Archive for May, 2020

Looking out my backdoor (that ugly building)

So, the real reason I decided to start paying more attention to my neighborhood was the building below:

1122 3rd Ave.

See that big flat gray building in the middle? I’d never really noticed it before, but it really stands out. At first, I just thought it was a really ugly building. But I got curious. Why is it such an ugly building? What is it there for?

If you’re like me and can’t go wondering around downtown Seattle to get a better view of this building, take a look on Google Maps Street View. And look up, look way up, to appreciate the massive, solid nature of this building.

So, after looking out at this for a few weeks, I decided it’s not all that ugly. But I had no idea what it was. So, I poked around (yeah, starting in Google Maps and then a little searching) and discovered this isn’t the FBI building (that’s next door). Instead, it’s 1122 3rd Ave., which is just a happy address for those of us who like patterns. (If it was on 33rd Ave. I couldn’t see it, so I’m okay that it’s on 3rd instead.)

So, what is it, if it’s not the FBI building? Just a 15 story, concrete (like I had to tell you that) office building, dating back to 1955 according to this site. It was originally a Northwest Bell telco central office (thanks to this site). Apparently there were lots of building like this in big cities back then. Because of their limited signal strength, there are also a lot of old telco offices around town.

Which leads into another lesser known Seattle site: The Communications Museum. Okay, I know it by its older name, the Telecommunications Museum and if you try to follow the link you may get a certificate error (I did) so they may not be great with the modern stuff, but it is an amazing experience (let’s hope it opens again). After a few hours with their docents, you’ll feel you understand exactly how telephones worked for the last hundred years or so. You get to watch actual working switching systems switch and you get the feeling the docents were the ones who ran it all. I can’t see it from my apartment though, so no picture.

Everyone who visits Seattle sees the Space Needle. By visiting Seattle virtually, you just got to be one of the few to see 1122 3rd!

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Looking out my backdoor

So, I’m realizing this “shelter at home” thing is gonna last a long time.  One result of working for such a large employer is when they announce we probably won’t be going back to the office until 2021, I can find out from the news instead of any silly internal memo.

And I’m starting to adjust.  I will admit, I was a bit shocked when the security guard at the local Walgreens greeted me as if it was a regular day, not like we were both wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart.  It is now a regular day.

But I do spend a lot more time looking out the window and I’m finally paying attention to the things around me.  I’m fortunate enough to live in the middle of some real interesting stuff too, it turns out.  And since many of won’t be coming to Seattle any time soon (please don’t!), I figured it would be good for me to write down some of the things I’m discovering about all the places around me.

So, let’s start with something uplifting that’s trying to be a symbol of Seattle, the Great Wheel.   If you are any sort of a modern Ferris wheel snob, well, it just isn’t that great.  (I don’t think of myself as a Ferris wheel snob, but my first experience in one was the London Eye and the Great Wheel is a very different and much smaller experience.) And doesn’t every major city have a Ferris wheel now?  (Go on, check your favorite example of a US city.  Oklahoma City?  Yep.  Oakland, where there is no there?  Yelp lists 10.  I’m not sure which is the big fancy one, but does it matter?)

But oh, the light show at the Great Wheel is fantastic.  And creative–candy canes at Christmas, a football during the season, all purple on the night Prince died, great colorful spirals, red, white, and blue on federal holidays, etc.. (Apparently they also do gender reveal, but then again, doesn’t everyone?)

And recently, there have been a lot of nights with just a heart.  Which, for these times, is just right.

greatwheel

 

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