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Emergency drill Saturday at Link stations

November 5th, 2010 at 6:36 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

These doors to the southbound platform in Beacon Hill Station will be closed again tomorrow morning for an emergency drill. Photo by Oran Viriyincy in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool.

Sound Transit, the Seattle Fire Department and the Seattle Police Department will conduct an annual emergency drill tomorrow, November 6, from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. During the drill, the southbound platforms at Beacon Hill Station and Mount Baker Station will be closed, and riders will need to use the northbound platform to catch Link trains in either direction. Trains will run between Westlake and the airport every ten minutes with potential minor delays.

For more information, follow Sound Transit’s Rider Alerts page, or call the Rider Information number, 1-888-889-6368.


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Opinion: Beacon Hill needs a portable food revolution

January 14th, 2010 at 4:07 am | 15 Comments | Posted by admin

Food stands in Portland; could we have this here? Photo by Joel Lee.

by Joel Lee

I’ve always admired Portland’s funky attitude towards street food vendors. What was years ago a smattering of taco trucks and falafel vendors, has grown into entire streets filled with every imaginable variety of food being served from every imaginable type of food wagon. Working in downtown Portland means having your choice between dozens of street vendors during lunchtime.

Since returning from my recent trip to Portland I’ve been dreaming of seeing more of this in Seattle. Besides my own selfish desires for more food selection, it’s also a perfect building block for a strong local economy. It does not take nearly as much money to start up a food cart as it would to open a restaurant, and it does not involve nearly as much risk—these types of small businesses are the front lines in a recovering economy.

I would love it if the area around our light rail station would develop into an area where street vendors would become more welcome and small business entrepreneurs would be given the time, community support, and space to try new types of businesses. As an added bonus this would give us a multi-ethnic gathering place, build community, and enliven ‘downtown’ Beacon Hill.

Joel Lee maintains the Beacon Hill Public Art website.

Do you have an opinion? We welcome opinion articles on topics related to Beacon Hill. Please email us your ideas.

Another Portland food stand. Photo by Joel.


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Public art abounds on Beacon Hill

September 1st, 2009 at 4:35 am | 9 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Our first annual “Top of the Hill” survey is still open for a while yet, and we’re not releasing results until it closes, but there has been one fairly frequent answer that I’ve noticed. One of the questions is “What is your favorite public art on Beacon Hill?” and while most people do have a favorite, there has been a surprisingly large number of people who say they don’t know of any public art up here. While we may not have as much obvious public art as some neighborhoods, we do have a fair amount. (The number probably doubled with this year’s addition of the Link station and its multiple artworks.) Here’s a collection of images of some of the art we all enjoy on Beacon Hill.

Many of these photos are from the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr. Have any photos you’d like to share? You are welcome to contribute them to the pool.

The mural on the side of Kusina Filipina. Photo by l0st2.

The mural on the side of Kusina Filipina. Photo by l0st2.


Mosaic in Dr. Jose Rizal Park. Photo by Seattle Daily Photo.

Mosaic in Dr. Jose Rizal Park. Photo by Seattle Daily Photo.


In front of the light rail station. Photo by l0st2.

In front of the light rail station. Photo by l0st2.


One of the creatures inside the Beacon Hill Link station. Photo by Wendi.

One of the "creatures" inside the Beacon Hill Link station. Photo by Wendi.


More »


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Neighbor-to-neighbor: Parking woes in the RPZ

August 17th, 2009 at 9:06 pm | 14 Comments | Posted by Melissa Jonas

Photo by Wendi.

Photo by Wendi.

What are your experiences with the new RPZ (Restricted Parking Zone) in Beacon Hill?

Since 2003, I’ve parked my car in front of the house on the concrete area between the sidewalk and the street. There are two spaces and the curb is cut to allow car access to the area. The car doesn’t block the sidewalk. We considered this area a parking strip. According to the brochure left on my windshield, the City considers it a planting strip and it is illegal to park there.

I’m not the only person on our block to use this area for long-term parking. If I park on the street, I have to move my car every 72 hours–even if I have nowhere to go. I thought parking on the parking strip was responsible; I’m frustrated that it’s not allowed.

We chose this neighborhood in part because the location encourages and supports leaving the car at home. I walk to Red Apple and restaurants and we both take mass transit to work. We have cars because occasionally we need them–but rarely every 72 hours.

How does a law that requires every car in the city move every 72 hours encourage people to get out of our cars? How is parking in a paved area with curb cutouts worse than parking on the street?

Does anyone know the process for initiating changes in parking policy?


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Beacon Bits, Getting Around edition: shuttling to Seafair, making light rail work, and who is riding Link?

