Topic: South Lake Union
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January 11, 2013 at 9:08 PM
When the Museum of History & Industry moved to the old Naval Reserve armory last month, the art-deco building from the Depression era became its newest, and largest, exhibition piece.
I’ve seen the monumental building many times, but I had never noticed how much it looks like an actual ship ready to sail into Lake Union.
The design wasn’t just a cute idea. Built in 1942, the armory was a training center for the Navy for more than five decades. Inside its “bridge,” which faces the lake, Navy reservists sharpened their navigational skills overlooking the water.
That room now features MOHAI’s maritime galleries, including a 40-foot submarine periscope that gives visitors a 360-degree view above Lake Union Park.
Below are more drawings from my visit. Give any of the sketches a good click to see them large!
This is the view of the armory as you walk into Lake Union Park. The Virginia V can be seen on the edge of the lake.
The drill hall where sailors used to practice marching formations showcases some of the best known items in MOHAI’s collection. The Boeing B-1 seaplane seemed much bigger than when I sketched it in one of the hallways of the old museum in Montlake.
Another cool exhibit located in the drill hall is an interactive display of Seattle-area symbols. Spin around a wheel and you’ll make the props move. Ann Farrington, the museum’s creative director, called it the biggest “calliope” you could think of.
December 7, 2012 at 5:42 PM
Sketched Nov. 27, 2012
Stop outside the Row House Cafe in South Lake Union to get a feel for how the neighborhood looked 100 years ago. Back then, the streets were lined with cottages like these that housed the laborers who worked in mills and shipyards around the lake.
Erin Maher, who runs the cafe, said the original owner of this trio of homes lived in the blue house on the corner and built the row houses next door for his employees in 1911.
With the neighborhood rapidly becoming a high-tech hub full of mid-rise office and apartment buildings, few of these centenarian homes still stand.
Any chance they’ll be preserved? Probably not. The market forces transforming the area seem unstoppable. To demonstrate the domino effect of progress, Maher pointed out the fate of nearby properties: “That building, gone. That building, gone. That building, gone.”
Another cluster of old homes remains on the corner of Fairview Avenue North and Republican Street, just a block away from the Row House Cafe.
November 26, 2012 at 5:56 PM
It wasn’t meant to be. The Space Needle will not don its retro Galaxy Gold color for its next paint job, as I wished.
Workers have been painting the top of the Needle with its new green color for a few days now. This afternoon, I could only see a patch of the bright orange left, so I rushed to do a sketch from the parking lot roof of a building in South Lake Union. (Note: I walked there, don’t go thinking I drive that Mercedes on the sketch.)
Seattle graphic designer Nicole Commins won the art contest organized by the Needle to find a replacement for Galaxy Gold. The new paint job consists of evergreens radiating towards the Needle’s center spire. It will stay for six months, and you can see it here.
March 23, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Sketched, March 13, 2012
When the South Lake Union streetcar opened in late 2007, I wondered who would ride those brightly colored cars.The dormant neighborhood of warehouses and light industry didn’t strike me as a destination. But since Amazon opened its campus here, I’ve seen more people riding the 1.3-mile line.
Amazon employee Guhan Venkatesan, who lives in Sammamish, said the streetcar is really convenient to reach his office after busing downtown. He admitted he could sometimes walk instead, “but I would have to walk very briskly.”
Venkatesan wasn’t the only Eastside commuter I met on the streetcar.
Joe Schulman (left), a young fellow wearing a stylish hat and reading on a Kindle, commutes from Bellevue by bus and takes the streetcar at the Westlake Hub. His stop arrived before I could ask him many questions, but he later sent me an email with his feedback. He wrote that the streetcar is only practical if he gets lucky and catches one. Otherwise it takes him less time to walk the mile than it does to wait and ride. But “if it ran twice as frequently then I would never consider walking,” he wrote.
Lindsay Stratton (below, left) a biologist at Fred Hutchinson, also takes a bus from Bellevue to downtwon before hopping on one of the streetcars. She said she appreciates the service, especially on rainy days, and that it gives the city a European vibe. “It looks more like Amsterdam,” she said.
The current scene in South Lake Union makes it easier to picture more streetcars cruising through another employment hub, First Hill, in the spring of 2014. Construction of that line between Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill begins next month.
