SeattleFunMap: Chinatown-International District / Pioneer Square Challenge

[This is currently in beta. There is enough on this map to "solve" it, but I'm still filling out information about some points of interest.]

Solve the puzzle by gathering clues along the way, or just use this "fun map" as a guide to points of interest in the two neighborhoods.

If you're just stepping off the Bolt Bus at 3:30, most Seattle tourist attractions like Pike Place Market and the Experience Music Project museum will start to close between 4:00 and 5:00, so this is a good afternoon to explore Chinatown-I.D. and Pioneer Square. (If you're hungry, Ping's Dumpling House (C) offers 12 dumplings for $5; Dim Sum King (E) offers dim sum items for 60 cents apiece; and Fortuna Cafe (I) has full plates of food for $4.50.)

Daleks attacking!

The Daleks are a race of killer alien robots from Doctor Who. From where you're standing, can you spot the outdoor air vents that resemble Daleks preparing to attack? (The rumor is that building owner Paul Allen, one of the co-founders of Microsoft and later the founder of Seattle's Experience Music Project/Sci-Fi Museum, had the air vents made to resemble the robots.)

START: At the Bolt Bus stop / Light Rail station (A). Right by the bus stop, at the red and blue boxes, pick up a free copy of The Stranger and Seattle Weekly, Seattle's two weekly alternative newspapers, for news and event listings covering the next couple of days.

Spoiler warning!

Many people know that Brandon Lee died in 1993 in an accident while shooting The Crow, when a prop gun was accidentally loaded with a real bullet, which fatally shot Brandon Lee in the middle of filming a scene. Less widely known is that in 1973, Bruce Lee filmed a movie called Game of Death in which his character is filming a movie-within-a-movie, and a prop gun in the movie is loaded with a real bullet, which is unintentionally fired by an actor and kills Bruce Lee's character. Thus the fictional scene eerily predicted exactly how his son Brandon would die twenty years later.

Just to the north, you can find murals of some of Seattle's famous Asian Americans, including martial arts star Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee and his son Brandon are buried side-by-side in Lake View Cemetery elsewhere in Seattle. (A bit strangely, Brandon's grave says "For Brandon and Eliza, Ever Joined in True Love's Beauty", even though his widow Eliza is still alive.)

The Chinatown Gate (B) was built in 2008. Constructing the gate was difficult, because the spot that the gate stands on was originally part of the ocean, until the early 1900's when millions of tons of earth were moved from Seattle hills and dumped along the coastline, to extend Seattle land area out further into the sea. This meant the land was too soft to support such a tall structure, so the posts of the gate had to be built to extend 85 feet underground, twice the height of the gate itself, until they reached solid bedrock.

Clue #1:

The plaques on the Chinatown gate list donors who supported the project, from "Imperial Dragon" ($100,000-$250,000) all the way down to "Panda" ($250). On the east-facing side of the south-east post, you can find the name of a donor who sounds like the ruler of the nation of Jordan from 1952 to 1999 (even if you know nothing about Jordan, you'll know the name when you see it). The donor is actually a construction company owner in California, whose name just happens to match the title of the Jordanian ruler. Enter his last name here:

On the north side of King Street, Ping's Dumpling House (C) sells a dozen hot dumplings for $5, or try the chicken heart skewer for a dollar.

Further east on King, in the lobby of the American Hotel hostel (D) is a whiteboard listing today's free or cheap events. (Some of the events, like meals at the Hotel, are only open to the American Hotel guests, but other events in the community are free and open to the public.) You can also step inside the front door and pick up a free Seattle Tourmap.

Head north on 6th until you reach 6th and Jackson. From this spot, many smart-ass photographers have taken pictures of the historic hotel sign visible to the east (often with the word "HOTEL" covered up by the adjacent buildings). The building is no longer a hotel, but is currently occupied by other businesses, all of which have, with no irony whatsoever, posted signs in their windows listing their "Conditions of Entry". One of those businesses currently in the building is Dim Sum King (E), which sells Dim Sum items for 60 cents.

Head up the hill north on 6th and you'll see the historic Panama Hotel (F) on your right, which has operated in its original state since opening in 1910.

