November 22, 2013 at 6:29 PM
Sketched Nov. 15, 2013
Turns out Amazon wasn’t the first Seattle enterprise to revolutionize the shopping experience. Back in 1950, Northgate Mall made its debut as the first shopping center in the country to be defined as a “mall.”
The key difference from other shopping centers was that stores faced each other along a wide pedestrian walkway where cars were not allowed, the mall’s current general manager, Steven Heim, told me on a recent Friday afternoon. “It was a radical idea back then,” said Heim, a native Washingtonian who is very enthusiastic about the mall’s history.
When I asked Heim what interesting traces of the mall’s past remain, he led me to the original service tunnel that runs the length of the mall. Today’s trucks are too big for it, he said, so it’s not used very much. Heim also showed me a relic stored away for years: the eagle-shaped bookends of an old entrance sign. And he walked me through an abandoned restaurant, also hidden on the basement level, that he believes was popular with Sonics fans. He wishes he knew more about it — clues, anyone?
Now, in case you don’t care about the historical trivia and would rather know where to park at Northgate this holiday season, here’s Heim’s tip: “There’s always spaces on the fourth and fifth floor of the parking garage.”
November 15, 2013 at 9:13 PM
An austere monument at Alki Avenue S.W. and 63rd Avenue S.W. marks the “birthplace of Seattle,” the point along the West Seattle shoreline where a group of pioneers led by Arthur Denny landed 162 years ago this week.
I used to think the Denny Party stumbled upon these lands the same way Columbus happened upon America. But I know better now. Arthur Denny had dispatched his younger brother, David, to scout the area a few months earlier.
That means the 24 men, women and children who came aboard the Schooner Exact had something to look forward to. Namely, the cabin David Denny and fellow pioneer Lee Terry were building to welcome them.
On their arrival, however, they found a big disappointment. David had fallen ill, and the cabin was unfinished – in the middle of November. No wonder “the ladys sat down on the loggs and took A Big Cry,” as later reported by a member of the party.
Though a major metropolis has blossomed along Elliott Bay since then, it’s not difficult to imagine what the pioneers had to go through that Nov. 13 of 1851. Stand for a few minutes on that beach this time of the year and you’ll feel the same chill in the air while seagulls fly through the same cloudy skies that greeted the Denny Party.
I think I would have cried too.
October 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM
The days of the downtown Greyhound Bus Terminal are numbered. The entire city block where one of Seattle’s oldest transportation hubs has stood since 1927 is slated for redevelopment next year. Will we miss it?
The significance of the building may be lost at first sight. The majority of the original brick work was covered with beige ceramic tiles in the 1960s. (What were they thinking?) Mismatched additions like a roof overhang covering the passenger-loading area also mask the integrity of the station.
But consider the history. Decades before buses and light rail shared the downtown bus tunnel, streetcars and buses ran alongside the same wall where I recently sketched passengers boarding the 2:10 p.m. Greyhound to Vancouver, B.C.; part of the rails can still be seen through the pavement.
The Central Stage Terminal, as it was called then, was the southern base of the Seattle-Everett Interurban rail line and home to a number of coach companies that later displaced the streetcars and preceded Greyhound. Call it the first hybrid bus-rail station in the city.
While Greyhound plans to build a new terminal near the Stadium light-rail station early next year, the redevelopment of this site into a massive hotel/residential complex will erase an important part of Seattle’s transportation past. The city didn’t deem the terminal worthy of landmark status, so don’t expect the bulldozers to leave any part of it standing.
The waiting room inside the terminal was abuzz with activity on a recent weekday. Mary Patton had traveled here from Sequim on the Dungeness Line shuttle bus. She said she was a Seattle Times subscriber, so I didn’t have to do much explaining about my work. I hurried to make this sketch before she boarded the 1:10 p.m. bus to Portland, where she was planning to attend a wedding.
Gary Saben, who’s worked for Greyhound for 39 years, stopped to peek at my sketch of the building, and I came by to draw him when his bus was ready to leave. He said he’s looking forward to the new terminal in Sodo. “Change is always good.”
When I asked station manager Joseph Hapac what was special about the terminal, he knew exactly where to take me. We walked outside towards Ninth Avenue and he pointed to the rails still visible on the pavement. Then he pointed up to the part of the building where you can still see the original brickwork, right above the roof overhang.
