Elliott Bay Park

There are many ways to get to Elliott Bay Park.  My favorite is the Helix Pedestrian Bridge.

Helix Pedestrian Bridge

Helix Pedestrian Bridge

On the other side of the bridge lies Amgen’s Research and Technology Center, next to pleasant Puget Sound vistas.

Amgen amino acid polePuget Sound sunset

Built by Amgen after its acquisition of local Seattle biotech darling Immunex, the Helix Bridge provides safe passage over a highly active train line.

Helix Pedestrian Bridge

Seattle downtown train tracks

The train line is a commercial artery into the heart of Elliott Bay Park:  the massive grain terminal operated by Louis Dreyfus Corp.

Pier 86 Grain Terminal

Located on the Port of Seattle’s Pier 86, the terminal was built in 1970 to efficiently move grain from incoming trains to outgoing ships.  The terminal boasts 68 massive silos, each 130 feet high.

If Terminal 18 is a perpetual motion machine, Pier 86 is a robotized line dance.

Pier 86 grain terminal and trains

BNSF and Union Pacific trains run day and night through this corridor, loaded with soybeans and corn from the American heartland – the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana and Nebraska.  Some token wheat from Washington and Oregon also passes through Pier 86.

Pier 86 Grain elevator

Most of the grain leaving Seattle will be used as feed for livestock in the far East, with Taiwan, China and Japan as primary destinations.  Central and South America also receive some portion of the grain.

Pier 86 Grain elevator

All told, over 6 million tons of grain move through Pier 86 every year.

Mass Glory loads up on grain

While most of the grain is buffered in the terminal’s 4 million bushels of storage capacity, some is transferred directly from train to ship.  This is apparently preferable, as it allows the grain to be loaded onto the ship in somewhat better condition.  It’s a rough life being a cereal.

Pier 86 grain terminal

The terminal is able to load 3,000 tons of grain per hour into a giant cargo ship.  It is also able to unload trucks at a rate of 250 tons per hour.  This throughput is only possible thanks to the facility being completely automated, with sophisticated mechanical devices and electronic controls.  Who needs humans when you have such infrastructure?

Helix Pedestrian Bridge over train tracks

During the day, the grain terminal is a spectacular sight.  At night, the facility expands and fills all other senses.

Pier 86 grain terminal

Freed from ambient noise, trains click and clack with wild abandon, advancing one car at a time to feed the grain elevator’s endless hunger.  Electric conveyor belts drone and hum.  The enormous ship sloshes and clanks.  In the distance, the city looks on proudly.

Seattle from Pier 86

Grain dust rises from the ships as seeds roll into the ship’s hold. The smell is pervasive and intoxicating. It is earth and sunlight, the deep smell of the harvest, the taste of late summer. It is carbohydrate and omega-6, the deep imbalance of our bodies. It is, above all, commodity.

Pier 86 grain terminal with flour cloud

The flour settles on the bay.  Algae blooms and metabolizes in the shallows, chaining together an entire ecosystem of micro-organisms, fish, and seagulls.  The breadbasket of the world also creates local food chains.

Pier 86 grain terminal

A nearby fishing pier invites the adventuresome, the foolhardy and the merely hungry to taste the results.

Pier 86 fishing pier

While probably not the world’s most unhealthy fish, Elliott Bay’s catch is surely somewhere high on the leaderboards.  This is why catch and release was invented.

The world's best liars

Nearby, the Amgen facility works until late into the light, glowing with science and artificial light.  Biotechnology meets corn.  Reason sleeps and spawns monsters.

Amgen facilities

Elliott Bay Park continues down to Pier 90 and 91, where moorage is provided for commercial workboats and fishing vessels.

Pier 90 lights

This is as far as the Port of Seattle reaches.  It is the end of the port, the northernmost tentacle of the monster.

Farther east, Smith Cove becomes the Elliott Bay Marina, an oasis of liveaboards and recreational vessels.  Children play on the piers and well-tended lawns.  Once again, the humans are unmistakably in control.

