Places & Spaces
Look here for shorthand references and slang for Seattle-area places, destinations, and other attractions, including the Experience Music Project, the Bon, the Seattle Center, Gas Works Park, Golden Gardens Park, the Hat 'n Boots, the Ballard Locks, Pike Place Market, the Monorail, the Space Needle, Boeing, the Blue Moon Tavern, Rachel the Pig, and much more.
- The Aqua Theater: A structure on the southeast shore of Green Lake, where the Aqua Follies were once perfomred every year at Seafair. Half of the stands still stand, which serve as a great vantage point for watching action on the lake--old timers still refer to this concrete remnant as "The Aqua Theater," although newcomers will have a hard time imagining what it once might have been.
- The Alley: Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, long-time jazz club, which started out in the U District, then later moved downtown (to 6th in the Belltown/Regrade area). The entrance to the club is actually in the alley.
- The Arboretum: The Washington Park Arboretum, both a botanical garden and one of Seattle's favorite parks. Back in the late 60's, the Arboretum was a day tripper's delight, definitely acid head valhalla.
- Archie McPhee's: The Archie McPhee store, an emporium of the improbable. Now located in the heart of Ballard (it was previously located in Fremont), you'll find all sorts of "weird and wonderful oddities" here, including Motog the Terrible Talking Tiki God and the world famous Row of Heads, plus a photo booth, bizarre arcade games, and much more. To find out more, visit the Archie McPhee web site.
- The Arena: The Mercer Arena, formerly the Seattle Center Arena, and before that the Seattle Arena (predating the World's Fair). Not to be confused with KeyArena, the new name for the revamped Coliseum.
- The B & O: Capitol Hill's best known espresso house, not to be confused with the Monopoly property. Was originally the location of one of Capitol Hill's most notorious taverns, the Belmont.
- BAM: Bellevue Art Museum. Not quite to be confused with SAM (the Seattle Art Museum), but worth a stop if you're into arty things. Located in Bellevue, of course.
- The Ban Roll-On Building: The Second and Seneca Building, a skyscraper downtown, across from the Washington Mutual Building, with a round translucent blue-green top that looks like the top of a Ban Roll-On deoderant. Sometimes also referred to as "The Radioactive Roll-On Building," I'm told, due to the appearance of its iridescent lighted blue top at night. There is also, by the way, a building in Sacramento that is also called "The Ban Roll-On Building." Which came first, their or ours, I have no idea. See also The Lip-Ice Building.
- Bel-Square: Bellevue Square, the Eastside's major upscale shopping mall. If the centrifugal forces were truly stronger than the centripetal ones, would simply be referred to as The Square, but it isn't, so they aren't.
- The Berserk Museum: The Burke Museum of Natural History out on northweast corner of the U-Dub campus. Everything from dinosaur skeletons to potlatch baskets.
- Beth's: Just up the street on Aurora from The Twin Teepees, Beth's Cafe is best reknowned for being Seattle's favorite afterhours eatery and for its giant twelve-egg omelettes and literal mountains of hash browns. Open at other times, but to get the true flavor, you have to go there after 2:00 a.m. Beth's recently had a major fire, but has since reopened.
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- The Bic Building: Two Union Square, supposedly. See also The Zippo Building (from which The Bic Building is a take-off, I suspect, since the building really does look more like a Zippo, than a Bic, lighter).
- Bikini Beach: Refers to the beach at Golden Gardens, although I'm not sure how current it is (Alki is the more popular beach among the teen set these days, I believe).
- The Blob II: Refers to the Experience Music Project, Paul Allen's pipe dream come to life, the blobbous contours of which have inspired comparisons to the original Blob (the restaurant, now gone). Indeed, there are some who have taken to referring to the EMP simply as "the Blob," but I think that is rashly disrespectful to, or at least forgetful of, the original. While the EMP is certainly more colorful, and much, much larger (due to Paul Allen having a much, much larger hoard of cash at his disposal to throw at this project). The question, of course, is whether the structure will eventually inspire so much hate that we grow to love it, as was the case with the original Blob.
- The BM: Short, apparently, for the Burgermaster on N.E. 45th out by U-Village. See also The Burg below.
- The Bon: The Bon Marché, Seattle's largest and oldest department store, now in a bow to local usage also referring to itself, officially, as The Bon. Before moving to its current location between Third and Fourth Avenues, the Bon was originally located in a building on the west side of Second Avenue that was later occupied by Penny's, before it was torn down and redeveloped. To learn more about the history of the Bon Marché and see some great historical pics, see The Bon Marché from the PdxHistory site.
- The Box That the Space Needle Came In: What the Seafirst Building, the first of the giant rectangular skyscrapers built downtown, was at first jocularly referred to as.
- Borracchini's: Remo Borracchini's Bakery & Mediterranean Market, Seattle's best Italian bakery and grocery, located in Rainier Valley (Garlic Gulch). Pronounced as "Bore-a-kee-nee's." See also Remo's below. For a story (and a pic), see Longtime successes spotlight resurgent retail scene from the Seattle P-I's Neighbors site. See also Remo's.
