Historic Chinese Gate in Seattle

chinese gate in chinatown seattle



Local Attraction


Chinatown (International District)
On King Street, just east of 5th Avenue


The Chinese Gate

This isn’t a regular preview because this is about a culturally significant object rather than a park. But I wanted to include a separate entry for the Chinese Gate in my International District coverage because it’s one of the major attractions of the neighborhood.

The official name is the Historic Chinese Gate, but it’s not historic in the sense of having been built long ago and then more recently transported to Seattle. The gate was designed and built here in this century, based on original gates in southern China. So it’s historic in style, not age.

For over fifty years the residents of Chinatown wanted a traditional pai-lau, or gate, but it wasn’t until 2003 that volunteers created a non-profit organization to finally make the dream into a reality. Funding came from numerous sources, and construction for the $500,000 gate began in 2006. It was completed in 2008.

The gate is crafted from steel and ceramic and spans 45 feet across King Street at the west entrance to Chinatown. On a light pole at the nearby street corner a Chinese dragon is mounted.

The ceramic animals on the roof were made in China. The figures include a phoenix and dragon, and they are intended to ward off bad luck and bring good airflow. The orb is a fireball from heaven and is meant to bring good luck. The paint colors used are colors the emperors cherished. The upturned eaves soften forceful energy.

Just east of the gate on the south side of King Street is the entrance to a pay parking lot. So if there isn’t any metered street parking nearby and you just want to stop briefly to snap a few photos you can park there for a couple minutes for free if you’re only in the area to see the gate. (Assuming the person who checks the payment box isn’t there at the same time of course!)

Joe’s Bar and Grill

If you’re into genuine dive bars, Joe’s Bar and Grill is on the corner of 5th and King right by the gate. I went in for a beer and the bathroom, and I swear they must serve the coldest beer in Seattle.

On a late Sunday morning the place was laid back, with a few regulars at the bar, an elderly man watching TV, and a few young people playing pool. The bar is known for serving stiff drinks, and online reviews indicate that later in the day the place becomes much more “colorful” with a mix of regulars, people attending ballgames, tourists, and street people, with some in each category heavily inebriated.

I wasn’t hungry when there so didn’t order any food, but they offer a typical selection of bar fare.

seattle chinese gate

Gate with the King Street Station clock tower in the background.


seattle chinese gate

Gate as seen from nearby parking lot.


Smith Tower and the Columbia Center in the background.


seattle chinatown

Chinese dragon on the corner of King and 5th.


Combo Outing

Union Station Plaza, Hing Hay Park, Kobe Terrace Park, Asian restaurants.

Map Location

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