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The Seattle Sketcher

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

March 2, 2012 at 11:23 PM

A tourist in her own city

Sketched Feb. 27, 2012
peggyburnswithmap-m.jpgMost of us look forward to our to-do lists getting shorter when we retire. But for Peggy Burns, a trained mathematician, former technical writer and self-described “lists” person from northeast Seattle, retirement has brought one heck of a long goal.
You see, Burns has plans to walk every single street within Seattle’s city limits. Since June 2010, she has logged 1,150 miles and estimates she has 1,850 more to go.
“You can find spectacular views and interesting vibes … It’s kind of like being a tourist in your own city,” Burns said as we strolled the Central District, where we found an eclectic mix: Ethiopian restaurants, P-patches, a Muslim school, garden sculptures and street murals like this one of Martin Luther King Jr.
And Burns’ objective doesn’t end with the walks. Back at home, she researches the places she’s visited and posts observations and photos on a blog (, allowing her to check another goal off her list: “Keep up with technology.”
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After we finished the 3.5 mile walk, I retraced our steps and sketched a few of the places that caught Burns’ attention. Make sure to look at the detailed report she has already posted on her blog, which is a real treasure of information on the many neighborhoods she’s walked so far — most of north Seattle and Capitol Hill, downtown and parts of the Central District.
This garden sculpture of a vigilant rabbit was the first thing Burns photographed with her Sony Cybershot when we started our walk at East Columbia Street and 29th Avenue. It’s right across from a pocket park known as Nora’s Woods.
The alley-facing wall of this boarded-up business on East Cherry Street hid an striking mural depicting a battle between a giant squid and a whale. Thanks to Burns’ research, I now know that it was painted by Karl Addison and Pixel.Tron.
“Walking you see so much more than if you drive,” said Burns, who’s fond of photographing the small details that you’d never notice from behind the steering-wheel of your car, like this cool dragon sculpture we found on 23rd Avenue.
Our walk also took us through nice and quiet residential streets. On 27th Avenue, this house caught the attention of Burns’ husband, Jim, who had also tagged along for the walk. The couple, who moved from New York City 34 years ago, said they keep an eye out for neighborhoods where one of their daughters may like to buy a house in a few years.
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!

Comments | Topics: Central District


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