- The Brewery: The Rainier Brewery just off of I-5 south of Downtown, which wasmost noticeable for its big red neon "R." A foreshortened term that was often heard in traffic reports during the morning and afternoon rush hours. The Rainier beer brand, however, has been sold, however, and it will be brewed from here on out in Pabst's brewery in Tumwater. The old brewery building has been taken over by Tully's, so I suppose "The Brewery" is still accurate, although I'm not sure if it is still a mainstay of the traffic reports or not. The big red neon "R" has been replaced by a big green neon "T." For background, see the Seattle Times' story, Sale likely means goodbye to Rainier brewery, for more details.
- The Burg: The Burgermaster at U-Village. I'm not sure if this term is still current. I went to Lincoln, but we never used this term, even for the Burgermaster on Aurora that was more in our bailywick (we mainly hung out at Dick's on 45th, however). May have been primarily a northeast Seattle (Roosevelt) slang term.
- The Center: The Seattle Center. Was originally the grounds of the 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair. The Center, by the way, is decidedly off-center, being no where near the center of town.
- Chubby & Tubby's: Chubby & Tubby, a local mercantile chain of peculiar charm and character, carrying everything from pots and pans to flannel shirts, all crammed into a store no bigger than Nordstrom's whole shoe section. Three locations: on Aurora in the Northend, on Rainier in Rainier Valley, and at White Center in West Seattle. The very, very best place to get a bargain tree for Christmas.
- The Circumcision Building: Supposedly, the AT&T building, down by the Columbia Tower (the Uncircumcised Building?).
- The Club: The Columbia Tower Club, an exclusive club which occupies the 75th floor of the tallest scraper in town, the Columbia Tower. Quite a view, to say the least. The women's john is renowned, supposedly, for its floor-to-ceiling windows. Different organizations hold events and meetings there, but otherwise you need to be a member or invited by a member to check it out.
- The Continental: The Continental Pastry Shop, a great hang-out place north of 45th on the Ave that dates all the way back to the 60's at least. The Continental, by the way, is not merely a pastry shop, but a Greek restaurant to boot. Try the Greek Fries, they're great.
- The Comet: Last of the old time Capitol Hill taverns. The Elite also still exists, but is now a gay bar. These once notorious dives, however, are now gone: The Gaslight, The Broadway, The Belmont, to name just a few of the more illustrious ones. A story, perhaps apochryphal (although I heard it in the Belmont shortly afterwards) was that someone at the Belmont got peeved at someone else racking their pool balls out of turn, so, in order to rectify the situation, pulled out a gun and shot him in the ass. The guy was arrested, booked, then bailed out. A week later someone racked their pool balls out of turn at Snooky's. Got shot in the ass.
- Cornish: The Cornish College of the Arts, a long time art, music, and dance school up on Capitol Hill that was founded and run for many years by Nelly Cornish. I actually went to Cornish as a fine art student back in '68-'70, back when it was still called The Cornish School of Allied Arts. Studied under Bill Cumming, Paul Heald, Charles Stokes, Don Scott, Joel Jessen, and others. It was great.
- The Croc: The Crocodile Cafe.
- The Darth Vader Building: The building at Fourth and Blanchard (2101 Fourth Avenue) that looks like Darth Vader's helmet.
- The Cut: The Montlake Cut, linking Lake Union and Lake Washington. This was actually quite a project, resulting in lowering the water-level of Lake Washington by some nine feet.
- The Cyclops: The Cyclops is dead! Long Live the Cyclops. Actually, the Cyclops is alive and kicking. Two years after the counter/alternative-culture hang-out down on Western closed (due to its building, the Jell-O Mold Building, meeting the wrecking ball), the Cyclops has found new quarters at the corner of First and Wall. After his death, they had a big send-off there for Jesse Bernstein at the original Cyclops.
- The De Luxe: The De Luxe Bar and Grill on Broadway up on Capitol Hill. Directly across the street from the Elite, and from the cocktail lounge in the Jade (Jimmy Woo's Jade Pagota, a Chinese Restaurant). Anyway, in the old days, spent many a night drinking in all three, with my good buddy Jesse (Bernstein) and other fervid 70's-era bar hoppers, just going round and round (having round after round). Not to be confused with a Deluxe, which is a Dick's Deluxe Burger.
- Dick's: The quintessential Seattle drive-in burger joint. You haven't lived until you've had a Deluxe Burger and Fries. Shakes ain't bad either. No hurry though. They haven't changed the menu for 30 years, or more. At least they don't make you go to a separate window any more to get fries, like they used to at the 45th Street Dick's, years and years ago. For locations, history, and other info, see the Dick's Drive-In Restaurants home page.
- The Elephant: An 1,800 pound kitch landmark that was installed in 1964 on top of a florist company on Aurora Avenue (click the link to see a pic). Not to be confused with the Pink Elephant, which is a car wash sign.
- The Emerald City: Seattle. Not to be confused with OZ, however (I hope). I believe this was decided on by a poll held by one of the local papers (forget which one) and has since largely displaced Seattle's original sobriquet, the Queen City.
