Seattle has amongst the best street performers and some of the most colourful people we've ever encountered on our travels.
Take the time to stop and enjoy the creative music and wonderful sounds that some of these young up and coming stars provide to the onlookers for small tips or with the hopes of selling a cheap CD.
I was walking back up Virginia Street around 4th ave a little east of Dahlia Lounge when I saw this building:
As I was taking a picture, a lady was standing in the doorway smoking so I asked her about it.
She says the story is:
3 guys built / bought the building and since none of them had the ego-need to name it after themselves, they collectively agreed to title it "none of them," hence the sign.
No matter your personal taste in music Seattle is your town. My suggestion is to be a "quiet fanatic" when it comes to the more "well known" or shall I say infamous musical acts coming from Seattle and the Northwest region of the country. Being a tourist and just having to tell someone "Kurt changed my life," is rather hard to hear for people who actually lived it, who actually had a life, a city, and community change because of any one of the spiritually gifted musicians this city consistently produces. Unless of course you have bonded with a fellow traveler(s) and are sharing stories, then to your pleasant surprise, a round of drinks may be sent to your table by a weathered yet distinguished man tipping his mug in salute at the common bond.
It isn't that Seattlites are NOT friendly. They are not rude. They will answer if asked a direct question. But most are not friendly. They seem to avoid eye contact with strangers at all costs. They never return smiles.
It made me feel weird, initially, to be so intentionally ignored. It was a little nerve-wracking, as well, because there is a sort of language in eye contact in many places. Where I am from, it is how people passing each other on a sidewalk check to be sure the other passer-by is safe. Before crossing a street, a walker makes eye contact with the stopped drivers to acknowledge they are aware and won't turn at the stoplight into them. I never really paid attention to the behavior of eye contact or simple gestures before strangers before, so the habits are interesting.
My impression is that it is a cultural thing. Seattlites just seem to be self-involved. It isn't a bad thing - just a busy thing. I quickly adapted and acted the same way and felt somewhat disconnected from the world, and realized that is likely why Seattlites are so stand-offish...to gain personal space in a crowded city.
Are Seattlites helpful? Sure. You need directions? Most people are willing to give them. Need a recomendation for dinner? People are usually willing to tell you about their favorite. It stops there though. Don't expect to make any friends and don't expect any follow through. People here get into their sphere and stay there. You have you camping friends, and your reading group, your drinking buddies and art appreciation friends, and they never mix! It is sad but true. I don't know if it is the overcast weather or the rate at which the city as grown while ignoring its infrastructure problems, but people here get nervous when asked to go outside their comfort zone.
Great place for a short visit, but don't stay...unless you like the idea of a metropolis Mayberry.
Oh and for the love of god skip the duck!
Read a lot.
Love their coffee. And local microbrews.
Tend to keep to themselves, or their small circle of friends.
Behave courteously and politely to strangers.
Always wait for walk signals to cross the street.
Wave for the other driver to go first.
Move at a slower pace than most big city dwellers.
Love art and cultural, intellectual pursuits.
Enjoy all manner of outdoor activities.
Support liberal causes.
Fiercely defend their neighborhoods.
Fiercely defend the environment.
Use umbrellas. That's what Gore-Tex is for.
Like Californians. At least those that move in.
Display abundant wealth.
Push to the front of lines.
Make a public scene.
Tolerate obnoxious loudmouths.
Drive very well. At all. Especially if it is raining. Or the sun is out.
Go out of their way to make friends with strangers.
Seattlites (or whatever you call them) are awfully nice - my colleague and I kept on thinking we were back in the Midwest - Minneapolis or Dayton or something like that. Be prepared for a polite friendliness.
BUT don't walk across the street against the lights. Again, almost Midwestern in their respect for the law: even with no cars coming, downtown on a Sunday morning, everyone dutifully waited for the walk sign to cross the street; including the runners and joggers.
1. Seattle has many neighborhoods which are fiercely independant and have a strong sense of identity. This is much more so than compared to many American cities. The residents of Ballard, many of whom are descendants of Swedish immigrants, often don’t move from their neighborhood. They pride themselves in their neighborhood much as the residents from, say, Alki in West Seattle do. The cultural tip is not to criticize a neighborhood without being prepared for a fight!
2. People in Seattle try not to display wealth even if they have it. As a result, there aren’t too many large homes in Seattle. The ones that are there are located around Queen Anne (south part of the hill) and scattered one around Lake Washington. Outside of Seattle, Mercer Island and Medina/Clyde Hill tends to have more expensive homes.
3. Another cultural tip is that one should be prepared to be told how much it rains in Seattle. Some say this is done to reduce the number of people considering a move to Seattle. In reality, it rains mostly during the winter. This picture is of the University of Washington, perhaps a cultural site, but not related to the above paragraph.
People in Seattle are very friendly. When we speak with one another we usually stand very close to person we are speaking with, whether we know them or not. So no they are not trying to stick their tongue in your ear ( well unless you like that kind of stuff) other wise they are just being friendly.
Walking the streets of Seattle the first thing I noticed is that the locals seriously obey the DO NOT WALK signs at corners. The nearest car can be several blocks away yet they wait for the light to turn green.
Seattle is a very cosmopolitan city! I absolutely love every element...good and bad...of this place! You actually feel full of life here!
This is a photo of me and my friend from 15 years ago...taken in the Freemont district! It is an area known for these different sculptures! A fun place to hang!
Seattle views from harbour tour.
Russian Sub on the right
Japanese Gardens at bottom of the photo.