Visiting Downtown Seattle is always amazing. I like to explore cities and also deeper, away from the well known tourist spots. Last weekend I visited the Columbia Center, formerly also known as the Bank of America Tower and Columbia Seafirst Center. This building is the tallest skyscraper in Seattle right now and the tallest one in the State of Washington and the Pacific Northwest Region of North America. With the 937 feet (285 m) it contains 76 stories of office space above ground level and seven stories of various use below ground level and is the building with the most stories west of the Mississippi.
The highest public observatory on the West Coast.
Construction began in 1982 and was finished in 1985. Originally the tower was designed to be 1,005 feet (306,5 m) tall, but federal regulations by the FAA would not allow it to be that tall so close to the nearby Sea-Tac Airport.
There is an observation deck at the 73rd floor which offers unique views of Seattle. To get there you have to change the elevator at the 40th floor from where you will continue to the 73rd floor for the observation deck.
During business hours of the tower you can enter from 4th Avenue or 5th Avenue otherwise only from 5th Avenue like on weekends. There is a concierge and he probably will ask you if you want to visit the obersavtion deck, otherwise just let him know and he will call an elevator for you. Once at the 40th floor – the elevator doesn’t go further – exit and turn right where you will find another set of elevators which will take you up to the 73rd floor for the observation deck. On your way to the observation deck, you will pass a Starbucks at the corner. This must be pretty nice place for a Starbucks and one of the highest once I know so far. Unfortunately the place seems to be closed on weekends.
The admission for the Skyview Observation Deck is 12.50$ for an adult and 9.00$ for children in the age of 6 – 12. To check for price changes and ticket availability as well online tickets visit the website of the Skyview Obersvatory. The Observation Deck is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm. But make sure to visit the website first and check that the space is not rented out for a private event.
Once there you have a breathtaking 360° view of the Seattle’s skyline as well of the mountain ranges around seattle. On a clear day you can see Mount Rainier, the Olympic and Cascade Mountain Range. Don’t forget to bring your camera for amazing pictures. You can watch the sunset here and take some awesome pictures of the city by night. Sometimes they turn off the lights partially for the photographers. During my visit the light of the north facing side was off and we photographers had it easier to take pictures and don’t have to fight the reflections in the windows. Just in case if you plan for pictures, bring something to cover of the reflections at the window. Preferable something black, maybe your pullover.
I forgot to mention there is also free Wi-Fi.
And a small coffee shop to buy some snacks and drinks which are all from local companies.
This building makes the Space Needle look like a small tiny building. Most people who visit Seattle for the first time probably go to the Space Needle to have a great view of Seattle, but this tower is definitely worth a visit and I would even call it a secret spot which not a lot of people know about. I have been to Seattle numerous times, but never found out that you can go up this building to an actual observation deck. I tell you, you have to go here if you want the best views of Seattle.
The top two levels (75th and 76th) belong to the private Columbia Tower Club, which houses a restaurant, bar, library and meeting rooms.
An underground concourse connects the Columbia Center with the nearby Seattle Municipal Tower and Bank of America Fifth Avenue Plaza. When it was first built this tower was named Columbia Center. The name was later changed to Columbia Seafirst Center, for Seafirst Bank, and then to the Bank of America Tower, when Seafirst was fully integrated into Bank of America. That’s where the tower got it’s nickname “BOAT” (Bank of America Tower) from. In November 2005 the building’s name was changed back to Columbia Center (TCC), which it is still called today.
Another very interesting fact:
The Columbia Center plays host to the largest firefighter competition in the world. About 1,300 firefighters from around the world make the trek up 69 floors and 1,311 steps wearing their full firefighter gear. Beneficiary of this event is the local chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.
Have you been up at the Observation Deck yet or plan on visiting? Let me know…