Features Dec 10, 2014 at 4:00 am

No Shit, That's How Cities Work. Watching Seattle Change from Inside Black Dog Forge, Belltown's Blacksmith Shop.


To this day my favorite Belltown installation was done by Raffloer. It was an "Art" exhibition of works by his dog Junky at the gone-in-flames Speakeasy Cafe in the late '90s. The works largely focused on studies in chewed fetch-sticks and water bowls. There was one piece though that stood out. It was a chewed orange traffic cone titled "Authority Problem". Unfortunately, Junky listed it as "not for sale".
I love the change in Seattle!! The fact more and more small locally run businesses that open are lucky to survive a year only to be overrun by corporate behemoths is totally AMAZING!!!
Great article. I lived in Belltown's last house in the early 90's on the NW corner of 1st and Bell. Made me want to go back and look at my photos from back then... views out the back window way before the sculpture park, etc.

But about that first spray can... did the wick fizzle, is that why it was shot? Or just doubling up on the ignition..?
I really like how the office girls are cleaning up Capitol Hill.

Well educated, clean, and looking for fun, they make going up there worthwhile.

Some of the old, haggard, used up, smelly, Queens may not like it, but they are the past, and will be forgotten.
Finally, an apologia for the tasteless exploitative development that is fucking the working class and stripping Seattle of its architectural heritage. The Seattle Times would be glad to publish this piece of reactionary drivel. "Don't worry, cockroaches, you will have a few nooks and cracks in which to enjoy what your neighborhood used to be--so long as you happen to have a cool landlord." Is this article a hoax? Or just pandering to developers to coax a few more ads for pseudo-artsy lofts? This is not "how cities work"--it is how American cities with few tenants' rights and no respect for community knuckle under to big money pressures. Different models for development exist, Dan. These are policy issues, not some immutable laws of urban growth. Design standards, growth rings, and rent control are just some ways to accommodate development without razing neighborhoods and displacing communities. Look to Europe. Expand your horizons.

Black Dog Forge is cool but using their story as a way to excuse bad policy smacks of libertarian boot-strapism: "Stop whining! Change is inevitable. The strong (or just lucky) will survive..."

Once again if it's not LGBT- or transit-related The Stranger shows itself to be anything but alternative to the status quo.
Mama's Mexican Kitchen appears to be serving the same food it bought 38 years ago. Went there last week and had, hands down, the worst Mexican food I've had in years.

Thank you for the perspective, Dan. The natural next question, of course, is how can we encourage development and density that doesn't drive out the sort of people that make a neighborhood. The Hill is touching on it with the new architectural requirements and arts districts and micro housing, but it's too little, too late. Hopefully the lessons and methods we're learning now will keep the same thing from happening to Georgetown, the Central District, Columbia City, etc.
Hey Dan, did you ever go to Watertown? First place I remember closing in Belltown. They lost their lease and an upscale salon moved in.
I look at the the buildings being scheduled for demolition, being made of brick with crumbling-to-sand poorly made mortar, dried beetle-rotten timbers, and grey iron that shatters when hit hard by a hammer in the cold, and I remember that we live on the Ring of Fire, on top of a live and overdue fault line, on a deep ground structure that is literally nothing more than a couple of piles of compressed damp glacial silt, and looming over us all is one of the largest active volcanos on the continent.

I want those old buildings gone, as soon as possible. We can keep the facades, but their guts and bones have to go.
As a transplant, I'm in favor of changes increasing the vibrancy of Seattle. I've never lived someone that the restaurants clear out at 9pm and people don't dance. Cap Hill has improved in my opinion, SLU needs much more and Belltown, Cap Hill and Pioneer Square are just odd to me.
I remember when Belltown was empty and sinister after 5pm, as was Pike/Pine and all of the financial district. Those were the days.
I remember the used needles in the gutters and the used condoms (hey, at least they were using condoms) in the on the park grass and on the parking lot pavement in Cap Hill and in the U District, and I've only been here since 1999.

Yes, the city has been changing. For the better.

You just have to look back in the history of the city...

Belltown was ****ing terrifying up until the mid 1990s. Not just to the suburbanites that many of the commentariat here sneer at, but to everyone. If you had anywhere else you could be other than Belltown, you went there.

