Tourist’s Guide to Seattle

Paul Allen’s Vulcan, Inc. and Jeff Bezos’s Amazon are competing to impose their own redevelopment visions on Seattle. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, got started first with his very own, taxpayer funded football stadium south of downtown and his in-progress makeover of south Lake Union on the northern edge of downtown. Bezos is coming on strong, with his new Amazon headquarters taking over central downtown… unless the city tries to levy a new tax; then he’s outta there.

Seattle still has a few quirky attractions that residents are proud to show off to visitors. They demonstrate how hip and creative they are, and are serious evidence that they do not take themselves too seriously.

Capitol Hill Soda Machine

Oops, too late. The mysterious beverage dispenser recently disappeared from its location in front of a locksmith shop in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Left in its place was a note that read, “Went for a walk.”

For twenty-plus years the machine supplied cold beverages to passersby. The identity of the person or persons who kept it stocked with soda is not known.

After dropping coins into the machine, the purchaser had a choice of several buttons to select, each of which labeled “MYSTERY.” You pays your money and takes your chances.

The Fremont Troll

Lurking under The Aurora Avenue Bridge (old Highway 99) in the Fremont “Center of the Universe” Neighborhood, this concrete beast has been posing for photographs since 1990. As is appropriate, the VW Beetle being crushed in the monster’s hand has a California license plate.

Waiting for the Interurban

Also in the Center of the Universe. This sculpture has kept vigil at a transit stop since 1979. It takes its name from the light-rail system that used to connect Seattle’s neighborhoods with downtown.

A favorite pastime is decorating or dressing up the six people and a human-faced dog cast aluminum artwork.

Lovers’ Padlocks

If they can do it in Paris , why not in Seattle? Couples in love pledge their undying devotion to each other by affixing padlocks to a chain-link fence near the downtown ferry terminal. We know the love is undying because no one ever comes back to remove a lock when the love dies. Eventually, city maintenance crews remove the locks before the accumulated weight brings down the fence.

Gum Wall

Yes, it’s as disgusting as it sounds. In Post Alley at the famous Pike Place Market. If you visit, be sure to rub your hands or other body part over it. Maybe some of the chewed gum stuck to the wall will not be completely dried and you can take a bit of Seattle home with you.

See them while you can, before an Amazon cashier-less but scanning-your-every-movement and probably your facial-recognition-features convenience store takes over the space.

For some real Seattle history, check-out Underground Tour entrepreneur Bill Speidel’s “Sons of the Profits.”

2 thoughts on “Tourist’s Guide to Seattle”

  1. It’s such a miserable drive from Podunk to Seattle on I-5, particularly from Olympia to Seattle or vice versa. Once you’re there it’s a great city with marvelous sights, good eats. The Seattle Art Museum alone is worth going there by itself. Portland is getting bad enough but I would not like to live in Seattle unless I lived in the city center and could walk wherever I needed to go.

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