Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hot To Trot To Seattle

We have been in Seattle through most of July this summer, house sitting while my sister is off to Iceland, Sweden and Denmark with her niece (my oldest daughter). Meanwhile we got a fellow looking out after our home back in Bozeman.

When we blogged about the trip over on I-90 I neglected to mention the extreme heat we encountered along the way. At the lowest point on the first day of our trip (a bridge across the Spokane River) the thermometer peaked at 108 degrees.

The next day when we passed through the massive wind turbine farm above the Columbia River Gorge east of Ellensburg I noted that, as is the norm, there was little movement. On this peak cooling and electricity consumption day, the blades turned on probably one-third of the turbines and slowly rotated at that. I would venture a guess that perhaps ten percent of the electrical generation capacity was actually being realized. As per normal, alternative and renewable energy, alternative and renewable energy, alternative and renewable energy, say it five, ten, fifteen, a hundred or a thousand times and elect someone who says that for you -- that will make it work, Okay?
F/V Northwestern of Deadliest Catch fame, docked at
its home port, Salmon Bay above Ballard locks,
Seattle, Washington.

As we crossed over the Cascades and cruised down to Seattle temperatures cooled to the mid-90s due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean. We settled in and have been in Seattle since.

You could call it my home away from home, in that Seattle is the city I've spent more time in than any other place that I have not actually settled in my sixty plus years on this earth. My first visit was 53 years previous.

The Seattle's World's Fair

My first trip to Seattle was a family vacation in our blue Chevrolet sedan to attend the 1962 Seattle's World Fair, formally known as The Century 21 Exposition -- a trip which, along the way, revealed to us the beauty and wonders of Montana for the first time. The World's Fair -- two states and multiple mountain ranges west -- promised excitement and wonder as well. It laid claim to mapping the technological and cultural map for the almost impossibly far out to imagine 21st Century.

The Century 21 Exposition - also known as the Seattle World's Fair - was held between April 21 and October 21, 1962 drew almost 10 million visitors. A defining moment in the history of Seattle, this fair began life as the brainchild of City Councilman Al Rochester. By 1955, the councilman had generated considerable interest in his idea from decision makers at the state and city level, and in January Washington's legislature allocated $5,000 for a small commission to study the feasibility of such a fair. Public excitement, spurred on by effective advertisement, soon gave the project further momentum; in 1957 Seattle voters passed a $7.5 million Civic Center bond for possible fairground development, an amount which was then matched by the legislature.

The newly-expanded Commission of 1957 decided on a theme for the Fair centered on modern science, space exploration, and the progressive future, wrapped in the broad concept of a 'Century 21 Exposition.' A 28-acre parcel of city-owned land near Queen Anne Hill was eventually chosen for the site of the Fair over larger and more nominally attractive sites such as Fort Lawton (800 acres) and Sand Point Naval Air Station (350 acres). The site's proximity to the downtown area, as well as the interest in converting the Exposition's permanent facilities into a Civic Center after the fair made this location attractive to the planners.

Early planning continued into 1960, when the Century 21 Commission, after considerable lobbying, secured from the International Bureau of Expositions a certification as an official World's Fair. International confirmation provided a powerful legitimacy among the various entities the Fair's representatives sought to attract as funders and exhibit-builders. Enticed by the publicity possibilities inherent in the millions of fair-goers projected to appear, several giants of American business decided to sponsor exhibits in the 'World of Commerce and Industry' section of the Exposition, including Ford Motor Company, Boeing, and Bell Telephone. 
The US Government, for its part, was exceedingly interested in demonstrating the nation's scientific prowess to the world, and so committed over $9 million to the fair, chiefly to build the NASA-themed United States Science Exhibit (now the Pacific Science Center). A number of foreign governments provided the international flavor crucial to a World's Fair, and eventually 35 states signed on as exhibitors. The tense geopolitical mood of the early 1960s, however, limited involvement of the Communist states; the Soviet Union declined to participate, and the People's Republic of China, North Vietnam, and North Korea were not invited.

To coordinate the overarching blueprint of all these exhibits, respected designer Paul Thiry was hired as chief architect of the Exposition. Thiry was also tapped to design the Washington State Pavilion (now the KeyArena), the conceptual centerpiece of the 'World of Tomorrow' section. Under the supervision of Thiry, the World's Fair Commission, and the city's Civic Center Advisory Committee, the ideas and plans of many differing minds began to take shape in the fairgrounds at the base of Queen Anne Hill, gradually creating an aesthetically adventurous cityscape intended to excite the visitor with futuristic visions of scientific progress.