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- The EMP: The Experience Music Project, Paul Allen's music museum dedicated to the history of rock-n-roll (and specifically the rock of the '60s). Originally, the plan was to create a museum dedicated to Jimi Hendrix, but all attempts to come to agreement with the Hendrix family apparently came to nought. Nonetheless, the word "Experience" in the name of the place can clearly be seen as a continuing reference to Hendrix. See also The Blob II earlier on this page.
- The Fifth Avenue: The Fifth Avenue Theatre. Opened in 1926, it is located at on the east-side of Fifth Avenue between Union and University and is one of the few early Seattle theatre's that is still a working theatre, mostly housing touring Broadway musicals and other road shows. For more details and some great pics, see the Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society's (PSTOS) Fifth Avenue Theatre page.
- Fillipi's: Fillipi's Book & Record Shop, up on East Olive Way on Capitol Hill. If you're looking for an old book or 78, Fillipi's is the place to go.
- FishTerm: Supposedly a foreshortened term for Fishermen's Terminal. Can't say that I've ever heard it, however.
- The Five Point: The Five Point Cafe, located for many, many years at the five-point junction where the Chief Sealth statue resides. Seattle's greasy spoons have been a vanishing breed, with such oldtime establishments as the Dog House, Andy's Cafe, the Rendevouz, Sorry Charlie's, etc., having bit the dust over the last decade or so, but the Five Point keeps going strong, based on both its location and the quality of the food they serve, which is a notch above the usual greasy spoon fare. For an article, see Get past the dive vibe, and you'll find good, homemade food from the Seattle Times.
- The Flaming Vulva: Supposedly, I've heard, a term used for the neon flame that adorns the Washington Natural Gas Company building on Mercer. Having driven by it many, many times when I've been a commuter to the Eastside or the Northend, I can't say I've ever thought of it in those terms. Blue vulvas are, I suspect, if not entirely non-existent, at least exceedingly rare.
- The Fountain: The Seattle Center Fountain. The original fountain, dating back to the World's Fair, was considered a hazard to careless children, although as far as I know only adults were ever injured by it (one quite seriously who was dumb enough to sit on one of the nozzles--you'll have to figure out the rest of the gruesome details for yourself). Needless to say, the new fountain is not anywhere near as entertaining (I hate it!). And now they want to slash the new monorail across the open grassy area north of the Fountain, disrupting the largest piece, and just about the only piece, of open space in the center of Seattle. Sacrilege upon sacrilege.
- Freddy's: Fred Meyer, a local store chain.
- Frosh Pond: The fountain pond in the southeast area of the UW campus. It originally got this name due a bunch of sophomores throwing some freshmen into the pool, which was originally part of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition grounds (where it was called Geyser Basin).
- The Fun Forest: The amusement park at the Center, which dates back to the World's Fair, although I believe only a few rides date back that far.
- GameWorks: The first GameWorks in the world was opened in downtown Seattle in 1997.
- Gas Works: Gas Works Park. Not ever referred to as "The Gas Works," as far as I know, but undoubtedly was back when it was the site of a real gas works. When I was growing up, I lived just a couple blocks up the street, right behind the Grandma's cookie sign (another vanished Seattle landmark), and at that time it was a rusting hulk all fenced off with barbed wire. They retained parts of the old works and incorporated them into the park, but soon had to fence them again, to keep visitors from climbing up on, and falling off, them. In its hey-day, the pollution must have been fearful, explaining why Wallingford for years lacked the cachet of other, more fashionable, neighborhoods. Quite fashionable now, though, now that the works is a park.
- Gai's: Gai's Bakery, not known so much for its location (down on S. Weller Street, I believe), but for its french bread in local supermarkets. It was founded in 1921 by Giglio Gai, a native of Calabria in Italy, who arrived in Seattle in 1904 at the age of 15. Later, his sons, Henry and Phil Gai jointly managed the bakery business. In the 1960's Gai's began baking hamburger buns for several local fast food chains, including Dag's and Dairy Queen, and then bagged the account to supply buns to McDonald's. Eventually, Gai's also supplied burger buns to Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, and Red Robin. Gai's expanded by first acquiring the Seattle English Muffin Company in 1963, Langendorf Baking Company in 1980 (which ended up producing the Country Hearth bread brand), and Venice Bakery (in Vancouver B.C.) in 1985. In 1987, Gai's formed a partnership with R.T. Holding of Belgium to gain access to a larger reserve of capital to fuel further expansion, which included the acquisition of the New York Bagel Boys (of Seattle) in 1988 (increasing production from 40 dozen to 1,000 dozen, and then to 18,000 dozen bagels a day, becoming the largest bagel distributor in the U.S.), and the Ruth Ashbrook Bakery in 1989, Pierre's French Bakery (in Portland, Oregon). In 1992, Gai's merged with the San Francisco French Bread Company to form Pacific Coast Bakeries, the largest wholesale baking company on the West Coast, with the joint operation now producing up to 4 million pounds of bread products a week. To find out more, see the Gai's Bakery History page.
