Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Seattle, Washington

I think this picture of Seattle is likely over 10 years old. The Kingdome is still standing and I see no Safeco Field being built south of it.

In the 10 years since I left the Pacific Northwest, and moved to Texas, a lot has changed in Seattle. There no longer is a print version of the P-I. The Supersonics left town for Oklahoma City. This would have seemed unimaginable when I lived in Washington. Seattle without the Sonics, stolen away by an Oklahoma con man named Aubrey McClendon? Aubrey's done a lot of dirty dealings here in Texas. Had I realized he was operating in Washington I would have sent a letter to an editor, or something, with a dire warning.

Since I've moved to Texas the Kingdome is no more, replaced by Quest Field. I remember returning in 1999 and watching Safeco Field under construction. When a Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports reporter first reported on Safeco Field, he said Seattle now has the Taj Mahal of ballparks. I'd been in the Ballpark in Arlington, where the Texas Rangers play and thought it was pretty impressive. I've yet to get to experience Seattle's Taj Mahal of ballparks.

I've seen the light rail under construction and was in the bus tunnel in August of 2008 and saw the signage already in place for the now operating light rail. I remember when the voter's approved building the new mass transit. That happened before I moved. The target completion date seemed so far off then.

Speaking of August of 2008. I spent several days in Seattle during a month stay in Tacoma. Sat in a booth at the Fremont Sunday Market 3 times. That was fun. Spent a day at Pioneer Square at Art in the Park on Thursday, August 7, 2008. On that day I was shocked at how much had changed in Seattle. I took my video camera and wandered all over downtown, Pike Place, the waterfront and the bus tunnel.

One very noticeable change was there were way more people all over downtown than 10 years ago. 10 years ago I don't think any cruise ships homeported in Seattle. Pike Place Market was as crowded as the Saturday before Christmas. It was all such a contrast with the number of people I see on the streets in Dallas or Fort Worth.

Another thing that is real noticeable, when you've been gone for awhile, is well, the first time it happened was February of 2004. I was picked up at Sea-Tac and brought to Pioneer Square due to needing to go to a gallery there. I was so struck by how it seemed as if so many people were deflated. I'd grown way too used to seeing way too many obese people. Not that there aren't any big people in Washington, but their numbers are definitely fewer.

The other huge change in Seattle, and I really hated this one, is parking meters are everywhere. 10 years ago I could park for free at REI. At that point the new REI headquarters was in a neighborhood of old houses. All that is no more, the houses all gone, everything built up, and parking meters everywhere. I eventually gave up trying to find a place to park for free and ended up paying 25 bucks to park near Art in the Park in Pioneer Square.

Traffic has gotten so much worse all over Western Washington since I moved away. I hope that improves with the new light rail. I saw the Lake Union SLUT trolley on the way to Fremont. Impressive looking and fits with Seattle's super sleek, clean and shiny look that has gotten even brighter since I moved away.

When the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down, opening up the waterfront, I'm guessing yet one more huge downtown Seattle renaissance will be the result. The way time flies, that will happen real soon.

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