Reinforcing this sense of futurism was the ultra-modern Monorail line developed to ferry tourists from downtown Seattle to the fairgrounds. Those searching for more conventional entertainments would be catered to as well, with the construction of the 'Gayway' (a small amusement park that would become the Fun Forest) and 'Show Street' (the "adult entertainment" section, featuring a number of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs). The visual centerpiece of the fair, ultimately, would also become an icon of Seattle: the Space Needle. This 605-foot, $6.5 million rotating restaurant tower was considered a risky investment because of its grandiose dimensions and spectacular design. The needle was nonetheless wildly popular among fairgoers, and has remained a well-loved tourist attraction.

By April 1962, all that remained to be done was to open the doors to the public, which occurred during an extravagant opening ceremony on the 21st. Amidst 538 clanging bells, 2000 balloons, and 10 Air Force F-102 fighters swooping overhead, Exposition president Joseph Gandy officially opened Century 21 for business. For the next six months, visitors would be entertained not just by the many exhibits, but also by an array of musicians, orchestras, dance troupes, art collections, singers, comedians, and other various shows traveling through the fair during its run. Adding to the star-studded atmosphere was the presence of the 'King of Rock and Roll,' Elvis Presley, who arrived to shoot a film, It Happened at the World's Fair. Indeed, a number of celebrities came to the Exposition as tourists, including Vice-President Lyndon Johnson, Walt Disney, and Prince Phillip of Great Britain. By the close of the fair on October 21, a total of 9,609,969 people officially visited, largely satisfying attendance goals.
The sponsors circulated a typewritten fact sheet to promote the fair. The fair promised to "display such exhibits as the cordless telephone." 

Mr. Zip encouraged the use
of ZIP Codes in mail addresses
Note the archaic address form used in the letterhead, Seattle 9, Washington. Prior to the assignment and use of 5-digit ZIP Codes, large cities were split into zones to designate delivery areas and offices within the city. ZIP stood for Zone Improvement Program, the improvement being that codes were assigned to all delivery areas and expanded to five digits to uniquely identify each zone. ZIP Code usage freed mail sorting personnel of the need to memorize and maintain detailed geographic knowledge of sorting schemes in their head and facilitated the use of economical mail sorting machines, and eventually enabled automated processing of mail.

The fair was divided into five themed areas. We hope everyone is enjoying their projected 24 hour work week and "astronomical" $12,000 a year (Ron Paul has more than a small point to make about the Federal Reserve's money printing and creation policies having run amok) salary. :) 
Highlights of the Fair The Fair had five themed areas:
  • The World of Science: Science exhibits surrounded the “space gothic” arches that towered over the southern section of the fairgrounds. The most popular attraction here was Boeing’s Spacearium, which took up to 750 visitors on an imaginary 10-minute excursion to the outer galaxies.
  • The World of Tomorrow: Housed in the Washington State Coliseum, this exhibit gave a glimpse of what the future might hold. Up to 100 visitors could ride the Bubbleator (a large, glass, globe) up into a honeycomb of cubes that foretold the future. The House of Tomorrow might include disposable dishes, automatic windows, and changeable color schemes. Gyrocopters might zip and whiz you to the Office of Tomorrow, which might have miniature micro-mail, machines to transmit correspondence, and machines that communicated with each other. You might even have a 24-hour workweek, with an astronomical salary of $12,000 a year!
  • The World of Commerce and Industry: The largest and most diverse of the five themed areas included exhibits from countries such as Canada, India, Japan, China, Sweden, France, and the United Arab Republic, among others. Domestic exhibitors included IBM, Standard Oil, General Electric, and the Ford Motor Company.
  • The World of Art: Sixty-one museums from around the world loaned masterpieces by such artists as Michelangelo, Titian, Renoir, Rembrandt, and Homer. Art of the Ancient East and Northwest Coast Indian Art were also on display.
  • The World of Entertainment: Located on the northern perimeter of the fairgrounds, this section presented everything from ballet to boxing, from jazz to drama, from baton twirling to tiddlywinks.