Inside the Panama Hotel Tea & Coffee house, in the back corner you can find a section of the floor that has been removed and covered in safety glass. Through the hole in the floor you can see artifacts stored in the basement. These are the former belongings of Seattle Japanese-Americans, who were taken to internment camps starting in 1942, and left their belongings in the Panama Hotel basement believing that they would be able return and retrieve them for a few weeks. Many did not return for years or died in the internment camps. As a reminder of the tragedy, the artifacts have been left untouched in the basement of the Panama Hotel, only visible through a gap in the Tea House floor.

War of the Worlds

More aliens

Does the stone sculpture at the top of the hill in Kobe Terrace Park look a little bit like the alien attack ships from War of the Worlds? (The sculpture was a gift from the city of Kobe, Japan, so unlike the Daleks you encountered at the start of the walk, the resemblance is probably not intentional.)


Across the street from the Panama Hotel is the entrance to the Kobe Terrance Park. Follow the paths within the park to the top of the hill, and you can see a beautiful view of the Chinatown-I.D. neighborhood. The sports stadiums you can see are Safeco Field to the left (where the Seattle Mariners play baseball) and CenturyLink Field to the right (where the Seattle Seahawks play football and the Seattle Sounders play soccer).

From the top of the Kobe Terrace Park, you can see a red brick tower in the distance, to the left of the two stadiums. That's the corporate headquarters of a certain Seattle beverage company -- you can just barely see their mascot looking out over the top of the building.

A typical fortune cookie company maintains a list of 1,000-5,000 fortunes to be inserted into their cookies, often written by a single writer or small group. Occasionally fortunes are removed from circulation after complaints -- Yang's Fortunes in San Francisco stopped printing "You will meet a tall, dark stranger" after restaurants said that it was creeping out their customers, and Wonton Food in New York said some parents complained when their young children opened fortune cookies which read "Romance and travel go together."

In 2005, over 100 people nationwide won prizes of about $100,000 in the Powerball lottery, when 5 of the 6 winning numbers happened to match the numbers printed in a series of Wonton Food fortune cookies.

Donald Lau, the vice president at Wonton Food in charge of writing fortunes, retired after writing thousands of fortunes over a period of 11 years, saying he hit "writer's block".

Head south and east down to the Tseu Chong Company (H) -- where fortune cookies have been made and shipped to Washington's Chinese restaurants for almost 100 years (since 1917). You can buy a big bag of "defective" fortune cookies for $7, or smaller bags of fortune cookies in special flavors like ginger and pina colada.

Back on to King Street and heading west, you'll pass by Fortuna Cafe (I). The slabs of meat hanging in the window, next to the ducks and chickens, are barbequed pork -- that's what it looks like before it's sliced.

Abalone jewelry from
Pike Place Market
Next door at Barclay Seafood (J) you can see tanks full of abalone -- the creatures sticking to the glass walls of the aquariums. Abalone is more commonly known to westerners for its shiny, rainbow-colored shell, often used in jewelry -- you'll probably see some later at Pike Place Market -- but the sea creature is used in seafood as well.

At the next block you'll have to cross to the north side to avoid the alleyway that's been fenced off after a fire in December 2013. Even before the fire, that particular alleyway, Maynard Alley, was already notorious as the site of the Wah Mee Massacre of 1983, the deadliest mass murder in Washington history. Three men entered an illegal gambling club and gunned down thirteen of the gamblers as part of a robbery (all the killers were later caught and imprisoned). Thirty years later, when interviewed about the 2013 fire, many neighborhood residents said they still believed the building to be haunted.

One of the Wah Mee Massacre killers was just released on parole in 2013.

We don't actually need these in
Seattle because of the rain
At S. King St. and Maynard Ave (L), on the southwest corner (standing next to the fire hydrant), if you look toward downtown Seattle, you can see the top of the building known to some architects as the "roll-on deodorant building" or "R2D2". It's officially the 2nd and Seneca building.

Head south on Maynard. At the corner of Maynard & Weller is the Hing Loon Seafood Restaurant (M), where seafood is served traditional Chinese style, although the deals aren't as good as in the rest of Chinatown. (You can get breaded salt-and-pepper prawns, but they come with the shells still on the prawns, and the breading and the spices on the outside. So you can peel the shells off, but the salt-and-pepper breading comes off too, and then you're just eating prawns. If you want prawns breaded and spiced with the shells off, it costs an extra $3.)

