The guilty pleasures of Seattle
BY DAVID SHIELDS (06/01/00)
As a resident of Seattle, I can tell you that this city has changed so dramatically in the last 15 years that sometimes I hardly recognize it anymore. It seems like yesterday that you could find a job and a reasonable place to live without much difficulty. This is what made the city so charming and livable. Sure, it could be quiet and boring, and the nouveau riche have definitely given the rest of us more clubs and restaurants, a first-class art museum and a symphony hall. But I fear that all this new and exciting change has been a Faustian bargain.
The city has changed from being a civic-minded town to a capitalist, development-minded town. The Seattle Center, which was the site of the '62 World's Fair and where the Space Needle is located, was built with the idea being that it would be a place for everyone, rich or poor, to enjoy. I have no doubt that this project wouldn't have been built today without some sort of profitability. Seattle has many beautiful parks that this city's founders had the foresight to preserve for future generations to enjoy. Today, some of them are under the constant threat of being developed due to insidious public/private partnerships.
If living in this city requires one to become a latte-sipping, SUV-driving yuppie then I fear that we will have lost the one thing that not even Bill Gates could buy: our city's soul.
-- Ronald Nixon
Congratulations, Salon.com, for having finally written something about a North American locality other than San Francisco. If you keep working at it, you may find that many of us in the other 49 states have minds and souls, and say -- and often do -- interesting things.
-- Clark Humphrey
David Shields' article on the new face of Seattle is probably the best I've seen on the subject. Sure, the place has changed in the last 20 years. What place hasn't? Yes, there are lots of people with lots of money, but, as Shields notes, most aren't being pushy about it and many are spending it in creative and publicly aware ways. Does it cost more to live here? Yup, but it does in every city worth calling home.
Seattle's biggest problem is insecurity: Are we good enough? Are we smart enough? Do people really, really like us?
Who cares? The mountains are still beautiful, the sun does shine and this is still a terrific place to live.
Those in Seattle who spend their time fretting over the Microsoft millionaires and what has happened to the lost city of their youth need to remember: All things change, even Seattle. Relax. Take a walk in the rain. Have a cup of decaf. And stop your whining.
-- Curt Milton