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Pike / Pine was Seattle’s “Auto Row” 100 years ago

The next time you walk on Pike and Pine, look for tall, wide windows, garage doors, and car elevators and you will see evidence that one hundred years ago, the neighborhood was “auto row.” Beginning in 1905 with the first dealership and continuing for 20 years, the Pike/Pine neighborhood was virtually the only location of car dealerships in the city of Seattle. [source] The neighborhood also included dealership storage buildings, auto repair shops, and auto parts stores.
The Seattle Architecture Foundation‘s walking tour Pike/Pine: Cars, Bars, and Dead Rock Stars provides a glimpse into the neighborhood’s colorful history. A few buildings in the ‘hood which started out as car dealership showrooms or storage include:

  • Everyday Music building, 15th and Pine: started out as a Pontiac dealership showroom.
  • Velo Bike building, 11th and Pine: an elevator took cars to the upper floor showrooms.
  • Value Village building, 11th next to Velo: is also one of three former homes of REI.
  • Foley Sign building, 12th and Pine: started as a dealership and became a repair shop in the 1920s.
  • Northwest Film Forum building, 12th and Pike(north of intersection): was a dealership
  • Elysian Brewing Co building, 13th and Pike: used for Packard dealership car storage. The bones of the building are original old growth lumber.
  • Pacific Supply and the Piston and Ring buildings, Pine and 12th (south of intersection): these two renovated buildings maintain a touch of their original character as an auto showroom/service and auto repair storefronts, respectively.
  • Bimbo’s Cantina building, 10th and Pike (east of intersection): auto repair shop, the former workshop area is now used by a coffee roaster to store coffee beans.
  • Comet Tavern and King Cobra building, 10th and Pike (west of intersection): originally an auto storage warehouse.
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5 thoughts on “Pike / Pine was Seattle’s “Auto Row” 100 years ago

  1. Great post, I’d love to see some postings on the history of some other areas of the hill. I’ve always wondered about the history of the Broadway Market.

  2. my volvo was purchased at continental volvo at “13th and pine” as stated on the insurance card holder that clips to the sun visor. I bought my car from the original owner who got the car in 1972. Looks like the building now is now a real estate office.

  3. Union street had the auto parts and repair shops on it, some of which still survive. The dealerships even went over the hill. The building we are located in at 21st & Union was opened in 1929 as a Ford dealership. Unfortunately the Depression hit that Fall.

  4. Recently came across this 1920 photograph of what is now the Lucky Devil Tattoo Parlor building:
    http://www.schemataworkshop.com/franklinauto.gif

  5. I went to the Home Alive space last week for a yoga class and recognized the tell-tale sign of a former auto warehouse or service building. Behind the garage door is a wide, solidly-built, wood-plank ramp leading up to the second floor (also wood-planked and with a high ceiling). Wide as in 1.5 times the average car width size. Home Alive is located on the 2nd floor of the building immediately south of Neumos (10th and Pike).