“Seattle’s Architectural History”

Today I went to the Seattle Public Library to watch a lecture about Seattle architecture. It was remarkably entertaining. Now I know why some buildings only have terra cotta on the top and bottom floors. (Though, interestingly, I still don’t know what terra cotta is.) I know that there was a devastating fire in 1889, and that it did NOT burn 65 blocks, it burned 65 HALF-blocks! I know what a bungalow is: a one-and-a-half story house with a porch.

The most fun for me was looking at these old city planning maps and fin-de-ciècle pictures and try to correlate it with what I know of the city now. There are, apparently, a stunning number of important pre-war buildings on my street (2nd Avenue). Though, it seems, if those who fancied Seattle as the Paris of the North West had their way back in the early 20th Century, where I live would be a city center instead of condos. So there’s that.

I’m looking forward to the second half of the series, when architectural historian Jeffrey Karl Ochsner returns to describe what’s happened here since WWII, when he’ll no doubt be talking about the building we’re in at the time, which is super-cool. I’m also looking forward to watching the lecture hall’s implacable steel doors slide into place, sealing us in for two hours!


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