Fair management even commissioned a theme song.
Morton Gould was a celebrated American composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist who frequently collaborated with fellow songwriter and lyricist Edward Heyman. Gould composed the music for "The World of Tomorrow" while Heyman penned the lyrics that follow:

In the city of Seattle by the lovely Puget Sound,
Where Mount Rainier tops the mountains all around, 
You can walk into a future that will far outshine the sun 
At the World's Fair in Seattle in Century 21. 
Where the earth is green and the sky is free and the air is clear, 
The World of Tomorrow!
Where there's more of love and there's less of hate and there is no fear.
The World of Tomorrow!
Where wonders never cease and where peace is always
Where people can be alive and will thrive in all ways,
Where a man can pray and a child can play in the sun all day
With never a sorrow.
The World of Tomorrow.
Take a minute to watch this television commercial promoting the Seattle World's Fair. Our household heeded the advice to pack up family and head for the fair.

Bell telephone produced a world's fair documentary exalting the wonders of a coming era of touch tone dialing, call waiting and call forwarding, and direct long-distance dialing. In our home we were barely beyond the party line era. When touch tone was introduced it was a optional premium service that upped monthly telephone bills, even though the labor saving technology it implemented dramatically reduced the cost of service. Be prepared for similar absurdities in the name of equity now that Obama's FCC has taken over the internet. Watch the 1962 documentary here.

Elvis Presley showed up at the fair in early September, not necessarily to attend or appear in concert, but to star in and shoot scenes for the movie "It Happened at the World's Fair."

As an 8-year old, my most vivid memory of the trip is not of Seattle but of Moses Lake, Washington in the arid eastern section of the state, where our Chevrolet was totaled in a collision with a dump truck. I was dumbfounded that my father was able to purchase a replacement vehicle based on a long distance phone conversation between the president of the local bank and Donald Dilg, president of First National Bank of Morton Grove, who vouched for my father's creditworthiness.
Christmas In Seattle

The next time I visited Seattle was December, 1976. Microsoft had been founded but had not yet moved from its original location in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Seattle suburb Bellevue (across Lake Washington from Seattle). The initial product of founding partners Bill Gates and Paul Allen was a BASIC programming language compiler for an Altair 8800 microcomputer. In 1976 Microsoft's revenues surged to $16,005.

My sister, a student at the University of Washington Law School at the time, lived with her husband in nearby Redmond on a 5 acre spread that supplied sufficient firewood to sustainably fuel their wood burning stove, and had space dedicated to a chicken coop (mostly for eggs) and a pig pen. They had a well and septic system. To warm up the house in the morning, and to make coffee, bacon and eggs, someone had to toss firewood into the stove and give it ten or fifteen minutes to heat up. 

Their house was electrified. They had a large freezer with home-made apple pies stacked inside, prepared in the fall when the apple crop came in. I remember helping out by loading piglets into the bed of the rusty old pickup truck to take them to the vet for castration. I further did my part holding legs of the little guys as they went under the knife. We drove up that Christmas near Snoqualmie Pass to cross country ski. Everyone had a big laugh when I careened down a steep trail and wiped out into a powdery snow bank, disappearing with little more than the tips of my skis jutting above the surface. It would be 38 years before I would try cross country skiing again.

Summer in Seattle

I spent my last summer of law school in Seattle in 1977, bunking with my sister who then lived in a friend's house near Green Lake, in the north part of the city. I worked on projects for Legal Aid and the Washington Judicial Council while most all of my Stanford classmates spent the summer clerking for highbrow corporate law firms -- the corporate lawyer crowd was never suited for me, nor I for them. I recall hiking in and camping out one July night high in the Cascades nearby a still partially frozen alpine lake on a ridge across a steep valley. Highs were in the mid 80s. The night was punctuated by the sounds of chunks of glacial ice sheering off and crashing down the mountainside across the drainage. We drank water straight out of the lake. 

Mount Rainer viewed across Lake Union, Seattle, Washington

I recall evening jogs along the 2.8 mile trail around Green Lake, sometimes attempting but always failing to keep up with oarsmen sculling across. On clear days Mt. Rainier rose magically and majestically out of the sky above the lake's southern end -- same for Lake Union. I remember riding my bike down around Lake Union and then over to Lake Washington by the University District. In the distance I recall seeing rooster tail water spray shoot high in the sky behind hydroplane boats skimming across the water's surface. The roar was deafening. One day I rode my bike all the way down Aurora Avenue downtown and into to the Ferry Terminal on Alaska Way. I crossed the Puget Sound on the Bainbridge ferry and rode a route that circled the island. It was mostly rural and bucolic then. I struggled home pedaling 300 plus feet uphill after the return ferry ride.

