Partying to Bridge South Park’s Gap

A neglected neighborhood loses its link to the city but flaunts its creative moxie.

By Eric Scigliano June 28, 2010

South Park’s party poster: bridge to nowhere, Seattle-style.

Never let a crisis go to waste. On June 30 at 7pm, the 80-year-old South Park Bridge, its namesake nabe’s link to the rest of the city, will close for good because local officials couldn’t come together to replace it. But South Park, Georgetown’s scruffier sister borough across the Duwamish, is coming together around the crisis—and seizing the chance to flaunt its emerging art scene with a final bridge party, starting at 6 on Wednesday. Duwamish tribal drummers will lead a parade across just before 7. Bagpipers will salute the final raising of the drawbridge leaves, followed by a New Orleans jazz funeral, a Latino roots conjunto, and the inimitable Baby Gramps. Meanwhile, eight muralists will transform the bridge “from defunct infrastructure into an artistic force.” At last word sponsor South Park Arts had selected six painters and was still seeking two more.

Local establishments are selling zinging black fundraising T-shirts showing a big birdie finger busting up a drawbridge inscribed, “Thanks For Nothing, Seattle. Rest In Pieces, June 30, 2010.” Over the bluff in West Seattle, the Feedback Lounge will host a well-oiled wake, also starting at 6. Mourners will be invited to build a replacement bridge, materials provided: “City planners and politicians NOT welcome.”

Still, those politicians are finally stepping up. The county, city, state, and Port of Seattle have committed half the bucks needed to build a new bridge; they hope the feds will give the rest. King County tried to get a federal grant last year but got undercut by the Nickels administration, which pushed a competing proposal for South Lake Union. (Both lost.) Now City Hall has gotten with the program, upping South Park’s odds of getting another bridge in a few years. Meanwhile, other Seattleites can still get there (and enjoy Taqueria Muy Macho’s famous mole) by a circuitous route, via the First Avenue Bridge.

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