Best Old Building

Smith Tower

Here's a tip for those squiring out-of-town guests: Forget about the Space Needle and take them to the top of the Smith Tower instead. You may not get as high, but the view from the Smith Tower's wrap-around deck is still marvelous—and a lot cheaper. Tickets to the 35th floor cost $7.50 for adults, instead of $18 for a trip to the top of the Needle. And you get a quirkier, more historic experience at the Smith Tower, which opened in 1914 as the fourth-tallest building in the world. The observation deck lies off the so-called "Chinese Room," which features a carved wood-and-porcelain ceiling. To get there, you take an old-fashioned elevator with a clanging metal door, slid back and forth by surely some of the last elevator operators anywhere in the world who double as tour guides, providing a quick history lesson on the way up. You'll learn that the tower was built by a quintessential Northwest dreamer, striving to compete with New York and maybe, just maybe, make his fortune while he was at it. NINA SHAPIRO 506 Second Ave., 622-4004, smithtower.com

 
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