Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A New Feature in This Diary: Maps from the Open Street Map Project

Dear Diary,

Have you noticed that a bunch of your recent pages have extra images near the front today?  I've finally learned some things about editing images on my new laptop, and also how to download parts of the Open Street Map.  This is what I needed to finish some long-delayed pages about winter, and also enables me to make it clearer to your readers where the places I'm talking about are.  My current hikes should take me to pretty much all the places I've described to you in the past, dear Diary, so I think only the street end pages and "Lake Union's North Shore", of your older pages, will need maps going forward.  Oh, darn, and the pages that point to charities.

Anyway, this has taken me long enough that it'd be kind of pointless to start hiking today, so I'm going to put the rest of my third (and biggest) region off until tomorrow (and if any city employees read this page in you, dear Diary, they'll know in advance that they should ACTUALLY OPEN SOME PARK RESTROOMS tomorrow, but hey, that's a win, right?).  I do other things besides write you, dear Diary, and am going to spend some time on those for the rest of today.  So until later this week, happy days.

PS I also included additional information, including properties I missed, and another source of information, in "A Hike along Difficult Market Street".

Monday, May 10, 2021

A Tale of Three Lake Cities

Dear Diary,

I just got home from visiting a bunch of sites, including twelve parks, half of which I'd never photographed before.  So I'd tell you all about it, except that it's late and my house has quiet time starting quite a few minutes ago, which isn't really consistent with showing you a bunch of photos.

Instead, I'll summarise.

EDIT 5/11:  Map of the region, courtesy of the Open Street Map project.

Hike 1:  Northern Lake City.  One park:  Little Brook Park, photographed before.  Restroom closed, water fountain not running.  That water fountain ran in May of last year, but not in October.  I've always assumed it was turned off in summer, like the fountain in Burke-Gilman Playground Park, but then never turned back on.  However, it's possible that it's broken somewhere that doesn't show.  Or it really was forgotten last summer, but it's on the same water supply as the restroom, and the reason it's off now is that that hasn't been turned back on.  My point is that while this is proof that the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation is not, in fact, re-enacting last year, it doesn't prove much else.

Hike 2:  Jackson Park and vicinity.  Three parks:  Flicker Haven Natural Area, Jackson Park and Licorice Fern Natural Area, none of which I'd shown you photographs of before, dear Diary.  Jackson Park has six restrooms (three pairs), all of which I found open (this is both the first time I've photographed the doors, and the first time I've seen one pair, because before today I'd only visited Jackson Park early, and the café doesn't open until later), and two water fountains, both of which I found running.

Little Brook Park is in a black neighbourhood, Jackson Park a white one, and their users reflect this.  On the other hand, Little Brook is publicly managed, Jackson privately.  So I wondered, is this an instance of racism or one of public incompetence and private competence?  It certainly seemed a straightforward tale of two more-or-less Lake Cities.  But then:

Hike 3:  Downtown Lake City (west of Lake City Way), whose population, both homeless and housed, is mixed in race.  Four parks:  Albert Davis Park, Lake City Mini Park, Thornton Creek Addition and Virgil Flaim Park.  I've photographed only "sanican"s and other plumbing in Albert Davis (and/or the Lake City Community Center) and Lake City Mini, and hadn't visited Thornton Creek Addition at all before today.  Albert Davis has a water fountain I didn't remember to check; it didn't run last year.  Albert Davis was swept a few days ago, and is now officially closed through Thursday; its SPU sink is no longer in a Lake City park, but its "sanican"s went to Lake City Mini, which also now has two working hand-washing stations.  Virgil Flaim has a water fountain that ran last October, and is running now.  The pair of park restrooms downtown Lake City badly needs to get before The Big One strikes has not yet been built in Virgil Flaim.  But also, the Lake City Community Center is keeping a few open hours thanks to the people from the charity God's Lil' Acre, and the Lake City branch of the Seattle Public Library has re-opened in the limited way a few libraries outside North Seattle had already done.

