Hidden in Plain Sight: Gems at Bell Harbor Pier 66


At the northern end of Seattle’s central waterfront, you’ll find Port of Seattle Pier 66. This 11-acre resort is anchored by the Bell Street Cruise Terminal, home to Norwegian Cruise Line and Oceania Cruises, offering weekly sailings to Alaska during cruise season. . It is also home to Bell Harbor Marina, the only marina in downtown Seattle.

As you pass Pier 66, you may have marveled at the cruise ships setting sail, or the classic yachts and sailboats at anchor at the marina. Or maybe you took in the view while sipping a cocktail on Anthony’s upper deck. But there are many things on the pier that you may not have noticed, although they are in plain sight if you know where to look.

Hidden treasures

Historical maritime markers

Seattle has been a maritime city since its inception. To honor this legacy, the Board of Public Works gave the Yukon Club, a civic group working alongside the Port of Seattle, funds and space to install 15 temporary marine bollards in 1952, the city’s centennial. They were placed primarily around Elliott Bay, marking key points in maritime history. Initially they were made of painted plywood, but after four years they were replaced by 13 by 20 inch bronze markers attached to an anchor. Each maritime day from 1957 to 1986, a new marker was dedicated, its location determined by the Propeller Club and the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. Two of these markers can be found around Pier 66.

Bell Street Terminal, historic marker of Pier 66

This marker celebrates the founding of Washington State’s first public port on the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Port of Seattle. Pier 66 was the port’s former headquarters before being moved to nearby Pier 69 in 1993.

Plate text: “The site of the Indian campsite called Muck-Muck-Wum. In 1911 the headquarters of Washington’s first public port was established here by Commissioners HM Chittenden, CE Remsberg, and Robert Bridges. This tablet was dedicated on May 19, during National Maritime Week 1986 to honor the Port of Seattle’s 75th anniversary.”

Historical plaque on an anchorHistoric plaque

Grand White Fleet Sea Marker

This marker, first installed at Pier 64 in 1961, now overlooks the Bell Harbor Marina. It commemorates the arrival of the “Great White Fleet” at this exact location, a squadron of high-end American steam battleships that stopped in Seattle on their 43,000 mile circumnavigation of the globe. President Theodore Roosevelt ordered this upgrade and circumnavigation to prove that the United States Navy could move quickly from coast to coast. The fleet was nicknamed the “Great White Fleet” since the ships were painted a brilliant white color.

plate text“The US Navy’s ‘Great White Fleet’ arrived in Seattle on May 23 and departed on May 27, 1908 to continue its famous 46,000 mile cruise around the world. Part of the fleet anchored at Elliot Bay near this site and the crews landed here at the foot of Lenora and Virginia streets – then known as Piers 9 & 10.”

Other maritime markers can be found around the waterfront commemorating other Port of Seattle facilities at Fisherman’s Terminal and Terminal 91 (the marker is in Elliot Bay Park).

Gifts from our twin port

Did you know that the Port of Seattle and the city of Seattle’s sister port/city is Kobe, Japan? Since 1957 Kobe has been Seattle’s sister city and since 1967 the Port of Kobe and Seattle have been sister ports. Over the past 60 years, the Seattle Kobe Sister City Association has hosted dozens of exchanges and events that foster mutual understanding and lasting friendships. One of these gifts is the amazing sculpture Oushi Zokei – Madoka by Keizo Ushio, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the twin port in 1992.


You can find it if you go up the stairs (or take the nearby elevator) from Elliott Avenue to the third level of the Bell Street pedestrian overpass.

Mural behind the stairs

When containerization took over the way goods were shipped in the 1960s and the port centralized its facilities at the southern end of Elliott Bay, the central waterfront was largely abandoned and fell into disrepair. as its traditional industrial uses shifted elsewhere. By the 1980s it was clear that the central waterfront needed a facelift.

Thus, the city and the port have revitalized the central waterfront. The heart of the port’s central waterfront plan was to revitalize the area while providing and protecting maritime uses. This involved consolidating ownership of areas south of Pier 66 and renovating them into a mixed-use space with areas for cruise ship operations, a public marina, conference center, museum and other businesses. related to the sea.


Part of the renovation led to the installation of the fabulous fresco: Cerchio Dance by Ann Gardner. It was established in 1996 when the Bell Harbor complex was completed and opened to the public. It is hidden from passers-by on Elliott Avenue; you’ll find it adorning the west side of the staircase that leads to the Bell Street pedestrian overpass and rooftop terrace.

Hatches with maritime patterns Marine Maintenance

An animation showing the exposed fish

It is a real hidden gem. Along the street edge of the Bell Street Cruise Terminal Building, beginning at the Bell Street Pedestrian Overpass elevator, if you look down you will find four unique hatch covers, made handmade, maritime themed.

When Pier 66 was revitalized, part of the plan was to grow vines in sections of the building. Thus, four areas next to the building were kept open to make room for the vines. Unfortunately, the vines did not grow as well as had been hoped, so they were removed. Open spaces had to be covered to prevent passers-by from falling or tripping, and the port’s Marine Maintenance Division was tasked with covering them. As part of the project, port welders embellished them with fun maritime designs and the old Port of Seattle logo.

Bell Street Rooftop Terrace

When the port originally built Pier 66 in 1915, the roof of Bell Harbor Pier was built with a public park overlooking the bay. It was the first waterfront park in the city of Seattle. In 1915 it opened with a public area including a solarium, a small swimming pool and a children’s play area. During the day, families stopped at the park letting their children play while parents crossed the pedestrian overpass and shopped at the brand new Pike Place Market. Unfortunately, the park was closed in the late 1920s.

Fortunately, when Bell Street was redeveloped decades later, the Harbor Commission made sure to bring the park back, so the Bell Street Rooftop Terrace was created. The terrace offers some of the best views of the waterfront and is now one of the most iconic viewpoints in the city.

Historic photo of Pier 66
Rooftop Park, 1915

The roof terrace park
Roof terrace, 2022

Hidden from below; seen from above

The terrace is also the best place to take in another hidden gem in plain sight. When you look over the square from the roof terrace, you will see an amazing fountain that you cannot fully appreciate unless you see it from above. The Fish Fountain was designed by Kris Snider, an architect with the firm formerly known as Hewitt Isley. The fountain was inspired by Snider’s five-year-old son, Drew. Years later, the port dedicated the fountain to former harbor commissioner Paige Miller, who, along with former harbor commissioner and Seattle mayor Paul Schell, was instrumental in revitalizing the waterfront Additionally, the convention center on the pier is dedicated to Commissioner Schell – the Paul Schell Center at Pier 66.

As they say, life moves pretty fast, you might want to slow down and look around and you might be surprised at what you find.

An animation showing the exposed fish


Monumental Seattle: The Stories Behind the Cities’ Statues, Memorials, and Markers by Robert Spalding WSU Press, 2018

A History of the Port of Seattle by Padraic Burke, Port of Seattle, 1976

Rising Tides and Tailwinds: The Story of the Port of Seattle, 1911-2011 by Ki Oldham and Peter Blecha, University of Washington Press, 2011

Historical link: Seattle Central Waterfront, Part 9: Bell Street Pier and Surroundings

Seattle Waterfront Virtual Walking Tour by History Link – Bell Street Pier Tour Stop

New on the waterfront — Bell Street Pier offers a dynamic range of attractions for locals and visitors by Mark L. Hinshaw, Seattle Times; June 23, 1996


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