Monday, December 28, 2009
Belltown's Top Five of 2009
On account of the year being 2009 and all, a lot of people are doing end-of-the-decade "best of" lists. Not me. No, I think everyone agrees that this decade has been absolutely terrible for a variety of reasons. I'm overjoyed that it's over. But although the last 10 years have brought new meaning to the word "awful," there were some bright spots in 2009 worth noting. If you consider how the decade started off here in Belltown, with people smoking crack in every accessible doorway, then the relative peace and harmony of 2009 is something to acknowledge. So I'll say this right now: with the positive events of this year, I'm actually looking forward to 2010.
Here is my list of 2009's best in Belltown:
5. SIFF returns to the Cinerama.
I like the Seattle International Film Festival. And I love the Cinerama. Being able to see a SIFF film at the Cinerama is a great experience. And it doesn't even have to be a good film. The Cinerama just seems to make everything better - except maybe that first Transformers movie. For the last several years, it hasn't been a SIFF venue, much to my extreme disappointment. But this year, it hosted many a film and we are all better people because of it. I hope that SIFF and the Cinerama can sustain the magic into 2010 and beyond.
4. That day it hit 103 degrees.
The day was July 29th. By afternoon, the thermometer read 103 degrees. I know, I know, it was 103 degrees for everybody - not just those of us in Belltown. But owing to our dearth of shade and vegetation (except along parts of 4th and 5th Avenues), we felt it much more intensely. In fact, the real heat began after sunset. I swear to God, when the buildings began to release all their accumulated heat, it must have hovered around 100 degrees for most of the night. At the time, the high temperatures were something of an inconvenience, but given our recent cold temperatures and dreary weather, I'd welcome another 103 degree day in a second.
3. The 5 Point Cafe's 80th anniversary celebration.
Belltown's oldest bar/restaurant changed ownership this year and the new bosses have been increasing its visibility with various promotions. The most prominent was the 80th anniversary celebration on December 8th. For that, the menu was reduced to only three items, but the prices were rolled back to what they originally were in 1929. I was there in the morning. It was controlled madness. I returned in the evening and there were just way too many people. But at least I can say I was there.
2. The Moore Inside-Out.
This was actually one of the more fantastic experiences of the decade for me. On a warm June night, the Moore opened its doors to the public to view dozens of art installations that had been set up all over the theater. It was weird, trippy, interesting and many people ended up getting free watermelons. I said it then and I'll say it again now: this is what Belltown is supposed to be about. It was a magnificent event. I hope they put it on every year.
1. Belltown's City Hostel opens.
This was even more impressive than the Moore Inside-Out partly because the art stays put. Honestly, the transformation that has come over the dour old former William Tell is truly amazing. The vision and dedication of new owners Kindell and Gambin is nothing short of miraculous. Since the hostel officially opened in September, it has become famous around the world as "that place with the weird art in every room." Some rooms are whimsical. Others are downright nightmarish. But each is unique. It is an absolutely wonderful place and every time I walk past it at 2nd & Battery, I'm tremendously glad that it's part of the neighborhood.
In just a few short months, Buckley's has become a neighborhood fixture and a very nice place to hang out. Yes, they're a sports bar, but not that kind of sports bar. If you want that kind of sports bar in Belltown, go to the Spitfire Grill. It's great to walk by Buckley's on a Sunday through crowds of short, bald white guys on the sidewalk smoking and wearing Donovan McNabb jerseys.
The Bell Street Park Boulevard Project.
Since nothing's actually been built, this doesn't really rate. Personally, I think it will be a disaster, but I'd be overjoyed to be wrong. There is a possibility that it will be a boon to the neighborhood, so that's why it's on the list. It should be completed by summer 2010, so we'll see what happens.
So there's the list for 2009. If you want to add to the list, feel free in the comments section. And once again, let me say how glad I am that this nameless decades (The aughts? The naughts?) is done. Better things are on the way.
Posted by Igor Keller