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January 16, 2001

Seattle landmark leveled by truck

Photo by John Elliott
The pergola was clipped by a truck early Monday morning.

SEATTLE (AP) — The historic iron and glass pergola at Pioneer Square, a national historic landmark and one of the city's most famous meeting spots, was knocked over by a truck and smashed into pieces early Monday.

The rear of a truck clipped a corner of the 91-year-old structure at about 5:45 a.m. and pulled the whole thing down, police spokesman Sean O'Donnell said. No injuries were reported.

Passing pedestrians stopped to gape Monday.

``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.''

The pergola, built in 1909 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 pile of twisted wreckage on the cobblestone square, although much of the upper canopy framework appeared intact.

O'Donnell said it appeared much of the structure could be salvaged, but no appraisal of the damage had been done.

The graceful Victorian-style structure sits on a triangular park that is the namesake for Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood, the area of downtown where the city of Seattle began.

Photo by John Elliott

The area includes the site of the city's first sawmill, built in 1853 by Henry Yesler. The ``skid road'' on which logs were brought down the hillside to the mill gave rise to the term skid row for rough neighborhoods.

Although people 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 cable car tracks are long gone and the large marble and brass restroom has been abandoned for decades, but the pergola designed by architect Julian Everett has sheltered countless residents and tourists from the rain.

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.

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