmond S. Meany, History of the State of Washington (New York: MacMillan Company, Publishers, 1950); Murray Morgan, Skid Road (New York: Viking, 1951); David J. Olson, et al., Port in a Storm: An Historical Review of the Founding of the Port of Seattle (Seattle: Port of Seattle, 1970); Roger Sale, Seattle: Past & Present (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1976); James R. Warren, King County and its Queen City: Seattle (Woodland Hills, CA: Windsor Publications, Inc., 1981).

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