Seattle Times graphic artist Gabriel Campanario was there as the wrecking ball came down on the shopping center adjacent to Rainier Tower this week.

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Sketched Dec. 14 and 15

The sound of cranes digging in the rubble and pounding on half-demolished walls is louder than the morning traffic going by. I’m standing at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Union Street watching the wrecking ball come down on the shopping center adjacent to Rainier Tower. People around me are taking photos and recording videos with their smartphones.

By the time this prime piece of real estate is developed, the Rainier Tower will have a companion skyscraper next door: a 58-story mixed-used tower that will become the second-tallest building in Seattle. Amazon is reported to have already leased all the office space available.


Seattle Times news artist Gabriel Campanario has been capturing Seattle's places and people in hand-drawn sketches for more than a decade. To see past columns, visit the Seattle Sketcher home page. Prints, notecards and a book of Campanario’s sketches are available for sale through The Seattle Times store. You may also fill out an illustration request to order a specific image.

Henry Rose, a passerby who recognized me as the “newspaper guy,” had taken a photo to send to his dad because he liked to come to lunch to Crepe de Paris, one of the restaurants in the now gone Rainier Square shopping center. He said there was nothing architecturally special about the hodgepodge of buildings and he looks forward to seeing the future tower. Seattle needs more office space, he added.

That’s the thing about witnessing the transformation of a boom town. Every demolition stirs memories from the past and hopes for the future.