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  #1  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2013, 7:23 AM
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Seattle~volution Part 2: Neighborhoods, bridges, ferries, and fog

Part 1 of my 2-part series from the Rail~volution transit conference last month focused on the central city and transit. Now part 2 will focus on the next ring out.

We'll start with a couple of bridges in the Fremont neighborhood. The Aurora Bridge and Fremont Bridge are 2 of the 7 spans across Seattle's ship channel, connecting the main part of the city with North Seattle. This first picture is from Fremont Bridge, looking at the larger Aurora Bridge:



To get from one to the other, I started in Fremont (centered in this next picture), walked across the small Fremont Bridge, and then up this giant hill to get to the footings of the Aurora Bridge.




Now, to cross the Aurora and enjoy its expansive views.






















Looking down on Fremont Bridge:




After reaching the Fremont (North Seattle) side, I walked down these steps to find Fremont's most famous landmark...




... A giant troll under the bridge.




The 2nd most famous landmark is a statue of Lenin.




From there, into Fremont proper:




















I have no idea what's up with the rocket storefront. The space motif is common for some reason. Maybe just playing off the Space Needle? Anyway, from Fremont, let's shoot 40 blocks straight north for a quick stop in Greenwood.

It wasn't so green, though. Redwood, maybe?




Oh, space again.






That last store, the space travel supply company, was pretty fun.

Now back down south to Wallingford, another neighborhood near Fremont.












I could get behind this.












Last stop in North Seattle before heading elsewhere will be Ballard.




















Ballard's waterfront is still industrial. And it's active.




But the really interesting thing is the Ballard Locks, where ships coming into the ship channel from Puget Sound change elevation.










Now, a ferry ride. Some of Seattle's ferries are huge. The one I rode, to Bainbridge Island, can carry more than 200 cars and over 1000 pedestrian passengers.

Here's the terminal.






Off we go.




About this time is when it started to get really foggy.








On the boat.








Getting foggier...




Wait. Is that land?




Mayyyyybe.




I see some other boats.




Definitely land. Bainbridge Island.












Mount Olympus?




Coming in to dock.




The town is kind of cute.












Headed back to Seattle, oh look, it's even foggier.




Next day, off on a water taxi to West Seattle.






Seriously great view from over here.




See the full-size version.






This is a belted kingfisher.




This is a seal.




Around the tip of West Seattle, facing out into Puget Sound instead of in towards downtown, is Alki Beach.






And in the middle of West Seattle, a nice neighborhood.








That's it. Goodbye!

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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2013, 7:25 AM
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Is that really it, or is it time for BONUS MATERIAL. How about some shots from the airplane?

Philly:






The Potomac River:




Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay:




Transfer at New York JFK:




Fresno, CA (everyone's favorite):




And, all joking aside, one of the coolest things I've ever seen from a plane: Crater Lake.






Oh, and here's a Cascade.

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  #3  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2013, 12:11 PM
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Outstanding shots and tour! Thanks for sharing, Cirrus.

The Fall colours, the scenes on the streets, those bridges, the neighbourhoods you show, Bainbridge Island, the aerial views, make this thread absolutely wonderful. Enjoyed a lot!

Congrats and greetings from Madrid, Spain
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  #4  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2013, 4:06 PM
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Very nice. You hit a lot of good areas. As usual the panos are off the charts.

The Aurora Bridge added the taller fence a couple years ago. Before that, every couple months someone would jump off. A friend in an office next door said they had a regular announcement on the intercom when that happened...something about not looking out the east window.

In the 90s, a bus passenger attacked the driver, and the bus landed on the roof of an apartment building.
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Old Posted Nov 12, 2013, 11:49 PM
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Nice! Despite the fog, it must have been nice being out & about when the fall foliage was at peak color.
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  #6  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2013, 12:03 AM
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Yes. And actually the fog was very dramatic and beautiful. We should all be so lucky to have both waterfronts and hills.
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  #7  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2013, 12:38 AM
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Now I want coffee...and I don't even drink coffee.
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  #8  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2013, 5:53 AM
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Cool tour. I'd love to know your impressions of the city.

I was really impressed with Ballard when I happened upon it last year, and was really lucky to be at Alki Beach on one of the warmest days of that year so it was a total zoo. In a fun way.
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  #9  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2013, 7:48 PM
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Originally Posted by fflint View Post
I'd love to know your impressions of the city.
We talk sometimes about the "big 6" urbanist/transit cities in the US. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia. I think Seattle is probably the top non-big 6 city*, and it's starting to nip at Philadelphia's heals as Seattle gets better and Philly treads water.

Before I visited Seattle for the first time, I had in my head that since it's a bungalow city, it was basically Denver or Dallas, but in a nicer geographic setting. That was wrong. It exceeds my expectations every time I go. The lack of rowhouse neighborhoods doesn't seem to be a handicap. I'm not sure why; have to think about it more. The thing that is really missing is a good rail system. If they had built their 1960s metro system then probably by now they'd be solidly in that big 6 group. Without it, they're just getting to be in the midst of making the jump now.

The big weakness, it seems to me, is how small central Seattle is. Not compared to Portland of course, but compared to any of the big 6. There aren't enough of the high-quality neighborhoods, and as the city grows that's going to start to be a problem. Maybe it'll be a ceiling, and maybe not. A lot of 20th Century cities are going to face that issue. North Seattle is great (especially the U District, which is probably my favorite neighborhood in the city), but it's really not the central city. In fact, not counting the giant state university, I see a lot of parallels between North Seattle and Arlington VA. I expect those parallels will increase even more once North Seattle starts to get some rail stations to build hubs around.