Pier 90 lights

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Jack Perry Memorial Shoreline

As night falls you find yourself somewhere along Alaskan Way, near the hulking ghost of the viaduct, writhing along an endless coil of street-level train lines.

A sign calls out to you and you head west through a landscape of parking lots, chain link fences, and buildings designed for bureaucracy. The road ends at a small rocky patch of waterfront at the mouth of the Duwamish East Waterway. It’s the Port of Seattle’s gift to you, a nicely wrapped box of required public shoreline access.

In front of you is Terminal 18, the largest container processing facility this side of Los Angeles. The sprawling scale of the operation evades comprehension.

Jack Perry Memorial Viewpoint

The terminal glows under a canopy of incandescent light. The sky resonates with infrared, but you only see pitch black. The crane stoops like a giant to gather containers. The work of a thousand men, performed in a fraction of a second. What is human here? What is machine?

In the distance you see a homeless man shuffle through bushes. You hear voices mutter on the wind. You consider the risk and realize it belongs to another world. What is human?

You hear the water splash against rotting piers, as the terminal dulls the air with bass and snare drum repartee. Containers rise, swing, and fall, transferring endlessly from ships to shore, shore to ships. The source code of the global economy, actions repeated as instructions, caught in the infinite loop of commerce. Empty or full, copied and pasted, repeat business. German ships with Chinese goods unloading on American shores.

Jack Perry Memorial Viewpoint

You are in someone’s favorite park, a small viewpoint born of unspeakable tragedy and the fortuitous availability of a hundred-and-twenty feet of unpaved shoreline. You are paying tribute to the life of Jack Perry, beloved son and father, someone just like you, someone not even the internet could identify.

The viewpoint is something small, less than promised, an inadequate tribute to a better man. It is also a window into something far greater than photography, than any still image. It is a honeypot for eyes that cannot close. It is an industrial elephant and your camera is blind.

This cannot last, you think. As the night deepens you will eventually tear yourself away and sleep, while the terminal remains standing. It will hum and snarl through the days and nights, a colossal perpetual motion machine bent on forever, until someone finds a way to disconnect it, or until the Earth itself breaks under its feet.

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Terminal 115 Viewpoint

Just north of the barrel pyramids, nestled between W Marginal Way S and the Duwamish, lies a park owned by the Port of Seattle.

You reach it by finding an address on the Port of Seattle’s website, scouring the area for something non-existent, pausing to curse, then using aerial photography to determine the actual location.

For a moment, you wish you hadn’t found it.

Barbed wire around Industrial Fencing Inc.

The viewpoint is located next to a facility whose owners are clearly not fond of visitors.  Depending on which part of the internet you believe, this is either part of the Terminal 115 complex or it belongs to an angry group of divers for hire.

Either way, you wisely decide to stay on the legal side of the fence.

Barbed wire around Industrial Fencing Inc.

Electric lines cross the Duwamish in front of you, taking advantage of what is effectively the most narrow point in the river at this stage in its controlled meandering.

Barbed wire and towerPower tower

This is also where the First Avenue South Bridge crosses the river.  Yet another drawbridge in a city of drawbridges, this one was built in the mid-1950s and has undergone several moments of reconstruction.  At one point in time, it had the honor of having the highest accident rate in the state.

First Avenue South Bridge overpass

So this is Terminal 115 Viewpoint.  Unfortunately, you can’t really see much of Terminal 115, so you can’t reflect on the ways in which the cargo cult has gained acolytes in this day and age.  There’s a river and a bridge.  The river is here because we couldn’t really move it, and the bridge is here because we needed a workaround for the river.

Barbed wire around Industrial Fencing Inc.First Avenue South Bridge overpass

So you walk down the Duwamish shoreline next to the barbed wire and look out across the river. Sunshine makes the day beautiful, and the toxic water is almost inviting. The bridge architecture is not unlike that of prison guard towers you’ve seen in movies, and the aesthetic is gritty and industrial. If Seattle were Berlin, this would have to be part of its Wall.

