Saving History

Although I haven’t lived in Seattle permanently for some time now, it still remains like a second home to me and I occasionally spend extended periods of time there. The city has changed tremendously in the 20 years since I first moved there, but the changes of the last couple years dwarf much of anything that occurred previously. The construction boom during the dot-com era pales in comparison to what’s happening now.

I certainly don’t feel it’s necessary to keep every old brick warehouse or dilapidated craftsman bungalow, but it still feels as if a part of the city’s character is being lost by the apparent indiscriminate bulldozing of, in some cases, almost entire neighborhoods. South Lake Union may have been comparatively lifeless back in the 1990s, but the sea of six- and eight-story look-a-like office buildings that it’s become feels rather soulless.

Old must make way for new. However, while I’m generally not a sentimental person (I’ve been told I like to ‘throw’ things), it’s still a bit depressing to see how much of Seattle’s architectural history is being lost. History matters, and much of that history is being being wiped clean.

The Georgetown Steam Plant building in the Georgetown neighborhood is a welcome exception. Now a National Historic Landmark, the building is a former steam operated electrical generating plant constructed back in the early part of the 20th Century. Walking through the plant now, it looks much as it did back in the late 1970s when plant operators laid down their tools for the last time.

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Posted in Urban