Pioneer Square landmark sits where a fledgling delivery service was launched from a saloon basement.

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To walk in Pioneer Square is to travel through a heaving, breathing cityscape that was once the very heart of Seattle.  You’re on your way to one of the city’s most unique small wonders, an urban Eden built on the ancestral home of the global shipping giant United Parcel Service.

As you tread the stones of Pioneer Square, ghosts of 19th-century commerce seem to reach up from the subterranean labyrinth of underground Seattle. While traffic honks and heaves around you, ancient and weary eyes seem to stare out from the upper windows of the stone Romanesque buildings that loom overhead.

Turn the corner at South Main Street and the south spur of Second Avenue, and you’ll step into an unexpected pocket of pastoral peace, where lush ferns and flowers grow rampant and torrents of cool water tumble down a 22-foot waterfall to splash onto granite boulders.

This little half-acre escape was created in 1977 (and rededicated in 2007) on the spot where two teenage entrepreneurs created what would grow into UPS. In 1907, a noisy saloon operated on this spot. The basement of that saloon was where Jim Casey and Claude Ryan opened the American Messenger Co., using a $100 loan, on the morning of Aug. 28.

Waterfall Garden Park, Seattle (Photo by Al Kemp)
Waterfall Garden Park, Seattle (Photo by Al Kemp)

In an age when phones were scarce, the young company ran errands and delivered messages on bicycle. Young Jim soon hired other teens and the firm prospered in Pioneer Square and the city of Seattle. It didn’t become known as UPS until 1919 when the business relocated to Oakland, California – the first of many relocations and expansions in the ensuing century as the firm embraced one new technology after another to grow into a giant in the world of shipping, logistics and freight.

The pocket park has plenty of nooks and a few small tables where visitors can find respite from the daily grind of living or working in the city. A glance straight up affords an unobstructed view of pure blue sky and the spreading contrails of a single jet passing miles above.

It is a perfect opportunity to ponder these facts about the UPS of today:

  • If that passing plane belongs to UPS, it is part of a fleet that delivers 2.6 million packages and documents every day in the United States.
  • The UPS air fleet comprises 237 short-term leased or chartered aircraft.
  • The company delivers to every single address in North America and Europe.
  • The company’s 2015 revenue topped $58 billion.
  • The company employs 444,000 workers (362,000 U.S.; 82,000 international).
  • Over 70 percent of senior-level employees started out as package handlers.
  • The 2015 delivery volume was 4.7 billion packages and documents.
  • UPS delivers to more than 220 countries and territories.
  • The ground delivery fleet comprises 104,926 package cars, vans, tractors, motorcycles, including more than 7,200 alternative-fuel and advanced-technology vehicles.

UPS announced on Sept. 14 that it expects to hire about 95,000 seasonal employees to support the anticipated increase in package volume that will begin in November and continue through January 2017.

The full- and part-time seasonal positions – primarily package handlers, drivers and driver-helpers – have long been an entry point for permanent employment at UPS. Many senior UPS executives, including CEO David Abney and three other members of the company’s Management Committee, started their UPS careers as part-time employees.

From the 2012 through 2014 holiday seasons, over 37 percent of the people UPS hired for seasonal package handler jobs were later hired in a permanent position when the holidays were over.

Happy shipping!

If you’re ready to get what you want out of your job – out of your life – the smart route is at UPS, a Fortune 50 organization with opportunities that will help you go as far as your ambition will take you.