First Avenue South Bridge overpass

It’s not a place that invites you in. Instead, it begrudgingly admits its status as a viewpoint, unhappily tolerating your presence while wondering why you’re here.  This park is under martial law.

First Avenue South Bridge overpassFirst Avenue South Bridge overpass

The park’s mood changes from hostility to sadness when you see the derelict shack by the river.

Derelict shack at Terminal 115

The weathered boards and sunken floats conjure up images of your grandfather’s Seattle.  A time when men were men, fish didn’t glow in the dark, and nobody needed a “toxic shellfish” sign in Vietnamese to know when them thar mussels weren’t in their prime.

Derelict shack at Terminal 115

The mind’s eye imagines trees growing by the banks of a river, shadowing an old man living in a fishing hut.  The mind’s eye sees salmon navigating unconstrained waters to die in their very own spawning grounds, a cycle of continuous change kept in motion by everlasting stasis.  The minds eye see the cycle broken by a tribe with a different plan in mind, powered by the stored energy of millions of solar cycles.

Sinking barrels

The mind’s eye also sees a more prosaic reality:  a storage shed poorly built allowed to weather the rains and fall into ruin at its own pace, protected by wire from trespassers and adorned by every season’s supply of fresh invasive weeds.

Derelict shack at Terminal 115Derelict shack at Terminal 115

Terminal 115 Viewpoint offers little else to the mere human.

A dusty shoreline littered with plastic garbage.  A bench where the lost, incautious or homeless might rest.  The fulfillment of a rash promise made by industry – to provide the unwashed masses with token ways to dodge the container ships and reach the river’s edge.  A group of sad-looking trees.

And in the distance, the ghost of the Duwamish.

Ghost of the Duwamish

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Barrels on West Marginal Way S

These are barrels.  You see them by the side of the road, as you drive up West Marginal Way S towards the 509 interchange.

West Marginal Way oil barrels

You pull the car over and take a closer look.  It is indeed a pyramid of barrels, protected by chain link and barbed wire.  A mountain of barrels reaching up to the clouds.  They shine in the sun like the golden relics of a forgotten civilization of barrel-based pyramid builders.

West Marginal Way oil barrels

Next to the mountain, another mountain.  This one is made of rainbow colors, ultraviolet red to cobalt blue.

West Marginal Way oil barrels

You wonder what obscure purpose these monuments might serve.  You wonder if every so often somebody requires a colorful barrel and, like a modern day Prometheus, ascends the mountain to steal one from under the watchful eye of the very gods of hydrocarbon containment.

West Marginal Way oil barrels

You wonder who the first pyramid builder was, and why he gave us this Stonehenge of barrels. You wonder whether the edifice is now complete, or whether every so often newly emptied containers are added to the top. Very carefully, of course, so as to avoid disturbing the very foundations of the world. No worse end can you imagine than to die in a barrel avalanche.

You wonder whether the pyramids will endure.  You envision rains falling unopposed for ten thousand years, as invasive blackberry fights the rust, the cockroaches, and the very fading of the sun to claim the soul and minerals of the barrel mountain.

West Marginal Way oil barrels

You wonder if perhaps it might not be storage, but art.

West Marginal Way oil barrels

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Group Health Bellevue – Medical Center

One of my favorite things about photography is that it allows you to literally create something out of nothing.

Take the 10th St NE overpass that connects the Bellevue medical district to downtown.  An ordinary view of the I-405 highway.  Something nobody would look at twice.

Add in a blue hour sky and an endless stream of cars.  A different source and destination creating every line, intersecting here at this one pixel of existence.  Impossible to simplify, except by closing your eyes and remaining yourself.

I-405 light trails

Take the 8th St NE exit from I-405.  Add in a Microsoft building all lit up with Bing™.

Downtown Bellevue

Take the Group Health Cooperative medical building next to the overpass.  Take the fountain at the entrance.  A symbol of life and birth and renewal.  Something nobody ever sees, because at the gates of the hospital there’s always something more important to consider.

