Truck Levels Seattle Monument

The historic iron and glass pergola at Pioneer Square, one of the city's most famous meeting spots, collapsed early today when it was struck by a truck, police said.

Police spokesman Sean O'Donnell said a truck clipped a corner of the 91-year-old structure at about 5:45 a.m. and knocked it down. No one apparently was beneath the canopy on the holiday morning, and no injuries were reported. The pergola, originally built as a cable car stop and as a grand entrance to a lavish underground restroom, was about 60 feet long and 16 feet high. It fell to a twisted and shattered pile of wreckage on the cobblestone square, although much of the upper canopy framework appeared intact. O'Donnell said a tractor-trailer rig coming west on Yesler Way tried to turn right onto First Avenue. Its rear tires came up onto the sidewalk, caught a corner of the pergola, "and the whole thing went over." The driver was cited for driving on the sidewalk, O'Donnell said. The police spokesman said it appeared much of the structure could be salvaged, but no appraisal of the damage or its possible repair had been done.

National Historic Landmark

The graceful Victorian-style structure is a national historic landmark on the triangular park that is the namesake for Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood, the area of downtown where the city of Seattle began. Pioneer Square, at First Avenue and Yesler Way, is the site of the city's first sawmill, built in 1853 by Henry Yesler. Yesler Way was the original "skid road" by which logs were brought down the hillside to the mill, a term later adopted for rough neighborhoods for the down-and-out. Although street people, alcoholics and those down on their luck still populate the area, since the 1960s the Pioneer Square district has become home to fashionable shops and restaurants, condominiums and offices. The pergola, with its lacy ironwork and glass panels, was built in 1909 as a stop for the Yesler Street cable car, and as the entrance to what city boosters called "the finest underground restroom in the United States." The cable car tracks are long gone, and the 25-stall, Alaskan marble and brass restroom has been abandoned for decades, but the pergola designed by Seattle architect Julian Everett has sheltered countless residents and tourists from the city's rain and occasional sun. The canopy was restored in 1972, and it, the square's Tlingit totem pole and the adjacent Pioneer Building were designated as national landmarks in 1977.

'People keep running into stuff'

People stopped to gape as they walked past the wreckage today. Employees at Pro Video Productions, just around the corner from the square, took a field trip to see what happened. "First the 520 bridge, now this," said one, Chris Hazelmann. "People keep running into stuff." The Evergreen Point floating bridge, by which Washington 520 crosses Lake Washington, was partially closed in July and August after a barge struck one of its columns. "I'm a tour guide down here," said Keith Perry, manager of Casual Cabs. "Now what am I going to show people? This has been a big part of my life."

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