So at this point I didn't know what to think.  To complete the story, though:

Hike 4:  Across Pinehurst plateau.  Four parks:  Homewood Natural Area, Hubbard Homestead, Pinehurst Playground and Pinehurst Pocket Park.  I'd shown you photographs of all but the last, dear Diary.  Pinehurst Playground has a water fountain, which I found running (as it had last May and October), and a "sanican", but no hand-washing station.

All for now, dear Diary; some food for thought, and of course an incomplete summary of four or more upcoming pages in you.  Good night!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

A Visit to Cal Anderson Park

Dear Diary,

Surprise!  I had to go to my storage unit today, and on leaving my route passed through Cal Anderson Park.  The park was pretty crowded, so although I rather needed to do Number One, I confined myself to investigating the usual stuff.

Miraculously, though, water is running through the park's water fountains!


The first photo is of the fancy new triple fountain, the second of the old one next to the old water tower.  I wonder what Capitol Hill did to deserve water, that North Seattle didn't do.

The park's restrooms are in better shape than they were.  They didn't seem to be lockable, these single user stalls, but no doubt that's to prevent campers from coming back, attracted by the availability of free water.  Or maybe I just didn't grasp the locking mechanism in the time I spent.  I see that I photographed the doors of only two of the three stalls; sorry, dear Diary.  This one is like the one I skipped:

both of those being open (I'm guessing that lock is just stored there to be available when the restrooms are locked), although the one I skipped is red like the one next, which is the third, and isn't open:

There's even water running in a sink next to the black door, in the building's back:

Unfortunately, there were lots of spots on the floor of the room in back that I couldn't convince myself weren't tracks of Number Two:

although more likely they were dirt and grass from someone's shoes.  The one in front, with the red door, also had those, but ...

had, as well, much more disturbing stuff under the changing table.

I looked more closely at the room in back.  It has a dryer, which the men's room in the old restrooms never did:

and whereas the men's room, by the time I became homeless, had long lost its soap dispenser, this stall has two:

So it seems to me there are two possibilities.  One, some homeless person comes back regularly for the sole purpose of messing up the restrooms to which he no longer has regular access.  Or two, messiness in restrooms can actually be caused by housed people.  Supporting this latter theory, I remember the old restrooms consistently being nasty, nasty places, even though homeless people weren't prominent in the park in the relevant years (2012-2014).  Perhaps even if homelessness ended in Seattle, for any reason ranging from everyone getting housed to everyone getting shot, there would still be litter here.

Another thing.  Those ping pong tables that quite unfairly got the brunt of criticism when the park officially re-opened?  Never let it be said that the city doesn't listen.

Only one is there now.

Good night, dear Diary.  I'm not sure when I'll hike again, but happy times until then.

Friday, May 7, 2021

A Hike along Ballard's South Shore

Dear Diary,

Whew!  Almost done.  Just some hiking along Shilshole...

EDIT 5/11:  Map:

Well, but first, an old friend.

Salmon Bay Phase I and 

Salmon Bay Phase II

We've encountered this pleasant place at least twice before, dear Diary:  in "The Ballard Seacoast", part I, as Salmon Bay Natural Area; then in "Street Ends: Shilshole Bay", as the 34th Ave NW Street End.  Now above we see its name, or rather names, in the 2020 real property report.

Yet another photo of the place:

And I thought I'd photographed its signage before, but if so, I haven't showed it to you, dear Diary, so here it is:

It was fairly crowded, and I was worried about sunset coming, so I set off again.  The next two stops are also street ends, and are ten blocks apart each.

But I got distracted along the way.  At 30th, by the entrance to

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and Carl S. English Jr Botanical Garden

Well, even before that, I had another try at photographing one of the tall reddish conifers that I suspect of being redwoods:


But then at the gate at 30th, I was gobsmacked to find it open.  Turns out it's back to regular hours:

and if the city ever slows down in the mistreatment of my former and perhaps future peers, so I can spare the time, I'd really like to go back there, tour the place, and tell you all about it, dear Diary.