September 27, 2013 at 5:42 PM
Sketched Sept. 19, 2013
How fitting for a city with a reputation for rain and clouds to have a park where you can learn all about the weather as it unfolds before your eyes.
For example, did you know the shape of a raindrop changes 50 times per second as it falls through the air? It might look like a jelly bean, or a pancake, or a peanut, or a hot dog or a football.
I learned this and other timely meteorological facts at Weather Watch Park, a tiny pocket park tucked between waterfront condominiums along Beach Drive Southwest in West Seattle.
Designed by local artist Lezlie Jane in 1990, its centerpiece is a concrete bench that curves around a pole topped with a weather vane. “Weather Words,” photos of clouds and information about the site — a mosquito-fleet ferry dock in the 1910s — turn this artful spot into both a science and a history lesson.
Daily visitor Steve Kendall likes its design because it prompts you to look up to the big, open sky.
As we enter the Season of Grayness, may that remind us that clouds can also be fun to watch.
September 13, 2013 at 9:09 PM
Brian Miller watches last Sunday’s football game inside Hawk One, a converted motorhome
he co-owns with two fellow die-hard Seahawk fans. The tailgate party at Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma was just an appetizer for Sunday’s real craze before the season home opener against the 49ers at Century Link Field. It may not count as my first authentic tailgating experience, but I sure learned a great deal about a team and a sport I knew little about.
Sketched Sept. 8, 2013
Talk about team spirit.
Gary Buchanan, Brian Miller and Tony Wetzel don’t just root for the Seahawks. They have their own 38-foot tailgating RV to rally fans before games.
The interior of the motor home is a mini-museum of the team’s history. The ceiling looks like that of the old Kingdome stadium, and names of legendary Seahawk players are displayed on a “Ring of Honor.” There’s more Kingdome-era stuff all around: three red chairs from the old stands, a piece of green turf and even a chunk of cement from the arena demolished 13 years ago.
The custom bar, which stands on legs shaped like goal posts, displays the original Seahawk logo, based on Native American tribal art. The osprey doesn’t have the mean eye of the current logo, noted Miller, who is a toolmaker by day and did most of the handiwork inside the vehicle.
Hawk One looks so polished you might think it’s an official marketing gimmick. It’s not.
“We are the core 12th Man,” said Buchanan, who is looking forward to bring the “ultimate tailgating experience” to “Hawk Alley” for a fifth year in a row Sunday, with the game against the 49ers. “A thousand people will show up. It will be crazy.”
Tailgating is quite the ritual. At home games, Hawk One co-owner Gary Buchanan dresses as the “Sea Pope” and leads fans in prayer. “I pray to the football gods for a positive outcome of the game and no injuries for the players,” he said.
Buchanan found the RV on Craigslist and, after a massive rebuild,
it made its official debut as Hawk One in 2009.
Buchanan, Wetzel and Miller gathered around the bar to discuss last Sunday’s game.
The Seahawks beat the Panthers 12-7.
The trio of die-hard Seahawk fans met about a decade ago through their daughters, who played softball together in elementary school. Now grown up, their kids are bringing a new generation of fans to the tailgate parties.
Buchanan said most people don’t start tailgating until 9 or 10 in the morning, but you can expect Hawk One to raise their 12th Man flag at 6:30 a.m. and celebrate with food, music and toasts until an hour before the game starts. For home games, they set up on Utah Avenue South just north of the Starbucks headquarters.
August 23, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Sketched August 8, 2013
Perfect timing. The morning low tide allowed me to walk far out on the beach south of Alki Point and find a good angle to sketch Seattle’s most-hidden lighthouse.
Boaters may be very familiar with the beacon that marks the southern entrance to Elliott Bay (Did you know it flashes every five seconds?). But for those of us spending all our time on dry land, it’s not easy to get a close look.
First, there are the beach houses surrounding the historic landmark, which turned 100 this summer. Though I was able to walk around them at low tide, I couldn’t help but feel I was sneaking into somebody’s backyard. Second, the lighthouse complex is an active Coast Guard station that houses the residence of the Commander of the 13th Coast Guard District, Rear Admiral Richard T. Gromlich. Walk by the entrance on Alki Avenue Southwest, and you realize this is not your typical tourist attraction.
