Saturday/ cleaned out

Superb Cleaners dry cleaners on 15th Avenue has gone out of business.
No wonder, right?
In a stay-home-pandemic, people do not need much dry cleaning — not for business trips, not for the opera, and not for a Saturday night dinner party at a fancy friend’s house.

2021: Permanently closed, Superb Cleaners on 15th Avenue. Time will tell if another dry cleaning business will be operated in that space, or if another kind of business altogether will set up shop.
1955: The Hill Top Cafe, Philco Radio & TV shop, and Superb Cleaners with its original scaffolded sign. ‘Complete Plant’ simply means the dry cleaning is done right there on site, and not sent out somewhere else for cleaning. 
P.S. That stylish wagon with its white-wall tires and wood trim is a 1955 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon. 
[Source: Seattle Before and After at]

Friday/ Volunteer Park’s ducks

We had a lot of sun today.
It’s January, though – the doldrums of winter – and the day’s highs only made it to 45 °F (7 °C).
These pictures are from Monday.

Here’s the Volunteer Park reservoir, here on Capitol Hill in the city. Its water is not considered usable for drinking water (the city has already covered several other reservoirs with lids, but not this one). The Cedar River’s water filled the 22 million-gallon reservoir for the first time in January 1901. The chlorophyll in the moss on the parapet (low wall) around the reservoir, is glowing neon green in the sunlight.
Here’s a female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), at one of the two duck ponds near the reservoir.
The male with its glossy green head, doing the duck thing, paddling in the water. Mallards are dabbling ducks: freshwater ducks that feed in shallow water by dabbling and upending as they look for food.
This species is the main ancestor of most breeds of domesticated ducks (the white ones that are kept for their meat, eggs and down). Mallard ducks were first domesticated in Southeast Asia, at least 4,000 years ago. [Source: Wikipedia]

Sunday/ scenes from Gas Works Park

I felt like a change of scenery today for my walk, and went down to the Gas Works Park area on Lake Union.

Looking south here. That’s Interstate 5 and the Ship Canal Bridge with its double-deck truss (opened Dec. 1962). On the left edge is the fishing vessel Peggy Jo, built in Tacoma in 1966. This may be a fueling dock. I believe that orange ‘float’ line is to keep accidental oil or gas spills from spreading out further on the water. Look for the Space-Needle-in-a-haystack elsewhere in the picture.
A view across Lake Union to the southeast. Merrymakers on the water and a lone sailboat. That prominent square building on the horizon, towards the right, is St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. Its intended architecture was never completed. The reason is the fateful date of its groundbreaking for construction: Sept. 1928, a year before the start of the Great Depression. Construction was incomplete when the cathedral was dedicated on April 25, 1931, and the parish was in default on its mortgage throughout the 1930s. The cathedral was foreclosed upon in 1941 and shut for the next two years. From 1943 -44, the US Army used the cathedral as an anti-aircraft training facility. The mortgage was finally paid off in 1947. [Source: Wikipedia].
This raft of waterfowl is a group of American coots (Fulica americana). They are not ducks: they belong to the rail family, Rallidae.
I finally arrived at Gas Works Park: a 19.1-acre public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, located on the north shore of Lake Union at the south end of the Wallingford neighborhood. [Wikipedia]
Just some interesting geometric lines to look at. Maybe a cylinder or some other structure had rested on these as a foundation.
Needles, all the way down?*. A view from the little promenade that overlooks Lake Union.
*It’s my picture – but I’m borrowing the title from a similar picture that I had seen a while ago on Reddit.
And the clear view, almost due south, of the ever-changing city skyline. That’s Queen Anne Hill on the right, one of the highest spots in the city at an elevation of 456 feet (139 m).

Thursday/ new utility poles

It looks like my street block is getting some new utility poles.
We worked with the data for these utility poles on my project at Southern California Edison. That utility company covers an enormous area, and the utility pole database had some 5 million records (for 5 million utility poles).

The fun starts when you also carry joint-use poles in the database. These are poles owned by one utility (say, it is owned by Seattle City Light, and carries overhead power cables), which then leases space on it to other utilities (say, to CenturyLink for hooking telephone coaxial cable onto).

The standard utility pole in the United States is about 40 ft (12 m) long and is buried about 6 ft (2 m) in the ground. The wood is pressure-treated and this pole is probably Douglas fir or Pacific silver fir, firs native to the Pacific Northwest.

