Rails to Trails Around the World

I have been amazed by how well people advocating for safe walking and biking streets share good ideas. It is not just Queen Anne Greenways and Ballard folks or even my many friends in Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. The connections are in fact worldwide among pedestrians, bicyclists, urban planners and traffic engineers. Astounding as it may seem, good ideas such as the conversion of obsolete railways to modern safe walking and riding paths is a world-wide phenomenon that I’ve experienced here on Queen Anne and far away in the south of France.

In the U.S., everyone learns about the great transcontinental railroads that connected the cities of the American east with the west. We tend to forget though the profusion of little lines that connected isolated places like Monte Christo, Snohomish or Snoqualmie to the main lines and helped them move the raw materials like copper, wood and coal on which their economic lives depended.We also often overlook the role of these little lines in supplying isolated places with goods manufactured east of the Rockies. For example, the totally out of place mansion in Yakima known as Congleton’s Castle features furniture, a heating system and even a kitchen stove all made in Duluth, Minnesota, the Congleton family’s home town. …Continue reading “Rails to Trails Around the World”

Are Historic Districts or DADUs the Best Way to Preserve Queen Anne?

Torn by the perceived conflict between preserving Queen Anne’s historic character and of increasing urban density, I waver between historic districts and backyard cottages as the best way to preserve historic fabric. Across the country, we find contiguous districts such as the Ballard Avenue Historic District and thematic districts where scattered buildings of the same general type, style or age are protected as if the buildings were contiguous. Both types of districts protect all the buildings within their boundaries.

The relatively absence of individual landmarks and historic districts in Seattle underlies my angst. Ours is no longer a young west coast city, yet we have but eight historic districts and only the Harvard-Belmont District includes residential properties. The rest are commercial neighborhoods (Ballard Avenue, Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market, International District and Columbia City) or former military bases (Fort Lawton and Sand Point). Seattle has no neighborhood historic districts like Queen Anne, upper or lower and no thematic districts. …Continue reading “Are Historic Districts or DADUs the Best Way to Preserve Queen Anne?”

Bartell Mansion: 1517 11th Avenue West

George Bartell Sr. (1868-1956) established the nation’s oldest drugstore chain, originating in Seattle in 1890.  In 1900, he and his second wife Beatrice Shaffer Bartell (1879-1969) became the first residents of the house at 1517 11th Avenue West – constructed by the father of the bride, Fisk Shaffer (in partnership with Joseph A. Moncrieff) of Montana. Shaffer Moncrieff, Building Contractors also constructed the adjacent multi-unit residential project at 1511 11th Avenue West. 

George Henry Bartell Jr. (1916-2009) arrived two days after his parent’s 11th wedding anniversary. He and his older sister Amy Ellen (1906-1998) grew up in the house now known as “the Bartell Mansion.” They both attended West Queen Anne Elementary School and Queen Anne High School.   …Continue reading “Bartell Mansion: 1517 11th Avenue West”