Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Wide View in Seattle (Hasselblad XPan 02)

Beer Bust, 14th Street, Seattle

Seattle is a beautiful city nestled between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, with stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascades to the east. The city is hilly because of the glacial drumlins, remnants of the glaciers that covered this area during the ice age. 

In the late-1800s, Seattle was a bustling supply station for the Alaska gold miners. The famous (infamous) seamstresses, of which there were thousands, served the clothing and "other" needs of the miners and sailors. Seattle grew into a major timber, ship-building, and shipping city.

The economy grew, and during much of the 20th century, Seattle was a Boeing city, making many of the commercial aircraft used throughout the world. But in 1971, trouble came to Seattle. The US Senate and House of Representatives voted to cancel any further development of Boeing's supersonic transport, originally intended to be a competitor to the European Concorde. Boeing fired thousands of engineers and technicians. The city sank into depression. People joked how the last person out could turn off the lights. I recall that the downtown in the 1970s had the seedy look of an old American city, with tired buildings, dirt, and closed shops.  

When I returned to Seattle for a short assignment in 2004, the economy had turned around. Was this the same city? Seattle had become a tech Mecca, with Microsoft and numerous other computer and electronics firms in Bellevue, just across Lake Washington from the city. Traffic was snarled and dense, all day long. Glass office buildings filled downtown. Housing was expensive even on 2004 standards (and a purchase then would be considered an astonishing investment when you look at today's housing prices). New money parked their Ferraris and Porsche at their lakeside cottages. 

Here are a few photographs of Seattle that I took in 2004 with a Hasselblad XPan panoramic camera, using its 45mm lens. In the previous article, I described the remarkable XPan. Click any picture to see more detail.

Where did all those office towers come from? View south towards downtown Seattle. I-5 is on the left.

South Lake Union district with Space needle in the center

The 184 m-tall Space Needle is an icon for the city.  It was built for the Century 21 Exposition and has remained Seattle's most popular tourist attraction ever since. Elvis even made love (sang) to Joan O'Brien in the needle-top restaurant in "It Happened at the World's Fair" (1963). The movie was a real stinker, but the 1962 views of the Exposition are very interesting. 

The area in the foreground is south of Lake Union. During most of the 20th century, it was known for warehouses, industry, and manufacturing. Now it is trendy, with loft apartments, coffee shops, and condos. Why do I always miss these trends and fail to buy a warehouse or two?

Queen Anne Hill and Lake Union in 2004

If you are really rich (or lucky), you can live on Queen Anne Hill and see Puget Sound to the west, Seattle and the distant Mount Rainier to the south, and Lake Union to the east. It is a bit crowded, and house lots are squashed together, but there is a nice sense of community, with local stores and restaurants. In the early 1900s, a funicular streetcar ascended Queen Anne Avenue. In the photograph above, the snow-capped Olympic Mountains are in the far left of the scene.

Queen Anne Avenue without the funicular (2021 digital file)
Kerry Park, Queen Anne Hill, Seattle (2021 digital file)

Of course you would like to live on Queen Anne Hill if you had this view.

Lake Union, Seattle

Lake Union is a freshwater lake within the city of Seattle. In the mid-20th century, it was rimmed by industrial companies, shipyards, NOAA's ocean survey fleet, and some residences. Today it is a technology hub and trendy center for restaurants and clubs. On a warm afternoon, you will see kayakers, seaplanes, bicyclists, sail boats, and ducks - all having a good time. 

This ends our short look at Seattle. Make time to visit the Pacific Northwest, walk around Seattle, take photographs, eat fish, and drink craft beer.

Some day, I will scan my 1970s negatives of Seattle. Standby.


Suzassippi said...

Gorgeous views of all, and that beautiful sky! said...

Thank you. Yes, on a sunny day, Seattle has a spectacular setting with amazing views.