Hardly Art band Tacocat's rise to fame is one of the more positive outcomes of the past decade.

Skyrocketing housing prices, Amazon’s swift takeover of the city, Renee Erickson's stealth dominance of the restaurant landscape…It’s been an eventful decade, Seattle, and boy, have you changed. Here’s a (brief) look back at what happened in the whirlwind 2010s that gave this city its new shape—and some speculation as to what’s in store for the decade to come.

Chefs Became Restaurateurs

If we’re talking sheer numbers—doughnut shops, the burger chain acquired from Josh Henderson, elegantly meaty Bateau, and her spots at the base of Jeff Bezos’s balls—Renee Erickson is the biggest restaurateur in Seattle. But this ascent began with a relatively tiny oyster bar clear at the other end of this decade. After a dozen years running Boat Street Cafe, the chef opened Walrus and the Carpenter in late summer 2010 in the recesses of an old brick building in Ballard, the first place Erickson (and business partner Jeremy Price) created from scratch. By fall, a bajillion national and local food media outlets had paid their respects. If Erickson’s food draws from the essence of our region, her trajectory matches that of the city. She and Seattle both got really big, really fast, and now grapple with the same challenge: balancing this new supersize identity with all the lovely qualities that propelled them in the first place. Allecia Vermillion

Cloud Cover Took On a New Meaning

While it’s been less public-facing than other company gestures—like taking over a whole neighborhood—the rise of the cloud, in a famously overcast city, has been monumental. Amazon Web Services started in 2007 and Microsoft Azure in 2010, and since then the two have developed into the biggest cloud-computing companies in the country by far, ending this year in a literal arms race for the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI contract and serving as engines for changes that may define the next decades of American life (like automated grocery stores). They’re now the so-called “landlords of the internet,” a shift that has further plumped the companies with cash and, as it happens, served as a boon for actual Seattle landlords.Stefan Milne

Seattle Police Faced a Decade of Reckoning

The events of 2010 play in the mind like a bad movie montage, each clip more unsettling than the last. Here’s an officer in April standing over a Latino man—misidentified as a robbery suspect—spread eagle on the asphalt. “I’m going to beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you,” the cop announces with a kick in the head. Jump cut to June, on Rainier Avenue, when an officer investigating a jaywalking incident punches a Black teenage girl in the face. Now to August and the worst scene yet: Native American carver John T. Williams crosses Boren Avenue, pocketknife and wood in tow, before an officer charges from a patrol car and, off camera, shoots and kills. These encounters led to a DOJ consent decree requiring independent oversight. Multiple police chiefs—official and acting—came and went before the mayor hired, in 2018, Carmen Best, the first African American woman in the role. The events of 2010 define nearly everything associated with SPD in the past decade. The new leadership and more reforms will hopefully define the next. James Ross Gardner

Hardly Art Overthrew the Music Scene

Around 2010, Seattle music was most prominently defined by a coterie of winsome beard-rock bands: Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, the Head and the Heart. Sub Pop broke all three groups. But if you want to look at where Seattle music stands now, that label's subdivision, Hardly Art, which started in 2007 but really got rolling over this decade, has been locally (and nationally) seismic, signing bands in varied shades of punk—Tacocat, Chastity Belt, La Luz, and Dude York—as Sub Pop itself helped give rise to a wave of cerebral hip-hop like Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, and Porter Ray. All those artists have helped redefine Seattle music again, from the province of sad white men with guitars to something both sonically and demographically exciting and diverse: Just see the recent Seattle Times critics’ poll. Stefan Milne

Housing Prices Shocked Our System

Remember the Seattle housing market in 2010, halfway through its recession-fueled descent? Zillow's median house value index was at $437,000 that January but headed for a plunge way down to, er, the three hundred thousands. Don't laugh; that seemed volatile back then, and the Matterhorn-steep curve of home prices that defined the 2010s could barely be imagined. That same index topped out at $779,000 just eight years later; condos doubled in price as fast as glassy new towers could be built, and the cozy Craftsman went from quintessential starter home to millionaire's prize. The housing boom is tied to everything from our transportation woes to the rise in homelessness, and at the dawn of the 2020s, every resident—old-timer and newcomer alike—has to contend with the question of what it does and should take to live in the Emerald City. Allison Williams

