I recently read about Leonard Lopate’s “The Story of New York in 10 Objects.”  The listeners to Lopate’s radio show in NYC created a list of possibilities and then voted, with the following 10 objects garnering the most votes:

  • Greek coffee cup
  • Subway token
  • Food cart
  • Oyster
  • 18th century ship excavated from the World Trade Center site
  • Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems
  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • Wall Street sign
  • Manhattan Schist
  • Subway map

That list started me musing about which 10 objects might tell the story of my city, Seattle. Here is my own personal take on the Story of Seattle in 10 Objects:

1.  The Starbucks to-go, disposable paper coffee cup.  New York City might have its Greek coffee cup, but Starbucks coffee cups are now ubiquitous the world over.  Its world domination began in 1987 according to this article in Bon Apetit.  I took this photo outside Starbucks’ first retail store in the Pike Place Market.

The Starbucks to-go, disposable coffee cup

The Starbucks to-go, disposable coffee cup

2.  The Washington State Ferries.  The state of Washington runs the biggest ferry operation in the United States, and it is the third biggest in the world, transporting 22.5 million riders in 2013.  Several routes go in and out of Seattle.  They are part of the Seattle landscape.

Ferry arriving at the Seattle Ferry Terminal

Ferry arriving at the Seattle Ferry Terminal

3.  Seattle Public Library Card.  Seattle always seems to make it on those lists of “most literary” cities.  We like to read!  The Seattle Public Library has 26 neighborhood branch libraries in addition to its Central Library downtown and mobile services.

My library card, held up outside the Central Library in downtown Seattle

My library card, held up outside the Central Library in downtown Seattle

4.  Salmon.  Local and fresh, I am so glad that this native food is healthy, too.

Fish vendor at the Pike Place Market

Fish vendor at the Pike Place Market

5.  Space Needle.  The Space Needle, built for the 1962 World’s Fair, has become a unique and recognizable silhouette on our Seattle skyline.  It’s been years since I’ve eaten at the revolving restaurant at the top, and I now consider it more of a tourist attraction than a destination for locals.  (It’s rather expensive even to take the elevator to the top.)

Seattle Space Needle

Seattle Space Needle

6.  Native culture and influence.  Seattle gets its name from Chief Sealth, a leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish native tribes. Several other tribes are native to the Seattle area:  the Muckleshoot, Snoqualmie, Tulalip, and Puyallup Nations.  We see their influence in place names, totem poles, powwows, heritage sites and museums.

Coastal tribes at the UW First Nations Powwow

Coastal tribes at the UW First Nations Powwow

7.  Microsoft applications.  We think of Microsoft as a Seattle company because its founders, Bill Gates and Paul Allen grew up here.  I can’t imagine going back to life before Microsoft Word (think typewriters and white-out).  I’m sure I use some aspect of Microsoft technology every day.

Computer addicted

Computer addicted

8.  REI hiking boots.  Seattle is home to thousands of outdoor enthusiasts.  The Cascade and Olympic Mountains with their miles of trails, campgrounds, and challenging peaks are just an hour or two away.  We are surrounded by water for boating and fishing enthusiasts.  The ocean is three hours away.  Last year I replaced my decades-old REI hiking boots with another pair which still don’t feel broken in.  I expect I will wear them for the rest of my life!

My old hiking boots from REI

My old hiking boots from REI

9.  Floating bridges.  Seattleites rely on two floating bridges to access the suburbs east of Lake Washington — Hwy 520 and I-90.  You can follow I-90 clear across the United States and milepost 1 is just on the west side of this bridge. It still amazes me that these major traffic arteries float on pontoons.

I-90 floating bridge

I-90 floating bridge

10.  I don’t have a clear object for # 10 on this list.  Should it be the Boeing 747?  A Douglas fir tree?  Chihuly glass?  Himalayan blackberries?  What do you suggest?

Or better yet, what 10 objects tell the story of your city?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boating and Boatlessness

August 4, 2014

“When you have your own boat, you have your own world, and the sea is anybody’s front yard.”
— E. B. White, from The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims

Sailboat on Elliot Bay

Sailboat on Elliott Bay

Sailboat seen from the Edmonds-Kingston ferry

Sailboat seen from the Edmonds-Kingston ferry

Those of us who live in Seattle, but who are not fortunate enough to own our own boat, can still enjoy the pleasures of being out on the water by taking a ferry ride.  The Washington State Ferry System extends our road system and saves hours of driving when you want to visit the Olympic Peninsula or Victoria, Canada.  The ferries are heavily used, and sometimes there can be long wait lines.  I took these pictures from the deck of the ferry between Edmonds and Kingston, Washington.  It is so refreshing to be out on the water on a hot summer day.