Sunday/ a mini-architecture tour

There was a welcome break in the rain today, so I went down to Second Avenue to check out the completed Qualtrics Tower.
My visit turned into a mini-architecture tour, once I started walking.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct is gone, and its Seneca Street off-ramp as well. So now one can see all of the $392 million Qualtrics Tower from this below-Seneca Street vantage point. The Tower was designed by Connecticut-based architecture firm Pickard Chilton. The podium facing First Ave. is 19 stories tall with a landscaped rooftop deck. The main tower behind it rises 38 stories above street level, with its own rooftop terrace and amenities.
The red brick building is the early 1900’s Diller Hotel. It is one of downtown’s few remaining buildings from the 1890s, built after the Great Fire of 1889 as a luxury hotel. Today, the lobby of the erstwhile hotel is a bar with vintage decor, called the Diller Room.
The public passageway and street level space is made larger by V-shaped columns that support the upper floors. The columns also provide 85 ft (26 m) of space up to the overhang. The columns were manufactured in Canada: steel tubes in a rebar cage, all encased in precast concrete.
The 11-story Federal Office Building of Seattle on First Ave. opened in 1932. Its Art Deco detail is being restored. There is a banner on the side of the building, from none other than the now-infamous U.S. General Services Administration*.  It says ‘Preserving Seattle’s first federal office building for future generations’.
*It was the GSA that dragged its feet to acknowledge Biden as President-elect, and approve funds for the Biden transition team.
This could be a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie. (Oh wait, it’s actually the Covid-19 apocalypse). I am on the Marion Street Ferry Walkway, looking back along Columbia Street. Flanking Columbia St. at the top are the steel & glass F5 Tower (compl. 2017, 44 storeys), the Seattle Municipal Tower (compl. 1990, 62 floors) and the Columbia Center (compl. 1985, 76 storeys, still Seattle’s tallest skyscraper).
Here is Alaska Way South, seen from the Marion Street Ferry Walkway, with the entrance to the ferry terminal and the construction at Colman Dock on the left. It was two years ago in Feb. 2019, that the demolition of the 1953 Alaskan Way Viaduct (double-decker highway) started in earnest. The Viaduct has now been completely gone for a little more than a year.
Ivar’s Fish Bar is open for take-aways, but Ivar’s Acres of Clams flagship restaurant next door, is closed (due to the no indoor dining restrictions).
The Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59, on the Elliott Bay waterfront, opened in 1977 (now temporarily closed). I’m looking down towards the waterfront from Western Ave.
View of Elliott Bay from Victor Steinbrueck Park by Pike Place Market. On the left is the Tacoma, that had just left for Bainbridge Island, and on the right is the Kaleetan, coming in from Bremerton.
I did not get to see the sun set, as I had hoped. The park was empty. A construction fence keeps the public away from the rail that overlooks the Viaduct space below. (There are construction workers below).
Rainier Square Tower (left) is just about complete. At 850 ft (260 m) tall and 58 storeys, it is the city’s second tallest skyscraper. On the right is the 1977 Rainier Tower (41 storeys, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who designed the World Trade Center in New York City, as well). The new 10-story building on the southwest corner is 400 University Street. It will open later this year.
The doors at the entrance to the Hotel Monaco on Fourth Ave. (constructed in 1969 as the Pacific Northwest Bell office building). The hotel is closed, for now.

Friday/ wishing us a Happy New Year

I drove down to the Space Needle last night, to take a few pictures of it in pink. There were no crowds this year, but the monorail was still running to Westlake Park and back, with a few souls inside. Likewise, the Space Needle elevator took a few people at a time up to the viewing deck.

I had to wait until midnight to see the virtual Space Needle celebrations on TV, sponsored by T-Mobile and produced by Terry D. Morgan.

The wait was worth it. The creators used sky-mapping technology and video footage to create a spectacle accompanied by dramatic music. Below are a few stills from the video that was posted afterwards.


Wednesday/ rain aplenty

Looks like we’re going to spill over into the new year with rain every day here in Seattle (with a little break on Thursday morning). The yearly precipitation total stands at 40.71″ ( yearly normal 37.49″ ).

Does the New Year’s Eve rain matter? No. The annual fireworks display at the Space Needle, and gatherings at Gas Works Park had been cancelled a long time ago.

There will be a ‘virtual’ Space Needle celebration/ ‘fireworks’ display instead, on the local TV station channel.  One could argue it’s more or less the same as watching real fireworks on TV — or is it not?

There was a break in the rain just before sunset today. Here’s Olympic Pizza & Spaghetti House III (left) on 15th Ave. A few customers can sit outside, and they have carry out, of course. Governor Jay Inslee has extended the ban on indoor dining to Jan 11. Washington State is doing OK to contain community spread of Covid-19, but I cannot see that the ban will be lifted anytime soon.

Tuesday/ open: Mukilteo’s new ferry terminal

The Mukilteo-Clinton crossing is 20 mins.

Washington State Ferries operates the largest ferry system in the United States. The system operates 21 ferries across Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea (the body of water that crosses into British Columbia). The vessels ferry nearly 24 million people annually, to 20 different ports of call.