Last time I visited the 28th Ave NW street end (as recounted in "Street Ends: North-west Salmon Bay"), there was a homeless madwoman there, and I complained that she'd obstructed my photography, so I considered trying again.  But there was another young woman there this time, and although she was to all appearances sane (and housed), I just put it off again.

Ship Canal Water Quality Project

Do you remember, dear Diary, how (in the same previous page), under the influence of a false understanding of street ends, I professed uncertainty in identifying the 24th Ave NW street end?  Well, it turns out the alternative I thought was probably wrong was actually spectacularly wrong.  The building uphill from the actual street end, adjacent to the supposed one, is apparently the headquarters of the whole tunnel-building project.  And its backyard is yet another of the construction sites.

I was dithering about what to photograph when I noticed two geese:

and decided to get out of their way, after taking one photo to prove I'd been there:

Now, near as I can tell, there's been a vast amount of street work going on in Ballard to fix the "missing link" of the Burke-Gilman Trail.  So I decided to try to take the Trail from this site to the last one, instead of Shilshole.  That worked out poorly; I probably wasn't on the actual trail, but anyway came up to a fence that sternly warned against trespassing on the gravel wasteland beyond, as if anyone would want to.  Suddenly Shilshole, right next door, seemed much more appealing.

Shilshole Ave NW itself is actually not that bad, if one knows in advance that all the sidewalks are on the north side of the street.  It's just that it's usually unpleasant before one gets onto it, and it's usually unpleasant after one leaves it, too, walking in the street, on gravel, into oncoming cars' paths, and other nuisances.  This time my negative thoughts as I left Shilshole turned toward the fact that I'd lately kept running into geese, but never ducks any more.  Had we humans just gotten too obtrusive again, and all the ducks I'd seen last year had gone into hiding?  As I thought this, I am truly not making this up, I noticed someone yelling rather loudly ahead of me, over and over, and as I came closer the yells sounded more and more like quacks, and lo:

This particular duck was genuinely aggravated about something, and wouldn't let me get any closer, but I was still thrilled to see it, and continued in a much more cheerful frame of mind to my last stop:

14th Ave NW Boat Ramp

This park hasn't had a "sanican" like its peer on Sunnyside Ave N in the past, and it hasn't acquired one either, let alone a water fountain:

I told you, dear Diary, much too long ago now, that I had errands in Ballard.  They were both in the shopping along Leary, and I'd run one before going north to Greg's Garden and Gilman Playground.  The other was getting groceries at Fred Meyer, and so, having as it turned out beaten sunset by fifteen minutes, I turned to grocery shopping, and getting home in the much greater cold than when I'd set out, and other things that you, as my parks diary, needn't hear about.

It'll be a little while before my next hike.  Happy days until then, dear Diary.

A Hike along Easy Market Street

Dear Diary,

The next several stops in my tour of city-owned properties in southern Ballard were along NW Market St, as the first set of stops had been, but what a different street:  flat, and crowded.  The crowds weren't so thick as to impede walking much, even given social distancing, so the flatness made a huge difference.

EDIT 5/11:  Map:

Fire Station No. 18

This region's fire station is near 15th Ave NW.  I didn't look closely at its door, given how many people were walking around.  It was also problematic because the sun was setting, meaning photos would better be taken from the west, but for half a block west of the station door, there were fire engine access driveways.  (There's no fire station in the region north of here; just two stations essentially cover all of "NW".  So no wonder.)  So all I did was try as best I could to take a postcard shot, which is this:

This building's predecessor is one of only three landmarks in this region.

Bergen Place

I first encountered this park right after the one next in this page, which I really like.  So I was primed for disappointment, and pretty much got it, but was so disappointed that I got things wrong and had to go back to correct them.  Then in the January hikes I wound up sleeping at this park in order to get to a charity that keeps rather early hours.  So by this time I figured I owed it.  I did what I could to take a good photograph of the art by Jenn Lee Dixon that I so dislike:

The Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation website says the title is "Witness Trees".

