Posts tagged ‘seattle’

Seattle Parks Video – “Parks, Pleasant Occasions, and Happiness” [1977]

It’s not every day when I can look back on the Seattle I knew as a 13-year old boy.

I just happened across this video today, which is actually a 17-minute short depicting Seattle and its parks network in 1977. There are no spoken words, only an upbeat musical soundtrack. The cinematography is simple and pleasant, void of tricks or trendy angles that frequented many of the films from the period.

The storyline is also simple and pleasant.

After the sun rises over the landscape of Seattle, a quiet old man sits down on a park bench at the beginning of the movie. He shuffles his way through all the parks in the city. Street scenes, locations, and buildings familiar to Seattleites appear often – including the legendary Space Needle. Greenlake, in the north end of the city, is shown as a bustling recreational area with sunbathers, bicyclists, and runners (it’s still that way today). Freeway Park – which now stretches above and across the ribbon of Interstate 5 that runs through downtown Seattle – is shown in Phase One on the east side of the freeway only. Included are segments filmed along Alki Beach and Lincoln Park in West Seattle. There also appears to be some footage taken at Colman Playground, situated just south of Interstate 90 near its western terminus. The final pan-out takes viewers over Seattle’s skyline at sundown during the end of the film.

It’s a cute movie that is accompanied by a flute, a clarinet, and pianist Norman Durkee.

After doing some research on Durkee, I discovered that he was also responsible for the piano accompaniment on Bachmann-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business;” The band was recording their album in a Seattle studio when Durkee walked through one night (story HERE); without knowing the band (and without them knowing he was a musician), Durkee recommended that they lay down a honky-tonk piano track for TCB. They asked him to do the part, which he wrote out quickly on a pizza box and recorded in one take.

The most noteworthy things to me in the video are the skyline shots. The city looks exactly as I remember it from my youth – a bold mix of trees, concrete, and really huge cars. If I close my eyes, I can smell a 1977 Seattle summer – Warm air, dust, hot asphalt, and the exhaust from a 1973 Chevy Monte Carlo in traffic. While these elements may not seem alluring, combined they contribute to how I remember Seattle as a younger man and bring back a time for me which was simpler. This movie does great job of sharing my Seattle of the past.

Here’s an excerpt of the longer video shown above:

Seattle City Light: Radio Dispatched to Alki [1968]


“Come in, Truck 82…”

A Seattle City Light service truck makes a visit to a view home in Seattle’s Alki neighborhood in 1968.  The serviceman is wearing his lab coat and white service hat.  Back in the days before cellphones, he would have been sent there by a gruff-sounding dispatcher barking over the dash-mounted Motorola radio in the vehicle.  The Range Service Truck: A mid-1960s Chevrolet van – like this one – done in Utility Yellow.  In the garage: A 1959 Ford Galaxie convertible.

Built in 1954, this “Mid-Century” home design is common in neighborhoods and suburbs surrounding Seattle:


The roof line and brown on the siding in the first picture are nearly identical to my suburban house – which was built in the late 1960s.  Today that Alki house still stands, now with garage doors on the car port, and frankly still possessing a tremendous view:


And the radio-dispatched yellow van?  Most likely retired and scrapped.

Self Portrait [1985]

Portrait on The Floating Bridge - 1985

I love before & after shots.

There’s something inherently cool about being able to duplicate a photograph from the past, to see what the differences are between the old and the new.  I did exactly that a couple of years ago, when I came across a 1985 photo I took of myself on the Lacy V. Murrow Bridge across Lake Washington (aka “The Floating Bridge”).  The shot I took back in the day couldn’t be redone, because there is no longer a sidewalk along the south side of the span.  But still, it was fun to see how much things have changed.

And even since the stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad took the 2010 photo, I’ve lost 50 pounds, so change keeps coming.

For more about this self portrait, read my write-up on Intersect –

Christmas Party [1952]

Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives

Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives

Straight from the City of Seattle file cabinets comes this gem of vintage holiday goodness!