To be out on the water

To be out on the water

Edmonds-Kingston ferry on Elliott Bay

Edmonds-Kingston ferry on Elliott Bay, early morning

Looking back at Kingston from the car deck of our return trip

Looking back at Kingston from the car deck of our return trip

 

 

 

“The simplicity of walking — the essential humanness of putting one foot in front of the other — made a deep kind of sense.”
— Nick Hunt, Walking the Woods and the Water

Ferry arriving at the downtown terminal, Seattle

Ferry arriving at the downtown terminal, Seattle

This segment of my Seattle periphery walk would make a perfect day hike for tourists because it bypasses some of the city’s most iconic spots.  I resumed my trek at the downtown ferry terminal.  Commuters were already making ready for their day’s work.

Then I detoured up two streets to the Pike Place Market, where fish, food, and flower vendors were just setting up their stalls.  I dropped by the historic first Starbucks store for a cup of coffee.

Seattle's Big Wheel

Seattle’s Big Wheel

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I returned to the waterfront and headed north to my next destination, the outdoor Olympic Sculpture Park, which is open from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.  The views and art are priceless.

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The Elliott Bay trail, a multi-purpose biking and pedestrian path, follows the shores of Puget Sound toward the Magnolia neighborhood.  I stopped to look at the amazing Amgen Helix Bridge, a pedestrian bridge to the Amgen campus.

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The trail continued past the Pier 89 grain elevators.  Looking back toward downtown, Mount Rainier shone brightly on the horizon.

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Now the path took me through another industrial area. Decoupling trains clanked in the railroad yard.  Rather than cross into Magnolia on the Magnolia Bridge, I decided to continue up and around on the trail to Smith Cove.  I thought I would find a way to walk up from the marina there to the Magnolia bluff, but I discovered this was a dead end.  I had to backtrack and get on the Magnolia Bridge after all.

Elliott Bay trail toward Magnolia and Ballard

Elliott Bay trail toward Magnolia and Ballard

Smith Cove marina

Smith Cove marina

Walking on the Magnolia Bridge

Walking on the Magnolia Bridge

View from the bridge

View from the bridge

Once I reached the Magnolia neighborhood, I followed Magnolia Boulevard toward Discovery Park.  Although I was walking through a residential area, there were nice sidewalks and public areas on the bluff overlooking the Sound, and the homes were across the street.  This neighborhood did a great job accommodating walkers!

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I finally reached Discovery Park and entered on 43rd Avenue West.  This Seattle park is still relatively untamed, with dense trees, ravines, and a shoreline, all cut with steep trails.  I followed the loop trail to the West Point lighthouse and then to the north parking lot.

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Exiting the north parking lot, I made a short left on 40th Avenue West and then a right on West Commodore Way.  This street took me to the Ballard Locks, where I was able to cross the Ship Canal.  The fish ladders, which are ludicrously active during salmon spawning season, were empty of fish this time of year.  The locks were busy as usual, with boaters navigating from the salt waters of Puget Sound to the fresh waters of Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Boats waiting to enter the locks

Boats waiting to enter the locks

Spillway

Spillway

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I ended my walk at the Ballard Locks and caught the Number 44 bus back home.

Estimated walking distance:  11-1/2 miles

 

Sign on side of building in Pioneer Square

View of Seattle from the ferry to Bainbridge Island

I’ve always enjoyed riding the ferries in Seattle.  They are an integral part of the transportation system here, not just a tourist attraction.  But I took a ride, simply for pleasure, to Bainbridge Island.  It’s a wonderful way to get out on the waters of Puget Sound if you don’t have a boat of your own.  On Bainbridge, I walked along the Waterfront Trail to the Winslow business district.  I’m not much of a shopper, but I did browse for a while at the Eagle Harbor Bookstore, a gem of an independent bookstore.  Then I returned to Seattle on the ferry.  It made an easy half-day outing.

Raucous seagull on the ferry railing overlooking Seattle's loading docks

Bainbridge Island

I walked this trail from the ferry to the Winslow business district.

Wild blackberries along the Waterfront Trail

Weathered fence and shadows, Bainbridge Island

Several ferries ply the routes across Puget Sound.

Seattle skyline from the ferry