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.
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.
June 28, 2013 at 6:57 PM
Sketched June 26, 2013
Some are painted a solid color: Yellow, orange or green. Others come in two hues, like blue and yellow.
You’d think as an artist I would like such a colorful fleet of city taxis. But I actually find the system very confusing.
Abdi Dahir, a supervisor with Yellow Cab who I met outside King Street Station, understood my point. The two-toned cabs, he said, are not even taxis. They are “for hire” vehicles that charge flat rates and aren’t supposed to pick up people who flag them down. When they do, “they are breaking the rules,” he said.
The current debate pitting traditional cab service against new app-based ridesharing companies is also adding to my confusion. If companies like Lyft and Uber provide the same service, should they follow the city regulations that apply to taxis?
In Barcelona, where I grew up, all taxis have a distinctive yellow and black design that has become a symbol of the city — much like the FC Barcelona colors — and a guarantee of safe and reliable service. They all play by the same rules. Would a similar system work here? It may seem far-fetched, but a uniform identity for taxis would make getting rides in Seattle less of a daunting task.
I thought I’d find cabs from different companies at King Street Station, but Dahir said only the Yellow Cab company is allowed to pick up people here, at the aiport, Pier 91 and Pier 69. He said the other two main taxi companies in Seattle, Orange Cab and Farwest, can only do drop-off.
I found a green Farwest taxi to add to my series of sketches at the taxi stand by the ferry terminal. The driver had no problem with me sketching the Prius, but declined to be included in the picture.
Last, I stopped by the Westin Hotel, a taxi stand where I met Wessen Darge (above, left) and Asfaw Dargazee (below). The Orange Cab drivers said the city has strict regulations for cab drivers. They have to wear a uniform consisting of white shirt and dark pants, they also have to pass background checks, install cameras on their vehicles and pay hundreds of dollars in fees every year.
March 15, 2013 at 7:01 PM
Sketched Feb. 27 and March 5, 2013
I’ve yet to talk to a person in Seattle who didn’t love the George Benson waterfront streetcars.
Since 2005, they’ve been stored at a facility in Sodo where Metro kindly let this newspaper artist roam around.
As I was sizing up the cavernous room, I stumbled upon a “RIDER ALERT” sign still glued to a streetcar door. Talk about a blast from the past: “Beginning Saturday, Nov. 19, the Waterfront Streetcar will be temporarily replaced by Route 99 bus service, pending construction of a new streetcar maintenance facility.”
Why that new facility was never built seems beyond the point now that eight years have passed. My question is: Will I ever ride one of these?
Streetcar advocate Tom Gibbs, a retired transit executive, is optimistic. about the future of the 1.6 mile line that first opened in 1982 along Alaskan Way.He said the 1.6 mile line that first opened in 1982 could be linked to the First Hill line, which is scheduled to open early next year. And a barn for the new streetcar line planned at 8th Avenue South and South Dearborn Street could also be expanded to accommodate the beloved trolleys.
Since Metro considered selling them last year, 966 people have signed an online petition at saveourstreetcar.org to restore the legacy of the late City Council member George Benson. Gibbs assured me there is a lot of support out there.
I hope he is right.
The five streetcars date from the 1920s and were used in Melbourne, Australia, before they were shipped to Seattle.
This is one of the waterfront stops that is still standing.
February 15, 2013 at 6:19 PM
Sketched Feb. 6, 2013
The side-by-side Interstate 90 floating bridges were built for cars and buses, but if you’re not in a hurry, I recommend a visit on foot to gain a new perspective on these transportation wonders.
If you start on the pedestrian lane along the north span, you’ll recognize the portal over the westbound lanes — that’s what you see when you drive into Seattle. The original art-deco portal is another story. Besides quick glances in the rearview mirror as you drive east, there is little time to appreciate it. Those semicircular tunnels handled traffic in both directions when the bridge opened in 1940. I was able to make a sketch from 35th Avenue South.
Despite the loud traffic, I relished the 50-minute walk to Mercer Island and back. I spotted a great blue heron perched on a buoy, flapping its wings at the wind, took a peek at some waterfront mansions, and watched cyclists zoom by.
While the debate on tolling continues (the state is accepting public comments through next Friday), enjoy driving — and walking — I-90 for free!
Here are more sketches from my walk:
A view of the floating bridges with Mercer Island in the background. Drawn from the viewpoint at Lake Washington Boulevard.
The viewpoint is right above one of the longest pedestrian tunnels I’ve ever seen.
Walking at brisk pace, I arrived to Mercer Island in 24 minutes. You can still see some of Seattle’s tallest skyscrapers from that side of Lake Washington. I noted the Columbia Tower to the right of my sketch.
Have you walked or biked across the bridge?
I invite you to share your comments here or on my Facebook page at facebook.com/seattlesketcher.
March 9, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Sketched Jan. 23, 24 and Feb. 13
The Seattle Monorail never became what its creators intended 50 years ago. After the World’s Fair, it was meant to be either expanded or dismantled; the concrete columns were bolted to Fifth Avenue so they could be easily removed.