Or let's look back to when the CD was known as [REDACTED FOR BEING RACIALLY OFFENSIVE], or before that, when the ID neighborhood had literal sex slavery rings, or to when before that, when the whorehouses raised money themselves to pave the streets, while grinding up and spitting out the working women, and the downtown was the original "Skid Row", of which all the others in all the other cities were named.

Seattle was a historically a ****hole that lucked into being awesome in spite of itself.

I laugh at the artists and bohemians who complain about being priced out by the gentrification process, as if somehow they were there before gentrification started. They were not here before. Artists and bohemians moving into a blight *causes* gentrification. They themselves drive out the blight inhabitants that occupied the neighborhood before them. (Artists and bohemians who don't complain, but actually understand and accept their role in the process, I do respect.)
Ha ha yeah, I'm not that old, but when I was a kid hanging out on broadway was the thing to do and pike/pine was just plastic shopping bags tumbling down the lonely, damp streets.

The amount of construction is fucking crazy though. I can't remember the last time I was able to walk five blocks without having to switch sidewalks due to cranes and cones.

The gays are going to be super upset when the condo developers find out how they've queered up West Seattle. Oh man.
Thanks for this
@Zander, That was a great show. 11 out of the thirteen pieces were "sold" , that is , for leashes, dog treats, and dog food ingredients. The unsold pieces were too difficult to disassemble and re-assemble.
snoopy, wick was primary ignition
Sweeeet memories! (Kieren?) ... it was somewhat surreal watching Belltown in the early 90's ... PotatoHead Gallery ... Mars Cafe ... the antique biker guys ... the Bread Line parking lot cello concert ... fetish nite at Re-Bar ... and Louie - Good to see he is still around (looking good!). Many thanks to you, Dan, for 7e lattes - and great advice re: bleaching my hair and researching eros!
1 - 7e had the best coffee in town - till they moved up the Hill. Then the quality collapsed.

2 - it's not like the Rendezvous became some sort of Bro club. What other Belltown place still books harcore metal duos, burlesque troupes, readings, comedy . . . Yes, I remember the old, crazy Vous with Dodi and alcoholics and edge. I do miss that. But there is nothing wrong with the "new" Vous.
I'd like to see evidence that you'd buy a condo in Belltown only to drive to Bellveue. If you thought Bellevue was cool, you'd buy a condo in Bellevue. Drive to U-Village, sure, but Bellevue?

Did you see Publicola's post that Seattle is not gentrifying? Poverty went from 1% in 1970 to 3% today. There are no neighborhoods that have gone from 30% poverty to 15%.

My theory is just that dinky square footage retail spaces are disappearing. Seattle used to be more gentrified, but artists could still find cheap space. Now Seattle accommodates more poor people, but that has no relevance to dominance of super-sized retail space for rent.

Or maybe what made Seattle welcoming to artists 40 years ago was the very wealth of the city. There was extra money sloshing around to support a creative class. Now Seattle is poorer and can't afford it.

Data doesn't agree with the popular assumptions and conventional wisdom, that's for sure. Somebody is wrong about something.
Seatown is shit anymore and this piece proves it to me all the more. I'm 59 years old and I grew up here. None of you gets it right and it's because you're not natives and you have no clue. There used to be a real working class in Seattle and we used to be able to afford to live in town. No more. Those of us who are renters were completely priced out long ago to places like Renton and Kent. Seattle used to be affordable. It's sickening what's happened to this town, and yes, entire neighborhoods have been completely gentrified. Look at the old Cascade neighborhood where Amazon took over. It's disgusting. It used to be a neighborhood where the poor could actually afford to live. Same with Ballard. Not anymore. Capitol Hill has been completely destroyed, and has been for much longer than people realize. It also used to be an affordable area for the working class to live in. No, Seatown is shit anymore, unless you believe the young rich is where it's at. Fact is, the young rich are ruining it for my son in his thirties. There is nowhere in Seattle where he can afford to rent an apartment on his own without having roommates. Something is really wrong with that. Seattle has gone to the rich and only the rich. Someday there will be no more working class or artists and musicians living within its borders, thanks to the greedy developers.
+1 GG Greeen
Who are these mysterious "artists" you always hear about kicking off gentrification? Gays, there are plenty. Actual artists, trying to make a living with it, or working part-time to really make art? There are 4 of them.
Thanks for this!Free Bad Piggies Game
Artists, hipsters, etc, come to Lake City, we still aren't gentrified!

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