It's been four years this month since we sold our 1914 house in Willo and moved to Seattle. It was not a voluntary move, but one necessitated by the Republic ending my column after years of pressure to silence me, and then my inability to find work in Phoenix. We had hoped to live in this house, located a block from where I grew up, for the rest of our lives. Things didn't work out. The new neighborhood is very different. Here's the front-porch view from the condo downtown (in Belltown) looking east to Capitol Hill:
Every town eventually comes up with a scheme to create something "like Pike Place Market." Good luck. This is the one and only. When you shop here regularly, the fishmonger, say, will call out your order and yell, "local." Nice feeling. "Real" American-style supermarkets are nearby, too, as well as a wonderful, locally-owned "mini A.J's" called Ralph's Market right around the corner.
In the other direction on Pike is the heart of the downtown retail district. On the left, Macy's (the old Bon Marche), Westlake Center and the Flagship Nordstrom. Inside it looks like this (but you're downtown, not in Snottsdale):
Across from Westlake Center is Westlake Park, one of many public spaces, with its signature fountain.
With hundreds of stores, downtown retail runs the gamut from Tiffany and Gucci to the essential for a real city, a great hat shop, Byrnie Utz. There are also plenty of ordinary stores, including some good re-use. Unlike Phoenix, Seattle didn't run the poor shoppers out of downtown. Every kind of person in on the street, rich and poor, tourists, downtown workers, shoppers...a few days ago, Russian Navy sailors were walking around in uniform, enjoying the city.
Again, dear reader, forgive my iPhone photo skills. Third Avenue runs in front of the condo and is a major bus route. Go outside, there's your ride to pretty much anywhere, running on frequent schedules. You can go to King Street Station and get commuter trains, long-distance Amtrak to Chicago and LA, and Cascades service between Vancouver, B.C, and Portland (and Eugene). There's also the downtown transit tunnel, shared by buses and light rail:
The arts are nearby, too, with theaters up the street at Seattle Center (with the Space Needle), the Seattle Art Museum toward the water, and Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony, right down Third:
It's not all pavement. Walk a block east, and there's leafy Fourth Avenue:
As you can see, it's impossible to compare Phoenix and Seattle. It's a very different life. I don't miss the heat and political extremism. Otherwise, I will always carry Phoenix around in my heart, as I did for so many years before coming back from 2000 to 2007. And as long as you keep reading, I'll try to carry a little torch from the Northwest.