Pioneer Square has always served as the symbol of Seattle's wild west past. It has endured as a place where the well-heeled cross paths with the homeless. Sober business people work the nine to five as addicts and homeless sleep in their doorways.
And for those living and working in Pioneer Square these days, it’s getting pretty old.
“I wouldn’t come down here at night,” said Annika Lawrence, as she walked to lunch with friends. “It’s too bad because this is a great place.”
Statistically, Pioneer Square is no less safe than it has been for the past five years.
Last year the neighborhood saw 40 robberies and 59 aggravated assaults. That's relatively low when compared to downtown where the numbers are three to four times higher.
Pioneer Square has averaged between 35 and 48 robberies over the past 4 years. It is on pace to stay in that range, or drop a bit lower this year.
While brazen daylight shootings with police, like the one that happened Thursday, are very rare, they don’t do much to help the community’s public relations problem.
“Pioneer square has a pretty bad rap at the moment,” said Angela Williams, who has run five different restaurants in the Square since 1988. “Things like yesterday, that doesn't say ‘welcome’ to customers.”
Williams says she now has people calling to ask if it's safe to come to dinner at night.
While the city has worked to clean up other parts of downtown, Williams says the problems have intensified in Pioneer Square with more homeless and open air drug dealing.
Much has been done to clean the community up, from lunchtime music to outdoor ping pong tables and basketball hoops.
Seattle police have dedicated more officers to Pioneer Square over the years, but problems persist.
Laura Kim was recently accosted by a man who chased her to her car and then exposed himself. She hopes the brazen nature of Thursday's shootout doesn’t signal a turn for the worse in Pioneer Square.
“That shooting does surprise me,” she said, “but at the same time, it is Pioneer Square.”
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