Seattle’s Vanishing Landmarks

Fifty years ago, Congress voted against funding supersonic aircraft. The result was massive layoffs at Boeing and the not-so-tongue-in-cheek billboard adjacent to I-5 on the way out of Seattle.

Things are different now. Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon—along with Nirvana and grunge—changed the Queen/Jet City’s image. The working-class town became hip and synonymous with tech.

Seattle’s metamorphosis continues in the twenty-first century. With a median home price of $750,000 and median household income above $150,000, the city has become a place for the well-off and not-so-well-off/homeless with not-so-much in between.

Boeing is contracting again, shutting down 787 Dreamliner production. Amazon is giving mixed messages about continued growth in Seattle.

And another Seattle landmark is about to disappear. Elephant Car Wash, the first automated car wash in the city, announced it was closing after seventy years at the triangular block bordered by Denny Way and Battery Street. Soon to disappear is its iconic garishly-pink neon elephant sign. The company will continue to operate its fourteen other car washes in the Puget Sound area. The property owner has not announced any plans for the property that’s now surrounded by high-rise condominiums and office towers that may or may not be occupied by Amazonians.

An earlier victim of urban progress was the Lincoln Towing Company’s landmark truck—also pink—on Mercer Avenue. In the age of GPS smart phones, nobody needs directions anyway: “Take the Mercer exit from five and turn right at the toe truck.”