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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

February 17, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Old soul of Sodo shines out

Sketched Feb. 14, 2012
Ugly Sodo? Mike Peringer didn’t like that passing reference from one of my earlier columns. No surprise, as he is the president of the Sodo Business Association and proud of what’s going on in his part of town, including the prospect of a new NBA arena.
Peringer said Sodo has been transforming for a few years, with more retail and commercial enterprises altering the once-industrial landscape. A trapeze arts company now occupies a warehouse where boiler plates were made. On First Avenue South, restored buildings from the 1920s have become event halls and home-improvement stores.
One of those stores occupies this 1918 warehouse across from the Starbucks headquarters. Eight years ago, the charming old woodshed was on the verge of demolition, as it stood on the path of a monorail line that voters eventually rejected. Looking past its tacky signage, I realized these few remaining old buildings are where Sodo’s soul and beauty lie.
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Click on the sketches to see larger versions
As he drove me around the district, Peringer pointed to this foundry, Northwest Castings, as an example of the few remaining manufacturing businesses that have been in Sodo for a long time. When I walked around here later in the afternoon, the jersey barriers alongside the future Spokane Viaduct westbound on and -off ramp provided good protection from the traffic as I drew this view from 1st Avenue South.
Just two blocks north from Northwest Castings I found two other historic Sodo locations. Sodo Park (left), which dates from 1907, and the K. R. Trigger building, from 1923, rent their restored spaces for meetings and events. My quick sketches don’t do justice to the charming character of these gems from Seattle’s industrial past. A good reason to come back for more sketches.
I couldn’t leave Sodo without exploring the area where a proposed NBA arena could soon be built. Here I chatted with the owners of El Rey del Taco II, María González and Teresa de la Rosa. They said they chose this location for their truck because its closed to Safeco Field and they are looking forward to the baseball season to start and bring in more customers. They recommend their homemade tamales and churros con champurrado. I’ll have to try those next time.
Your community: What draws you in? This is one of an occasional series where I explore Seattle-area communities following readers’ suggestions. I invite you contact me via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!

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