Seattle Clears its Adolescence

By Mike Seely June 30, 2011

PubliCola asked a number of local personalities to answer the question: "How Has Seattle Changed?" It was an open-ended question. How has the city changed for better or worse; on a grand scale or on a personal scale; in the last 10 years; in the last 10 minutes? Today, Seattle Weekly editor Mike Seely weighs in.

Ten years ago, Seattle seemed destined to fulfill its big-city aspirations and become San Francisco North. I believe it's achieved that destiny, which poses as many conundrums as it does benefits.

We're no longer the indie rock and hipster flavor-of-the-Northwest—that title belongs to Portland now. Our music scene is spectacularly dynamic, which leaves scenesters who feel as though the scene needs a singular identity struggling with an identity crisis.

Commercially, we're relatively comfortable ("relatively" being the operative word there), although all the more buzzed-about new companies seem to hail from elsewhere as our onetime pioneer, Microsoft, gets branded too glacial for an increasingly nimble marketplace.

And the Sonics are gone. Not only does that blow, but the apathetic—then belated—response by moneyed would-be owners and the community-at-large made the team pass like a boulder-sized kidney stone on their way out of town. Winters were depressing enough with the Sonics. Now they're downright dreary, made more so by the demise of the print P-I.

But, hey, if you like drinking and eating out, there's never been a better time to be a Seattleite. Meanwhile, Mt. Rainier still has its top intact, which is one bit of geologic stasis Seattleites should be thankful for every day.

And regardless of how you feel about Paul Allen, Amazon and the SLUT, the neighborhood that's sprung up from the industrial embers of South Lake Union is something of an urban miracle. Just as long as they keep the Detlef Schrempf mural on the old Athletic Supply building intact, no one should have anything to complain about down there.

But perhaps most importantly, Seattle, to shamelessly borrow a phrase from Fred Moody, no longer suffers from the demons of its ambition. It, in my opinion, has essentially achieved what it set out to accomplish the early-'90s. Sure, we've still got colossal challenges to address, most having to do with transportation infrastructure. But it's good to see people confidently living their lives in a city that's finally seen itself clear of adolescence.

Mike Seely is the editor of Seattle Weekly and the author of Seattle's Best Dive Bars
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