This week, Councilmember Andrew Lewis ignited a debate that I didn't even realize existed: Do people call the Seattle neighborhood that's home to the Seattle Center,
On Monday, Lewis proposed an ordinance to officially rename Lower Queen Anne to Uptown. The Seattle City Council approved it in an 8-0 vote (Councilmember Dan Strauss was absent). Everyone I know—and considering the online reaction to the vote, seemingly everyone with an internet connection—calls the place Lower Queen Anne. Even Google Maps called it Lower Queen Anne.
uptown is lame. Lower Queen Anne is way better and what people should stick with. I'm with you, Justin.
— Kevin Shockey (@KevinShockey) April 14, 2021
The Lower Queen Anne area of #Seattle will now be called... “Lower Queen Anne”. Periodt. Only people calling it “uptown” are either in some realtor association, a shill for one, or new here. And while we’re at it, it’s CAPITOL HILL. Cap+It+Ol. Capitol. The whole word. Lazy ass.
— Doza (@Doza_LCG) April 13, 2021
The change recalls the Downtown Seattle Association's failed attempt to rebrand the sliver of downtown between Lenora Street and Cherry Street as the "West Edge." Critics argued the rebranding was just a marketing ploy.
That debate is cropping up with the Uptown renaming, too, especially considering all the new attention and traffic that neighborhood is going to get once Seattle unleashes the Kraken—the hockey team, not the punk bar in the University District.
Given all the outrage, I texted Lewis. Here's the extent of our Q&A:
What do you say to people who think the amendment is dumb?
Lewis: "Uptown is in the process of forging its own unique identity separate from Queen Anne. They asked me to put forward a resolution affirming the Uptown name for the neighborhood. People are free to call it what they want, but it’s clear Uptowners want that to be the official name."
Thank you, Councilmember Lewis.
Anyway, the best way to hit a nerve with Seattleites is to change something's name without their consent (or to call Puget Sound "The Puget Sound"). The least the city could do in these situations is host naming competitions that may result in Sound Transit picking a new light rail station name before realizing it will cost too much to change the manuals, software, and signage, or that may result in Seattle Public Utilities naming its new drill after a euphemism for ass cum.