Friday, February 16, 2007

"World class cities," he said, implying Seattle, "don't build concrete highways over their waterfronts"

(or: Fred Moody, where are you when we need you most?)

Of course, some do build the wooden kind, but that's beside the point.

This argument
is the silliest of all the viaduct silliness because it implies that Seattle is a world class city. Or, that it won't be a world class city until it tears down the viaduct, and maybe builds a tunnel. The point, though, is to tear down the viaduct.

For everyone who thinks this way, that Seattle needs to freshen itself up for its world class status, I suggest: Seattle and the Demons of Ambition: A Love Story.

Seattle, beware the devil on your shoulder.

It almost seems like we're repeating some of the history that Moody writes about in "Demons of Ambition." The football team is getting close, but not finishing the deal. Our basketball team is threatening to jump ship, and the city itself rejects them, but forces behind the scene are lining up in support.

And, the viaduct is seen as a wall that prevents the city from being "world class." Now, that is something that has gotten the city into trouble before:
What had been envisioned as yet another showcase for Seattle as an emerging world-class city has turned into an epic disaster. The WTO convention was shut down, and Seattle was being exposed to the world as an overreaching dunce.
I wouldn't compare the WTO directly with removing the viaduct, but I think they're a symptom of the same disease.

And in regards to Andrew's picture from the above post, I give you, FDR Drive in New York:

Interstate 5 in Portland OR, which probably isn't very world class:


Anonymous said...


I'm not sure of the exact nature of the 'smackdown' you're trying to deliver. Are you saying NYC and PDX are not 'World Class' because of these freeways?

The FDR isn't even on par with the Viaduct- it carries no freight. NYC also has a subway, which makes it way way cooler than my city.

As for PDX, I-5 is a federal interstate. Portland also has lightrail and a cool streetcar. Seattle? It took us forever, but we'll have our own soon.

I think the thrust of Andrew's post should have been... 'world class' cities don't REBUILD freeways on their waterfronts. Even podunk midwest cities like Milwaukee don't do that.

Anonymous said...

I can't for the life of me find one non-emotional argument for the tunnel and against the viaduct. The only business case for a tunnel seems to come from real estate / condo owners who live behind the current viaduct. They'll get better views; the rest of us would pay for it.

Emmett said...

Not really a smack down as much as fulfilling my desire to bring Fred Moody into the debate. "Demons of Ambition" is a great book, up there with "Skid Road" in terms of Seattle histories.

Maybe I shouldn't haven't included the references to NYC and PDX, I'm not really arguing FOR any particular option, just against Seattle Ambition.

Pizza Guy said...

Finally, some sanity in this debate. We need what is best for Seattle, not hop up and down trying to please some mythical world-class committee/tribunal/bunch of clowns sitting around in a bar. Our inferiority complex has cost this city dearly. Seattle is great. If someone in New York or Paris or Barcelona or International Falls doesn't think so, that's their loss. I know better, and that's good enough for me.

Chasing after world-class status hasn't done a bleeping thing for this city other than give us Seattle Center. With today's leadership, Seattle Center would be nothing more than a giant gated condo complex.

I'd love the tunnel, but I don't like the cost and downtown wants to stick someone else with the bill. Surface + transit -- even as "repair + prepare" -- is about as well thought out right now as the underwear gnomes' business plan.

Viaduct opponents seem to value form over function at all costs, juding from their fervent embrace first of the tunnel, then tunnel lite, and now of surface + transit. The viaduct must be gone, and to hell with mobility through the city.

I see merits in both a decent tunnel (not tunnel lite) and repair + prepare, but the viaduct opponents' increasingly hysterical arguments ("it's a wall!") are making me root more and more for the viaduct to win at the polls March 13.

Oh, and Portland? They did take out 99 West along the waterfront -- and replaced it with I-405 further west, as well as leaving I-5 intact. Portland's still a great city, though.

I'm bookmarking this blog.