- Ghettodale: Meadowdale High School. See also Lynnhood and Weedway, other slingo references to Edmonds/North Seattle high schools.
- Gill's: Another local hamburger chain that no longer is.
- Golden Gardens: Refers to Golden Gardens Park just north of Shilshole, and more specifically to the popular beach that is there. When I was a teenager, Golden Gardens was the place to be in the summer, but today Alki is the place to be if you want to see or be seen.
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- Harborzoo: Harborview Medical Center, the primary trauma center and public hospital for the Puget Sound area. Having spent some time at Harborview when I broke my leg some years back, all I can say is that they took care of me just fine. Needless to say, the standard of care provided these days is somewhat different from back when I was hospitalized at Northwest Hospital way back in the early 70s, when the nurses gave out back rubs every night, for one thing. These days, of course, you're lucky if you even get to see your nurse, let alone your doctor. A lot of the work that was formerly done routinely by nurses is now done by nursing assistants.
- The Hat 'N Boots: The quintessential Northwest kitsch icon, a former gas station in the form of a ten-gallon hat and a pair of cowboy boots. Check out this photo of it that I found on the Web, although these days it doesn't look anywhere near as spiffy. There's another picture of it at The offbeat (a.k.a. weird) Tour of Seattle (created by Arthur Hu).
- Horizon: Generally used on Capitol Hill to refer to Horizon Books on 15th. Horizon Books (along with its co-location in the Roosevelt district) has perhaps the most eclectic collection of books available north of Powell Books in Portland. The owner of Horizon Books, Don Glover, by the way, served his apprenticeship in the bookselling business at the original Shorey's.
- The Hurricane: The Hurricane Cafe, successor to the Dog House Restaurant. I'm told that the cooks have been known to pelt misbehaving customers with mashed potatoes. This sounds like a kind of continuation of the Dog House tradition of sulking abusive waitresses. In other words, instead of going there to get insulted by your waitress (please, please insult me, I want to be insulted!), you go there to have food thrown at you. Sounds like fun.
- Ivar's: Ivar's Acres of Clams, the quintessential Seattle fish and chips joint, originally founded and run by Ivar Haglund, best known for the saying, "Keep Clam." Various locations, including the Waterfront and the north end of Lake Union. For an entertaining look back to the early days of Ivar's, including a couple pictures of Ivar, himself, see Ivar's history site.
- The Jade: Jimmy Woo's Jade Pagoda. Also sometimes referred to simply as "Jimmy Woo's." The lounge at the Jade was one of the gathering spots at the north end of Broadway, along with the Deluxe across the street and the Elite Tavern just two doors down. Last time I ducked in there, though, it seemed pretty dead, but maybe it was just a slow night.
- The Jaded Pagoda: A self-referential term coined by the decadent habitues of the Jade, I presume.
- The Java Jive: Bob's Java Jive, a coffee shop shaped like a coffee pot in Tacoma. Should definitely be one anyone's Northwest Kitsch tour (see map for location).
- The Jungle: A homeless encampment in the Beacon Hill greenbelt, just down the hill from the Pacific Medical Center. The authorities keep clearing it out, twice with bulldozers, but it always gets resettled. Thick brush makes the Beacon Hill greenbelt ideal for surreptitious hideouts, and its proximity to downtown and the missions in Pioneer Square is another selling point. For a take on how others view our homeless problem, see the BBC's Homeless in Seattle article.
- The Key: KeyArena (that's right, no space), known prior to being refurbished as The Coliseum. "The Key" is pure marketing hype that any self-respecting long-standing Northwesterner should eschew (unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer of us, however). My vote is to simply keep on calling this place "The Coliseum" (KeyBank, however, undoubtedly felt that "The Key Coliseum" or "KeyBank Coliseum" just didn't have the right ring). No doubt, some unwitting newcomers will end up referring to this structure as "The Arena," causing no end of confusion among us old timers (for whom the term has always referred to the Mercer Arena, formerly known as the Seattle Arena or Seattle Center Arena, the original home of the Seattle Totems hockey team).
- The Lady Schick Building: A term for Century Square, under the theory that it looks like a ladies' electric shaver.
- The Lazy B: A disdainful term for Boeing, most likely to be used, I presume, by envious individuals wishing that they had one of those cushy Boeing jobs--which just happen to be union jobs. (No unions at Microsoft, however.) Still, I did hear a story, most likely apochryphal, of course, about someone who managed to build a boat, and not a small one either, all on Boeing time. I've also been told that the term actually goes back to western ranch branding lingo, a "lazy B" being a slanted B, which of course quite aptly describes the trademark font used in Boeing's logo.
- The Leaning Condos of Seattle: Italy has the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but we've got the Leaning Condos of Seattle. The Leaning Condos are a pair of condos that were knocked akimbo by one of Seattle's numerous mudslides a couple winters ago. Due to a number of lawsuits, I believe, as well as possibly the unwillingness of the owners to pay the expense of demolishing the structures, they've been left just as they are, tilted marvelously in unison to one side. Located right next to the Freeway, they are hardly unnoticeable. I don't doubt that they'll be demolished before too long, but I'll be sad to see them go.
