March 13 2014

What the Seahawk’s Super Bowl Victory Did for Historic Preservation in Seattle

It is not our reputation here in Seattle to get too wild. But after the Seahawks dominated in our first Super Bowl this year, we had to take the streets. While I watched from below, dozens climbed and rallied on top of the century-old Pergola (pictured below), breaking panes of its fragile glass. But fans and other local contributors made up for it when over $25,000 dollars were quickly raised through crowdfunding.

Pioneer Square Glass Pergola, Seattle, Washington

It’s historic preservation week here at The Grid, so I thought it’d be appropriate to make a connection to the night that the Seattle Seahawks made history. But more relevant to the theme is the innovative, bottom-up historic preservation that occurred when the fund to restore the prized Pergola was started (by a local whom did not have an interest in football). Call it civic pride, Seattle kindness, or guilt, but the act gained our attention and approbation. There are also lessons to be gained for prioritizing how we build and preserve our cities.

To celebrate, most gravitated to Pioneer Square, where old Seattle is preserved adjacent to its newer gloss, and the Seahawk’s stadium. Historic venues are important because they are a revered, iconic stage for dynamic or spontaneous events such as the after game party. The same held true when the victory parade took place the next week on the same street, where a crowd as large as the entire population of Seattle was in attendance (not kidding). These memories became more vivid because of the iconic setting. 

Public life and its relationship to certain landmarks should be on our minds as Seattle moves forward. There are many large projects proposed that could change Seattle’s image, including a proposed gondola and a $68 million dollar connection from historic Pike Place Market to the waterfront. More important than a well-designed place, is the value it adds to the community. So let’s remember what has always worked in our city before moving forward with big ideas. Historic preservation in any quickly developing neighborhood is important because we need to chronicle the progress of our city on a familiar backdrop.

The glass pergola restored, Seattle, Washington

The quickly raised cash for the Pergola shows that we are more than willing to preserve what is worth saving. Hopefully examples such as this one will inspire more people to be more aware of historic landmarks in their city, and rally to save them if in danger. Preserving our history, even with something as small as a glass pergola, encourages more stewardship in the future. All of this and a Seahawk victory; what more could I ask for?

What other non-conventional examples of historic preservation can you think of?

Credits: Images by Colin Poff. Data linked to sources.

Colin Poff

Colin Poff is a recent graduate from Western Washington University where he studied Political Science and Economics. He currently interns at the City of Redmond, where he is providing research and analysis for the long-range planning department. While traveling in Europe and in China Colin became a critical observer of modern cities, and curious about how policies can be crafted to facilitate economic development with community values in mind. In his career, he would like to make cities more dynamic and livable by encouraging mixed-use areas and people-focused design. Next fall, Colin intends to pursue a Masters in Urban Planning. When he is not in the city, you can find him in the mountains, skiing with his friends.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 13th, 2014 at 9:01 am and is filed under Architecture, History/Preservation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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