In a way, it was a failed project. But consider the lives touched by the 1.2 mile ride between downtown and Seattle Center. Think of the fun it brings to nearly 2 million tourists every year and to those who commute on it every day. And think of what it means to the people who work there.
For Abraham Abei, David Guet and Joseph Deng, all in their early 30s, the monorail has provided jobs and a path to education — tuition assistance is a perk of working for Seattle Monorail Services. These three are among the thousands of “Lost Boys of Sudan” who escaped the atrocities of their country’s civil war in the late ’80s. Their reactions to the monorail when they first saw it: “I thought it would fall off,” said Deng. And now: “It’s the best thing I ever had,” said Abei.
Jayme Gustilo, 61, a cashier and a 23-year monorail veteran, said: So what if a ride on the monorail doesn’t take you very far; “The journey is more important than the destination.”
Originally from Minnesota, Eno Yliniemi, 34, came to Seattle to do a Ph.D. in biomechanics, thinking she’d graduate to a job specializing in equipment to treat neck injuries. Instead, a temporary consulting job to help assess the monorail’s mechanical problems in the mid 2000s led to her current job as chief systems engineer for Seattle Monorail Services.
General Manager Thom Ditty credits her work supervising an overhaul of the trains in 2008 with saving the monorail when everyone thought it was doomed following a fire in 2004 and a crash in 2005. Yliniemi, however, takes the compliment in stride. She attributes the monorail’s longevity to flawless design by German builder Alweg. She said she has yet to find an error when she browses through copies of the original blueprints.
Bill Humphreys, 65, above and below, calls the monorail “a bus and a train combined.” It’s powered by electricity, but it runs on 64 tires. Sixteen tractor-trailer size “load tires” go on top of the rail and 24 run sideways on each side, guiding the trains along the track. Humphreys, a native of Texas, said he’s worked for the monorail for 12 years.
The magic of the monorail is hidden under its shiny bumpers. Technician Ryan Menor was doing routine maintenance of the brake system while I drew this sketch, where you can see one of the tires that runs perpendicular to the concrete beam.
I met Russell Noe inside a windowless office at the monorail’s Seattle Center station. To celebrate the monorail’s birthday, replicas of the original ALWEG signs have been created and now grace both trains. He held one for a few minutes so I could do my sketch.
Driver Abraham Abei, 31, enjoys meeting tourists from all over the world and when the kids run to sit across from him in the front of the monorail. “I’ll let them play the horn and they love it.”
After four years of daily monorail commute Char Bagley, 44, said the drivers and cashiers have become family. “They’re always smiling. They’re always fun. You don’t get that very often.”
David Guet, 31, worked at the Space Needle and at the airport before joining the Monorail full-time last year.
Like his colleagues Guet and Abei, Joseph Deng, 33, also came to Seattle as a “Lost Boy of Sudan,” he told me during one of his late shifts as a cashier at the Westlake Center station. He loves his job at the Monorail because “they treat their employees like their own kids.”
“It’s like a big family,” said Deng, who is studying international relations at South Seattle Community College.
Operations supervisor Milete Haile makes sure the monorail trains run on schedule and supervises the crew of drivers and cashiers. The monorail makes about 75 round trips every day.
“Have you ever thought of expanding it?” “How does it get to airport?”
The things tourists ask monorail employees like Gustilo may sound funny to locals who lived through five votes on the monorail’s future. But they speak of that potential that never materialized.
Gustilo said the monorail represents hopes, dreams and regrets. “It’s a reminder of our imagination, our ingenuity … of our own ability to create new ways of mass transportation.”
World’s Fair Anniversary
I plan to do occasional posts related to the World’s Fair 50th anniversary over the next six months. I invite you to send me your suggestions of places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
More Seattle Times coverage of the 50th anniversary at seattletimes.com/worldsfair.
September 4, 2011 at 10:31 PM
Sketched Aug. 30
“An elevated freeway right on the waterfront? What a waste of space.”
That’s what my little tourist brain thought about the Alaskan Way Viaduct when I first visited Seattle in 1995, more than a decade before I moved here for good.
But now I understand why the viaduct is there. When it was built in 1953, the waterfront wasn’t quite the playground for tourists it is today. It was a logical spot to build the city’s first major transportation corridor, replacing some of the railroad tracks that had run along the industrial shoreline since the late 1800s.
As the worn-out structure begins to come down next month, I find myself wondering if anyone will miss it.
I recently sketched my way from Battery Street to the stadiums, trying to capture the scenes that will likely disappear by the time the aging freeway is completely demolished in four or five years.
The folks I ran into were an eclectic bunch: day laborers, lost tourists looking for Pike Place Market, ferry commuters, the homeless and entrepreneurs who set up their businesses here decades ago.