The new $187 million ferry terminal in Mukilteo opened today, without crowds or fanfare. The new facility replaces the old terminal and dock (constructed in 1957).

Just a few basics first. The dolphins (pillars) help position the ferry’s ‘bow’* in place against the wingwalls, so that the apron can be lowered to cover the gap between the end of the transfer span, and the loading deck of the ferry. (This simple terminal will have to load and unload pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and cars in sequence). 
Washington State ferries have double-ended hull designs: vehicles can be loaded on & off from both ends of the vessel. After loading, the direction of travel switches — so the ‘bow’ becomes the stern, as the ferry departs. [Graphic from]
This aerial view of the construction platform is from Feb. 2020. The new Mukilteo ferry terminal is just down the road from the old terminal (at the back; looks like the ferry was just departing for Clinton on Bainbridge Island). The new Mukilteo terminal will allow walk-on passengers & vehicles to board at the same time. [Photo taken by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times]
Here is an artist’s view from an arriving vehicle that has just left the ferry. [Artwork from]
And this is a rendering of the view of the terminal from the water. There is a new promenade to the left and to the right of the terminal, as well. [Artwork from]
Meanwhile, here in the city of Seattle there is another big ferry terminal construction project in progress: the upgrades to the Colman Dock for the ferries to Bremerton and Bainbridge Island. It is only scheduled for completion in 2023, though.

Sunday/ the St. Ingbert apartments

There were beautiful soft grays and pinks in the blue sky today at sunset.
I made my way down all along Harrison Street, towards the Interstate 5 overlook by Melrose Avenue.
The St. Ingbert apartments is right there by Harrison and Melrose.

The St. Ingbert apartment building was constructed in 1928 with Art Deco detail. The architect is not known. St. Ingbert is a reference to the hometown of the builder (Ludwig J. Hellenthal), a town named Sankt Ingbert in Saarland, Germany. Sankt Ingbert is very close to the French border.
Look for the Space Needle in the distance, and the blue spires of Saint Spiridon Orthodox Cathedral to its right, just above Interstate 5.
Art Deco detail at an entrance to the St. Ingbert apartments. I should have taken a closer picture of the very cool lettering on the glass, at the very bottom of the picture. I will do that when I walk by there again.

Saturday/ all quiet on the Pacific Northwestern front

I walked down to Cal Anderson Park today. It is open again after some 6 months. The illegal shelters and tents have now been removed. Crews have done overdue ground maintenance, building repairs, graffiti removal, and litter pick-up.

When and how to address the multiple other locations with homeless encampments around the city, is still an on-going and intractable challenge, though.

The entrance on the northeastern corner of the park, at Denny Way & 11th Avenue.
The new apartment buildings along Broadway and by the Capitol Hill light rail station are nearing completion.
The reflection pool and the reservoir pump house.
Looking back at the pump house from a position near the playground on the south end.
The tennis courts were converted to a more general purpose space several years ago. A guy was making turns around the court on his electric unicycle.
Powerful and tall flood lights, viewed from the southeastern corner of the playing field. I wish we had lights like these on more tennis courts around the city in winter time! The back of the batting cage has Christmas stockings, with the names of black people killed by the police. It says ‘I won’t be home for Christmas … Black Lives Still Matter’.

Christmas Eve

There was still a little snow on the ground, in the shady areas, here in the city today.
Does that count as a White Christmas?
Merry Christmas. Geseënde Kersfees.

A nicely decorated house here on Capitol Hill’s 15th Avenue.


Wednesday/ it’s December, so it rains

A major winter storm is bringing heavy snow into the Northeast of the country. Here in the Pacific Northwest we just have rain. (There is snow in the mountains, of course, but it’s not cold enough for snow on the city streets, yet.) November’s total came to 5.6 in, somewhat below the average of 6.6 in.

Here’s the soggy corner of 15th Ave & Republican at 4.15 pm. The decorated trees are at the entrance of Uncle Ike’s, purveyor of marijuana products. There’s a speck in the middle of the picture, up in the blue-gray sky: a surveillance helicopter. Seattle Parks and Recreation agents have tried for most of the day to clear the homeless campers from Cal Anderson Park, and they have only met with limited success so far.

Tuesday/ Christmas lights

By sunset (4.18 pm), my neighbors’ Christmas lights across the street are already switched on.
Each of these Tuesdays, I sweep up the last bit of the leaves on my front lawn (to put in the yard waste bin for pickup).

P.S. There’s a ‘Biden for President’ sign on the white picket fence on the right.
All 538 electors voted Monday in the Electoral College*, and it’s now official: Joe Biden 306, Trump 232.