Clue #2

On the menu posted in the window of the Hing Loon Seafood Restaurant, under the "tofu" section, you can find an interesting-sounding "_______ Style Tofu With Seafood". The hostess swears this is the name of a real region in China, but Google has never heard of it, and it may be that the chef is just you-know-what-ing with us. This is your second clue:

Only the freshest ingredients.

Just north of the corner of Weller & 6th is the Chinese-style "Yummy House Bakery" (N). Most Asian desserts do not taste very sweet to Westerners, since Asian-style cooking traditionally uses less sugar, but they did have this interesting-sounding dessert on display once:

The man can bake! And ladies, he's single... again.

At the corner of Weller & 6th is the entrance to the Kinokuniya Bookstore, where you can find a much broader selection of Japanese art and manga than in almost any mainstream American bookstore. The back of the bookstore connects with the Uwajimaya grocery store, an Asian specialty supermarket. Exit Uwajimaya through the food court and you'll be back on Weller & 5th (O), a block south of where you started.

Head north on 5th, west on Jackson, and north on 3rd Avenue South. You've left the Chinatown-International District neighborhood and entered the Pioneer Square neighborhood. (Pioneer Square is both the name of a park, and the name of the neighborhood that surrounds it.) On your left on 3rd you'll pass The Belfry (P), home to one of Seattle's strangest collections of oddities and antiques. Just north of that is Salumi (Q), one of the most popular sandwich shops in Seattle. (They're only open Tuesday through Friday, and they usually sell out by 3 and close for the day, but if you missed them, remember the spot for lunch tomorrow!)

Head west on Main Street and on your left you'll pass a mural (R) painted in 2012 by Seattle artist Jeff Jacobson (a.k.a. "Weirdo" -- really), on the north wall of the abandoned 2nd and Main Cannery building. The four people depicted in the mural are the artist's friends and fellow painters from around Seattle.

Further west, on the north side of Main Street, is a hidden waterfall garden (S) behind a set of iron gates, marking the birthplace of the American shipping company UPS.

West on Main, and then south on 1st Avenue South, past Jackson, takes you to the flagship store of DRY Soda (T), a soda company specializing in unusual flavors like Cucumber and Rhubarb. DRY Soda was invented when the company founder was pregnant with her fourth child, and wanted an alcohol-free drink that she could use for mixing cocktails. If their tasting room is open, you can try some samples.

Clue #3

Rumor has it that DRY Soda company was experimenting with a new flavor called "BOLD OREGANO", but it was not popular with taste testers. So DRY scientists took the formula, mixed it up, and obtained a new flavor that has remained popular to this day:

(Even if the store is closed, you can still see the listing of flavors through the window on their back-wall TV panel.)

Back north 1st Avenue South, after crossing Main Street you'll pass by the Grand Central Bakery (U) on your right. Through those doors (or, through a smaller door to the left, if the main entrance is closed), you can access the Grand Central Arcade hidden underground level of the building, with several stores and photographic displays from Seattle's history.

Even if the Grand Central Arcade is closed, you can still see the names of the stores through the iron gate, in a list on the wall. One of the clothing stores takes its name from the answer to the old joke, "Why is six afraid of seven?"

(The store's name was narrowly chosen over the other answer, "Because seven is a registered six offender.")

A few steps north on 1st Avenue South is E. Smith Mercantile (V), a store that features a cosy bar in the back which opens after 4 PM.

Their neighbor to the north is Shotgun Ceremonies (W), where you and your traveling companions can get married in a quick wedding. Same sex? No problem, that's been legal in Washington since 2012.

On the northeast corner of 1st Avenue South and South Washington Street, Agate Designs (X) features some beautiful jewelry and agate crystal sculptures, although at over $3,000 apiece, you may have to be content with a photograph.

Find the Seattleite who has been doing squats in Occidental Park since 1973.