* Caveats: I don't know enough about LA to know how it fits in, and while I love Portland even more than Seattle, Portland's central city feels so much smaller that I think of it as being in a different category. I kind of think of Portland as a college town that got bigger, as opposed to a major city.
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Old Posted Nov 13, 2013, 8:39 PM
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Seattle goes to great lengths to protect single-family areas, including a lot of neighborhoods near Downtown. So our core will always be limited, with tendrils extending outward and denser urban villages dotted around.

There are plenty of negatives to this, but also a lot of positives. Since the comprehensive plan of 1994(?) focused things more specifically into the urban village districts, most of them have gone a long way toward achieving critical mass, particularly in the last eight years or so.
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2013, 4:05 AM
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Nice pictures. It looks like Seattle has a lot of interesting neighborhoods to explore. It also looks like there's a lot of nooks and crannies to explore, what with Puget Sound, and the shipping channel and the lakes, and the hills and valleys, etc.

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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
Philly:

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  #12  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2013, 4:24 AM
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Enlarge and enhance:

Barry Bridge is pretty clear. Wilmington... I guess that's it.

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Old Posted Nov 14, 2013, 4:29 AM
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Nicely done Cirrus
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2013, 5:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
It exceeds my expectations every time I go. The lack of rowhouse neighborhoods doesn't seem to be a handicap. I'm not sure why; have to think about it more. The thing that is really missing is a good rail system. If they had built their 1960s metro system then probably by now they'd be solidly in that big 6 group. Without it, they're just getting to be in the midst of making the jump now.
Agreed it exceeds expectations. And agreed it is sorely lacking a rail system; that said, the transit share is relatively high and downtown Seattle during the evening rush is like the 'running of the buses.'

Quote:
The big weakness, it seems to me, is how small central Seattle is. Not compared to Portland of course, but compared to any of the big 6. There aren't enough of the high-quality neighborhoods, and as the city grows that's going to start to be a problem. Maybe it'll be a ceiling, and maybe not. A lot of 20th Century cities are going to face that issue.
Yes, I agree. Downtown and adjacent areas are dense and active, and then there's a huge dropoff. The topography has something to do with it, but there's just no getting around the fact Seattle has a lot of sfh districts pretty close in. The "village centers" mhays noted are strong nodes of activity and density, and will definitely grow. It may be possible to expand these such that more and more people can live in a traditionally urban environment, even if they're not attached to the downtown, but all the same Seattle definitely has a smaller central city than the big 6.

Expanding on that, I'd note that urbanity within the greater Seattle region is quite dispersed--Bellevue is a strong draw already, and I think Tacoma will be in the near future. Tacoma is a traditionally urban node with great bones and immense potential (not in the least because there's empty land and what still stands is cheap), but it's very far from downtown Seattle and I could really feel that distance.

Quote:
North Seattle is great (especially the U District, which is probably my favorite neighborhood in the city), but it's really not the central city. In fact, not counting the giant state university, I see a lot of parallels between North Seattle and Arlington VA. I expect those parallels will increase even more once North Seattle starts to get some rail stations to build hubs around.
The U District reminds me of a less dense but more spread out Berkeley. I would imagine the main drag there has the highest pedestrian count outside of the central city. Hopefully being connected to downtown via rail won't radically alter the area's funky, student-oriented character.

Quote:
* Caveats: I don't know enough about LA to know how it fits in, and while I love Portland even more than Seattle, Portland's central city feels so much smaller that I think of it as being in a different category. I kind of think of Portland as a college town that got bigger, as opposed to a major city.
Los Angeles and Seattle have strong similarities--the walkable, dense, vibrant areas are not necessarily connected and seem to exist in their own sort of orbit. That said, downtown Seattle is a much, much stronger centripetal force, and occupies a more prominent place in the collective local psyche.
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2013, 5:59 AM
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These are great Cirrus, and I never realized Seattle got such nice autumn colors. I see some fantastic old Japanese maples that are probably worth upwards of $100k if you transplanted them.
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Old Posted Nov 14, 2013, 6:14 AM
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Quote:
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Enlarge and enhance:

Barry Bridge is pretty clear. Wilmington... I guess that's it.

You can kind of see the Delaware Memorial Bridge on the left. In the original picture, I could make out the DuPont plant adjacent to it on the New Jersey side. Wilmington is to the northwest of the bridge, it I don't know what else it could be inside the circle.

I can identify other landmarks farther south. Underneath my red "And", along the river, is the oil refinery in Delaware City. Across the river from that is the artificial patch of land jutting into the river that is part of Delaware, based on colonial border agreements. Farther to the left, you can make out the nuclear power plant near Salem, NJ.

It's amazing to think how far south you can see in your picture, considering you took it flying over Bucks County, not too far from Trenton.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2013, 6:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post

Mount Olympus?



That's Mount Constance, tallest in the Olympic 'front range' that faces ESE.

Fabulous photos of the autumn foliage!
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  #18  
Old Posted Nov 16, 2013, 12:05 AM
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Awesome tour, nice to see different Seattle neighborhoods. Gorgeous fall colors in Fremont and loving the airplane shots... (what, no Portland aerial?) Thanks for the tour, Seattle is a beautiful city. I love all the water.
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Old Posted Nov 16, 2013, 12:30 AM
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sweet.

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Old Posted Nov 16, 2013, 3:26 PM
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I was hoping for a look inside the LINK pit at Husky Stadium. Very nice 2-part thread!
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