Seattle – Locks, SAM, Pioneer Sq. 7/3/13

Sightseeing in downtown Seattle. We started at the Chittendon Locks and English Botanical Garden. The Locks were fascinating – the salt water in Puget Sound is 20 ft lower than the freshwater in Lake Union & Lake Washington. The locks minimize the salt water flowing into the lakes, and raises or lowers boats to the water level that they’re heading to. You can see how quickly a Coast Guard ship rose in the process. There’s also a fish ladder to help salmon get around the locks & spillway and return upstream to spawn.

The English garden wasn’t what we expected – it was named for a Mr. English, but was not a meticulously planted and groomed London-type “English” garden.

From the water to the streets, and the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Mostly contemporary art, Native American, and some medieval – but not a Monet or Picasso in sight. And the craziest special exhibit – Japanese haute couteur “fashion,” with film from runway shows and the “clothing” on mannequins. Very entertaining.

We then toured the Seattle Public Library, a modern, glass & steel tower of angles and spaces, with pops of color (designed by Rem Koolhaas [cool house, get it?]) which has won architectural awards. Next, the Smith Tower (as in Smith Corona typewriters, and Smith & Wesson guns – same guy),  Seattle’s first skyscraper (1914) and the tallest building on the west coast until the Space Needle was built in 1962! Smith is in Pioneer Square area, along with some funky parks, totem poles, giant chess set, art & glass studios. A great little waterfall park commemorates the 100th birthday of United Parcel Service (UPS).

Nearby is the Klondike Gold Rush National Park Visitor Center (free admission, didn’t get to use the Senior Pass!). Great film and artifacts from when Seattle was the launching site for folks making the arduous  trip to Alaska’s Yukon to hunt for gold (that had already been staked and claimed before these pioneers set out). Amazing story of a 16 mile hike up a 35 degree snow-covered climb, carrying a year’s worth of food (so Canada wouldn’t have to take care of you). It often took 20 or more climbs up and down to carry all those provisions. They don’t teach that history in the East.

Finally, went to Westlake Square, a shopping mall with a major transit station underneath to meet Josh and Dan who had just flown in via Denver for the weekend. Dinner near Pike’s Place, and back to Kerry Park to show them the view.

[click each image to show full-size]

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