But it’s still possible to visit the lighthouse. During the summers or by appointment, Coast Guard volunteers give free tours of the complex. If you don’t want to get your feet muddy as I did, you may want to stop by this weekend or next.
August 9, 2013 at 5:53 PM
I never thought I would ride a Portuguese trolley anywhere but in Lisbon,
where I lived for a few months in the late ’90s.
Sketched July 30, 2013
Some cities love trolleys more than others.
While Seattle has watched its fleet of waterfront streetcars collect dust in a Sodo warehouse, Issaquah has gone as far as Colorado and Iowa to bring a trolley to its downtown corridor.
The idea gained traction after the city restored its historic train depot in 1994. “We wanted to run something on the track, and it couldn’t be a steam engine,” said trolley volunteer Barbara Justice.
Saturday, almost two decades later, an old car (originally from Lisbon, Portugal) that Justice and her team found in Aspen, Colo., and then sent to Iowa for restoration makes its debut as Issaquah’s newest attraction. The trolley line runs on the historic tracks once used for freight and passenger service to Seattle. It is part of the revitalization of the downtown and meant to attract more visitors to Issaquah’s museums.
Though the trolley will travel only half a mile back and forth, Justice said the distance is not the point. “We are in the history business, not the transportation business.”
The Issaquah Valley Trolley will operate on weekends, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on a “pay as you can” basis.
July 5, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Sketched June 20 and 26, 2013
All this time I’ve thought the closest national parks to Seattle were Mount Rainier, the North Cascades and the Olympics. But here’s one that is even closer: the Klondike Gold Rush National Park in Pioneer Square.
Veteran park ranger Tim J. Karle said I’m not the only visitor who is surprised when stepping into the building. People expect trees and mountains, he said. Instead, they find themselves wandering through two floors of exhibits.
I’m more of an urban hiker than an outdoors explorer anyway, so I wasn’t at all disappointed. I enjoyed the 23-minute movie “Gold Fever: Rush to the Klondike” and watching Karle’s demonstration of gold panning techniques.
The park gave me a better understanding of Seattle’s history and its entrepreneurial spirit. Most stampeders who came through town on their way to the Klondike River never saw gold on their pans, said Karle, but they helped launch Seattle as the gateway to Alaska. These days, “tourism is the modern gold rush.”
May 22, 2013 at 5:09 PM
Sketched May 8, 2013
I drove by this historic gas station in Issaquah on my way to sketch paragliders at Tiger Mountain. You don’t see this kind of old buildings everyday around here, so I couldn’t resist pulling over for a quick 20-minute sketch. According to the Downtown Issaquah Association website, the building may have been a residence first, built in the 1890s. Over the years, it was also used as a warehouse and feed store. In 2003, it was restored to the way it looked in the 1940s. Can you picture the scene back then? I imagine men in suits driving big old Cadillacs (like this one) and smoking cigars.
March 22, 2013 at 6:23 PM
Sketched March 13, 2013
It has nothing to do with peas.
The P in P-Patch comes from the Picardos, the family of Italian immigrants who farmed the land in Wedgwood where Seattle’s first community garden was established in 1973.
“This is a unique Seattle term,” said Milton Tam, a gardener who coordinates the 2-acre site and the nearly 600 fellow volunteers eager to see spring coming around.
The Picardo Patch is a remnant of the neighborhood’s semirural past, when it was outside the city limits. Since the 1920s, family patriarch Ernesto Picardo grew vegetables to sell in Seattle, but after he died in 1961, the land sat unused for years. Eventually, with permission from the family, neighbors began farming a portion of the fertile soil, which the city purchased to preserve the community-gardening experience. Thus, Seattle’s original P-Patch was born.
Forty years later, an urban-gardening movement seems well-rooted in the city. You could say that the P in P-Patch also stands for something else: Popular. Just to get one of the estimated 270 plots at Picardo’s, people have to wait “six months to a year,” said Tam.
Milton Tam started gardening at the Picardo Patch seven years ago. He suggested I come back in the summer, when one of the gardeners cooks a really good paella.
The University Prep school building south of the patch offered a great vantage point to sketch this view and stay away from the drizzle. The garden extends a little further to the left until it meets 25th Avenue NE. Tam said anyone is welcome to take a stroll through the garden, as it is a public property.
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