Most of them agreed there’s not much they’ll miss about the viaduct itself. Not the noise, not the obstructed views. But I happened upon Tom Lelinski of Buffalo, N.Y., who was enjoying an ice cream cone beneath the viaduct during his fifth visit to Seattle. It became clear that even tourists acccept the concrete giant as part of the vista. “It’s part of the culture,” said Lelinski. “It’s hard to picture it not being here.”
These sketches from my Aug. 30 walk follow in chronological order:
A-1 Laundry has been a fixture at the historic Hull Building at the south entrance of the Battery Street Tunnel since the 1950s. The owner can’t understand why the viaduct is being replaced with a tunnel that has no downtown exits.
If it wasn’t for the chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, the “Rave Wave Cave” art project at Bell Street and Western Avenue could be as interesting to explore as the Fremont Troll digs. The installation, by local sculptor Dan Corson, was commissioned by the city in 2002.
Unfortunately, the spot is far from a tourist destination. As I sketched, day laborers stood awaiting jobs, a man walked by looking inside trash cans and someone else asked me if I had change for a twenty. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to rob you,” said the same woman who later walked by with two guys, each carrying their own six-pack of beer.
The cavernous space under the viaduct is perfect for parking. A German tourist said he paid $6 to park for 2 hours.
The viaduct may be an eyeshore, but the views you can see through it are another story. I found a multitude of interesting vantage points framed by the freeway’s pillars. I sketched this view of Elliott Bay, with West Seattle in the background, from the outdoor staircase of the Pike Place Market garage.
Thank goodness for the fish tacos I had at El Puerco Llorón for lunch. They gave me enough energy to continue sketching all the way to Sodo! Brent Youngren, owner of the Mexican restaurant at the Pike Street Hillclimb, said he’s ready for the elevated freeway to go away. “I won’t miss the constant noise, and I won’t miss the obstructed views.”
Ken Eubank opened his Seattle Antique Market in the shadow of the viaduct in 1978. He fears small businesses may not survive the redevelopment of the waterfront. But they won’t miss the threat of the freeway falling down.
Eubank recalled seeing streetlights along the top swinging back and forth like fishing poles when the 6.8 Nisqually quake hit in 2001. “I was scared to death,” he said.
What do shoes and photography have in common? A space near the viaduct where Jim Hadley has run his fashion photography studio and his Experience Shoes store since 1976. The native New Yorker, who was getting ready for a photo shoot when I stopped by, said he is indifferent about the fate of the viaduct. “People come here because of my product,” said Hadley, adding that he was the first one to bring Dr. Martens shoes to the Pacific Northwest.
Ferry commuter Kim Bullman said she can’t imagine the viaduct being gone. “The viaduct IS Seattle!” she exclaimed. Her solution: save a piece and turn it into a park.
Robert Joseph Tripp is one of eight homeless men who camp at the south end near the stadiums. “I’m out of here,” he said when I asked about his plans. “I have a ticket to North Dakota in my backpack.” Demolition of the viaduct in Sodo will begin in October.
Construction of a new viaduct ramp in February made it hard for customers to access the Triangle Bar, a popular watering hole near the stadiums. Owner Brian Honda (below) is not looking forward to any more road closures due to construction, but he said the city will be better without the viaduct. “It will open up the waterfront, and that’s a good thing.”
December 17, 2009 at 5:22 PM
9:20 a.m. [Click on sketches to view larger]
Taking public transportation to go cover a transportation event is one of my favorite things to do. After my usual commute from Snohomish County to downtown Seattle by bus, I took light rail to Tukwila this morning to join other Seattle media taking a preview ride to the new Airport Link station. It opens Saturday.
“We are finally no longer the train to nowhere,” said Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray, who is looking forward to riding light rail to catch a flight to Phoenix soon.
The new station stands high above the ground. I was hoping to jot down a sketch of Mount Rainier from the platform, but it was covered with clouds. Next time.
After a flight of stairs down, a skywalk connects with the parking garage structure, where a wide path along the side of the building leads to the existing skywalks to the terminal. It seemed a bit odd to walk through the garage, but it’s a short way. Barbara Luecke, who manages the public art along the stations, said there are plans for a sculpture along the pathway.
Now that light rail has arrived to the airport, the countdown to the University Link starts. It’s scheduled to open in 2016. Gray said the construction walls will be going up in Capitol Hill in January and the tunneling machines will be arriving sometime in 2011.
I look forward to continue sketching light rail all the way to my neck of the woods.
October 5, 2009 at 4:02 PM
2:33 p.m. [Click image to view larger]
The viaduct replacement is back in the news. Or better, it continues to be in the news. The city council will be voting Oct. 19 for an agreement to help with the state plan to replace it with a tunnel. The Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom explains all this in his story much better than I could.
As I stood sketching the Battery Street Tunnel at Aurora Avenue this afternoon I tried to imagine how convenient it would be to drive through it and come back out at Qwest Field. But since I don’t usually drive in the city, what I will enjoy the most when or if a tunnel gets built is a viaduct-free waterfront.
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