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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