Colman Dock


The original Colman Dock was built on this location in 1882. It burned in the 1889 fire, but was quickly re-built to serve the growing "mosquito fleet" of steamboats that carried passengers and cargo on 25 routes throughout Puget Sound. In 1908 the structure was enlarged with a 72-foot clock tower. The tower collapsed dramatically in 1912 after being rammed by the steamer Alameda. The pier was rebuilt in 1937 in the fashionable Art Deco style to accommodate automobile ferries.

In 1951 the Puget Sound Navigation Company, which had a monopoly on cross-sound traffic, faced severe financial difficulties and sold the system to the State of Washington. Washington State Ferries demolished the Art Deco dock in 1964, replacing it with this Modernist building. It originally looked somewhat like a ship, but in the 1990s the addition of a two-story glass-enclosed entry and stairway changed its profile. The original clock from the 1908 tower is displayed on the second floor.

To learn more about this building, visit the City of Seattle's historical sites page.

Listen to a podcast from the Downtown Walking Tour.

Western Avenue and Marion Street (1.38mb mp3)

Find this building on our walking tour map. (680kb pdf)

Colman Dock, 1908
Colman Dock
Colman Dock

About us

This site is dedicated to the history of Seattle's downtown and waterfront, especially the State Route 99 / Alaskan Way Viaduct corridor. It was developed by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration as an educational resource and as part of a Memorandum of Agreement for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (pdf 1mb).

Copyright 2011 Washington State Department of Transportation