Category Archives: Life on the Hill

Holiday lights on Beacon Hill

When I was very young, the local newspapers used to host a Christmas light contest each year. People would decorate their houses in amazing ways, and the newspapers would publish the list of competitors. My parents would then drive us around to see the decorated houses.

Then came 1973, and the oil shortages. Suddenly it was irresponsible to have holiday lights. The contests went away, and the city because a lot less festive. It was years before we started seeing a ton of lights again. And I missed the light shows of my early childhood.

Now, we’re back to the 1973 state of things in many ways. It’s not “green” to waste that much energy. But I still enjoy the lights anyway, at least for a few weeks each year in Seattle’s terribly dark winters. They brighten up our evenings and make the darkness easier to bear.

We’ll be featuring Beacon Hill homes with lights and decoration periodically until Christmas. Do you have some cool decorations? How about your neighbors? Please write and tell us, so we can post a picture.

Our first featured home is on the 1500 block of South Atlantic Street. (See the map at the bottom of this post.) Tons of lights, a countdown clock to Christmas, and Santa in a helicopter!

Notice the countdown clock above the door.
Notice the countdown clock above the door.
I love how colorful this one is.
I love how colorful this one is.
A very cheery house and front yard.
A very cheery house and front yard.

Here’s a map to help you find the house. We’ll add other holiday houses to the map over the next few weeks.

View Larger Map

Welcome to a new Beacon Hill resident

If you didn’t read the comments in the Thanksgiving pie post a couple of days ago, you missed the announcement of a brand-new Beacon Hill resident.

Welcome to Stella Rose Hill-Stach, born at 5:09 pm on Tuesday, November 25 to Tyler and Sarah!

Congratulations to the happy parents!

(We’re glad to post birth announcements, engagement and wedding announcements, etc. for Beaconians. If you have one, please email us!)

Evolution of a new, improved Jefferson Park

Willie Weir writes to the beaconhill list:

Hey neighbors,

I have periodically taken photos of the work on the reservoir in Jefferson Park. I’ve lived here long enough to remember the space surrounded by barbed wire. I know there are people on this list who still haven’t seen the view from this vantage point. On a clear day this winter, walk past the community and up toward the lawn bowling club. You won’t be disappointed!

Willie recommends that you choose the high-definition and full-screen options to view it in its full detail:


There are also a couple of photos of the area from a year or so ago in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.

Thanks for the awesome photos and video, Willie!

The cow on Beacon Avenue

Farm animal on Beacon Avenue South, October 2008. Photo by Jason.
Farm animal on Beacon Avenue South, October 2008. Photo by Jason.
Though South Beacon Hill looks suburban now, within living memory it was rural, with woods and farms. The large P-Patch near MLK and Henderson gives a hint of the old Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley, but that’s not the only sign of the old rural South Seattle.

A couple of weeks ago, Jason and I were down on Renton Avenue, near Vince’s, and decided to drive up the hill and try to take a good picture of the Chief Sealth trail. We did, and then kept driving a bit to see what else was up there. We soon found ourselves on the southeastern segment of Beacon Avenue South, which, though it seems to end when it merges with 39th Avenue South on South Beacon Hill, starts up again east of MLK and continues down to South 128th Street in Skyway. And there, near South Bond Street, we saw… a cow. The one you see in this picture. Right next to the road, happily munching away at some grass.

We stopped the car to take this photo, and heard the sound of horses whinnying. In Seattle, of all places.

It turns out that this cow is Vaca, the family cow at Sferra Farm, the last working farm in Seattle. The 20-acre horse farm has been there since 1919, and now it’s the last vestige of a South Seattle that once was. Recently the Sferra Farm made the news because the city’s new rates for drainage tax threatened its survival (the City Council later amended the drainage rate ordinance), and because of this you can see more pictures of Vaca and Sferra farm at Richard Conlin’s photo gallery and on Dori Monson’s website at KIRO radio.

The area where the farm is located is called Rainier Beach on the city’s neighborhood map, but just barely (the boundary on that map is MLK). The farm and its area are discussed in Chapter Four, “South Beacon Hill,” of Seattle’s Beacon Hill, by Frederica Merrell and Mira Latoszek.

I love Vaca’s fuzzy, soft-looking ears. It was a nice unexpected surprise to see a farm animal in the city.

Neighbors reaching out to teens

Jennifer Jukanovich spoke last night at the North Beacon Hill Council meeting. She described something she and her husband Dano had been a part of over the past several years. As the frequent summertime congregation of teens around the C&C Valero station on Beacon Ave. began to become an issue with neighbors, they decided to do something: Thursday evening BBQs. All teens invited. Free burgers and hotdogs. Sometimes movies projected onto the fence around their home at 18th & Stevens. It was declared a safe corner– one where personal (or gang-related) altercations were not allowed, but where everyone was welcome. Including, recently, a uniformed police officer, Eric Sano. His presence was initially quite controversial, but he’s become inspirational to some teens who previously didn’t know what they wanted to do.

The Jukanoviches have provided a place for these kids where they’re wanted, where they’re included, a place where they can feel safe. However, Dano and Jennifer may be moving away very soon, for three years, to Rwanda. She came to the NBHC meeting to let other people know what can be done, and share one way they’ve done it. And to encourage the BBQs to continue next summer, possibly without them.

And she stressed one piece of advice for people concerned about the teens encountered in their neighborhood: “Learn their names.”

