Topic: West Seattle
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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.
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.
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.
July 19, 2013 at 6:07 PM
Sketched July 2, 2013
The first thing I had to do when I arrived at Nickelsville was sign in at the security office, a nicely built kiosk staffed at all times and topped with a big American flag.
This level of organization is not what I expected to find at the homeless camp the city wants to dismantle by Sept. 1.
I don’t know why, but I thought I’d encounter a lawless, inhospitable shantytown. Instead, I found a well-kept encampment where people lined up in an orderly fashion for a cheese-sandwich and taco-soup lunch.
The nomadic tent city started in spring 2008 and settled at its current location in West Seattle two years ago. Over time, Nickelodeons, as residents like to call themselves, have established a strict code of conduct and have worked to improve their living conditions by adding 14 “simple and sturdy” sleeping structures, common areas for weekly meetings, and a garden. No running water or electricity means the residents rely on four Honey Buckets and use gas-powered generators to charge their cellphones and light the security office.
Atticus Lee, one of the Nickelodeons I spoke to, said he hasn’t considered himself homeless since he came to Nickelsville with his dog, Duke. “I know where I’ll go to sleep every night,” he said. “It may not be the most comfortable place, but it is a home.”
Operation Sack Lunch, a program run by a local nonprofit, brings a warm meal to the residents of Nickelsville every day. I sketched Linda Biggs, the camp’s kitchen coordinator, as she served lunch to her fellow Nickelodeons.
Life in Nickelsville doesn’t hinder the creativity of its residents. Atticus Lee, who enjoys writing and making jewelry, has personalized the entrance to his sleeping structure with rock sculptures, tree stumps and a flower vase made out of a purple-glass bottle. Recycling is part of the camp’s rules, he said. “It’s like an eco village.”
September 24, 2012 at 9:56 AM
Sketched Sept. 16, 2012
Earlier this month I returned to one of the Port’s parks I discovered last year, Jack Block Park, for a meetup with the Seattle Urban Sketchers.
The park’s observation deck is ideal to draw a full panorama of downtown’s skyline. That’s a scene you can spend hours drawing, but if you are as impatient as I usually am, you can keep it simple and stick mostly to outlines. That was my approach and these are the steps I took to create my 25-minute sketch:
I started with the Space Needle, but I drew its top too big at first. Fortunately, I found a way to work through the mistake. I scribbled over those first marks, turning them into Queen Anne Hill and started over, drawing the Needle with proportions that would allow me to fit as much of the skyline as I wanted into the 11-inch-wide sketchbook spread. The Needle was key to developing the rest of the sketch, because I used it as a reference, measuring all the other buildings against it.
Next, I drew the cruise ship and the shoreline below the Needle and across the spread. The shoreline is also key in this drawing, because it anchors all the composition and serves as a measuring reference of the buildings heights. You can’t afford to get it crooked or too slanted. Then I continued drawing left to right from the base of the Needle, tracing the silhouette of the buildings up against the sky. I kept eyeballing distances in relation to the Space Needle and to the shoreline, taking a few liberties with spacing of buildings here and there so I could fit all the way to the Smith Tower.
Last, I labeled a handful of downtown landmarks, but not nearly as many as I would have liked to remember on the spot. Maybe you can help me identify some more! You can scroll across the sketch on the window below:
June 15, 2012 at 5:42 PM
Sketched May 30, 2012
[Click to enlarge]
Ashwood Moss, Taos Taupe, Elmira White and Graphite. Those are the new colors of West Seattle’s only hotel, a 45-room motor inn built in 1960 in anticipation of the ’62 Seattle World’s Fair.
The old motel hasn’t always sported this elegant muted palette.
Owner Lynn Sweeney, who purchased the property in 2010, said it was really run down, not the kind of place where you’d have your in-laws stay.
Sweeney, 41, gave the motel a complete makeover and reopened it last July as the The Grove, West Seattle Inn — rooms now have classy linens and 32″ flat-screen TVs.
It was a leap of faith, she told me as we walked through the upgraded rooms, but she has no regrets. The Grove was recently named best emerging business by the local chamber of commerce and new kinds of customers are checking in: wedding groups, event visitors and even international travelers.
Just like it may have been in the heyday of the World’s Fair.
Your community: What draws you in? Email me your suggestions of people and places to sketch at email@example.com
More sketches to celebrate the World’s Fair 50th Anniversary:
World’s Fair Bubbleator has had its ups and downs
They keep the old Monorail running
More World’s Fair Anniversary coverage from The Seattle Times: seattletimes.com/worldsfair
July 12, 2011 at 8:16 PM
Sketched June 28, 3:40 p.m.
I came over to sketch Seattle’s own Statue of Liberty when I was in West Seattle meeting Orcaman a couple of weeks ago. I’ve wanted to draw it for a while but the opportunity had not presented itself yet.
The statue is a 1:18 scale replica of the original in New York City. More than 200 statues like this one were placed across the country in 1952 by the Boy Scouts of America on the 40th anniversary of the institution. The current statue, which replaced the original one, was dedicated in 2008 and it is mantained by members of the Alki Community Council.