And looking around, seeing the difference from the bustle of the rest of Market St, I realised that however they may disappoint picky people like me, refuges right in the middle of the bustle are essential.  So I also, near as I can remember for the first time at this park, took just a landscape shot, without a specific target:

But hey, it also helps establish that no, the department has not gone and installed a water fountain here in the past year.

Marvin's Garden

This and Bergen Place each occupy roughly half a block, at opposite ends of the block.  So Marvin's Garden is maybe a hundred feet further from the bustle, and can be that much more serene.  So yes, I was probably unfair to Bergen Place in the past because of that contrast, but also because Marvin's Garden is really good at serene.  It dawned on me that while, in "History and Parks", part I, I had praised this park's landscape, I hadn't actually put it to the test of a photograph perpetrated by me.  So I did:

And no, no new water fountain here either.

Market Street Substation Site

Well, it turns out Seattle City Light isn't do-gooding everywhere.  The 2020 real property report says this site near 28th Ave NW is "Underutilized", is currently used for "Storage (Uncovered)", is planned for future use as "Microgrid", and has "Transformer & rectifier on Site".  I didn't see much storage going on:

and that looks to me like plenty enough space for a bunch of tents.  The transformer and rectifier are probably the equipment visible behind these stern warning signs:

and I admit some of my not-current peers are handy enough that it might be troublesome to let them camp next to those.  On the other hand, the city seems quite fond of this Phoenix Patrol security company I've mentioned in connection with Laurelhurst Community Center's and Green Lake Park's restrooms; why not give them a real security job?

Northwest Senior Center

This is at the southwest corner of 32nd Ave NW and NW Market St.  Near as I can tell, the city is the landlord of at least two of these; the current tenant's website sounds much more like a non-profit's than like a city website, and the addresses differ slightly, though there's only one actual door regardless.  Anyway, it's a refreshingly not-fully-closed door, that:

But of course when I got there, at 7:23 P.M., it was fully closed, and though I'm ageing I'm not yet what most people consider "senior" anyway, so I went on.  I passed what seemed to be several retirement-home buildings of considerable size not far from this place.  If there can be only two city-supported senior centers, seems like this has become a good spot for one of them.

When I passed those buildings, I was on my way to the third-last site in this region.  None is all that close to Market St, so those three sites belong to the next, and for tonight last, of these pages.

A Hike in Southeastern Ballard

Dear Diary,

It looks like putting time between pages isn't going to work for me, so I'll try to get the last three pages about yesterday's hikes done as soon as I can.  This one concerns three places, as the title says, in southeastern Ballard proper, as opposed to Ross.

EDIT 5/11:  Map:

We left off at Leary Way NW and NW Bright St.  You may remember, dear Diary, that long ago, in the page about Ravenna Boulevard, I explained that streets not named "Street" or "Avenue" put their directionals before or after their names on the basis of whether they go mostly east-west or mostly north-south.  Leary Way, for much of its length, is strictly east-west, but another long stretch goes southeast-northwest; that's actually the definition of a "way", in Seattle, a street that changes direction.  But in this case, there's a place along it that probably could happen elsewhere, but I hope only Seattle is actually stupid enough to post a sign at the intersection of Leary Way NW and NW Leary Way.  Really.  I didn't take a photo, but if you go there, you'll see it.

A short distance after that, at 14th Ave NW, I reached

Leary Substation Site

Apparently this is no longer needed by Seattle City Light and is being rented out.  I wasn't sure while I was there, and noticed a huge, stately building in the middle of the block with a rather graceless wooden entrance tacked onto its north end (away from busy Leary, that is); I figured maybe that was full of electricity generating machinery.

But part of what makes that building inaccessible is a huge construction site surrounding it on three sides, and this is what the explanatory sign says:


Nickelsville in Latona, a food bank here - Seattle City Light just seems to be doing good all over the place, doesn't it?

Greg's Garden

As further evidence that southeastern "NW" isn't all one neighbourhood, here's another P-Patch.

Notice that unlike Ross's P-Patch, this one can be navigated on the level.