Soccer Fandom Kicked Into High Gear

Hold on to your scarves: It may be hard to believe, but Sounders FC was just starting to make a splash at the beginning of the decade. Seattle’s Major League Soccer team debuted in 2009 to much fanfare—the club sold all of its initial 22,000 season ticket packages—but it wasn’t until 2016 that the local footballers took home an MLS Cup. The squad repeated the feat in front of a record 69,274 at CenturyLink Field in 2019, the same year its National Women’s Soccer League neighbors, Reign FC, set a club attendance record. To cap it off, Reign veteran Megan Rapinoe was named Sports Illustrated’s 2019 Sportsperson of the Year in December. It’s safe to say footy has gained a foothold in Seattle. Benjamin Cassidy

Tech Investments Transformed the Landscape

Paul Allen certainly wasn’t a phenomenon that began in this decade; his influence dates back to the 1970s, when he and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates redefined this Boeing company town as a bastion of software. His investments in Seattle are legion—in education, sports, research, and wavy museums dedicated to music and culture. In the 2010s, though, Allen shaped the city in a more literal way as his company, Vulcan, transformed South Lake Union's scraggly industrial blocks into an Amazon epicenter and hub of biotech and research. Though he died in 2018, Allen’s projects still rise across the landscape, from Bellevue to the Central District, his Allen Institute for Brain Science continues to push the medical forefront, and in a world of streaming media, costumed moviegoers continue to line up for big releases at Cinerama. Allecia Vermillion

Legal Weed Green-Lighted a New Industry

If you’re emerging from a THC-induced fog for the first time this decade, let me remind you: It wasn’t until December 2012 that Washington state passed I-502, giving adults the official green light to purchase recreational marijuana and opening our city’s already multiplying tech-padded pockets to a newly sanctioned industry. The years that followed have been a purple haze of new ways to capitalize on our long-held habits: from the classic (Uncle Ike’s) to the clever (Hot Seat, a comedy show with a little intermission puff-puff-pass). While budtenders blossomed, though, some in Washington—disproportionately people of color—still served time for marijuana convictions. In 2018, when Seattle Municipal Court judges agreed to expand on Governor Inslee’s limited pardon by wiping prior misdemeanor marijuana charges, nearly half of those affected were Black. Zoe Sayler

Minimum Wage Raised the City's Profile

This past summer, a Democrat-dominated House passed an act that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. But Seattleites need not squat on their piggy banks as they wait to see if a Republican-helmed Senate takes on the Raise the Wage Act. (Fat chance, according to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.) When Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance took effect in 2015, it laid the groundwork for the city to be among the first to offer a $15 minimum hourly wage, earning the nation’s ears and eyeballs as the “Fight for $15” heated up. It also drew attention to City Council member Kshama Sawant, who pushed the policy change and has spearheaded a shift toward socialism in city governance. The next decade will rule on whether this movement leftward is here to stay. Benjamin Cassidy

Amazon Busted Our Balls

Amazon made its way across Lake Washington in 2001, but it wasn’t until the company’s 2010 move from the Tower of Terror on Beacon Hill that it began to cement itself as a Seattle superpower—perhaps the villain’s-lair look was a little on-the-nose. We’ve since shifted from the land of Boeing and Microsoft to a dense Amazon Jungle: You’d think a bougie, 13.6-million-square-foot, open-air shopping mall coughed up its guts onto the streets of South Lake Union. Hardly anyone grew up here, a possible factor in the so-called Seattle Freeze. Everywhere you look, another corgi. In short: Amazon’s changed everything, everywhere, and we’ve been the Prime beneficiaries, or victims (depending how you slice it). But if Amazon moves back to the Eastside, what will happen to the housing market? And all those really nice fast-casual restaurants in South Lake Union? Maybe come 2030 they’ll call that Seattle Syndrome. Zoe Sayler

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