The statue is the centerpiece of a small plaza overlooking Alki Beach. On the pavement surrounding it, thousands of bricks are inscribed with people’s names. The day I was here, Alki Community Council volunteers Eilene and David Hutchinson were working with Rod Hammerbach, of the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, to install 154 new bricks. Hammerback said the number of inscribed bricks is approaching 3,000 now. The money raised with donations of $100 per brick goes to the maintenance of the plaza.
For more information, visit the the Alki Community Center blog and the Alki Brick & Plaque Project page.
January 14, 2011 at 7:18 PM
Sketched Jan. 11, 8:38 a.m.
Before I rode the West Seattle Water Taxi, I pictured a small boat that a handful of people might catch on a whim to ride across Elliott Bay. But the word taxi doesn’t do justice to this service. Water bus seems more fitting for a scheduled boat that carries up to 150 people and accepts the Orca card ($3 adults).
More than 30 commuters arrived at Pier 50 as I waited to board the Rachel Marie, which returned to the water this week after repairs following a crash into the sea wall last September. That’s only a fifth of its capacity and less than the summer ridership, which averages 800 commuters daily. Many people may not be aware this is the first year of continuous service through the winter.
Sketched Jan. 11, 7:57 a.m.
Rachel Marquardt, a commuter on her way to Alki Beach, has been riding it for four months because the bus “takes forever.”
Sketched Jan. 11, 8:58 a.m.
Rob Hill has taken it for more than five years and now also brings his bike on board to finish his 1-hour commute pedaling all they way to Eastlake Avenue in Lake Union.
Sketched Jan. 11, 9:25 a.m.
Captain Neal Amaral said more people will opt for the 10-minute ride as the viaduct comes down and traffic gets worse. “People will start riding us,” he said.
The West Seattle water taxi does five round trips from Pier 50 in the morning (between 6:30 a.m. and 9:10 a.m.) and five in the afternoon (between 4 p.m. and 6:40 p.m.). For more information visit www.kingcounty.gov/watertaxi
Sketch-worthy Seattle. Where should I take my sketchpad in 2011? Do you know of a good sketch story waiting to be drawn? I’d love to learn about it. You can send me your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook or Twitter.
October 15, 2010 at 8:04 PM
Sketched Oct. 16, 11:26 a.m. [Click on sketches to view larger]
I may have found the excuse I needed to come to Alki Beach when it’s cold and rainy.
At West Seattle’s Spud Fish and Chips, I can enjoy one of my favorite meals served with a stunning view of Elliott Bay – at one one of the oldest fast food restaurants in the city. I don’t know of many other places that offer an inexpensive menu with such an expensive view. Do you?
This year marks Spud’s 75th anniversary serving fish and chips by the beach. A cardboard of fried cod and fries was 10 cents in 1935, and the batter recipe is still the same today, said manager Carol Kelly, who was hired by Frank Alger, one of the original owners, in 1972. “You don’t mess with success,” she said.
Now that the summer craze has passed, a lot of people come to watch the storms from the upstairs dining room, said Kelly.
That’s where I met Federal Way customers Dolores and Charlie Robison. They also have found an excuse to visit every week since they retired in the late ’80s. “We come here every Wednesday,” said Dolores Robison. “It’s our mini-vacation.”
Learn more about Alki Spud Fish and Chips on its Facebook page.
July 9, 2010 at 5:31 PM
Sketched July 7, 2010 [Click on sketches to view larger]
With Spain playing in the World Cup final on Sunday, you’d think soccer might be the only thing on my mind. But this week, I had a chance to meet a World Cup winner in person: Chef William Leaman, the winner of the 2005 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, a.k.a. the World Cup of Baking, and now I can’t stop thinking about baguettes, croissants and macaroons.
As I sampled one of those croissants at his West Seattle bakery, Leaman explained that more than 50 countries compete for 12 spots in the final phase of the Coupe du Monde, which takes place in Paris every four years. But contestants only get one opportunity to compete in their lifetime, he said. “They do that so new bakers get a chance.”
With the big trophy on his shelf and more than two decades behind the ovens, Leaman’s reputation draws people from all over the country to Bakery Nouveau. And not only to buy his signature chocolate mousse cakes but also to learn from the master bread artisan back in the kitchen.
That’s where I spent most of my visit, holding on tight to my sketchpad and watercolor tray as Leaman, 37, worked with his team of bakers amid wonderful smells.
Some were baking baguettes, others were preparing dough for croissants. Leaman wasn’t just giving instructions. He had his hands full making Parisian macaroons — 576 of them. “A bakery is sure small but it is mighty,” he said as he squeezed them one by one onto trays. Helping him was Katerina Verganelakis, who plans to open her own bake shop back home in Princeton, N.J., after her training with Leaman.
Leaman, a native Oklahoman, said the key to baking is to do what the French do. “Focus on flavor and joy of life … I don’t eat to live, I live to eat,” he said.
French culture descends on Seattle Center on Sunday for an early Bastille Day celebration. You can see cooking demonstrations and a fleet of Citröens without missing the Spain vs. Netherlands World Cup final, which will be broadcast live at 11:30 a.m. at Fisher Pavilion.
See a photo of me sketching on the bakery’s blog.
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