This illustrated history of Seattle’s waterfront is a collection of touchstones – a roughly chronological one. As the table of contents reveals it is bumpy and reading it is more like walking on a beach of river rocks mixed with polished pebbles than down a graded road.
The writing was done over a four month sprint and modestly supported with tax dollars – your taxes if you pay them. The client was your Seattle City Council, and its agent, the then city councilman Peter Steinbrueck. Peter felt that members of the council should know more about the waterfront’s past in order to act wisely with issues of its future. In 2004 it was on the verge of the big changes that are now in 2011 beginning to unfold.
City Hall printed and spiral bound perhaps 100 copies for local libraries, city council members and a few others who were interested. It has, I have learned, been useful to a few public historians, but I imagine that its concilmanic uses have been minimal. It is, after all, the normal routine of deliberating politicians to be engulfed with reports and this one is two inches thick. Perhaps Peter’s peers puttered with the pictures. (Repeat that seven times fast, for that may be all the time you have.)
Now with the help of Ron Edge’s machinations – scanning and sectioning – you too may easily read this “Edge Edition” from cover to cover. If you do I guarantee at least a feel for the history of our waterfront, but, again, a bumpy one. Or you are encouraged to enter this field of historical touchstones at any point and leave so too. Whichever, this may be satisfying.
Paul Dorpat 7-10-2011