Unless you were across the street, looking in from that strange eternal present tense in which nothing is wrong and nothing will ever go wrong until it does – at which point you cease to care about fountains.

Something that is ultimately nothing.

Group Health fountain

Near the fountain, take the non-descript patio with a view of downtown Bellevue through WSDOT trees.  Where overworked nurses eat their warmed up lunches, and dream of something more.  Something that leads nowhere.

Bellevue downtown and Group Health building

Take an ambulance, screaming into the night as it races towards emergency facilities buried deep inside the Group Health complex.  Too late, a life lost.  Or just in time, a life saved.  A liminal moment, buried under possibilities, superimposed states that will forever remain unknowable, unobserved.  Many worlds drift off into the night, the photographer entangled with none of them.  Something becomes everything.

Or perhaps not a life lost or saved, but one delivered fresh into this colorful veiled world.  Duality become singular.  A small singularity, evolved from chaos.  Something from nothing.

Ambulance passes

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Snug Harbor Kayaking

The discussion of beauty and fitness a few posts ago reminded me of a brisk autumn morning last year on the beautiful island of San Juan.

Rust never sleeps

The scene: a kayaking expedition.  The location: low tide at Snug Harbor.  Looking for killer whales, but not finding them.

Instead, a harbor seal colony.  And many, many pleasure boats.

Harbor seals

Harbor seals

Harbor seals

Literally out of the blue, we watched an eagle swoop low onto the seaweed-covered rocks.

Eagle hunts cormorant

In its talons, like a ragdoll with a broken neck, one unlucky cormorant.

Eagle hunts cormorant

Eagle hunts cormorant

Eagle hunts cormorant

And one hungry eagle.

Eagle hunts cormorant

So while in the eyes of the philosopher beauty and fitness may remain undefined, I daresay that from the kayaker’s perspective both are easy to identify.

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South Park Bridge

South Park is a small neighborhood in West Seattle, nestled between West Marginal Way and the Duwamish River.  It’s a relatively poor neighborhood with depressed property values and an unhealthy proximity to Seattle’s heavy industry.  South Park’s soil is laden with heavy metals, and nobody knows exactly what’s in the Duwamish.

South Park used to have a bridge.

South Park Bridge

South Park Bridge

The South Park bridge connected the neighborhood to Georgetown and the rest of civilization.  It was built in 1931 by a tribe of Seattle engineers unable to envision a bridge that didn’t in some way involve bascules.  “How else would a ship get past a bridge?  Ships can’t climb over bridges!” they reasoned.

South Park Bridge leaf

Regardless, one must concede that the drawbridge style did give the bridge a certain aesthetic appeal.

South Park Bridge

South Park Bridge

A nearby marina adds to the attractiveness of the area.

South Park Marina

Possibly the lowest budget marina in a city that appears to have thousands, the South Park Marina’s most interesting feature is that it’s located downriver from a superfund site (or, as the marina’s describes it, the “fresh, calm waters of the Duwamish River”).

South Park Marina

The marina is also across the river from Boeing’s infamous Plant 2, concretely building 2-41 .  The source of many of the more toxic elements currently found in the Duwamish, engineers at Plant 2 manufactured airplane parts using heavy metals, cyanide, mineral acids and bases, petroleum products, PCBs, and chlorinate solvents.

All in a day’s work.

Derelict warehouse

Plant 2 was built in 1935, and was key to the US war effort during World War II.  At its peak, Plant 2 produced 16 B-17 bombers a day, and an astonishing total of 6,981 were created during the war.  Plant 2 also produced B-52s and 737 passenger jets.

South Park Bridge

During the war, Plant 2 was camouflaged to look like a suburban neighborhood.  Netting, fake houses and fake trees were used to cover the factory installations, aiming to make it harder for hypothetical Japanese air raids to hit such a juicy target.

American derelict

Plant 2 is currently scheduled for demolition.

