AKA: New York Block, Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Boone and Willcox, Architects (firm); William Ely Boone (architect); William H. Willcox (architect)

Dates: constructed 1890-1892, demolished 1923

7 stories

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710 2nd Avenue
Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA 98104-1702

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The New York Block stood on the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Cherry Street in 1901.


This grand office building was located on the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Cherry Street. The New York Block lasted 31 years as the home of the Dexter Horton National Bank. It was torn down in 10/1923 to make way for the second phase of the much larger Dexter Horton Building. In the wake of the devastating Seattle Fire of 06/06/1889, fire resistance was a highly important aspect of the New York Block's construction.

Building History

The banker Dexter Horton commissioned the Seattle architectural firm of Boone and Willcox to design the New York Building, just after the Great Fire of 06/06/1889. A 1917 Seattle Times article about ornamentation on several downtown buildings built just after 1889, said of the New York Block: "Why a feudal castle and turreted wall was set on top of the New York Building, erected twenty-seven years ago by the late Dexter Horton, not even W.E. Boone, the architect of the building, now retired after a half-century of work, or Charles E. Horton, son of Dexter Horton, can tell. The fact is that, at great expense, fireproof and specially patterned brick and terra cotta were brought to Seattle from the East to decorate the facade of the New York Building. Boone said: 'It's been too long ago for me to remember just what was in Horton's mind when he ordered me to place those old feudal turrets on top of the New York Block. Maybe it was his idea that the little city of the day should stand for security against invasion such as the pioneers endured during the Indian uprising in the 'fifties.'" (See "Structures of Seattle's Younger Days Carry Expressive Designs, Seattle Daily Times, 08/12/1917, p. 9.) It is quite doubtful that the building was seen as a bastion against local American Indian tribes. (Today, we would likely question this whole narrative of marauding Indians.)

As noted on the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1893, the New York Block had an iron and steel structural frame. All columns and girders were walled in with brick for fire resistance, and floors were composed of "slow burning construction." Ceilings had steel laths to serve as a backing for plaster. Walls on the fourth through the seventh floors had brick, not wood room partitions. A water tank was located on the roof.

During the period between 1892 and 1923, the Dexter Horton National Bank occupied the first-floor corner storefront at 702 2nd Avenue on the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Cherry Street. In 1893, the other first-floor storefronts on 2nd Avenue contained a drug store, furniture store and another commercial space at 706, 708 and 710 2nd Avenue. The elevator and stair lobby to upper floor offices was situated at 704 2nd Avenue.

Building Notes

The seven-story New York Building had a modern, up-to-date appearance when completed in 1892. Its architects, Boone and Willcox, had clearly studied new skyscrapers being built in Chicago, IL, during the previous five years. The building had some aspects of H.H. Richardson's trend-setting Marshall Field Warehouse Building in Chicago, IL, (1885), including the rusticated masonry of the first floor and the use of Romanesque arches for mid-level windows. Richardson's building had, however, a more squat, load-bearing masonry structure, while Boone's thin facade pilasters suggested that it had a more current steel frame. It may or may not have.

Boone and Willcox's facade composition most strongly resembled Adler and Sullivan's Auditorium Building (1889), albeit in a simpler and less sophisticated manner. All the main elements were comparable: a heavy rusticated base, a central shaft composed of thin pilasters and topped by arched windows in the manner of the Marshall Field Warehouse, and a compressed attic story fenestration. (The second floor even had a projecting oriel window over the front door similar to Auditorium.) The New York Block followed Adler and Sullivan's technique of graduating rusticated stone on the first two floors to smooth-finished masonry on the upper stories. This graduation gave the viewer the impression that the building had a firm base, anchored on bedrock, and that upper floors, like a tree's upper branches, got lighter as they ascended.

The Boston Building stood immediately to the north of the New York Block on 2nd Avenue.

In 1916, eight architects maintained their offices in the New York Block. They included: Ferd Bohne, John A. Creutzer, Willis Dwyer, The Long Building Company, John L. McCauley, William W. Noyes, Stephen and Stephen, and Ellsworth Storey, (See R.L. Polk's Seattle City Directory, 1916, pp. 1662-1663.)

In 09/1904, the Queen City Trunk Company had its salesroom at 710 2nd Avenue in the New York Block.


The New York Block was razed to make way for a unit of the Dexter Horton Building, which was built in two sections during 1922 and 1923.

PCAD id: 6638