Gilman Playground

This park and the surrounding sidewalks were recently swept of many tent campers, and when I visited yesterday, none had returned, although quite a few of the vehicles parked nearby looked inhabited.  Instead the park was full of baseball players; one game seemed wholly adult, another partly, although there was definitely coaching of children going on in that one too.  I'd taken a bunch of photos in this park in January, so stuck to business this time.

Rather to my surprise, the restrooms, which had been closed due, said the signs, to "vandalism", had not re-opened as soon as the campers were gone.

There are now even more "sanican"s there than I'd found in January, presumably because baseball players outnumber campers:

The water fountain, thank Heaven, still works; I took a long drink that enabled me to finish hiking this region last night, and the water was good.

Although I wasn't here during February's snow, as far as I know this water fountain has run throughout the pandemic.  It's one of two in Ballard of which this is true; the other is a few blocks further north and quite a few further west.  Not coincidentally, the two parks in question have been repeatedly full of campers.  Imagine that, human beings needing water; what a strange concept, isn't it, dear Diary?  Anyway, while I'm personally as well as civically glad this water fountain is still running, my point is that it doesn't refute my hypothesis that the city is re-enacting its water fountain approach from last year, no doubt as part of some arcane ritual that unfortunately seems all too likely to culminate in human sacrifice, if only indirectly.

I hope to consume some water showering tonight, and then write the last two pages about yesterday's hikes.  None of the places I'm going to tell you about in those two pages have water fountains or restrooms, dear Diary, so anyone who's reading primarily for those can skip those pages if they wish.

A Hike in Ross

 Dear Diary,

On my first tour of Ballard for you, I found the parks' celebrations of certain elements of Ballard's history so obtrusive that I ended up calling the resulting pages in you "History and Parks", with the result that they became just about the least-read pages in you from that time.  Now, personally I'm pretty interested in history, but as I told you in introducing the similarly little-read (but also rather less well-conceived) "Land and Water" series, I find it annoying when certain bits of history are emphasised to the exclusion of everything else.

Ballard's historically-minded residents are right to emphasise that Ballard was a real city for, um, eighteen years.  (Though few emphasise that that time was so short because Ballard couldn't secure water, in other words, was not a sustainable city.)  Although Lake City had a far higher population when annexed decades later, no other part of North Seattle was a state-recognised city before it became part of Seattle.

But as it happens, other parts of North Seattle were recognised in other ways, and some of these are now forgotten.  I forgot myself to call a recent page "A Hike in Latona".  Before there was a U-District at all (I mean, literally, before it was land as opposed to swamp), Latona was a well-established village roughly where the northern part of the I-5 bridge now is.  I've now gone through the list of Seattle landmarks, and someone has proposed making the Latona School, at 401 NE 42nd St, a landmark.

(I'm not going to visit the landmarks on this set of hikes.  These hikes are about the cruelty of once again keeping most of the park water fountains shut off, not about celebrating gorgeous buildings.  If, while I continue writing you, dear Diary, there comes a time when it's appropriate to celebrate in you, I'll go photograph the landmarks.  I've also looked at the websites for Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities, and neither, near as I can tell, offers a list of places to visit.)

Anyway, there was another school, Ross School.  Two buildings by that name existed where Ross Park now is, the first built in 1883.  They were named after John Ross, who lived circa 1827 to 1886.  He was notoriously a curmudgeonly stick in the mud, kind of like me.

Days after he died, the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad guys I've previously mentioned to you, dear Diary, visited his ex-wife, Mary Jane Ross (née McMillan), circa 1843 to 1916, for permission to lay tracks and build a station on her land.  This station, midway between the Fremont and Ballard stations, they named after her Ross Station.

In 1888, the Ross Post Office opened.

If Ballard's historians insist on celebrating the 1890s alone, they may find that practice a two-edged sword.  Ross was annexed (and its post office closed) in 1901, six years before Ballard, but Ballard was in enough trouble by then that the 1900s are a much less popular decade for Ballard's boosters to get arrogant about.

Anyway, I'm not sure who owned the slopes the last page was about, back then, but I'm quite sure the places this page talks about were in Ross, not Fremont, and not Ballard.

