Topic: Aurora Avenue
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September 18, 2010 at 12:17 AM
Sketched Sept. 16, 9:50 a.m. [Click sketch to view larger]
To wrap up my week of curb cuisine sampling (see earlier posts here and here), a breakfast burrito at “el camión” seemed fitting, so Thursday morning I headed to its original location by the Bitter Lake Home Depot on Aurora Avenue North. “el camión” has also been getting some buzz from the Food Network’s online vote to select America’s Favorite Food Truck. The winner will be announced Sunday during the finale of “The Great Food Truck Race,” (9 p.m.)
I shared one of the patio tables with customer Antonio Reina, who said the food here is as good as in his native Mexico. His recommendation: “tacos de tripa.”
I also chatted with Corey and Diane Rusk, of Magnolia. They were running errands in the area and decided to stop by for breakfast, taking the time to enjoy their burritos at another patio table behind me. They really liked the salsas, they said as they were leaving.
This “el camión” opened in January 2008, more than a year before Marination and Maximus/Minimus joined Seattle’s curb cuisine scene. Owner Scott McGinnis has opened two more since then, one in SODO and another one in Ballard.
“I used to live in LA and got accustomed to good authentic Mexican food … I felt that Seattle needed something like that,” said McGinnis.
He also lived part-time in Mexico years ago and fell in love with the Mexican culture. “They invite you to their house and before you know it you are having a great meal and falling in love with it,” he said.
It is that sense of community that I’ve enjoyed the most these days ordering food from mobile kitchens around the city. People from all walks of life are coming to these trucks, hanging out together and having great food. Lunchtime can’t get much better than that.
April 29, 2010 at 9:44 AM
April, 27, 8:04 a.m. [Click on sketch to view larger]
You may remember Richard Dyksterhuis. I sketched the retired school principal last year during a clean-up work party along Aurora Avenue.
Dyksterhuis, 83, has been gathering community support and contacting city officials numerous times to call attention to the lack of sidewalks on his street near Bitter Lake. “Between 800 and 1,200 low income elderly live in the Linden Avenue area,” said Dyksterhuis, who wants to make it into a complete neighborhood street where his peers can walk or use their wheelchairs safely.
“There’s a lot of old guys down there. I want to see something done in my lifetime,” said Dyksterhuis. “When you are in your 80s, there’s not much time to wait.”
The stretch of Linden Avenue North near Bitter Lake runs parallel to Aurora Avenue in northwest Seattle between 128th and 145th streets. It is part of what Dyksterhuis likes to call LOST Northwest, the Lesser Outer Seattle Territories — the portion of Seattle from 85th Street to 145th Street that was annexed by the city in the 1950s.
After coffee and a sketch, I walked along Aurora Avenue with Dyksterhuis as I did last year.
Everything looks pretty much the same. “We’ve been annexed to Seattle since 1954 and it’s unchanged,” said Dyksterhuis pointing to the lack of sidewalks. At 130th Street he would like to see a pedestrian-controlled traffic light installed so people can have a direct east to west connection. Senior citizens on wheelchairs are now forced to go south, east and back north again to get to the other side of Aurora Avenue. “It’s what I call the senior shuffle,” said Dyksterhuis.
At the same intersection, opportunity for change has opened since two car dealerships have gone out of business and the big lots have been put up for sale. “I want you to find a developer with a heart, compassion, sense of beauty and commitment to social change,” said Dyksterhuis, who envisions a residential complex with 18-story apartment towers on both corners, and European-style plazas with small businesses. “It would help transform Aurora Avenue North.”
April, 28, 7:56 a.m. [Click on sketch to view larger]
Back to Linden Avenue, Dyksterhuis has some improvements to talk about. A 100-foot stretch of gravel and potholes has been asphalted and a line painted on the pavement to mark the path for pedestrians. Further north, bewteen 143rd and 145th streets, an 8-foot-wide sidewalk was built last fall, three years after Dyksterhuis and other neighborhood activists got Mayor Nickels to pay a visit and the project was included in the city’s budget.
“It’s s hard to get politicians’ attention,” said Dyksterhuis, who got neighbors to sign a petition, wrote emails and did follow up calls to draw attention to the 3/4 mile-stretch of Linden Avenue that falls within city limits.
“You got to get them to walk the street. you don’t really get it until you get them to walk the street,” he said. Seniors and people on wheelchairs can now access the post office and shopping areas safely using the new sidewalk.
“It’s slow progress, but it’s progress,” said Dyksterhuis, who plans to hire a band when the street is complete to do a big celebration. “We’ll dance and walk and skip and jump,” he said.
May 4, 2009 at 7:29 PM
May 2, 11:13 a.m. [View larger] [Map]
Some people complain about the poor urban planning around Aurora Avenue and its current state, some believe it’s beyond repair and some actually do something about it. Meet 82-year-old Richard Dyksterhuis, a former school principal turned activist. He is the force behind a group of neighbors who meet every first Saturday of the month to clean up along Aurora and are committed to improve things. After seeing this sketch I posted last week, they invited me to join them and learn of their thankless mission.
May 2, 10:39 a.m. [View larger] [Map]
As he kept reaching for trash along the side of the road, Richard walked me around and pointed to multiple instances where sidewalks don’t meet the code or simply don’t exist. He is especially critical of the situation between 125th and 145th streets, a stretch of Aurora he calls “Gasoline Alley.” It has three used car lots, nine places to change oil and tires and five major auto dealers. Between 135th and 145th there’s not even one traffic light. When he started his activism about seven years ago he was told by the Seattle Department of Transportation that putting them in would “impede the flow of vehicular traffic,” which is exactly what needs to happen, he says. “This road gets county money, state money, federal money, but somehow that money goes somewhere else,” he said.
April 28, 2009 at 12:01 AM
Sketched April 21, 11:16 a.m. [View larger]
When I prepared to move to Seattle three years ago and read “Aurora Avenue” on the map, I thought that must be a nice street. Aurora, which means dawn in Spanish, is a beautiful name. I was wrong. People actually advised against moving near it. So when I recently read Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman’s statement that Seattle should get rid of all Aurora’s “visual garbage,” I smiled. He was right. And the ugliness extends all the way to Snohomish County. I’ve found only one nicely-landscaped portion in Shoreline. The rest looks more like this “average” ugly intersection at 86th Street. Are there any other spots in Seattle that hurt your eyes? They may deserve a sketch before they get a makeover.
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