- The Lip Ice Building: Same building that's called the Ban Roll-On Building, but updated for a younger generation, I assume (I don't even know if they make that round-topped Ban roll-on deoderant any more).
- Little Italy: An area at the north end of Rainier Valley that was primarily settled by Italian immigrants. The Italians have mostly moved on to be replaced by a newer wave of immigrants (primarily Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotions), so this term isn't used very much any more. Also referred to as Garlic Gulch.
- The Locks: The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, also know as the Ballard Locks, which are part of the Ship Canal linking Lake Union and Puget Sound. The Locks are actually quite an engineering marvel, able to handle not just pleasure boats, but ocean going vessels as well. Also has a windowed fish ladder where you can watch migrating salmon (June to July for Sockeye, August to September for Chinook, and August to September for Coho). Has also been home the last few years to a number of salmon feasting sea lions whose gluttony has threatened to wipe out the whole run--they actually shipped some of them off to southern California, but they swam right back. Now they are talking about shooting them, to the utter horror of Seattle's hordes of animal worshippers.
- Lynnhood: Lynnwood High School. Also used to refer to the Lynnwood neighborhood (see my Streets & Beats section). See also Ghettodale and Weedway, other slingo references to Edmonds/North Seattle high schools.
- The Mailbox Building: Century Square, supposedly.
- The Market: The Pike Place Market. Probably one of Seattle's biggest tourist attractions, which is a shame in that the Market became what it is from serving the "locals." One of the three "must-see's" for any first-time visitor, the other two being The Space Needle and Pioneer Square. Still quite unique, and a good deal of its quirky charm has been preserved. Undoubtedly unlike anything Aunt Minnie will see back home, but I remember the "old" Market, back before it was "preserved." Now that was a place.
- The Met: A downtown restaurant and watering hole, The Metropolitan Bar and Grill. Not to be confused with the New York Metropolitan Opera. I saw this term on a billboard advertising the place, but apparently, according to one reader anyway, it's not just marketing hype, but an actual term used by the regulars.
- Minnie's: Cafe Minnie's, with two locations, one on Denny and First, the other on Broadway. Open 24 hours, a hip alternative to Denny's that is particularly popular with the young and trendy. But watch out for the moochers...
- The Monorail: Originally built to connect Downtown with the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, the Monorail proved not so much to be the way of the future as a rather kitschy icon of the past. Still, there have been occassional populist rumblings in support of expanding the Monorail and the latest, an initiative that got grass rooted onto the ballot. It passed, but left the question of how to pay for the thing entirely up in the air. The vote also came after a scaled back light rail plan had been approved and fully funded by the voters, largely undercutting the initial vision behind the Monorail Initiative. The Seattle City Council did vote funds to form the Elevated Transportation Company, but so far all they've managed to do is talk, talk, talk. They stumbled mightily out of the gate by initially suggesting that building a new "elevated transit system" would probably mean having to tear down the old monorail. Considering that the vote for the initiative was largely a sentimental vote motivated by love of The Monorail (it was called The Monorail Initiative, after all), this was a major, major faux paux.
Months of time were wasted pursuing the entirely quixotic notion that private interests might be found to fund and build the thing (loads of time could have been saved on that one by simply asking the opinion of the closest available five-year old). My opinion, quite frankly, is that the Elevated Transportation Company should be roundly applauded for their tireless efforts to insure that The Monorail (the real McCoy) will remain among us, unchanged for a very, very long time to come. Long Live the Monorail!
- The Moon: The Blue Moon Tavern. The quintessential University District tavern, famous for being the incubator for many a Seattle writer. There was a proposal to tear it down a couple years ago, replacing it with a stack of condos or an office tower (can't remember which), but there was such an uproar that the developers first offered to let the Moon remain in the first floor (which would have been a complete incongruity, if there ever was one), then abandoned the idea altogether. Now accorded unofficial landmark status. One of the last vestiges, in other words, of what Seattle used to be. See this picture of the Moon from the UW's Cities/Buildings Database.
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- The Mouse: The Blue Mouse Theatre in Tacoma. Ran under the name of first the Proctor Theatre and then the Bijou Theatre for many years, until it was recently restored back to its former elegance (and name). The blue neon mice that adorn its facade were designed by Dale Chihuly. There were originally actually two Blue Mouse Theatres in Tacoma, of which this one was the smallest -- it was referred to then as the Blue Mouse Jr. Not to be confused with the the Blue Mouse Theatre that used to be in Seattle.
- The Needle: The Space Needle, Seattle's principle landmark. Years ago, someone came out with a table-top souvenir lighter in the shape of the Space Needle. Ever since then, I've thought that the Needle looks like the lighter (instead of the lighter looking like the Needle), like a giant, overblown souvenir, a gew-gaw, plopped down unceremoniously in our midst. Sometimes I try to imagine if it weren't there. Still, as kitsch goes, it is pretty unremovable. No, I'm afraid it will be with us long after the Hat 'N Boots, the Twin Teepees, the Java Jive, the Fremont Troll, the Lenin Statue, the Toe Truck, et al., are all long gone, simply the most garishly permanent example of its kind. For more info on the Needle, check out the History of the Needle page.
