Waterfront Park is trying to jump into Elliott Bay, and really who can blame it?
So long, suckers! Courtesy @streetphotojournalism

Bon voyage to Pier 58! The latest piece of Seattle infrastructure to reach near-collapse, Pier 58 is neighbor to the twin tourist traps of the Seattle Great Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium. (I’m sorry, that was mean. The aquarium is very nice.) After discovering a few weeks ago that the pier is creeping toward a total collapse into the bay, the city has announced that the whole thing is going to be demolished.

In its place will rise a new pier, a better pier, a pier that hopefully will not decide to throw itself into the ocean although the impulse is certainly understandable. As luck would have it, plans to replace the 50-ish-year-old pier were already underway; so the impending collapse just adds a little urgency, expense, and time pressure. Just what 2020 needs more of!

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The city’s not wasting any time, with demolition slated to start in September and the entire structure expected to be gone by early 2021. (Before anyone noticed that the pier was slipping, construction was scheduled to start in 2022.) Expect to see barges doing the bulk to the work, pulling up the deck and piles so as not to block access to nearby businesses. Emergency removal will cost around $4.3 million, which just to put it in perspective, is equal to the cost of a tacky mansion in Newport Beach, a new gym for an Army base, a new wing for a landfill, or raising Michael Jackson’s children for a year.

The replacement park will be … ehh, fine, I guess? It’s fine. Better than something slouching into the water, but it also just looks kind of like an airport runway with some construction debris dropped on top. There’ll be a small grassy section, an open area for fishing, and some rocks to sit on. The most important feature is that it will "offer the Coast Salish people a place to obtain resources and hold traditional gatherings." Otherwise it’s just a big flat open stretch.

The park equivalent of one of those generic new apartment buildings.
The park equivalent of one of those generic new apartment buildings. Seattle Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects

Compare that to the visual interest (and porch swings!) of Pier 35 or the adorable Little Island pier in New York. Sure, ours will have much nicer views, cleaner water, and a fountain that looks like prime lounging space for merfolk. But it also looks a bit windswept, and outside of the seating and fishing areas, I’m just not sure what the purpose of most of it is. Once it’s complete, what will you use Pier 58 for?

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