July 31st, 2009 at 5:45 pm | 4 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

This crowd of folks was in Mount Baker watching the Seafair hydroplane races in 1965. Plan to do the same this year? Light rail can get you there. Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.

This crowd of folks was in Mount Baker watching the Seafair hydroplane races in 1965. Plan to do the same this year? Light rail can get you there. Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.

Going to Seafair festivities this weekend? Forget your car, and take Link light rail! Take the light rail to the Othello Station and catch a free Seafair Express Shuttle to the front gate, or go to the Columbia City Station and walk approximately one mile to the main gate.

***

Roger Valdez of Beacon Hill writes in Sightline Daily about the long path to geting light rail in Seattle, and suggests steps the city will need to take to make it work in the long run, including smart land use policies that enhance and create transit demand by creating denser communities, and establishment of policies that will encourage and support transit ridership.

***

City Councilman Bruce Harrell reports his involvement in securing federal funds for lighting, pedestrian, and transit improvements at the Mount Baker light rail station and the Rainier Avenue South and South Jackson Street areas. The Rainier project will provide buses with “queue jumps” and traffic signal priority, as well as adding 15 bus bulbs. These changes will allow buses to save time by bypassing traffic and avoiding merges into heavy traffic. The Mount Baker project will involve lighting which will link the station with Franklin High School, and provide safer crossing for pedestrians on Rainier Avenue and MLK.

***

Nina Shapiro in the Seattle Weekly discusses issues of cultural disparity on Link light rail: is the train just “stuff white people like?” However, her article currently contains one big error — she suggests that riders of bus routes such as the #42 avoid Link because transfers from Link to the bus are not free. This is not true. Link tickets allow you to transfer to a bus for free. If #42 riders are avoiding Link for that reason, it is because of a misunderstanding of the fare system, and perhaps because Sound Transit/Metro haven’t yet done the best possible job of communicating how it works.


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Light Rail restaurant review: Baja Bistro

July 21st, 2009 at 3:16 pm | 5 Comments | Posted by Melissa Jonas

Happiness is this tasty margarita, just consumed at Baja Bistro. Photo by melissajonas.

Happiness is this tasty margarita, just consumed at Baja Bistro. Photo by melissajonas.

Baja Bistro and Java Love are actually conjoined twins: a bar on one side and a coffee shop on the other, sharing a kitchen. There are a few tables and chairs outside and small seating areas in both restaurants.

Baja Bistro has a full liquor license. They sell a limited number of bottled beers and probably have some wine–but the reason we go here is for the margaritas. Whether you go for traditional lime or upgrade to a house pomegranate-lime blend, you will not be disappointed. Drinks are served in pint glasses and balance great taste with moderate alcohol–and they’re within walking distance of my house!

I also rave about the tacos patatas–potato tacos. Trust me, they are incredible! Crispy, filling, but not greasy or heavy. Perfect with a margarita or other summer beverage. Also be sure to try the fish tacos, the mole enchiladas, and the incredible tortas (bolo sandwich with rich avocado and mayo spread). The homemade chips and salsa are also a treat, or you can upgrade to nachos.

Service at Baja Bistro is sincerely friendly. Everyone is made to feel welcome. Everyone on staff seems to enjoy being there and it’s clear they expect you to linger for a while. Service is quick, but the atmosphere encourages hanging out and enjoying a conversation (or a book). Baja Bistro is also kid friendly, at least on the Java Love side. The owner lives on Beacon Hill and received an award from The Stranger for being one of “Seattle’s Sexiest Baristas”. Someone should really nominate his younger brother for the award next year…

Regular prices are reasonable (meals for two are generally around $20-$25, more if you order drinks) and Happy Hour prices are very happy: $3 tacos and $5 margaritas.

Thanks to Link Light Rail, people who aren’t fortunate enough to walk to Baja Bistro will be able to take the train. Baja Bistro is two blocks north of the Beacon Hill light rail station. Come on up and enjoy some good food, great drinks, and outstanding company!

They close at 5:00 pm on Mondays, and stay open until 9:00 pm Tuesday-Friday. Enjoy breakfast and other items from 9:00 am-3:00 pm on weekends.

Neighborhood: Beacon Hill
2414 Beacon Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 323-0953


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Going places on light rail: Mount Baker station

July 18th, 2009 at 9:16 am | 4 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Cheesesteaks are a very short walk away from the elevated Mount Baker Station. Photo by Jason

Cheesesteaks are a very short walk away from the elevated Mount Baker Station. Photo by Jason

The Mount Baker Station is located just west of Rainier Avenue South, and just south of South McClellan Street. Had it been built 40-some years ago at that site, it might have been called Stadium Station; the former site of Sick’s Stadium, home of the American League Seattle Pilots in 1969 (not to mention the Seattle Rainiers for 40 years), is just across the street. It’s now Lowe’s, and there is a small historical display there. (Here’s a video on YouTube that shows the stadium in its heyday, and later in its decrepitude, before it was demolished in the 1970s. And here’s an old documentary about the Pilots, in two parts, with more footage of the stadium and 1960s Seattle.) Sick’s wasn’t just known for baseball, either — Elvis and Jimi Hendrix, among others, played concerts there.