- Nordy's: Nordstrom's, the world's premier yuppie department store. It got its start in 1901 as a humble shoe store, Wallin & Nordstrom (see pic1 and pic2). It has most recently relocated in the renovated Frederick's and Nelson's, once Seattle's classiest department store, but now defunct. Nordstrom's threw a massive grand opening with a rather signal feature for a grand opening--not a single sale in the whole store! Quite frankly, I'd much rather shop at the Rack.
- Northgate: This always refers to the Northgate Shopping Center, not to the Northgate neighborhood. Whenever anyone says they are "going to Northgate," you know they are going shopping. Supposedly, Northgate was the first enclosed shopping mall in the country. The lid came later, so it wasn't the first covered shopping mall, as far as I know.
- Northgate State: North Seattle Community College, apparently due to its proximity to the Northgate Shopping Center.
- Northwest: Northwest Hospital, a major hospital located in the Northend.
- Open Sores: Ocean Shores. I believe this dates back to the collapse in real estate values and other financial problems that beset Ocean Shores back aways. As a kid I lived in Aberdeen up to 1961 and I remember the Ocean Shores peninsula (or big spit, really) back when there was only a commercial clam diggers' shack town there (Oyehut). (That's where we used to go to dig the real honkers.) Wish they'd left it that way, quite frankly.
- The Pergola: A landmark structure composed of cast-iron columns and lattiswork in the Pioneer Square area, at the foot of Yesler, where it meets First Avenue. It originally covered underground public restrooms (I remember using the men's restroom as late as the early 1960's). After being built in 1910, the underground restrooms were touted as the most ornate in the western United States. The entrances have since been sealed off, but the restrooms are undoubted still there, buried. Just recently, however, a semi-truck trying to negotiate the corner, ran up on the curb and struck the structure, causing it to collapse in a heap. The mayor has promised that the City will rebuilt it with all due haste, but apparently a significant amount of refabricatin will likely have to be done -- here's hoping they hop to it and get the Pergola back up on its legs before the tourist season starts up again. For more info, read the Seattle Times' article, Landmark comes crashing down.
- The Pig: Most commonly, this refers to the bronze porker, "Rachel the Pig," situated at the entrance to the Market. The Pig is a popular meeting place (such as, "I'll meet you at the Pig."). A possible source of some confusion here is that the Place Pigalle Restaurant, also located at the Market, may also be referred to as "The Pig" by many of its employees and regulars (I remember this place as "Pig Alley" back when it was the Place Pigalle Tavern). Let's see, three islands each calling themselves "The Rock," two shopping areas called "The Village," and now two Pigs at the Market. Hmmm.
- The Pile: Something some people are wont to call the EMP (Experience Music Project).
- The Pink Elephant: The Pink Elephant Car Wash sign, a large pink neon sign in the shape of an elephant, located on Denny.
- The Pink Palace: A pink stucco mansion on 10th Ave. E. up on the Hill, also formerly known as the Dave Beck Mansion, from back when the famous Teamsters chief used to reside there. A couple of years ago there was a proposal to turn it into a writers' retreat, but the neighbors rose in protest and put the kabosh on the plan. Oh my God, a writer just moved in next door--there go the property values!
- The Puck-a-teria: Supposedly, Amazonian lingo (ala Amazon.com) for the Wolfgang Puck Cafe, apparently in reference to its generic (or cafeteria) style menu.
- R2D2: I've been told that this is another case of Amazonian slang for the building otherwise known as The Ban Roll-On Building. I'm not aware of any other building in town with two hilariously appropriate monikers.
- Rachel the Pig: The bronze statue of a pig at the entrance to the Pike Place Market. Rachel is often referred to simply as "The Pig," although this may cause some confusion with The Place Pigalle Restaurant, also at the Market, which is also called "The Pig" by its employees and regulars.
- The Rack: Nordstrom's discount outlet downtown. My advice is that you avoid paying inflated prices for this year's styles at Nordy's, when you can get last year's at a steep discount at the Rack. What's the diff?
- REI: Recreational Equipment Incorporated, now located on Eastlake, close to Denny. An internationally reknowned cooperative offering all kinds of outdoor recreation equipment, including hiking and climbing equipment. Known for its climbing wall.
- Remo's: Remo Borracchini's Bakery & Mediterranean Market, Seattle's best Italian bakery and grocery, located in Rainier Valley (Garlic Gulch). For a story (and a pic), see Longtime successes spotlight resurgent retail scene from the Seattle P-I's Neighbors site. See also Borracchini's.
Best Places Northwest: Restaurants, Lodgings, Touring (13th Edition) by Giselle Smith / Paperback / Published 2000. Price: $13.96 (30% discount) at Amazon.com. Rated stars out of five by reader reviews.
- Sally's: The Salvation Army Thrift Store, across from the Dome.
- The Salvy A: Another term for the Salvation Army Thrift Store, across from the Dome. My kind of department store. One of the best places in Seattle to get Grunge accessories (try also the largest Goodwill store in the world, as well as the numerous Value Village outlets dotted around town).