South Park Bridge

Returning to the bridge, and fast-forwarding to 2001…  Already in a state of disrepair, the South Park bridge’s shaky timbers were rattled by the Nisqually Earthquake.  A year later, it was rated at 6 out of 100 on the infamous Federal Highway Administration scale – the bane of many a crumbling piece of infrastructure nationwide.

According to King County, the bridge’s foundations were heavily cracked as they settled into the liquifiable soil underneath.  And like a Seattle rock band, the “substandard concrete in the piers was undergoing a self-destructive process that could not be reversed or repaired.”

South Park Bridge

The South Park Bridge was closed in the interest of public safety on June 30, 2010.  The neighborhood threw a large farewell party, and lovingly graffitied its bascule leaves.

South Park Bridge graffiti

The bridge’s leaves were removed in August and September of 2010, leaving a melancholy sight and a neighborhood completely cut off from its urban artery.

Duwamish reflections

In late 2010, after several dramatic failures to raise funds, various King County fund-raising endeavors and a drama-infused federal TIGER grant succeeded in reaching the $100 million mark required for reconstruction.  A new South Park bridge will be built, with its reopening date scheduled for 2013.

We’ll be there.

Duwamish reflections

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SR 520 Abandoned Overpass

One day, we set out to find the source of the SR 520.

Like Richard Burton and David Livingstone before us, we had no idea what to expect.  Unlike them, however, we had the internet.

The internet told us to park in a conveniently-located lot near 2512 Lake Washington Blvd E.  This is where we would find the entrance to the abandoned overpass, otherwise known as a ghost ramp, that haunted us every time we crossed the bridge.

The internet also instructed us to plot a course from the parking lot to the east, on foot, into the wilderness known as the Washington Arboretum.  We girded our loins, donned our hiking boots, avoided the woman with an excessive quantity of dogs, and set off on our way.

We found our target underneath a megalithic structure upon which actual live traffic continued to flow.  A short climb onto the ramp, and we were at the beginning of our journey.

Abandoned exit

Our path was choked with garbage and debris, relics of ancient ceremonies known as “benders”.  We then found ourselves obstructed by millennia of thick vegetation, grown out of control as the jungle gradually absorbed the ancient structures.

Willow blocking highway entrance

We brandished imaginary machetes and hacked our way through to sunlight.  We looked back for a brief moment, then continued north.

No way out

An ancient road lay before us.  Paved with mortar, weathered by years of rain and lichen growth, but still in excellent condition.  And wide, many shoulders wide, enough for two or even three chariots to pass each other at high speeds.  Clearly the work of skilled craftsmen, not cheap laborers, conscripts or (god forbid) a labor union.

Road to nowhere

At this point, we began to see ominous stone carvings warning us to proceed no further, etched in an archaic martial script by some forgotten king’s mandate.

No trespassing

The warnings were at times accompanied by more modern writing.  These might have been left by earlier trespassers, attempting to communicate some obscure message to those who might come after them.

C3PO

We ignored our misgivings, and continued our quest.

Blank

At length, we reached a metal gate.  It seemed like a late addition to the monumental structure, perhaps added by desperate holdouts as a defensive measure while civilization collapsed around them.  It might have served to defend precious water supplies, or perhaps to repel a hypothetical barbarian horde advancing along the 520.

Gated community

Past the fence, we encountered further writings that helped shed further light on the last dramatic moments of the collapse.  Clearly this was an important supply route during these times, perhaps the only open road from the farmlands to population centers towards the west.

Don't block

In the distance we observed a gigantic structure that would no doubt prove to be of great historical importance.  We speculated that it might serve as a site for gladiatorial games of some type, perhaps as part of some institution of higher learning devoted to the combat arts.  One of our party suggested it might be the site of an obscure ball sport believed to have been practiced in those days, but we found that theory entirely implausible.

Education

At length, we reached the very coordinates where the famous Gina IU markings had been observed by aircraft several years ago.  While some scientists affirm that the original words were part of a longer and more complex message, we remained agnostic to its actual meaning and longed for an on-site inspection.