The bare tree in the background says it all: It’s Christmas in the Public Sector. Look at the executives in suits, men in working linemen attire and “the office girl” in her stylish skirt and blouse; they’re just having a good time over coffee and cookies.  No doubt there’s ashtrays on those tables, filled with stubbed-out Pall Malls.

Hard to believe this picture is sixty years old! For more vintage public awesomeness, check out their photostream on Flickr.

Space Needle on Kodachrome [ca. 1980]

Space Needle - Kodachrome Slide

Seattle’s Space Needle is immediately recognizable as a city icon…at least to the folks around here.  But when I bought this slide from an eBayer in Arizona, it was described as “35mm Slide Parking Lot w/ Tower.”  Never heard it called a tower, but we can go with that.  Besides: If it had been labeled as “Space Needle” the photo would have sold before I got to it!

This Kodakchrome slide is not dated; I would time it circa late 1970s or early 1980s.  The SkyLine level – added 100-foot up in 1982 – does not appear on the structure.  Cars in the scene include a Plymouth Volare, 1963-ish Ford Falcon, BMW 320i and Volvo station wagon.  The structure behind the man’s head is the track for the Monorail – another Seattle icon.

If you can’t get enough of the Space Needle, take a look at its timeline on Intersect.  Also, check out some of the Space Needle shots I’ve taken over the years:

Self Portrait [1985]


There were discussions in the last post about how growing house plants was the thing in the Seventies.  It made me dig out this pic, which has a bit of Seventies laid in behind the subject matter!

This came from a Kodak 200 negative I found in storage recently.

It apparently was the last photo on the roll, because it was right next to the film’s ID tag.  Somehow it seemed right to scan them together. The photo appears to be from 1985; I don’t recall taking it, but my sisters identified the house as the one where we grew up – along with the macrame plant hanger which they made. 

For more Self-Portrait goodness from the Eighties, check out this post I published about another picture I took in 1985!

Vintage Photo of Seattle Skyline [1985]

A few days ago I found a plastic folder filled with photo negatives. I thought this collection of images was long lost, but thankfully it had somehow survived all my moves and cleanouts. This vintage skyline pic was one of the negatives in the pack. The photo was taken using a Pentax K1000 camera and 105mm lens, with Fuji 100 film. The view here is from Alki Point looking east towards downtown Seattle.  I think I had the day off.

Or was “between jobs.”

The centerpiece to the picture is the dark-colored Columbia Tower, which was recently completed when the photo was taken.  Much around it has filled in since.  I tried to work with the color – or lack of it – with post editing tools after the scan, but this was the best I was able to get out of it.  Best guess is that the light conditions that were less then stellar, evidenced by the looming clouds, and the 100 speed film just wasn’t enough to capture the scene with any strength.  Oh well; it may not win awards but it does a good job of documenting a skyline that has changed immensely.

All Hail the Terminal!

Old school data terminal, seen at the Computer Museum in Re-PC in Seattle. They had hard drives the size of heads, and an entire selection of original Apple products.


The Fish Bowl – Seattle WA 1984

The Fish Bowl - Seattle 1984

This restaurant was a long-standing institution in North Seattle, opening for business in 1947. The building is still there, but the restaurant is not.


Self-Propelled Beard

Musicians performing at Pike Place Market anniversary celebration, 1972

Something tells me that the facial hair in the middle has a mind of its own.

While the other beards just have a straggly hippie-musician thing going on, the one in middle stands out.  In short, it doesn’t fit.  Rather than making the musician look hip, the beard seems to take on a self-serving – even symbiotic – role instead; it’s independent of its owner, parasite on a host.  Equally versatile and eye shattering at the same time.  UW Huskies young and old are turning their Purple & Gold sensibilities away from his long campus scarf, filled with the shame of the ages.  Something tells me the scarf and the bus drapes both smell like patchouli.

One picture can cause so many emotions!


Photo from Seattle Municipal Archives

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