Saturday, March 28, 2015

So Seattle

The trip is winding down in Seattle, where it's sunny and pleasant. (I think they make up that story about gray days and rain to keep us all from moving there.)

I finally went on the Underground Tour of the oldest part of Seattle, which was fascinating. Basically, Seattle's waterfront downtown burned in 1889 and when they rebuilt, they decided to raise it all up 15 to 35 feet so that it could be infilled with soil (allowing for a better sewer system and more stable ground than the previous sawdust).

So they built the streets up, but reconstructed the buildings at the original ground elevation with a plan that the second or third floor of the buildings would become the ground floor later on.

The sidewalks stayed down below (you had to use a ladder to cross the street!), until they were eventually covered over. This created what I like to think of as an anti-skyway (protected walkways between buildings just like a skyway, but below ground instead of above it).

These glass inlaid panels, found at some of the street corners, may look like decorative elements, but when you get down below... see that they're skylights, complete with ferns that manage to grow in the low light.

Nearby, Seattle is in the midst of a huge public works project/boondoggle to turn state highway 99 into a tunnel, detailed by David Roberts at Grist a few months ago. The drill has gotten stuck with no way to reverse, and now they're digging a big unstable hole to access the drill and fix it. I got a chance to see the scale model of the drill:

Be sure to notice the silver car at the bottom middle of the frame, which shows the scale of the darned thing.

I've seen a few logos I like while out and about:

This one, for a parking garage, made me smile. I wonder if IBM would have been successful if this was what their logo looked like?

This quietly clever TRACE lettering struck me as just right.

Unlike the door to the upper level of the Seattle Central Library:

Does this look very welcoming? The doors on the right say "exit only," while the left side displays the disability access icon, though it seems a bit out of context on the blank gray slab. And then there's a revolving door in the center, but when I first approached no one was using it and the glass doors were aligned with the gray solid doors, so it looked like a window. No signal that this is an entry at all.

A little while later, I saw this while looking down:

And then along the street near the convention center, I came across this symbol of change in the drug laws in Washington:

Although maybe it's not a bus for people who want to smoke cannabis... maybe it's full of tropical flowers like these:

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