Head east on South Washington Street -- on the south side of the street is Occidental Park, permanent home to several sculptures and outdoor art pieces, and occasionally the site of political protests. [TODO: More here about Occidental Park]

Clue #4

Standing at the east edge of Occidental Park, look around and you can see an old, faded advertisement for Washington State Ferries. In the corner of that advertisement, an anonymous graffiti artist inserted a word which sounds like a cross between an American super-capitalist corporation and the world's most famous communist:

Clue #5

On the north side of South Washington Street, across the street from Occidental Park, you can find a store advertising "Martyr Sauce", which includes an interesting list of ingredients. Find the most important ingredient and enter it here:


That ingredient also happens to be the name of a single released in 2005 by Seattle rapper Macklemore on his first album, seven years before he became world-famous for "Thrift Shop" in 2012.

(Sadly, there is no actual "Martyr Sauce" for sale, however, the gallery owner does sell the empty jars and bottles. Ring the bell if you'd like to buy one!)

Head east on South Washington Street until it intersects with 3rd Avenue South. At the southwest corner of this intersection stands the Washington Court building (a), which was once the most famous brothel in all of Washington, operated by Lou Graham (who, despite her name, could have produced hundreds of witnesses to attest to the fact that she was definitely a woman). On the east side of the structure, you can find a business which carries on the building's proud tradition of drilling holes while promising that it won't hurt. [TODO: More here about Lou Graham]

Back west and up the diagonal street 2nd Avenue Extension, to where it meets Yesler Way. At the southwest corner of this intersection you can see another mural by "Weirdo" Jeff Jacobson, depicting a collection of alien-looking ocean life.

At the northeast corner stands Smith Tower, Seattle's first skyscraper. The tower was built in 1912 by L.C. Smith, who earned his family fortune in the typewriter and guns businesses (probable family motto: "The pen is mightier than the sword -- but, just in case.") The building is almost as tall as the space needle, and costs only $7.50 to go up to the observation deck, compared to $20 for the Needle. (Although, you can also go to the 40th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower, at 5th and Columbia, to look out their observation deck for free -- directions are at the end of this map.)

Because it's never too late to get it right

What shape is "Pioneer Square"?

Head west on Yesler and you'll get to Pioneer Square (d). [TODO: More here about Pioneer Square.]

Still hungry? Head a block west and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (e) will give you a free piece of chocolate for a Facebook "like". (If you don't have a smartphone, they'll let you use the tablet that they have mounted on the counter, just for people to "like" their page on Facebook to get the free chocolate.)

Back east to Merchant's Cafe (f), Seattle's oldest restaurant, built in 1890. If you made it before the end of happy hour, you can get appetizers starting at $1. [TODO: More here about Merchant's Cafe.]

Solve the puzzle

From the clues that you already filled out, collect the circled letters and to spell out the five-letter solution code (the five letters do not form an English word):

At Merchant's Cafe, ask for the "Cryptex" behind the bar:


To open the cryptex, find the raised triangular notch above the rings of letters. Then spell out the five-letter solution code, from top to bottom, to open the lock.

Bonus stop: The views from Seattle Municipal Tower or from RView Restaurant

Seattle Municipal Tower is a city building with a free observation deck on the 40th floor, facing south. RView is a restaurant at the top of the Renaissance Hotel with views of downtown (free to access; they'll expect you to buy some food, but they have tasty salmon sliders for $1.25). Both are a few blocks from Merchants Cafe.

At the Seattle Municipal Tower (closes at 7 PM), take the elevators to the 40th floor to see the view.

  • The skyscrapers in the distance to the extreme left are the city of Bellevue.
  • The fortress-like building to the left is Harborview Medical Center. (One of the office buildings next to it is labeled "Harborview Medical Center", but the "fortress" is part of the Center as well.)
  • The grass "parks" directly below the window are actually the rooftops of the Seattle Justice Center and Seattle City Hall. (The roofs are not accessible to the public or to employees; the grass rooftops increase the energy efficiency of the buildings.)
  • To the right, near the pyramid-topped Smith Tower, at street level you can see Merchants Cafe.
  • Beyond the baseball stadium and the football stadium, you can still just barely make out the mermaid peering out from the top of the Starbucks corporate headquarters.
  • The red-brick building on the distant hill is the Pacific Medical Center.
  • On a clear day, you can see Mount Rainier.

[TODO: More here about the view from RView.]

Creative Commons images used:
- Roll-on deodorant copyright Flickr user "How Can I Recycle This?"
- Picture of women doing squats copyright Flickr user "Pam Loves Pie"