Arts in Seattle
Mural Amphitheater, Seattle Center (built
1962). The mosaic behind the stage is by
Seattle artist Paul Horiuchi.
Seattle, although a relatively new city, is a
significant center for the performing arts.
The century-old Seattle Symphony Orchestra
is among the world’s most recorded orches-
tras. The Seattle Opera and Pacific North-
west Ballet, are comparably distinguished.
On at least two occasions, Seattle’s local pop-
ular music scene has burst into the national
and even international consciousness, first
with a major contribution to garage rock in
the mid-1960s, and later as the home of
grunge rock in the early 1990s. The city has
about twenty live theater venues, and Pion-
eer Square is one of the country’s most prom-
inent art gallery districts.
The entertainments in Seattle in its first dec-
ade were typical of similar frontier towns.
The first established place of entertainment
was Henry Yesler’s one-story 30 feet (9.1 m)
x 100 feet (30.5 m) hall (built 1865), which
phrenologists and the like. The first profes-
sional play in the city was an 1871 produc-
tion of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; numerous Tom
Shows would play Seattle in the following
years, including one with an entirely African
American cast. The first local theater com-
pany was the short-lived John Jack Theatrical
Company, whose performances in the late
Dancer Kara O’Toole performing an excerpt
from choreographer Pat Graney’s Jesus Loves
the Little Cowgirls at the celebration of the
100th anniversary of Seattle’s Moore Theatre
1870s received generally unfavorable re-
By the 1880s, Seattle was receiving tour-
ing opera companies, as well as trained anim-
al acts and the like. Among the actors who
visited in the 1890s were Henry Irving,
Maurice and Lionel Barrymore, Sidney Drew
and Mrs. John Drew, Harry Langdon, W.C.
Fields, Eddie Foy, and Sarah Bernhardt.
Less reputably, the "restricted district" below
Yesler Way became home to many box
houses: half a