Seattle in The Last of Us: Part II – In-game vs. Reality

{contains spoilers}

The hit video game The Last of Us Part I takes place 25 years after an apocalyptic event ravages the world, and throughout the 15-hour journey the player follows the characters of Joel and Ellie in a tale of survival and hope. Part II is mainly set in 2039 Seattle, once a fortified quarantine zone, now abandoned, overgrown, and home to the infected.

Unlike my last video-game inspired trip which took me to Cartagena, Colombia, the in-game Seattle of TLOUII is spookily realistic. Walking the real Seattle streets gave me an ever deeper appreciation for the detail and artistic input of the game creators, and while some geographical liberties were taken with the Space Needle and a couple of other locations, Naughty Dog (the game developers) really nailed Seattle.

Prior to and after my trip, I took some in-game screenshots of the locations, which I’ll post here alongside my actual Seattle photographs, so you can see how closely the city was replicated in the game. And to earn a few extra nerd points, I’ll post them all in the order you find them in the game.

To help me find what I needed, I bought a copy of this amazing map, sold by La Tienda de Kirby on Etsy: it’s an exact replica of the faded city map Ellie uses to navigate her way around the Seattle, complete with Sharpie markings of points of interest.


In the game you – as Ellie – can explore Downtown Seattle on foot and on horseback to pick up collectibles, trigger converstaions and (of course) fight your way past enemies. Overrun by the infected in the game, the courthouse is actually the William Kenzo Nakamura US Courthouse on Fifth Avenue.

While exploring downtown Seattle, you go into the Westlake Bank (also overrun with infected, but a compulsory part of the game). This is actually the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Avenue.

Opposite is another striking skyscraper, the Columbia Centre.

During gameplay, Ellie and Dina explore a domed building which turns out to be a synagogue, revealing a little more about Dina’s character and history. Outside of the game, it’s the Daniels Recital Hall, not far from the courthouse.

Seattle boasts another piece of striking modern architecture downtown, the Central Public Library. Although you can’t go inside in the game, you pass by it as you explore the area. Built in 2004, it’s an 11-floor glass building featuring an auditorium and public reading/meeting space.

This building has suffered some discolouration during the apocalypse…

As Ellie, you follow instructions which lead you to the ‘Serevena Hotel’ to (yet again) fight your way past the infected and find the next crumb on your trail. The Serevena is clearly inspired by the historic Hotel Sorrento, built in 1909 and which is still welcoming bookings today (infected not included).

Ellie at the Serevena Hotel

Once you leave the downtown area, you progress to Capitol Hill. In 2022 Seattle, Capitol Hill is a busy and popular area of the city, and the rainbow crosswalks that feature in the game can still be seen at a few junctions.

As the game progresses and Ellie continues her misson, you are led to the Channel 13 TV station. After making some important discoveries, you have to evade a group of human enemies and escape the building safely. The TV station is based on KOMO Plaza, near to the Space Needle, which is also familiar to Grey’s Anatomy viewers as the Seattle Grace Hospital.

On arrival in Seattle I got the train from the airport to downtown Pioneer Square. In the game we see Ellie making her way through the subway tunnels and later on she emerges from here before running into another group of enemies.

At the end of Day 1, Ellie and Dina find refuge in an old theatre. In game it’s The Pinnacle Theatre, an ornate and grand 1920s building. It’s Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, an architectural delight sitting proudly on Pine Street, and you can see how clearly the game has captured the details of its exterior.


Ellie’s second day in Seattle involves working her way through the Seattle Convention Centre. I spent some time in here on my first day in the city and was pleased to see how well the interior had been recreated, not just the exterior.

Ellie ascends from the dark dangers of the subway tunnels into daylight, moments before her first encounter with the Seraphites (a faction of religious cultists) and if you turn round, you can see that you’ve been down in Pioneer Street Station.


Nordstrom department store is seen as ‘Norkirk’ in-game as Ellie navigates her way through the flooded Seattle streets by speedboat in Day 3.

She finds a speedboat after stealthing her way (or slaughtering her way, the player decides) past enemies at an abandoned, flooded mall. This is Seattle’s Pacific Place Mall, recognisable by its glass ceiling.

Before taking on more Seraphites who have overrun part of the city, Ellie steers her speedboat past these towers.


The game takes a turn part way through and you are now in control of a different character, Abby. She begins her Seattle: Day 1 at what used to be Soundview Stadium, now home to the Washington Liberation Front. This is Seattle’s Lumen Field, home of the Seahawks.


Several of the scenes in the game which develop Abby’s character and backstory take place at the Seattle Aquarium. This hugely popular tourist attraction sits at Pier 59, and over 850,000 visitors a year come to see the fish, birds and mammals; the gift shop even sells cuddly sharks, just like in the game…and the decor of the aquarium in the game is based on the real building’s design.


In Day 3, Abby and Manny are being hunted by a sniper, Tommy, down by the marina at ‘Port 66’. The hunt continues on a bridge and then into the cruise terminal. Pier 66 in Seattle does have its own cruise terminal, and you can walk over ‘Tommy’s Bridge’ to follow Abby and Manny’s trail; the bridge gave Tommy the perfect vantage point for hunting them with clear views down Alaskan Way.

Ruston Coffee at Tommy’s sniper bridge

Next to the Aquarium is the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57. In the game, it’s another location which features prominently in Abby’s past, in both current and flashback scenes.

Walking a little way from Lumen Field I came to the Historic Chinatown Gate – Abby also encounters this on her way through the city.

The night before I flew from Heathrow to Seattle I saw Argentinian composer and performer Gustavo Santaolalla in concert. As well as being something of a national musical hero, he’s also the composer behind the haunting score to Brokeback Mountain and to the video game series The Last of Us Part I and II. The concert was an emotional one, with the audience in teary contemplation one minute, clapping and whooping on their feet the next, performed in London’s marvellous Barbican Centre.

Santaolalla himself appears in the game near the beginning as a musician playing in the streets of Jackson.

Immersing myself in the music from The Last of Us was the perfect way to kickstart my trip to Seattle.

Also on this trip: My Twin Peaks Locations Tour

Next: A Breaking Bad trip to New Mexico (Part 3)