I visited the streetcar maintenance facility on Fairview Avenue a couple of days after drawing the sketches posted above. Coincidentally, the same purple car I had drawn while holding my umbrella at the Westlake Hub was now parked indoors for a routine inspection.
Operations chief Dale Lewis shared more technical facts than I could retain as I quickly outlined this sketch under the front bogie of the parked car. But a few things he said stuck with me, like the fact that these cars came from the Czech Republic. Lewis said that Czech engineers used to be the go-to technicians for the streetcar lines of all former Soviet countries and the central European nation has become a leading manufacturer.
Lewis worked with several Czech engineers here during the first years of operation. He said a team of two or three were always on deck during the first two years –while the cars were under warranty– and they all shared an apartment in Green Lake.
Streetcar maintainer Lou Swan is a 32-year employee of King County Metro, the agency that operates the city-owned line. Streetcars are not new to this veteran mechanic, as he was assigned to the Waterfront Streetcar in the early 2000s.
Streetcar operator John Nolan told me about some of the challenges of driving the 60-foot long cars through busy traffic and distracted pedestrians who pay more attention to their cellphones than to the street. Since steering away is not an option, he has to do a lot of honking and ringing to alert them.
“People take it the wrong way, but I just don’t want to hit them,” he told me as he was getting ready to turn the car on and drive down Westlake Avenue.
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!
January 9, 2012 at 2:31 PM
Sketched Jan. 6, 2012 (Click image to enlarge)
As I mentioned in my last post, The Seattle Times newsroom is moving. When I arrived at work today, my computer and a couple of boxes with sketchbooks and art supplies were already in my new space.
I won’t miss the old newsroom much, but I will miss the expansive view of the South Lake Union neighborhood I’ve enjoyed from my desk since 2006. I made sure to sketch it one more time last Friday in the drawing you see above as a great way to remember five exciting years at The Times so far.
Below are some other sketches I’ve done over the years from the same vantage point.
Have you ever sketched the view from your window? Or taken a photograph? It’s an interesting exercise to see time unfold through the same perspective, over the time of the day, over different seasons and over the years.
April 21, 2009 at 7:22 PM
April 20, 2:25 p.m. Construction of Amazon’s new headquarters continues in South Lake Union. A groundbreaking ceremony for the largest buildings to start construction was held yesterday at the Terry Avenue building. I sketched the moment when tables and chairs from the event were being packed away in a truck. [Larger]
Vulcan Real Estate has been hard at work building Amazon’s new campus in the South Lake Union for more than a year. I’m impatient to see how this neighborhood will look after the 11-building complex is finished and employees start to arrive. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said that 20,000 people would work in South Lake Union by 2012, more than double the current number.
That is a lot of new people coming into a neighborhood, even if they don’t spend the night. It’s like an entire city! I wonder if we’ll see many of them sitting outdoors and reading their Kindles when the weather is as nice as today. Or if Amazon will have a cafeteria open to the public. I hope they do. My favorite burger joint and coffee shops in this area are going to be very crowded.
Last, I worry about how bad traffic may get. Another streetcar would probably help. Maybe a green one. I don’t think we have that color.
April 14, 2009 at 3:07 PM
Top: Feb. 19, 3:43 p.m. Construction at Thomas St. and Boren Ave. [View larger]
Left: Sketching the ferries from Edmonds beach.
You may have seen my name in the paper, where I illustrate stories and do information graphics. Or perhaps you’ve seen my work on my personal blog or the group blog Urban Sketchers. I love to draw everything around me and tell stories with my sketches. Now The Seattle Times, where I’ve worked since 2006, is giving me the opportunity to join its roster of bloggers. I’m grateful and thrilled about the possibilities.
Here I intend to show you the Seattle I see and aim to capture with my pen. Like newspaper artists did in the 19th century before photography became the main way to illustrate stories, I’ll try to offer you a visual report of things I draw on location, from buildings in danger of being demolished, colorful summer festivals and occasional breaking news stories, to seemingly boring everyday moments having tall lattes or hanging out with my family.
I’m still a newcomer to Seattle though, so forgive me if I rave about things you are all used to, like discovering cream puffs at Uwajimaya or being fascinated by float planes. With your input I hope to become a more knowledgeable resident of the Pacific Northwest. I welcome everyone’s comments and hope to get to know you and even meet for a sketchcrawl if you are into drawing.
You may also follow Seattle Sketcher via Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, where you can check out all my past sketches and illustrations I’ve done at the newspaper.
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