Main source:  "Seattle's Pioneers of Fremont: John Ross", by Valarie, 2016.  She also cites "Seattle Beginnings: Ross Post Office opens on July 30, 1888", by Greg Lange, 1898.  I came across the main page while researching bridges for your page "Water and Water: The Lake Washington Ship Canal", dear Diary.  The part of that main page about Ross as a separate village is way, way, down the page.

Maps showing Ross:

One from the David Rumsey collection, a private company's 1890 creation.

The US Geological Survey - search for Seattle, and the 1897 map (of "Snohomish") shows Ross.

EDIT 5/11:  Map:

The school was, as noted, at Ross Park (A); the rail station will have been on what is now the Burke-Gilman Trail, probably not too far from the CDEF mess.  I don't know where the post office was.

Ross Park

Not only in the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation website but in the 2020 Seattle real property report from which I'm getting most of these sites' names, this is "Ross Playground".  However, the park's actual parks department sign says "Ross Park", and I think that makes much more sense.

Ever since I introduced this park to you, dear Diary, in "History and Parks", part I, I've bemoaned one reason after another why I couldn't properly photograph the uncredited mosaic (I think I've called it a mural, but it's a mosaic) set between the restrooms.  It isn't great art, but I like it and have been annoyed by the series of events.  So this time, one obstacle after another having fallen away, the first thing I did was take this picture:

which also isn't great art, but satisfies me no end just the same.

When the restrooms there are closed, the mosaic is obstructed by gratings and a central pole, so that picture by itself shows that they were open, but here's more explicit evidence:

As noted in these pages' introduction, the water fountain, though very probably capable of working (it worked last October, and hasn't visibly been damaged since), is shut off, or more precisely was shut off yesterday:

This park is crowded pretty much every time I visit it, so I tend to confine my photos to the central area, where the fountain, restrooms, and playground are.  This time I looked for a bit of landscape I could photograph, and found one that sometimes was empty:

That's more or less the northeast corner of the park, whereas the restrooms are in the northwest corner.  I also remembered, incorrectly, that Ross Park wasn't on the list of parks that offer baseball (nope, it is), so I took a picture of one of the sandlots even though people were using it:

Hazel Heights P-Patch

This is the P-Patch whose sign I showed in the previous page as evidence that some people think what was once Ross is part of Fremont; here it is again, in its proper place:

This P-Patch, like Cowen Park, consists almost entirely of stairs and gravel, but whereas Cowen is mostly gravel with a sprinkling of stairs, this one is mostly stairs with a sprinkling of gravel.  A little bit of it can be reached on wheels by climbing a steep slope to the back entrance, but that's it.  I thought that should enable a good view from the top, so tried to photograph one, and, well, I failed:

Lake WA Ship Canal Tower 1

This tower is slightly less public than tower 2; whereas that one actually rises directly over the Burke-Gilman Trail, this one is off a few feet to one side.  A photo similar to the one of tower 2:

The Burke-Gilman Trail

A photo showing bits of the tower as backdrop to a nice grassy area on the same side of the trail:

Fremont Canal Park

My efforts to find something to photograph of the next site took me all the way to the park sign at its 3rd Ave NW end, so I figured I should take another landscape photo while there:

Sewer R/W 205 NW 36th St

This is a construction site adjacent to the Burke-Gilman Trail directly across from tower 1.  I figured it was probably part of the Seattle Public Utilities tunnel project, so I circled it.  This entailed some danger from traffic on Leary Way NW, because in their infinite wisdom SPU put the sign explaining the work on the side where they'd pre-empted the sidewalk.  Anyway, I finally inched my way to it.  It's more informative than I remembered the sign in Fremont being, so even though taggers have managed to deface it badly, I took a broader photo:

and one specifically focused on its map:

Bright Street Parcel

We end on a boring note:  this is just a Seattle Department of Transportation-owned parking lot at Leary Way NW and NW Bright St.

Well, that's it for Ross; next up, southeastern Ballard, but again not right away.  Until later, dear Diary.