What lies beneath
We have ventured out again on the buses to Downtown Seattle to check out the waterfront area.
Seattle is physically a relatively new city. The entire nineteenth century central business district fronting the waterfront was constructed of mostly wooden buildings and was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1889. In rebuilding the city after the fire it was decreed that all new buildings had to be made of brick or stone. The dilemma in this is that the area was really a very marshy locale and had to be ‘dried out’ and built up to support the new buildings and streets. So a plan was devised to progressively ‘fill in ‘ the streets between the new buildings, effectively raising them by one level. Walls were built alongside the buildings and at street ends and soil washed into the voids. Streets ultimately occupying the top-level. This story can get quite involved with all sorts of tales about the shops that lay beneath the streets. We traipsed off on the Underground Tour to hear all about this story. The tour took us down into the walkways between the buildings and the ‘street walls’ and you can still see the shop front windows and town infrastructure of water pipes and footpaths. All very interesting but too much detail is a little tedious for your readers Homealone reminds Allthego. So we went back to the topside for lunch. On the topside the footpaths still have these glass panels embedded in the concrete, they are the means by which light got into the underground walkways.
We had lunch in one of the waterfront cafes. Allthego had clam chowder followed by some fish n chips, Homealone had some prawn skewers. Now Allthego is rather partial to fish n chips and has been carefully weighing up the offerings he has had on this trip. First of all the standout has really been the crab cakes, all the ones he has had have been rather tasty. Light and fluffy. The crab really flavoursome. Salmon of course is also big over here. Some nice salmon dishes have been had. Baked with a maple syrup glaze particularly good. Sometimes it has been overcooked and gets a bit dry. But the standard fish n chips have generally been very marginal at best. On the menu more seems to be made of the virtues of the beer batter and tartare sauce than the fish. Invariably the fish is a piece of some nondescript Pacific or Atlantic cod. Generally solidly cooked so the batter is very golden brown and super crunchy, the fish becomes dried out and flakey, held together on your fork by the tartare sauce. The fish generally appears on the plate shaped a bit like a Christmas Bob Bon, ready to be popped open. Aussie fish n chips far superior!
The waterfront area is in the grips of redevelopment. The whole streetscape looking back from the harbour is consumed by a double-decker concrete viaduct carrying traffic through the city. There are traffic lanes underneath it as well. Looks awful, a bit like the Cahill Expressway across Sydney’s Circular Quay. The powers that be are in the process of building a pretty big tunnel underneath the viaduct. When the tunnel is finished the viaduct is to be knocked down and the waterfront redeveloped. Should be good. Being home to Microsoft and Amazon all the creative tech types will be able to sit in the parks and dream up new apps to clog our Iphones.
Pikes Market, is the towns tourist trap. Full of the typical market stalls and vendors. Interesting stop by the fish shop. All sorts of fish, crabs etc on display.
Moving on we went up the Smith Tower. The Tower was built in 1914 and at the time was the fourth tallest skyscraper in the USA. It has recently opened up its top level as a viewing platform. This tower is new competition for the Space Needle, which we didn’t ascend. The Smith Tower’s advantage over the Space Needle ( although much taller) is in having an open air viewing platform. Great views are had of the street scape and harbour. Unfortunately, snow-capped Mt Rainier which towers over Seattle could not be seen because it was obliterated by smoke haze from the wild fires.
It had been a long day in the city and we welcomed the ambience of the Inn on Queen Ann……….