Inside your cozy abode, you eye your partner. They give you a wink and a grin, both of you knowing you’re in for a great night.
“Shall we?” They ask. “Let’s go!” You reply.
You’ve spent the past hour or two getting dolled up. But not just any kind of dolled up—you decided to mix things up a bit and pretend you’re living in 1924. Perhaps not entirely flapper or gangster, but the essence is there. Either way, your shoes are walkable (because Seattle) and look fabulous.
You cab/bus/carshare down to Yesler, because you’ll be imbibing some alcoholic delights. It’s mid-afternoon, so you crave a little nosh. Your first stop? Cafe Paloma. Nestled between Post Ave and 1st Ave, the slice of Mediterranean heaven feels like you’ve stepped into a family-friend’s kitchen. Sipping on Turkish wine, you and your lover chat about life and flirt shamelessly. Because you want enough to soak up the booze and not enough to feel Olive Garden-full, you’re munching on the Meze Plate. A friend had previously suggested getting the Yaprak Saraia as one of the four choices possible, and she was right: they’re fucking divine. Even better, the place is perfect for the gluten-free vegetarian in your life, with cucumber slices always available in place of pita.
Knowing you’ve got a longer night ahead of you, you skip dessert and mosey out to the street. Not 20 feet east and slightly uphill, there the ol’ gal stands: Smith Tower.
The rumors are true. There is a woman who occupies the double-storied condo above the 35th floor. Sorry, adventurers, there’s no going all the way to the tippy-top.
What shall you enjoy, then? As a local, you may already know the Tower’s history. Or maybe you’re just not into the past that much. But you look the part, don’t you, so why not fully engage?
At a mere $20 per ticket, you and your Lovely pause at the Provisions shop on the first floor while waiting to be let into the exhibit. “The Legends of Smith Tower” is the all-inclusive experience, and you’re in for some wonderful treats!
On the first floor, you gaze at the graffiti wall from Prohibition-era minds. In the office, you witness a snapshot in the daily life of a lawyer and/or potential rum-runner. You finger the old shelved tomes longingly, and imagine what it must’ve been like to wear that hat hanging on the hook, or organize your affairs in a roll-top desk. Of course, after a day at the office, you head home to listen to the radio. Your kids might’ve listened to Aunt Vivian’s Radio Hour. Heading up the short flight of stairs with your darling, your eyes are feasting upon the sheer granite quarried locally for the Tower’s construction back before The Great War. Off to the right, you enter the Switchboard Room, where you hear samples of ’20s-style conversations.
But what’s that behind you? A peephole. You kneel before it, and open up an eager eye. Inside is a glimpse of the Submarine Room! Of course, if we’re transported to 1924 here, this would be a peek into the future, as the Room was an LGBTQ bar in the 1960s housed in the Tower’s basement. Apparently the owner, Alberto Romano, was famous for fighting police extortion and harassment against our burgeoning community. (Is that how the queers landed on Capitol Hill? The systemic ousting by Pioneer Square?)
“Never you mind, dear. At least now I can hold your hand in public! …Most places.” Your lover breaks your somber reverie. You shake it off, let them help you up, and together you head down the hall to the original Otis elevator.
Inside, you giggle and gawk at the original bars, lever, and porter in costume. The porter breaks the standard elevator silence with a bit of trivia. You probably won’t recall what he said, but he’s charming and the factoids are amusing. Looking through the bars on the way to the 35th floor, the spaces between them flash before you in bolts of modernity mingled with yesteryear. It’s hard to tell which floors have current tenants and which are kept vintage just for ambience.
The car stops, and you step out into the former Chinese Room. You let your eyes feast on the glory of days long gone, and your nose fill with the scent of authentically old wood. This is now the Observatory, and you can already tell from the floor-to-ceiling windows that the views are spectacular.
