A couple of weeks ago we started off our installments of America's Iconic Signage with our very own Nashville, TN! The wonderful thing about signage is that it becomes part of the essence of our surroundings. For example, the blinking "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign is just as iconic as Las Vegas Strip or the casinos. This week we're talking about signs in America's very own Emerald City: Seattle, WA.
1. Elephant Car Wash
Although fairly average as far as car washes go, the spinning pink elephant sign for Elephant Car Wash has become "more iconic than the space needle," according to one local. The car wash was started in 1951 and has been family run since then. Although there are several pink elephant car washes in the area, the spinning pink sign on Battery Street is the most famous. And (according to an unreliable internet source) the pink elephant sign is the most photographed icon in Seattle!
2. Pike Place Market
After The Space Needle, the Pike Place Market is one of the most iconic identifiers of Seattle. Founded in 1907, it's one of the country's oldest and longest running farmers markets. The famous neon clock sign was constructed a little over 20 years later in 1928. Although you can find virtually any kind of vendor in the market, it's especially well known for its fishmongers who throw fish through the air while preparing them for customers. After over 100 years of providing a place for vendors in the port city, it's become a thriving tourist attraction known for the great food, music, and shopping tourists and locals alike can experience there.
3. Seattle Public Library
Although this central branch is probably more notable for its fantastic architecture and green initiatives, they've also got some killer wayfinding signs in the building. The giant glass structure has solar panels that help power the building and a green roof that helps control runoff from rain. The giant environmental graphics throughout the giant building are not only great at directing people, but they brand the space as something more than a library—being in there is an experience. Also notably, the Seattle Public Library was home to Nancy Pearl—one of the only librarians who ever became famous enough to be made into an action figure.
4. The Original Starbucks
Although now ultimately ubiquitous, Starbucks started with a single store just like every other company! Founded in 1971, the "original" Starbucks coffee shop is not actually located where it was first built. It moved to 1912 Pike Place in 1977 where it has been running ever since. Sure it's always crowded and a bit of a tourist trap, but according to most travel sites, waiting in line is worth it. Plus it's right at the mouth of the Pike Place Market so visitors can easily kill two birds with one stone.
5. Archie Mcphee
Archie Mcphee is a novelty store that has "been confusing Seattle for over 30 years." Founded in 1983, you can find anything and everything bizarre (including the aforementioned Nancy Pearl action figure) within it's walls. The great-nephew-in-law of the actual Archie Mcphee started the shop after realizing that there was a lot of demand for the collectible "junk" (rubber lizards and the like) he was selling out of his L.A. home, so he packed his entire inventory in a U-Haul and set up shop with two other vendors in Seattle's Fremont district.
We know that there are many more iconic signs that make up Seattle's image, but these are just some of our favorites. How about you? What do you think are some of Seattle's iconic signs that we've missed in this post? Leave a comment below!
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