This being the very inspiration of our current expedition, we were disappointed to find that little to nothing was left of the original etchings.  Clearly some agent beyond the usual erosive forces of wind and rain had contributed to scrubbing this primitive graffiti from the causeway.  Perhaps it had been some local catastrophe, an earthquake or mudslide.

Cement jungle

In the same area, we began to gather further clues about the fall of this ancient civilization.  Seeing the monumental structures build alongside our causeway through what appeared to be highly sensitive wetlands, we could only speculate at the creativity of the Environmental Impact Statement that could have justified such indiscriminate environmental damage.

Columns and screws

Clearly a civilization capable of this must have known no boundaries on its population growth and its thirst for natural resources. Once carrying capacity was exceeded, open warfare for precious resources must have rapidly developed between hostile tribes.

This hypothesis was immediately confirmed as we encountered a cache of primitive weaponry, perhaps abandoned to the elements after a major battle.

Rust never sleeps

Another interesting find was a metal structure whose purpose wasn’t immediately obvious.  While some in our party speculated that it might serve to facilitate the manufacture of simple textiles, others suspected a more bellicose purpose:  perhaps even some ancient type of torture device.

Cage

We found two similar forms of this artifact.  The second appeared more recent in construction, and also more flimsy – perhaps an indication that metal was becoming more difficult to obtain in later years, as local mines were exhausted and trade routes became more dangerous.

Dereliction

During our exploration, only once did we encounter any signs of native human life.  Given our observations during the expedition this far, we had become concerned that a face-to-face confrontation might result in a hostile welcome.  We were also concerned that initiating a first contact with heretofore un-contacted peoples might exceed the charter and scientific wherewithal of our expedition.

Fortunately, the natives paid little attention to us, being more preoccupied with the pursuit of what we deemed to be some intense hunting activity.  Given that such a flimsy craft could not be used for large-scale trade, we speculated that the native survivors were likely organized into small autonomous tribal encampments, using the river for transportation in times of necessity.  Surely such people would live hand-to-mouth, with little time for recreational activity or water sports.

Pristine wetland

As the abandoned causeway reached its end, we felt a mixture of relief and disappointment.  We saw derelict architecture give way to well-maintained urban structures.  We heard the trappings of civilization once again begin to drone around us.  And we felt ourselves the target of some very strange looks from passing drivers.

A choice loomed before us.

We could either walk down into the populous city and again lose ourselves among the traffic, the crowds and the mercantilist bustle.  We might even be able to make it to the Montlake bus stop.

Or we could turn around and walk back, through the silent echoes and stillborn dreams of aborted urban development, trespassing again upon the sleeping authority of the forgotten highway builders.

It did not take us long to agree that the latter seemed by far the better option.

Abandoned entrance

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Enatai Beach Park

Sometimes it isn’t the location.  It’s the timing.

Enatai Beach fishing pier

On a day I would have otherwise forgotten, I found myself exploring a park whose official description is limited to an address, a photograph of a non-descript building and instructions on how to rent the park.

I-90 sunset

I had low expectations.  My primary interest was to see what the underside of a highway might look like.

I wasn’t disappointed.

I-90 sunset

I can’t quite explain it, but there’s something I like about infrastructure.  Especially unassuming infrastructure.  Things we built to perform a function, not to serve any ephemeral standard of beauty.  Things that we maintain and keep polished because they do something for us, not because our souls find joy in gazing upon them.  For some reason, these things strike an aesthetic chord.

In a world where by any reasonable measure, the ugly outnumbers and outweighs the beautiful, a highway is the triumph of the ugly.  It’s an overt monument to dominance, to anti-nature.  It’s an industrial revolution that is also deeply counter-revolutionary.  I should have every reason to be revolted by such a scar on the landscape, and yet often I am fascinated.  There may be a Darwinian element to this appreciation, a recognition of fitness and adaptation.  Or perhaps something Hegelian, an understanding that like the Tyrannosaur or the Humvee, the I-90 exists because it must exist and there was no possible alternative to it coming into being.  Better to admire than to live in indignation.