Thirty years after the stadium’s demise, the area is a relatively automobile-focused district containing fast food and big stores like Lowe’s, Rite Aid, and QFC, mostly surrounded by large parking lots, with cars speeding by on Rainier Avenue. It’s not a pedestrian-friendly environment, but the intent is that the new station, and the potential transit-friendly development it will attract, will improve that.

East of the station rises the imposing neoclassical façade of Franklin High School, which opened in 1912 and was renovated in the late 1980s.

Northeast of Lowe’s on MLK, between South Walker and South Bayview streets, you’ll find the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Park, a tiered, grassy amphitheatre-like space containing a reflecting pool and a 30-foot-tall granite sculpture by Robert Kelly, inspired by King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

There is good eating to be found near the station, even if you have to dodge a few cars to find it. Thai Recipe is located in the same strip mall as Domino’s on McClellan, and it is the only Thai restaurant we know of that even borders on North Beacon Hill. The very friendly staff serves good, reliable, and tasty Thai food, available for take out or to eat in the small dining room.

Perhaps your current craving is for a cheesesteak sandwich instead. If so, there’s The Original Philly’s, almost in the shadow of Mount Baker station at the intersection of Rainier and McClellan.

The art at this station includes chandeliers on the underside of the guideway, made from recycled “cobra head” street lights (Sky Within by Sheila Klein), and painted glass forming splashes of color on the glass face of the station (Rain, Steam and Speed and Seattle Sunrise, both by Guy Kemper);

If you continue on the train toward downtown from Mount Baker, you will then turn west and enter the Beacon Hill tunnel. Here’s a video taken by Oran Viriyincy to give you a taste of what it’s like to ride the train from Mount Baker into the tunnel.


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Working into the night to be ready for Saturday

July 17th, 2009 at 4:00 pm | 6 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap
In the last few days, the Beacon Hill Station has gotten closer and closer to completion, with the addition of landscaping, paving, and public art. Laborers have been working night and day to ready the station for tomorrow's Grand Opening. Photo by Jason.

In the last few days, the Beacon Hill Station has gotten closer and closer to completion, with the addition of landscaping, paving, and public art. Laborers have been working night and day to ready the station for tomorrow's Grand Opening. Photo by Jason.


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Going places on light rail: Columbia City station

July 17th, 2009 at 5:49 am | 4 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

(As the big opening day for light rail is this Saturday, we want to post a bit about the stations that aren’t on Beacon Hill. Much of the coverage of the rail line focuses on using it for commuting to and from work, and many of us will be doing that. But even more than getting to work, Link is going to be useful for visiting places throughout Downtown and Southeast Seattle without a car. With this in mind, we’ve created a few posts about some of the station areas.)

The pictogram representing the Columbia City station is a dove. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)

The pictogram representing the Columbia City station is a dove. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)

The Columbia City Station is located on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, just on the western edge of Columbia City. The station site itself is just south of a new development, Rainier Vista, a former public housing site originally built in the 1940s to house defense workers, and recently redeveloped as a multi-income community inspired by New Urbanist principles.

Walk from the south end of the station east on South Edmunds Street, and after about one-third of a mile you’ll emerge on the neighborhood’s main drag, Rainier Avenue South, just south of Southeast Seattle’s only full-time movie theater, the triple-screen Columbia City Cinema. Further north on Rainier is the recently-expanded Columbia Branch Library, a Georgian Revival-style Carnegie Library building from 1915. The library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A train leaves the Columbia City station while Mount Rainier dazzles in the background. Photo by Wendi.

A train leaves the Columbia City station while Mount Rainier dazzles in the background. Photo by Wendi.

The wider Columbia City business district is itself a Seattle Landmark District (one of seven historic districts in the city) as well as a National Register Historic District, and includes a variety of interesting commercial buildings, houses, churches, and apartment buildings. The Seattle.gov website has a Historic Tour of Columbia City that you can print out and follow as you explore the neighborhood.

Restaurants in Columbia City are plentiful and you can choose from cuisines including Caribbean, barbecue, Neapolitan Italian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, and more. There is also a brewpub, the Columbia City Ale House. (CC Ale House doesn’t actually brew, but they do have a fairly large selection of local and regional microbrews — Ed.)