- ScaryYaki: Another case of Amazonian slang for Osaka Teriyaki, I'm told "on that ugly block on Pike between 1st and 2nd Ave." Yep, that has always been a rather "hairy" stretch of road (I suppose it could be called "HairyYaki," but that would hardly be very appetizing), dating back to the notorious donut shop that was once across the street from the entrance to the Market, where you could not only get a glazed donut with jelly filling, but could also fence your stolen goods.
- The Science Center: The Pacific Science Center at the Seattle Center. Dates back to the World's Fair in 1962. Most fair structures tend to get increasingly hokey with age, but not this one-- probably the most graceful building in town.
- Sea-Tac: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Not to be confused with SeaTac (unhyphenated), the city, which has grown up adjacent to the airport and has only recently been incorporated, a burgh with about as much history and soul as, well, Tukwila.
- Shilshole: Shilshole Bay Marina, the largest marina in the Seattle area. Just south of Golden Gardens.
- Snoho: Slang reference to Snohomish High School, apparently. Students who took to wearing t-shirts with "SNOHOS" emblazoned on the front, however, got the school administration all in a dither over what they took to be a derogatory reference to prostitutes, so they banned them. That it was boys, not girls, who were wearing the t-shirts, however, didn't seem to enter into the matter -- maybe they were concerned that girls, too, would start wearing them. Of course, now that they've banned them, the girls will probably start wearing them.
- The Shoe: The 1892 Washington Shoe Building, at 163 S. Jackson, which for many years was primarily occupied by artists' studios and galleries, but which has since been cleansed of artists (who needs them, anyway) and renovated for offices.
- The Sylvan Theater: A tree-enclosed hideaway on the UW campus, south of the Electrical Engineering Building, which contains four columns that once graced the front stoop of the original Territorial University building. The columns were dubbed (by Edmond Meany and Dean Herbert T. Condon) as Loyalty, Industry, Faith, and Efficiency. The columns themselves are original, but the scrolls on the top are fiberglass replicas of the originals. Click for a pic of the columns and the Sylvan Theater.
- Spud's: Spud Fish & Chips. There are two locations, one on Alki and the other at Green Lake. Thought by many to be much superior to Ivar's.
- St. Vinnie's:St. Vincent DePaul's, a local thrift store outlet. The original St. Vinnie's on Lake Union, long gone now, was an absolutely amazing place. They had EVERYTHING. Back in the late 60's, when I was with the Aurora Lights, that's where we got the TV screens that we used for doing liquid projection for light shows (nothing other than the thick glass screens from late 1950's sets would do--St. Vinnie's had them stacked up like pancakes).
- The Steam Plant: A building located on the east shore of Lake Union that served as a power plant for City Light providing cheap power to Seattle for many years. First built in 1908, it was finally decommissioned in 1987 (although it had only infrequently been used for some years). The Steam Plant had 14 boilers that were fired by bunker oil. The building is now home to the ZymoGenetics company, which is certainly better than if it were converted to condos or something. Originally, there were seven smoke stacks. The original stacks have been replaced by six stacks that are purely decorative. For more info on the Steam Plant (and the adjacent Hydro House), see The ZymoGenetics "Steam Plant".
- Teddy Bear Junction: The locale adjacent to the bronze bear that is in front of FAO Schwartz downtown. Supposedly, a favorite meeting place downtown.
- The Toe Truck: The Lincoln "Toe" Truck, which is seen by gadzillions of commuters, exiting and entering I-5 every day, at the Lincoln Towing lot on the corner of Fairview and Mercer. Shaped in the actual shape of a toe, the Toe Truck I believe was originally inspired by a joke painting by Grandma Torvall on Stan Boreson's show, King's Klub House. You can see a picture of the Toe Truck at The offbeat (a.k.a. weird) Tour of Seattle (created by Arthur Hu). There are actually two Toe Trucks--the second is in front of Lincoln Towing's Aurora Avenue lot, and is the one frequently seen at local Seafair parades, I believe.
- The Top Hat: The Top Hat Gas Station, located in the Top Hat district (located in Burien). My guess is that the Top Hat district is named after a now gone club, back when the blue laws ruled inside the Seattle City limits. Doubt that the district is named after the gas station.
- The Troll: The Fremont Troll. A statue of a troll in the act of devouring a little Fahrvergnugen located underneath the north end of the Aurora Bridge, claimed by Fremont as its reigning deity, or patron un-saint, if you will, although, to be truthful, Aurora Ave. is the dividing line between Fremont and Wallingford. (Still, Fremont is decidedly wacky, while Wallingford has always been a bit staid.) Most recently, the articulated bus that careened off of the Aurora Bridge after the driver was shot by a crazed passenger just happended to land right across the street from the Troll. Spooky. For a picture of the Troll, see the North End Art page.
- The Trolley: The Waterfront Trolley, not to be confused with Metro Transit's numerous electric trolley buses. Tourists should not assume, either, that the Trolley is a piece of Seattle's history. Seattle used to have lots of trolley rail cars at one time, but the trolleys used on the Waterfront Trolley aren't any of them. Rather what you are riding are Melbourne Australia's old trolley cars.