Impatiently you grab your lover’s hand. “The cocktail can wait, dear! Let’s go!” You rush to the doorway and immediately are struck dumb. The sight of the city of Seattle booming with construction, commuters, and industry all around you in 2016 clashes violently in your head with the past 30 minutes having been swaddled in history. Thankfully, you can take your lover by the arm, or squeal excitedly ahead of them, and stroll the entire way ’round the outside of Temperance. And because this is Western Washington, the sights of civilization are blissfully broken with Mount Rainier, the Olympics, and Puget Sound.
Inside again, sated by having taken in some air, you notice the Wishing Chair, the ornate woodwork, the ceiling tiles, and a wall of fascinating educational tidbits. Of course, you’ve already been to the bar and are doing all this noticing with a Prohibition-style libation in hand. Not wanting to miss a moment, you casually sit at a table and wait for your love to join you.
Maybe you go outside again. Maybe you drink too much or too little. “Far better than a movie, eh?” They remark with you. It’s nice that you both have a love of the past and a flair for things older than yourself. For a moment, you romanticize the ’20s in your head, yearning for finger-weaved hair, fringe, pinstripes, bootlegged liquor, silent film comedies, and the excitement of tomorrow’s inventions.
* * * *
Having seen your fill, it’s time for sunset along the waterfront. Or not. Perhaps just a bit of photo-opping around the Square’s aging architecture in crisp dusk lighting. You stop for a brief moment, see the ol’ gal’s white facade belying her mysteries, and smile a knowing smile.
“Whelp! How about it, cutie? Fancy a bit of scotch?”
With that, a quick jaunt leads you both to Fadó, the little Irish joint on First. Scotch being scotch, you don’t plan to drain a bottle tonight. After all, you want to be able-bodied enough for other fun activities back at home! *wink* It’s worth noting that for the scotch drinkers who like a rock or two, Fadó has those giant “single rock” cubes. For the purposes of the date, you find it beneficial at least to sample one of the pricier brands, even if it’s not your thing. Also, it pairs well with the wine you’ll probably finish the night with later.
As you exit Fadó, you happen upon one of those bike cart taxis. Feeling spontaneous, you and your love enjoy a quick, airy ride back to downtown. Once there, you instantly know where your next beverage should come from: Zig Zag, the most perfect craft cocktail joint this side of…well, anywhere.
After sunset, it’s too late for happy hour. But the cocktail list is nonetheless perfect for the evening’s trip back in time as well as a delectable nightcap to chat with your dearest about all you’ve seen. The bartenders are things of beauty, expertly weaving the finest flavors from the finest ingredients. It’s like watching a master chef work, and you couldn’t be happier with the results. Seriously, your conversation probably becomes every character from Archer as you exclaim over the flavors of what you ordered. The best part? The beverage you’re tasting is enough to make your sexy bits twitch on the spot.
Finishing your drinks and paying your tab (with a generous tip), you and your partner leave the bar, excited to go home to enjoy each other. You’ve spent maybe $100 between the two of you, and for a beautifully splendid outing with a favorite person, that’s more than worth it.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully done Date Night in Pioneer Square. Hope you snapped a few candids for the scrapbook!
The Smith Tower is re-opened as of August 25th, with two self-guided, interactive tour offerings and a third option arriving this winter. It’s a bargain bit of joy, and perfect for a date, a friendly gathering, or a show-off spot for your tourist family.
Tags: 1920s, beverages, bootleggers, Cafe Paloma, cheap dates, city, cocktails, commerce, commuters, date, date night, drink, drinking 101, fashion, flappers, food, foodie, gangsters, history, industry, LGBTQ, lovers, mountains, neighborhood, Pike Hill Climb, Pioneer Square, Prohibition, queer, Queer History, restaurants, rum-runners, scenery, seattle, Seattle history, Seattle Queer History, skyscraper, Smith Tower, speakeasy, sunset, The Smith Tower, tourism, tours, views, walking, waterfront, Zig Zag