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FYI Guy

Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

Topic: Seattle

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October 31, 2012 at 5:45 AM

Is Seattle the country’s worst-dressed city?

The Teva high-heel in black — perfect formal footwear for Seattle? (photo: Gray Ant/Teva)

Last week I attended the Seattle Opera’s production of Beethoven’s Fidelio.  The singing was beautiful, of course, but that’s not what inspired this blog post.  It was the clothing.  The audience’s clothing.

Suffice it say that Tevas, jeans and polo shirts are still acceptable attire for a night at the opera in Seattle; not much has changed in the four years since Pam Sitt wrote this article on the subject in The Seattle Times.

It’s a long-standing complaint that Seattleites don’t care how they dress, don’t buy new clothes, and even take a perverse pride in their frumpiness — we’re into books here, not clothes.

But is it true?  Do we really have no interest in clothes in Seattle?  And can data help us find an answer?

Not sure, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

I devised a simple measure — an index — to gauge the fashion priorities of Seattleites in relation to people in other cities.  I’ll call it the Shoppers Index.  

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Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: Seattle, shopping

October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Great city parks don’t come cheap

Ready for its close-up: the renewed Denny Park (photo by Gene Balk/The Seattle Times)

In The Seattle Times, Lynda Mapes reports on the transformation of once-seedy Denny Park into a clean and welcoming green space in the city’s urban core.  Just a few years ago, Seattle’s oldest park was the kind of place you’d go out of your way to avoid. Not anymore. Denny Park has been granted a new lease on life, buoyed by its location in the heart of the burgeoning South Lake Union neighborhood.

An urban park, after all, is nothing without lots of people nearby to make use of it, and for many years the area around Denny Park was an overlooked part of town.  But the recent growth there has been dramatic.  The number of people living within a 1,500-foot radius of the park has more than doubled since 2000 to about 3,500, according to demographics data provider AGS. And with the arrival of Amazon’s headquarters, biotech firms, and other employers, the daytime population now stands at more than 9,000 in that same radius of Denny Park.

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Comments | More in Demographics, Public Records | Topics: Parks, Seattle, South Lake Union

October 2, 2012 at 1:00 PM

When can you call yourself a Seattleite?

The original Seattleite (photo credit: Steven Pavlov via Wikimedia Commons)

What’s your definition of a true Seattleite? When can you officially say that you’re from here? If you asked 10 people you’d probably get 10 different answers.

Are you only a legitimate Seattlite if you grew up inside the city limits? Or is it a matter of having lived here a certain number of years, or a certain percentage of your life? Or is it something more abstract, like an attitude or mentality? How do you earn your stripes?

Personally, I think of myself as a Seattleite. I moved to the city from California in 2002, when The Seattle Times hired me on as a news researcher. So I’ve been here 10 years, and Seattle feels like my home town now. I own a condo in Belltown, I have great friends here, and I feel integrated into the life of the city. When people stop me on the street for directions, I can usually help out. I can pronounce Puyallup without having to think about it first. I’m even pulling espresso shots at home these days. I would call myself a Seattleite without hesitation. But would someone who was born and raised in the city agree with me? Hard to say–I’d ask, but the problem is, I don’t meet a lot of folks who actually did grow up in Seattle.

And the data back me up on this. According to the just-released Census Bureau estimates for 2011, about 62 percent of Seattle residents were not born in Washington state. In other words, three out of every five people living in the city aren’t native Washingtonians, let alone native Seattleites.

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Comments | More in Demographics | Topics: Census, Seattle

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