Seattle's Giant Sequoia Tree – Seattle, Washington - Atlas Obscura
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Seattle, Washington

Seattle's Giant Sequoia Tree

This grand old 80-foot sequoia towers above the buildings in the city’s retail center. 

As the city of Seattle continues to change, welcoming thousands of transplants each year and watching taller and taller buildings rise along its skyline, there are still some ways to remember the city’s earliest roots—back when Amazon and Microsoft didn’t reign supreme, when trees grew wild throughout the Pacific Northwest.

One way to remember this era is to head downtown and see the giant 80-foot sequoia standing tall where Fourth Avenue meets Olive and Stewart streets. There the sheer magnitude and magnificence of the giant sequoia stuns.

This tall evergreen stands on guard at the city’s retail epicenter, which is also where holiday lights are strung and the winter season is celebrated. While the sequoia is grand at its current height of 80 feet, it once reached to 100 feet tall before a significant storm damaged its top.

The giant sequoia, which was moved from its original Aurora Avenue location in the northern part of the city in 1973, is not without its stories. In 2010, city officials undertook soil renovations in hopes of reviving its failing health. While it remains to be seen whether a tree of that size can stay intact amidst car exhaust, dense concrete surroundings, and general wear and tear, the sequoia is in no danger of becoming obsolete.  

The old tree found itself in the limelight in 2016, thanks to the #ManInTree, who, dressed in khakis, a checkered hoodie, and red beanie hat, climbed to the top of the tree and began throwing things at passersby. City officials eventually convinced the man to climb down.

Seattle, it should be noted, is also home to a second large sequoia. Planted in the early 20th century by Jacob Umlauff, a former Seattle Park Superintendent, this second giant in the lush Leschi Park looms large over the expansive green space like a noble.

Though the gray, concrete footprint of the Emerald City grows with the city, Seattle continues to boast some impressive markers of its green beginnings. Yes, there are still decades-old titans watching over us.

Know Before You Go

While #ManInTree climbed the branches to get to the top of the giant sequoia, we don’t recommend you try. In fact, let’s be clear: Don’t climb the tree! Instead, admire it for the wise old subsisting giant that it is.