Love it or hate it, the Alaskan Way Viaduct – which closes for good Jan. 11 – brings out passion, and that showed in your many responses. Here are a few.
The Alaskan Way Viaduct closes for good Jan. 11, to be replaced by the Highway 99 tunnel that opens in early February.
A while back we asked for your viaduct memories before it’s forever demolished. Take a last drive on it and take in the magnificent sights. Soon you’ll be driving in the tunnel.
The viaduct has been with us for 65 years. It’s 1.4 miles long and contains 122,000 tons of concrete — surpassing the weight of a fully loaded USS Nimitz, one of the largest warships in the world, which comes in at 97,000 tons.
Love it or hate it, the viaduct brings out passion, and that showed in your many responses. Here are few.
A broken heart
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Rita Baeyen, 68, of Edmonds, retired dental hygienist: “Born and raised in Seattle, I will miss the viaduct beyond measure. The ethereal gift we were given I loved, even as a small child in the backseat of my parents ’54 Oldsmobile as we traversed the city … to visit the Woodland Park Zoo before there was even an entrance fee. Or to put on our Sunday best to go shopping in downtown Seattle via the viaduct, exiting at Seneca Street.
“Even as a small child, I knew that the stunning view of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains, especially as the sun was setting, its glorious golden light reflecting off the downtown buildings with a glance east, and the heart-stopping glory to the west, gave me a gift that money couldn’t buy.
“Now, so sadly, it will be a gift that only money can buy. Another part of my Seattle heart is broken.”
William F. Bayley, 75, of Seattle, retired house remodeler: “I sailed Puget Sound for 30 years and rode the Bainbridge/Seattle ferry for 24 years so my view is from the water. Seattle has quite probably the ugliest waterfront of any city in the world, thanks to the viaduct. The structure blocks all the downtown buildings. It dominates the waterfront.
“What is the first thing all those cruise ship passengers see? Certainly nothing aesthetic about downtown Seattle. We will never be a ‘world class’ city until that ugly monstrosity is gone.”
J.W. Koebel, 32, of Seattle, tech guy: “I think the viaduct is what made me fall in love with Seattle, honestly. I road-tripped across the country from Georgia to Seattle with a friend who was moving here for an internship, and had dozed off somewhere on I-90. My first sight of the city was waking up while traveling on the top deck of the viaduct heading north just before sunset. I was captivated by the shimmering cityscape on my right and the natural majesty of the Sound and the mountains beyond on my left; it was breathtaking.”
A dirty monstrosity
Margaret Brunger, 70, of Seattle, illustrator and designer: “I first traveled on the viaduct when I moved to Seattle in September 1980, a mere 27 years after it opened. At that time, I had no knowledge that it was relatively ‘new’ and I saw it as it as a dirty and dangerous monstrosity that separated the city from its beautiful waterfront.
“Certainly the view of Mount Rainier was, and is, wonderful. But on the ground and walking along the waterfront, one is deafened by the thundering roar of the traffic. The first time my family visited my new and much loved home, I understood through their eyes and ears, the lost potential of a beautiful waterfront.”
The first time seeing the Olympics
Missy Bequette, 55, of Tacoma, airline reservations agent, former assistant coach and director of operations for the Seattle Storm: “I moved here in March 2000. I moved here from Portland. I grew up in the Midwest. It was my first year as assistant coach. I told our trainer, ‘Seattle is too big a city for me.’
“I was put up in an apartment on Western Avenue. The morning after I arrived, I needed to travel to Philadelphia for a convention. I ordered a car service for 4 a.m.
“Since I only knew the I-5 path to the airport, I panicked when I realized the driver was not going that way. Then he explained this was a more scenic route, and faster.
“Egads, it was gorgeous. A nice spring sunrise shining on the Olympics. The viaduct became my favorite way to enter and leave the city.”
Champagne when she finally is torn down
Bill Daugaard, 79, of Kirkland, retired aerospace engineer: “Losing the viaduct will be the best thing that’s happened to Seattle since the Space Needle. That hideous concrete obscenity has blighted the cityscape for far too many decades.
“When that sucker finally comes down, it will truly be a day to pop the cork on a good bottle of Champagne.”
The smell of shrimp being boiled
Tom Scott, 60, of Seattle, retired fisheries biologist: “I’m a native-born Seattleite. My most vivid memory is the smell; the smell of Puget Sound and Hood Canal shrimp being boiled in one of the processing plants on the waterfront. Frequently, while southbound with my mom, the smell would be so enticing, that she would take the First Avenue exit and circle back so that we could buy a newspaper cone of boiled and peeled and chilled shrimp.”
Living the dream
Chase Taylor, 29, of Des Moines, works at a bank: “My first memory of the viaduct was in 2005 when I visited Seattle for the first time. I had graduated from Astronaut High School, which is a little bit east of Orlando. Me and a friend went on a road trip across the United States, to California, up the coast, then to New York and then back.
“It was late August and I’ll never forget that afternoon on the viaduct, with the sun setting in the background and the beautiful city to one side and the Puget Sound to the other. It was so beautiful that I made it my goal to eventually relocate here.
“Last year, me and my partner moved here in July. Now I’m living the dream!”
A haiku for the viaduct
Peggy Mainer, 69, of Seattle, sculptor. She composed:
“Night drive home from the airport
Rise to the City
The radio plays Gershwin.”
Mainer explains, “I had been in Ohio to see an aging mother and was coming from the airport. I was going up the viaduct and there was the city. On the radio I heard ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’ It was a special moment.”
Missing the bumps, dips and … the views
Daniel Olson, 39, of Salt Lake City, marketing for Utah Transit Authority. “From the fall of 1984 through the spring of 1997, the viaduct carried my older siblings and I on our daily journey from Magnolia to Franklin High School.
“I will miss its views, bumps, dips, and the idiots trying to snake the line on the Elliott Avenue entrance (you know who you are). In the coming months and years when I need my viaduct fix, I will fire up the scene from ‘Say Anything,’ (the 1989 romantic comedy drama partially filmed in Seattle) that shows the morning sun hitting the downtown skyline as Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) returns Diane Court (Ione Skye) safely home in his blue Malibu.”