Visions of Vibrancy: Seattle

April 23, 2015 10 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The vibrancy of cities comes in all shapes and sizes. Many believe that what works in internationally known cosmopolitan settings may not be applicable for cities such as Jacksonville, which have struggled with embracing walkability. If we look hard enough, we may realize that this type of view should be challenged. Despite the diversity around the globe, all lively cities, downtowns, and urban cores have something in common: being pedestrian friendly. Today, Metro Jacksonville visits the streets of a Pacific Coast peer: Seattle.



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Sound Transit Link Light Rail is a rapid transit project in the Greater Seattle region, originally approved by a ballot measure in November 1996. Two lines are currently operating as of 2009: Tacoma Link and Central Link. Tacoma Link is a free LRT line running through downtown Tacoma. Central Link is a 13.9-mile LRT line connecting Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with downtown Seattle. A 3.1-mile extension between downtown and the University of Washington, the University Link, a is expected to open in 2016.


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The 0.96-mile Seattle Center Monorail connects Seattle Center with downtown's Westlake Center.The monorail, which cost $3.5 million to build, opened on March 24, 1962 for the Century 21 Exposition, a World's Fair held at the current site of Seattle Center. Annual ridership is around two million.

Jacksonville Connection: Jacksonville's JTA Skyway is a 2.5-mile monorail system surving downtown. The JTA Skyway opened in 1989.

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Also called "SLU," South Lake Union is a rapidly growing urban neighborhood between downtown and the south tip of Lake Union.

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Home to several cycle tracks, shared use paths, protected bicycle lanes and other facilities, Seattle is recognized as one of America's most bike friendly cities.

Jacksonville Connection: Along with Orlando, Tampa, and Miami, Jacksonville has been deemed one of the most dangerous cities in the US for bicyclists and pedestrians.


Lake Union

Lake Union is a 580-acre freshwater lake entirely within the Seattle city limits and a major part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
Lake Union received its present name from Thomas Mercer, who in 1854 correctly predicted that canals would someday join Lake Washington to Puget Sound in a "union of waters." The northern shore of the lake is home to Gas Works Park. Boeing began production on Lake Union in 1916. The lake is also historically known for its floating homes, shipyards, wharfs, and sawmills have also dotted the shore.

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The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is a complex of locks that sits at the west end of Salmon Bay, part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Also, known locally as the Ballard Locks, the complex prevents the mixing of sea water from Puget Sound with fresh water of the lakes along the shipping canal.

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Gas Works Park is a 19.1-acre public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, located on the north shore of Lake Union. Gas Works park contains remnants of the sole remaining early 20th century coal gasification plant ruins in the country.

Jacksonville Connection: Jacksonville's coal gasification plant was located along Hogans Creek, near the intersection of Main and State Streets. It was one of the few Northbank sites to survive the Great Fire of 1901. Long demolished, several redevelopment projects have faltered in recent years due to contamination concerns from the site's coal gasification days.

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