Or perhaps there’s simply a fine line between the gorgeous and the hideous.

I-90 sunset

I-90 sunset

In addition to the I-90 bridging its way to Mercer Island, there’s also a fishing pier at Enatai.  And this is where timing comes in.  In the space of minutes, a location with no purpose but to prohibit anything fun…

Enatai fishing pier

… becomes something halfway between Kenai and Fiji.

Enatai Beach fishing pier

Fishing pier

And at the right moment, a building that is to design as a spork is to utensils manages to be something more.

Enatai silhouettes

Enatai light

I returned to Enatai the following weekend.  The place was the same, but the light had gone.

Had I had not seen its perfect moment, I wouldn’t have given it another glance.

Enatai fishing pier

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Aurora Bridge

We didn’t discover the Aurora Bridge.  But we did walk across it the evening before WSDOT began building a new fence.

The old fence was relatively short, which made for a somewhat precarious-feeling walk from Fremont to Queen Anne.

Aurora bridge pedestrian walkway, north side

Yikes, we said.

Aurora bridge guard rail

But as it turns out, short fences and a 180-foot fall also make the Aurora Bridge popular with people looking to commit suicide.  According to Wikipedia, there have been over 230 successful suicides from the bridge, the first being a distraught shoe salesman in January of 1932.  A harbinger of things to come, because at the time the bridge was still under construction.

Walking across the bridge, the suicide theme is disturbingly prevalent.

A somber warning

Suicidal in Seattle

While it’s difficult to evaluate its effectiveness, the suicide hotline sign had a detached bureaucratic smell about it that left us wondering whether a better caption might have been something along the lines of Are you fucking kidding me?

And of course, nothing says don’t jump like the Space Needle.  Especially when it brings its friends, some nondescript Seattle high-rises.

But then something caught our eye.

Ninth life

Dried flowers, duct-taped to a light pole.  A heart.  Thank you for being.

A simple lament, taken together.  Ambiguous, even;  were they even the work of the same author?  Either way, we thought about the ones left behind, and then the scene punched us in the gut.

We didn’t jump.

We decided that while the new eight-foot fence, funded at $1.4M by Governor Gregoire, would ruin a magnificent view, it was probably a good idea.

And a magnificent view it was.  Of Lake Union and its houseboats, of downtown Seattle and its skyscrapers, of Gasworks Park and its… gas works.  All splashed with warm sunlight from a lengthy golden hour.

Seattle across Lake Union

Even Mount Rainier made an appearance, hiding nonchalantly in the bushes above the city.

Seattle across Lake Union

Thanks to its height, the Aurora Bridge is one of the few bridges in Seattle that wasn’t inexplicably designed to interfere with passing ships, and therefore require a drawbridge. Which makes it a great place to watch lesser bridge, such as the Fremont bridge, decide whether to infuriate ships or cars, or perhaps both at the same time.

Fremont bridge opening

It’s also a great place to wonder whether Adobe Lightroom would be a better program if it provided high dynamic range functionality out of the box, thus saving thousands of skies from being blown out.  Like this one.

Rust and Adobe

The Aurora Bridge itself is beginning to show its age.  While sturdy enough to merit a passing 55.2% grade from the FHA’s national bridge inventory, it was declared functionally obsolete and of better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is.

In years to come, I can only hope my wife is able to say the same thing about me.

In any case, this means that in bridge years, the Aurora Bridge is now, officially, middle-aged.  And it shows.

Rust never sleeps

Which raises the question of why Roman bridges last two millennia, but ours get old after eighty years.  Maybe we need to take better care of our infrastructure.

Playing his last hand

So we walked the span of the bridge and then back, crossing underneath Aurora Ave and playing a game of Tetris along the way.

The mindless pattern

As we left the bridge, we were gifted with a wonderful summer sunset over the ship canal.  It’s possible that we were the last to enjoy this sight without a view obstructed by fencing.

At least, I hope we were.

Ship canal sunset

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