Similar sentiments on a larger youth-involvement scale were expressed by the second guest speaker, Mariana Quarnstrom, president of the Southeast Seattle Crime Prevention Council (and yes, Mrs. Dr. Quarnstrom!). She shared her stories with several teen and youth programs out there, and the difficulties many of them struggle with to stay in operation.

She offered similar advice: Don’t drop your head and race past as if they didn’t exist. Disarm them with a “hello.”

Both firmly agreed: Get involved with teens. Let them know that someone cares.

Update: Amie of North Beacon Hill just posted a notice for the March For Youth planning meeting to be held tonight at 7:00 pm in the Rainier Vista Neighborhood House Paul Allen Room (4410 29th Ave S).

Improving Beacon Hill: your suggestions

Old laundromat, tagged with graffiti. Photo by Laura Hadden -- thanks!
Old laundromat on Beacon Avenue, tagged with graffiti. Photo by Laura Hadden -- thanks!
Recently we asked you “what are some things you’d like to improve on Beacon Hill?” The ensuing discussion was lively, to say the least. In comparison to the recent discussion about things we love about Beacon Hill, the answers to this one were more diverse.

The answers could be broken down into two broad categories: Stuff We Want, and Stuff That Needs to Improve.

Please read on to see what people said. Continue reading Improving Beacon Hill: your suggestions

How was your Election Day?

It’s 3:00 am, and according to the Slog (one photo at that link has very rude language; you have been warned), at 2:30 people were still partying on the streets of Capitol Hill. For all I know, they are still out there now. Wow. There were street parties in the U District and near the Showbox as well–lots of happy, celebrating people. I haven’t seen anything like this since the Mariners beat the Yankees in the ’95 playoffs.

Unfortunately I wasn’t on Beacon Hill this evening to see how folks on the Hill spent their Election Day evening; we were up in Greenwood at a house party. So how did it go down here? Where did you all watch the election returns?

It’s not too late to vote

El Centro polling place welcomes you. Photo by Wendi.
El Centro polling site welcomes you. Photo by Wendi.
We stopped by El Centro de la Raza, our precinct’s polling site, shortly before 5 pm. There were a lot of people there (in a fairly tiny room) but no lines, and a lot of happy energy. If you haven’t voted yet, polls are open until 8:00 pm, and if you are in line before that time, you get to vote even if it’s after 8:00. So, no excuses — get out there and vote! If you have an absentee ballot in hand that you forgot to mail, you can drop it off at your local polling site.

I will miss these polling sites when we switch to all-mail voting next year. There was always something special about going in to vote next to your neighbors, and exchanging a few words with the poll workers. It was a great bit of Americana, and I think we’ll have lost a piece of our community’s soul when it is gone.

Trick-or-treaters: did you get any?

We at the Beacon Hill Blog are still recovering from Halloween. No, not from drinking or eating candy, but from staying up late with friends, playing Rock Band 2. At any rate, we’re curious. Did you all get trick-or-treaters? How many?

We must have had over 100 in our part of North Beacon, considering how much candy we went through. Unfortunately, a very large number were teenage kids, not in costume, putting candy in their backpacks or pockets. I asked the first group of kids who showed up sans costume what they were dressed as. The kid in front said, “a thug.” I am not kidding. That group was pretty polite, though. It was another group of kids that stole one of our decorations. And there was also a teenage boy who, after I gave him candy, pushed forward, stuck his hand into the candy dish, grabbed a huge handful of additional candy and ran off. I learned to hold the bowl away from the kids after that. We ran out of candy before the final trick-or-treaters showed up, and we had bought a lot of it.

The cute little kids in costume made up for the bad taste left by the older kids, who are really too old for this. Though I wouldn’t mind if they’d dress up for it.

What are some things you’d like to improve on Beacon Hill?

Our position under the Blue Angels flight path during Seafair is one of those things that some people love about Beacon Hill, and others would probably prefer to change. Photo by Wendi from the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
Our position directly under the Blue Angels' flight path during Seafair is one of those things that some people love about Beacon Hill, and others would probably prefer to change. Photo by Wendi from the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
A while ago we asked you “what are five things you love about Beacon Hill?” There were a lot of great answers describing the wonderful things to be found on the Hill. But now it’s time to go the other direction. What are some things you wish could be improved on Beacon Hill?

Here are a couple of mine, in no particular order, to get you started. They don’t have to be issues of huge importance, though those are fine, too. Some of mine are a bit frivolous, but that’s OK:

  • We could use a few more restaurants, particularly pizza, and a good brewpub. (And can you get breakfasts on the Hill?)
  • Speaking of pizza, Pagliacci is one company that will not deliver to us or open a store in Southeast Seattle; our delivery options are fairly limited, compared to other neighborhoods.
  • I love our local coffee shops, but wish they’d stay open a bit later; there’s no real gathering place for people in the evenings other than the few bars.
  • I would like to see the Hill be a bit more self-contained, so we can avoid driving our cars more, though the light rail will help quite a bit. There used to be a drugstore up here, and a movie theater. Wouldn’t it be great to have those again? How about a book shop or newsstand?
  • I really, really want to see a regularly-scheduled street market up here on the hill. Not even necessarily a Farmer’s Market, though that would be wonderful, of course — but one that has things besides food. Art and crafts, maybe? Or collectibles? Why not give people from outside the area a reason to come up to Beacon Hill once the train is running? Maybe then they will spend money elsewhere on the Hill, too.