Business in Seattle.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon watch Ringo Starr,
fishing from his room in the Edgewater, August, 1964.
During my working career I had the good fortune to visit Seattle a couple of times on business. I recall a trip where I stayed at the classic Edgewater Hotel, which sits atop a pier that juts out into the Puget Sound along Elliot Bay.
Anyone who has spent time in Seattle knows it has quite an array of numbered streets. You have to start out by understanding the city is broken in 4, or 6, or 8, or is that 10 quadrants. Or is that decants or something like that. And understanding whether you are north or south of the Washington ship canal -- and north or south of Denny Way and north and south of Yessler Way, which all makes a great deal of sense if you lived there for a number of years and had chances to err and figure it out.

There is a Northeast 1st, a Northwest 1st, a North 1st, a South 1st, Southwest 1st and a Southeast 1st, and so on and so forth -- all or mostly all in streets and avenues. Or something like that. This was before the era of cell phones. On my first morning in the city I took a cab to a rendezvous point where I was to meet with local officials, not realizing I went to a post office address on a North Avenue whereas I as actually supposed to meet up at a postal station address on a North Street. I was lost and perplexed. But fifteen minutes after the scheduled time a car pulls up with my counter party, having deduced precisely the mistake I had made. He explained he asked himself where he would be if we were a blankety blank from Washington DC. Touche.

Coincidentally, my mother was in town and my sister was celebrating her 35th birthday. We took Joanne out to dinner and ordered a bottle of wine -- my sister was carded. Some people are blessed. We enjoyed an evening at Ivar's on the seafront.

Some of the coolest trips I've taken around Seattle are out to the Olympic peninsula and the Indian reservations there located. Quinault Lake in Olympic National Park in a rare temperate rainforest. Storm systems loaded with moisture accumulated from crossing thousands of mile of the open Pacific Ocena rinse out on the Olympic mountains to the tune of 10 feet or more of precipitation, on average, each year. No trip to the Olympic National Park is complete without a visit up Hurricane Ridge, so named because of the strong winds brought in by Pacific storms. It is best approached on an overcast day, where the ridge may jut above the cloud cover into the right sun, yielding a surreal look above the earth and into the heavens. 

Looking down at clouds, Hurricane Ridge

Clouds rolling across Hurricane Ridge.

Life at the Quinault reservation outside of the main town of Taholah revolves around fishing and hunting. Pick up salmon delicacies in the general store and hire out a bear hunting expedition if that is your thing. Further up the coast is Forks, popularized by Stephanie Myers as the setting for the Twilight series, and the nearby the Quileute reservation and La Push. 

Quinault hunting....

and fishing.

I visited Seattle several times just before the turn of the 21st century and actually welcomed in the new millennium watching the fireworks display near Seattle Center at the foot of the Space Needle. 

The Space Needle is an exquisite fireworks center piece.
We have visited as family many times since, always making sure to bring the kids to the Pacific Science Center on the old fairgrounds. Other attractions near the base of the Space Needle include Experience Music Project and the Chilhuly Garden and Glass. Last spring we even took Duck Boat tour downtown and into Lake Union. 

Boarding for our Duck Boat excursion. Guess which one is me?

