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Culture

When Your City Is Gone

A new book invites Seattle residents to conjure the haunts that have vanished.
Eroyn Franklin's comic, "The Here," shows two radically different experiences of a changing urban landscape.
Eroyn Franklin's comic, "The Here," shows two radically different experiences of a changing urban landscape. Eroyn Franklin/Ghosts of Seattle Past

The Seattle skyline is speckled with yellow construction cranes, visual landmarks of a city in flux. “They are becoming part of the landscape,” writes the author Jaimee Garbacik, “as Seattle as Pike Place Market, or the defiant hint of Mount Rainier when you crest Yesler Way in fog.”

As tech companies continue to flood into the city and new buildings break ground, housing costs are trending higher. Between June 2015 and June 2016, Seattle posted the largest rent increase of any U.S. city, according to an analysis from Zillow. Overall, the Emerald City ranked 8th in average rent cost, ticking past $2,000 a month, the Seattle Times reported. Fearing that the soaring prices and shifting demographics were eroding the memories of people and places that had made the West Coast city a lo-fi incubator of music, art, and community, Garbacik, a self-described “guerrilla ethnographer,” issued a call for submissions memorializing sites that have been shuttered or built over. She reached out to cultural centers, cafes, and more, inviting heartsick locals to submit recollections in any 2-D medium. Responses poured in: comics, essays, memorabilia, and interviews commemorating the city’s diverse performance spaces and enclaves and the people who shaped and filled them.