*From CBS news: Electors are not necessarily bound by law to vote according to the state’s results, and there were 10 “faithless electors” in 2016. But most states have laws that nullify the votes of “faithless electors,” and the Supreme Court ruled in July that states can punish them. FairVote found that since the founding of the Electoral College, there have been 167 faithless electors.

Friday night news dump

  • The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) grants emergency use authorization for the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.
  • The pandemic is far from over (more than 3,000 deaths just on Thursday).
  • Texas attorney general’s ‘lawsuit’ (stunt), to try to overturn the certified election results (certifying Trump is a LOSER) in four battleground states, is smacked down 9-0 by the US Supreme Court. The AGs of seventeen red states, and 2/3 of House Republicans had joined the lawsuit. (Hey Republicans, newsflash for you: the United States is still a democracy. Your attempt at a coup is now dead.)
  • The Space Needle is lit up in green, in support of the Seattle Sounders, that will take on Columbus Crew in the 2020 Major League Soccer Cup Final on Saturday.
  • Update Sat 12/13: Sounders lost 0-3 to Columbus. Congrats to Columbus.
The Space Needle, bathed in green, and looking even more alien than usual. The reflection is on the nearby Museum of Pop Culture.

Wednesday/ the days are still shrinking

Three o’clock is still good for a walk outside, as the last of the sunlight catches the homes across the street. Four is now too late.

The trees lining 19th Ave are all bare now (looking south from Highland Drive).
Here’s a 1964 Lincoln Continental that I found on 19th Ave (official color: Arctic White). The car’s length is almost 18 ft (5.4m). The rear doors are rear-hinged, and to alert drivers of open doors, Lincoln fitted the dashboard with a “Door Ajar” warning light (as seen on many modern automobiles). [Source: Wikipedia]
.. which reminds me of the little pun ‘When is a door not a door? When it is ajar’.

Friday/ scenes along Denny Way

It was sunny and 54°F (12 °C) today. I walked down to Denny Way, to check on the construction across from the Denny Substation.

Hey! Giant round mirror for sale by Pretty Parlor in the 1925 Biltmore Annex building on Summit Ave off of Olive Way. On the right is the 1924 Biltmore Apartments, built by Norwegian home-builder Stephen Berg in the Tudor-Gothic style. Berg built hundreds of homes in north Seattle between 1909 and 1922.
The Reef Cannabis Store, on the corner of E Olive Way & E Denny Way, seems to be still going strong. It opened in August 2018. It used to be a pizza parlor, and a pub & grub joint before that.
Alright. Now I’m making my way down Denny Way to where it crosses over Interstate 5. This red building has been ‘living on the edge’ for at least 20 years. The graffiti that stays on for months on end always makes me think the building is about to be demolished. The doggy day-care center is no longer there. Right now it has a vaping products store, a tobacco shop and a couple of restaurants for tenants. I’m sure the restaurants are struggling.
Here’s what I wanted to see: the construction at the corner of Denny Way & Stewart Street. I am standing on the elevated viewing corner of the Denny Substation (to my right). On the left is 1200 Stewart St, with its twin 45-story towers (apartment units) starting to go up on a 3-story podium (retail stores). The 42-story tower (apartments) in the middle with the round corners is 2014 Fairview Ave.
P.S. Amazing that there is NOT A CAR IN SIGHT. It is 4 pm on a Friday afternoon. Normally, Denny Way would be PACKED with rush-hour traffic trying to make it to Interstate 5.
There’s a break in the 3-story podium. Hopefully the residents of the 41-story Nexus condominium tower (completed 2019, in the middle) have settled in, and can tolerate the construction activity on their doorstep. (Hey, a few cars showed up for this picture!).

Friday/ grays and yellows

Looking south from Galer St & 19th Ave, tonight at 4.17 pm. Sunset was at 4.26 pm.

P.S. In the town of Utqiaġvik (UUT-kee-AH-vik, formerly known as Barrow) north of the Arctic circle, and near the northernmost point of Alaska, the sun came up on Thursday at 12.54 pm, and disappeared 34 mins later. The sun will not appear again for two months; the polar night has started there. There will still be a number of hours of so-called civil twilight, every day, though.

Thursday/ lots of rainy weather

There’s going to be rain every day the next week. It is November, our wettest month, after all. Rainy, breezy, showers. Low 43/ high 50 °F on Friday.. that’s 6 °C/ 10 °C! Not very warm, but not freezing. [Graphic from King5 Weather].

The pictures below are from Wednesday when it was still dry.
I walked down to the Capitol Hill public library — looking like a bank robber with my mask and woolen skull cap.
Only the lobby of the library is open right now, but that’s OK. It’s a hot spot for downloading electronic newspapers with the Pressreader app onto my iPad.