Home Away From Home Epilogue

Seattle was one of the places we visited on our grand cross-country 2010 tour that scouted potential retirement locations. Sadly, I saw the city was changing in ways that made it not attractive to me or a family lifestyle. Seattle is so crowded now, tense and dense, it is losing its character and it's once sensible and laidback lifestyle. It has become the sort of place where you have to plan not to go certain places and locales because they are inacessible or too difficult or cumbersome to approach The city worships the oymoronic green gods of clutter, concrete jungles and urban villages -- density and more density while shunting the needs of long term residents aside. Those thoughts have been confirmed in a flurry of July articles in the local dead tree media.
On a brilliant, sun-dazzled morning, Fairhaven, a compact and charmingly quirky Bellingham neighborhood, is coming to life. Everything looks fresh and clean, as if newly painted: the air, the buttery light, and the deep blue bay waters just a few sloping blocks away, where a ferry is being readied to haul backpack-toting travelers to Alaska. It is an early June day, and a few old hippies are poring over the paper at Tony’s Coffee House, a magnet for the town’s bohemians, and marveling at the saga of the two murderers who escaped from a concrete fortress in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. 
While I marvel at the dozens of free parking spaces, sans meters, a young woman in a purple peasant dress tends to the city flower pots near the handsome old Knights of Pythias Building, a long-ago meeting place for the town’s secret societies. Across 11th Street—the commercial heart of this historic district—they’re tidying a few outdoor tables at Dirty Dan Harris Steakhouse & Seafood restaurant, named after Dirty Dan, Fairhaven’s scruffy, booze-smuggling founder, a rather foul-smelling character who arrived by row boat in Bellingham Bay in 1854. 
“I smile every day I walk out of my condo here,” says Robert Spector, who with his wife bid Seattle goodbye in April. “I left more in sorrow than in anger. It doesn’t feel comfortable any longer. Compared to this, Seattle is out of scale. You still have a city sensibility in Bellingham, but it is so much easier here.” 
It is difficult to quantify, but people like Mimi Osterdahl, owner of a co-working space in Bellingham, has little doubt that a Seattle exodus is fully in motion and that Bellingham is becoming a popular refuge. “We’ve had people come to Workspace recently and say Bellingham reminds them of old Seattle—that they are looking to get back to some place that promises a simpler life.”Perry Eskridge, government affairs director for the Whatcom County Association of Realtors, says, “No question about it, we are getting tons of people coming up from Seattle, people who say they are just sick and tired of it. For most of them, it’s a lifestyle choice, but we actually do hear people saying that they have Seattle fatigue.”
Observes Nick Hartich, executive director of Downtown Bellingham Partnership: “We have a similar geography as Seattle, all that natural beauty of the water and mountains, but here it’s a whole lot easier to access it.”
Seattle's response to this is to double and triple down.
Seattle is in a restive, unsettled mood. The economy may be humming along nicely, but something is out of kilter. Many residents are feeling crowded, too crowded, uncomfortable with the speed in which the city is growing, and convinced that developers are running the show. By a long shot, not everyone has bought into the urbanist vision of more bike paths, buses, street cars, and high-density projects with hot yoga studios, posh eateries and gastropubs on the ground level. 
Amid all of this, along comes a recommendation by Mayor Ed Murray’s housing committee that says single-family zoning, which comprises 65 percent of all the land in Seattle, is outdated, unsustainable, an unrealistic vestige from the days of Ozzie and Harriet.
In fact, the draft report, leaked July 7 to Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat, goes as far as implying that there is something inherently racist about single-family zoning – that such law-use restrictions (in which 65 percent of Seattle’s land is currently zoned) “has roots in racial and class exclusion,” as the report states, “and remains the among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goal for equity and affordability.”
Written by the 28-member citizen committee known as the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), the draft proposal says the time has come to replace single-family zoning with a “lower residential zone” that would permit duplexes, triplexes, mother-in-law units and backyard cottages in neighborhoods dominated by homes on single lots. 
It is unclear whether this sweeping change to the way Seattle has lived for more than a half century will be included in the final report, due Monday. 
What is clear, though, is that this nerve-striking proposal – even it never sees the light of day – has shaken the hornets nest, a nest that until now has largely been drowned out by advocates for denser housing. It’s now clear, too, that the adherents of “Lesser Seattle” remain a potent political force to be reckoned with. 
“I am offended. This is just appalling,” fumed Queen Anne Community Council chair Ellen Monrad. “The strongest neighborhoods in this city are single-family neighborhoods. People want a little bit of space, and then for them to imply that you are racist if you live in a single-family neighborhood. This may be a wake up call for this city.” 
Says Glenn Avery, a member of the Magnolia-Queen Anne District Council: “I think this will fundamentally change Seattle’s culture.”
Irene Wall, co-chair of the City Neighborhood Council’s land-use committee called the specter of eliminating single-family zoning “an invasion to create more space for developers.”
“The city wants to be Manhattan,” posits Eugene Wasserman, president of the North Seattle Industrial Association. “Every mayor we’ve had since Norm Rice has this New York envy, and that’s what has driven public policy. And now they want to change everything that made Seattle what it is.”
Chose Bozeman, Montana instead. Love the choice. Sticking with it so long as I am sentient. I am truly sorry for Seattle. Have a nice day.

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