An exclusive tour of the King Street Station clock tower

There are no elevators so we will be earning whatever view awaits us hundreds of steps away to the top of the historic King Street Station clock tower.

SEATTLE - There are no elevators so we will be earning whatever view awaits us hundreds of steps away to the top of the historic King Street Station clock tower.

I've wanted to see what lies behind the clocks ever since I met Rob Ketcherside, who gives historic clock tours in Seattle.

“So this was the tallest building in the city and it's got this glowing beacon of a clock that could be seen for miles,”Ketcherside sys.

Built in 1906, The King Street Station clock tower dwarfed the rest of Seattle for eight years, until the Smith Tower came along . Its design was based on Venice's San Marco Bell Tower.

In 2008, the City of Seattle bought the station for $10, which sounds like a great deal until you realize it cost more than $50 million to restore and seismically upgrade the building.

On the fifth floor, my guide Bill LaBorde shows me our first surprise: racks of plaster casts.

“This is sort of our little museum to the to the plaster work that was done as part of the historic rehab of the building,” LaBorde says.

Most of the floors we pass are empty. Finally, around what might be considered the 12th story, we climb into a room full of light.

“This is my favorite space in the building,” says LaBorde.

We are among just a few hundred people who have ever been in this remarkable room.

“I love the aesthetics of it.,” says LaBorde. “ You know the white paint. The bright light. The clock faces . Being able to see the clock faces from behind.”

The actual time piece is a machine made up of gears and what looks like a bicycle chain. Here we find rods that change each of the four clock faces.

Our adventure is not over.  A spiral staircase leads us to the pyramid atop the tower where a door opens out to an observation deck.

Two hundred feet above it all, we take in a century old view that is constantly changing; constantly obscured by taller buildings.

It is a view worth every step of the way. 

The City of Seattle does not offer tours of King Street Station clock tower, but the third floor has become a dedicated cultural space for art exhibitions that is open to the public.

 

Evening is your guide to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.   Watch it weeknights at 7:30 on KING 5 TV or streaming live on KING5.com.  Connect with Evening via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email: eveningtips@king5.com.

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