Retro Otis Elevators Make Seattle Landmark Worth the Visit

Brass-adorned Otis elevators sit ready to whisk workers up to their offices and visitors up to the 35th-floor Observatory, which offers spectacular views of downtown Seattle and access to a hip, Prohibition-themed bar. For history buffs, the elevators alone are worth the trip — the original cabs include collapsible gates and are staffed by period-costumed operators. Photo courtesy of

When it opened in 1914, Seattle’s Smith Tower, at 484 ft., was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, a title it held for 17 years. Today, the building, which houses office space, has a 35th-floor Observatory and a Prohibition-themed, “speakeasy”-style bar that have become popular with tourists. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia user Christopher S. Maloney.

Tourism is fun. History is fun. Good food and drink are fun. When you can combine all three, and throw in a breathtaking backdrop and ride on a vintage Otis elevator (complete with an old-fashioned, human operator), there are few better ways to spend an afternoon or evening. If this sounds like your idea of fun, The Daily Meal has found the perfect place: Smith Tower, Seattle’s first skyscraper and an iconic landmark that for 17 years was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, and stood as the West Coast’s tallest for nearly 50 years. Though classic and retro in style, the building has been home to a number of high-tech companies in recent years. But, the real drawing card is the Observatory and its adjacent, Prohibition-themed bar. It’s open daily to the public, and discounted tickets for the ride up are available on the building’s website. With its spectacular view and its super-cool Otis elevators, this room with a view is worth the ride.

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