Seattle: Envious of The Embarcadero
May 24, 2012
For decades, urban planners have discussed the similarities (and differences) between the two U.S. Pacific Coast cities with the best natural harbors: San Francisco and Seattle. Among other similarities, both cities had their waterfronts marred for decades by double-deck freeways. Now, as San Francisco did 20 years ago, Seattle is going to tear down its double-decker, called the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
A Seattle television station recently ran a refreshingly in-depth report on the impact the rejuvenation of The Embarcadero has had on our city. One of the experts they interviewed is former Deputy Mayor (and current MSR Vice President) Doug Wright. And throughout the story are great shots of F-line streetcars, credited for drawing some of those former freeway users into attractive mass transit. Worth a look.
One irony here, not mentioned in the TV piece: Seattle had a waterfront streetcar line before San Francisco, the brainchild of the late Council Member George Benson. It used a few Melbourne trams (like our No. 496) but was “temporarily” shut down a few years ago when its carbarn’s land was appropriated to become part of a sculpture garden.
Seattle is now expanding its nascent modern streetcar system (originally dubbed the South Lake Union Trolley until someone figured out the acronym that goes with that name), but it doesn’t look like a revival of the waterfront line is a high priority for the Seattle transit overlords, even after the boulevard is rebuilt.
Maybe the city planners up there need to look at this video again!