grimm foible

They paved Sam Goody and put up a Starbucks.

Ok, so it doesn't have quite the same ring as that Joni Mitchell song, but it's true. Where that junky old Sam Goody on 3rd used to be, there is now a gutted out building. And from the illustration of the projected finished project, it looks like the sole purpose of doing that was to put up ANOTHER Starbucks. Now, it may sound like I'm annoyed about Starbucks specifically. That's not entirely accurate. While I do think it RIDICULOUS that there is quite literally (at least) one Starbucks in any given 2 block radius downtown, I am more annoyed by the pointlessness of gutting the building. Apparently, they are trying to make 3rd and Pine/Pike look less like the tramp haven that it is and more like a swanky metropolitan area, what-with the new Johnny Rockets and the re-faced McDonalds and the silly little coffee/sandwich bar called “Cosi” that they installed in the soon to be Macy's. But it's not gonna work. It's not.

But the real issue here is this: It seems like there is no sacred architecture in Seattle. I'm not saying that the Sam Goody building was a beautiful example of historical architecture. But I see this kind of thing ALL the time around town. I come from a city (Richmond, VA) in which most of the buildings in their metropolitan area are hundreds of years old. If not the whole building, then significant sections of it. It's history. People live and work in history and there are whole societies dedicated to preserving it. (It's probably the only cool thing ABOUT that city).

Since Seattle is a young city, most of the buildings are pretty new, and therefore they don't give a second thought to tearing something down and starting over. The only “living history” we have here is the Underground Tour and those guys had to fight like hornets to preserve that. As neat as it is, it's also pretty crappy down there. It looks like a college student's basement.

Most of the standing buildings in Seattle aren't more than 50-60 years old. My old apartment building was built in the 1970's and yes it was a shithole but that's only because the owners didn't take care of it. Oh, the toilet in your unit is broken? No, we don't need to fix it. We'll just tear down the whole effing structure and build luxury condos instead. In fact, I think if The Man had his druthers, everyone in Seattle would live and work in a Starbucks-like environment.

In summary, Seattle will never have historical buildings are ANY living history because we will just keep building a “young Seattle” on top of it. One day, in the not so distant future, people will be heading underground to see scraps from the Seattle of 2005. Maybe we'll even find part of the Sam Goody sign buried under some coffee grounds.