- Twin Peaks: A mythical town featured in the popular TV series of the same name. Most of the exterior shots for the series were actually filmed in and around the town of Snoqualmie, which is located in the foothills of the Cascades, east of Seattle. Exterior shots of the Great Northern Hotel in the series are actually of the Salish Lodge, at the top of Snoqualmie Falls. (Snoqualmie Falls, also featured in the series, actually has a higher drop than Niagara Falls, although nowhere near the volume, of course). Interior shots of the Great Northern Hotel were actually taken at the Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo on the Kitsap Peninsula. One exterior location is also located in Poulsbo: "Laura's Log," which is on the beach in front of the Kiona Lodge. For a guided pictorial tour of Twin Peaks' locations, including the Great Northern Hotel, Laura's Log, the Roadhouse (the Colonial Inn), the Double R Diner (the Mar-T Cafe), and other locations, see Our Twin Peaks Tour of Poulsbo and Snoqualmie, Washington by Mark Crovella. For a compilation of postings to the newsgroup, alt.tv.twin-peaks, which includes many in-depth descriptions of an directions to Twin Peaks' points of interest, be sure to click the "tp snoqualmie" link at Mark's site. See also Twin Peaks Online for lots more Twin Peaks info.
- The Twin Toasters: I've heard that this refers to the Metropolitan Building on Howell Street.
- The U: The University of Washington.
- U Dub: The University of Washington.
- U-Dubya: What some people have taken to call UW, after the current president, George "Dubya" Bush. Of course, that this is at one of the more liberal schools and areas in the country is a bit of an irony, I suppose. Just plain "U Dub" is good enough for me, quite frankly.
- U-Village: University Village, a shopping center on 45th just east of the U Dub campus.
- The Underground: The Seattle Underground. A whole neighborhood dating back to the 1890s, about 25 square blocks in the Pioneer Square area, which was once street level, but which is now one story below ground, due to massive street regrading projects around the turn of the century. To find out more, see Digital City's The Seattle Underground Tour review. For location, ticket, and contact info, check out Bill Speidel's Underground Tour.
- Vansterdam: Vancouver, B.C., in reference to the drug laws up there, which are more liberal than just about any place other than Amsterdam.
- Vinnie's: Another term for St. Vincent DePaul's, a local thrift store. Also, see "St. Vinnie's" above.
- Volunteer: Refers to Volunteer Park, up on Capitol Hill.
- The Vogue: A club up on Capitol Hill (11th Avenue between Pike and Pine) that used to be located down on First Avenue in Belltown. A kind of industrial-rock/fetish/gothic kind of place, I gather. For current bands/events, visit their web site.
- Waiting for the Interurban: A public art sculpture situated at the north end of the Fremont Bridge. It depicts a number of figures, and a dog, waiting for the Interurban, a trolley/rail line that once ran between Everett and Tacoma. The Fremont locals are fond of decking out the figures in hats and scarves, no doubt to protect them from the rain during what will undoubtedly be a very long wait. I've been told that the face of the dog is a likeness of former Seattle mayor Wes Uhlman (apparently the artist had a tiff with him over money or something). For a pic, see Famous Frement denizens from the P-I's Neighbors site.
- The WaMu Building: The Washington Mutual Building, across the street from the Ban Roill-On Building at Second and Senecca.
- Weedway: Edmonds-Woodway High School. See also Ghettodale and Lynnhood, other slingo references to Edmonds/North Seattle high schools.
- The Wharf: Refers to Fisherman's Terminal, which was earlier named Fisherman's Wharf, I believe (before it became a port terminal, I can only presume). There was also a restaurant located there called "The Wharf Restaurant," but it has since been remodeled and renamed as Chinook's. If you want to see working fishing boats, rather than yachts or pleasure cruisers, this is the place to go.
- The Zippo Building: I've heard this is used sometimes to refer to Two Union Square, because it is in the shape of a certain cigarette lighter. Another variation refers to it as The Bic Building.
- The Zoo: From my own personal experience, from back in my mid-twenties tavern-hopping days, I've always known this to refer to The Eastlake Zoo, a popular tavern on, you guessed it, Eastlake Ave., when it didn't more obviously refer to The Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle's zoological gardens (although the Eastlake Zoo might actually be able to lay claim to having the wilder animals). Since, however, I've been told, by a nurse, that "The Zoo" is also used by nurses, paramedics, and cops to refer to the Emergency Room at Harborview.
For more info on Seattle's neighborhoods, districts, areas, streets, avenues, highways, freeways, transportation, maps, etc., see A Seattle Directory.
The terms listed here range from the frequently to the seldomly used. Non-Nortwesterners should use these terms (in the vain hope of fitting in) only at the risk of being greeted by frequent blank stares. While some terms are known by virtually all Northwesterners, and actually spoken by many, others are known only to some or a few, while spoken by even fewer. However, if you hear one said, armed with this lexicon, you'll know what is meant.
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