Seattle Labor Temple – Seattle, Washington - Atlas Obscura

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Seattle Labor Temple

This historic hub for labor unions has survived the city's changing landscape.  


In the hallowed halls of the Seattle Labor Temple, there is a great deal of history to soak up. The Temple, located in the historic Belltown neighborhood, was built in the mid-20th century out of a need for the city’s many dock workers to have a meeting place. It stands as a beacon to those hard-fought decades in American history when organization among workers was paramount.

The Seattle Labor Temple has long served as a hub for union offices and a safe space for union meetings. It is still home to dozens of tenants, and a working food bank. With the tech boom, many labor meeting places have sold out to the rise in construction, moving to the outskirts or even the suburbs of the city. But the Seattle Labor Temple survives, keeping its ground in glorious fashion. It stands, if nothing else, as a symbol to workers to also stand their ground amidst sweeping changes. 

But there has been discussion of late on what to do with the building, which, along with its storied union history is also known now for the strong and odd scents emanating from its hallways. Some say the decades-old halls emanate an aroma of cleaning materials, worn leather, cigar smoke, and old rug. 

Officials may decide to finally sell the building and the valuable land it sits on or they may remodel the facility or they may continue to wait it out. And while one never knows what the outcome will be in the rapidly changing Seattle landscape, the Temple remains strong for now—pungent odor and all.Update: I just walked past this building on 11 November, 2021, and the entire inside of the building is being gutted. Jackhammers and other loud noises are emanating from the barricaded doors.

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April 30, 2018

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