The Global Garden Shovel sculpture is impossible to miss, on the northwest side of the station. Photo by Wendi.

The Global Garden Shovel sculpture is impossible to miss, on the northwest side of the station. Photo by Wendi.

If you feel the need to eat before walking to the heart of Columbia City, much nearer the station is the Japanese fast-food restaurant Maki & Yaki, serving teriyaki, sushi, bento boxes, and more just north of the MLK and South Alaska intersection.

Like the other light rail stations, Columbia City Station is surrounded by public art, including Victoria Fuller’s Global Garden Shovel, a giant bronze shovel molded with the shapes of fruit and vegetables. In Norie Sato’s Pride, the south plaza of the station is guarded by lions customized to reflect the diversity of the neighborhood. When you are riding the train north from Othello Station to Columbia City, look to your left between Dawson Street and Hudson Street to see Sound of Light, by artist Richard C. Elliott, made of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of reflectors arranged in overlapping, symmetrical patterns. (See this one in both day and night, if you can.)

Sound of Light by the late Richard Elliott, as seen at night, lit up by the lights of passing cars. You can only see this artwork while traveling north on MLK. Photo by Wendi.

Sound of Light, by the late Richard Elliott, as seen at night, lit up by the lights of passing cars. You can only see this artwork while traveling north on MLK. Photo by Wendi.


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Going places on light rail: Othello station

July 16th, 2009 at 5:08 am | 4 Comments | Posted by Jason

(As the big opening day for light rail is this Saturday, we want to post a bit about the stations that aren’t on Beacon Hill. Much of the coverage of the rail line focuses on using it for commuting to and from work, and many of us will be doing that. But even more than getting to work, Link is going to be useful for visiting places throughout Downtown and Southeast Seattle without a car. With this in mind, we’ve created a few posts about some of the station areas.)

The pictogram representing the Othello station is a stag. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)

The pictogram representing the Othello station is a stag. (Courtesy of Sound Transit.)

The Othello Station is located in a neighborhood on the verge of great change. Though the area currently has a few empty lots and what the Seattle Times recently called “a weary row of shops,” the station is already spurring new transit-oriented development in the area: a 420,000 square foot mixed-use project is breaking ground right next to the new light rail station. The New Holly redevelopment of the former Holly Park public housing project is just up the hill, and the similar Othello Station planned community is next door. The station area bears the weight of heavy expectations, perhaps more than any of the other station locations.

A Link train arrives at Othello Station. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

A Link train arriving at Othello Station, last fall. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

Attractions and destinations nearby include the Chief Sealth Trail, which also comes close to the Rainier Beach Station, Othello Playground, the New Holly library, and the Bumblebee Boxing Club. And while certainly nothing to write home about, this stop brings the nearest Safeway to any of the stations although it’s also quite possibly not going to be a Safeway for terribly much longer. The Rainier Valley Post reports today that the store has a $3 million makeover coming in January.

The public art around the station includes Roger Shimomura’s Rainier Valley Haiku, an exploration of Asian identity and culture in 21st Century America; Brian Goldbloom’s Stormwater Project, granite catchbasins inspired by Japanese stonework; and Augusta Asberry’s Come Dance With Me, in which eight stylized women dance along the edge of MLK in colorful dress.

Othello neighbors enjoyed the MLK Safety Street Fair last year, but this Saturdays celebration promises to be even more festive. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

Othello neighbors enjoyed the MLK Safety Street Fair last year, but this Saturday's celebration promises to be even more festive. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

“Downtown” Othello has a fair number of restaurants to choose from, mostly ethnic food, including the much-loved Tacos El Asadero bus on MLK between South Othello Street and Renton Avenue South. Olympic Express has lamb curry, gyros, and halal meats, along with Asian fast food such as pho and teriyaki. Rose Petals serves up southern food: greens, ox tails, cornbread, and fried chicken, “like fife and drum music for my stomach,” according to one Yelp reviewer.

The Othello Station area will be particularly festive on Link’s opening day, July 18, when a free community festival to celebrate light rail’s arrival will be held at MLK and South Othello Street. There will be food, art, commemorative souvenirs, “Undriver’s Licenses” for everyone, and entertainment including Massive Monkees, the Lion dancers, Big World Breaks, Ruby Shuz, and more.

The Come Dance With Me sculpture by Augusta Asberry dances in front of a forlorn retail building, since torn down to be replaced by a mixed-use development. Photo by Matthew Rutledge.

The "Come Dance With Me" women by Augusta Asberry danced in front of a forlorn retail building last winter, since torn down to be replaced by a mixed-use development. Photo by Matthew Rutledge.

Updated with new information about the Othello Safeway remodel.


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