Restoring Pioneer Square’s Historic Glass Sidewalks through Crowd Funding Campaign

Alliance for Pioneer Square and National Trust for Historic Preservation team up for an exciting collaboration.

The Alliance for Pioneer Square and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in partnership with Heineken, are teaming up to restore one of the most unique pieces of Seattle’s history – the prism glass sidewalks of Pioneer Square. Through an ongoing public crowd funding campaign, the Alliance and the National Trust are working to raise funds to fully restore the prism glass sidewalks located at the iconic Smith Tower (2nd Avenue and Yesler Way). Additionally, this project will also help fund revealing the paved-over panels at Occidental Avenue South and South King Street. Using these locations as examples, the goal is to show neighborhood property owners how their prisms can be brought back to life. These restoration projects will demonstrate how the prisms are an integral part of both Pioneer Square’s legacy and Seattle’s story overall.

After the devastation of the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, Seattle’s business owners sprang into action to rebuild their city. Not only did they accomplish it within two years, they also made a fascinating decision along the way. To fix Pioneer Square’s sewer and drainage problems, they opted to raise the elevation of the street an entire floor, creating hollow spaces between the old and new sidewalks. Then, to make these spaces usable and bring in some sunlight, they embedded prism glass in sidewalks throughout the neighborhood. And just like that, a loveable—and colorful—feature of Seattle was born. Over the years, these unique features in Seattle’s urban landscape have aged, become degraded and damaged in places, and been repaired in a piecemeal fashion, typically with patches of concrete or asphalt. Few cities have a collection of prism sidewalks like Seattle’s, and with funds raised through this crowd funding campaign, the Alliance and the National Trust will work together to get these unique pieces of Seattle’s history some much needed and well-deserved TLC.

As of the first week of June, the crowd funding initiative has received tremendous public support, both reaching and exceeding the $15,000 project goal. With over two weeks left in the campaign, the opportunity to expand the scope of the project and restore more of the prisms in Pioneer Square is within reach thanks to the enthusiastic response from the community. As donations to the campaign continue to be welcomed, contributors have the opportunity to claim some awesome perks in return, including two tickets to the “Bruno Mars: 24K Magic World Tour,” cool T-shirts, and even an exclusive illustration of Pioneer Square’s prisms in all their glory. Contributions can be made online at: .

All photos by Lindsey Miller Photo.