A crowd gathered at dawn Saturday to watch contractors begin to demolish the 119-year-old Luzon Building in downtown Tacoma. According to the City of Tacoma, the historically significant building was deemed a safety hazard earlier this month for fear it would collapse after decades of neglect, and a demolition order was issued.
Designed by famed Chicago architects John Wellborn Root and Daniel Hudson Burnham, the Luzon Building was one of the first high-rise towers on the West Coast, the embodiment of engineering genius — sturdy brick shell, cast iron columns, and wood construction on the upper floors — that allowed the building to top out at a soaring height for 1890s Tacoma. It was an engineering model that would be copied and opened the door to the future development of “skyscrapers.”
Monday’s print edition of the Index will feature photographs of the demolition by local photographer Kevin Freitas. For a collection of more than 100 photos of the demolition by Freitas photos, visit kevinfreitas.net/journal/photos-luzon-building-demolition/.
To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Luzon Building, click on the following links:
- What’s Left of Luzon? Report keeps tabs on demolished building’s artifacts (Tacoma Daily Index, February 22, 2012)
- Sidewalk party marks Luzon Building demolition anniversary (Tacoma Daily Index, September 8, 2010)
- Burnham, Luzon Building featured in PBS documentary (Tacoma Daily Index, September 2, 2010)
- Year In Review: Luzon Building (Tacoma Daily Index, December 22, 2009)
- Luzon art show, fund-raiser to benefit Historic Tacoma (Tacoma Daily Index, December 16, 2009)
- Luzon’s Last Dawn (Tacoma Daily Index, September 26, 2009)
- Downtown’s Lost Block (Tacoma Daily Index, September 23, 2009)
- Luzon will come down Saturday (Tacoma Daily Index, September 22, 2009)
- Luzon’s Tough Lesson (Tacoma Daily Index, September 18, 2009)
- City will demolish 1890s Luzon Building (Tacoma Daily Index, September 15, 2009)
- Luzon’s Dark Legacy (Tacoma Daily Index, July 10, 2009)
- What Looms for Luzon? (Tacoma Daily Index, April 28, 2009)
- Luzon Unlocked (Tacoma Daily Index, August 28, 2008)
- Resolution would facilitate acquisition, renovation of Luzon Building (Tacoma Daily Index, October 29, 2007)
- Renovation in store for Luzon Building: Development of historic site to begin this spring; commercial and residential spaces planned (Tacoma Daily Index, January 13, 2005)
- Pacific Block closer to being sold (Tacoma Daily Index, January 14, 2003)
Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengers; third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright; and second-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State. His work has also appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.