Extra! Extra! Planetary salvation! P-I Globe being preserved

MOHAI, Hearst, and the city have a plan. Will the globe stay on the waterfront? Details haven't been announced.

The Seattle P-I Globe, built for the defunct "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," will be preserved. (2007 photo)

The Seattle P-I Globe, built for the defunct "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," will be preserved. (2007 photo) digizen/Flickr (CC)

The P-I Globe, long an “unofficial” landmark in Seattle, has been spared planetary destruction thanks to a deal worked out between the City of Seattle, the Hearst Corporation and the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI).

The City Council will announce details of the agreement at 11:30 am Wednesday (March 7) at City Hall.  Later on Wednesday at its regular meeting, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board will review materials nominating the Globe to join a long list of official landmarks in the city.

Wednesday’s announcement likely includes MOHAI taking ownership of the Globe from Hearst, the parent company of the old Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper and the now web-only SeattlePI.com. In a perfect world (perfect globe?), Hearst will fund pricey annual maintenance, and the Globe will remain in place and highly visible to all atop the building on Elliott Avenue —and not end up actually in MOHAI. MOHAI officials did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday, and the news site, in reporting a likely deal, indicated that no decision had been made on whether the Globe would be moved.

Seattleites first sighted the electrical ersatz planet in 1948, when it was installed atop the then-new PI headquarters at Wall Street near Denny Way. When the P-I moved its editorial operations to Elliott Avenue in 1986, the Globe went along for the careful and expensive ride and became much more visible to ferry boats and other vessels on Elliott Bay.

In recent years, the Globe has often stopped rotating (in geostationary non-orbit?) and looked to be in disrepair. Two years ago, it was added to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s endangered properties “Watch List.” Casual observers often note darkened areas where continents once were outlined, and letters missing from the words “It’s in the P-I,” which used to be clearly visible as the eagle-topped Globe rotated along the waterfront.

Here’s hoping a new owner means much-needed repairs and a new lease on life for the city’s favorite neon planet.

Editor’s Note: Crosscut writer Feliks Banel was formerly deputy director of MOHAI, and still occasionally works for the museum as a writer and producer.  He has also worked as a freelance writer for the SeattlePI.com as recently as 2011.

Feliks Banel joined the staff of PBS affiliate KCTS 9 in Seattle in 2013, where he's a producer and correspondent. He's also producer and host of This NOT Just In for KUOW 94.9 FM; and has written and produced Emmy-nominated pieces for the Seattle Channel.

Feliks' work has appeared in Seattle Magazine, Seattle Opera Magazine, MyNorthwest.com, seattlepi.com and other publications and websites. He is also heard occasionally as a news analyst on KOMO Newsradio, and appears regularly on KIRO FM discussing local history and culture and as a fill-in talk show host.

He can be reached via feliksbanel@yahoo.com.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Mar 6, 8:01 p.m. Inappropriate

This certainly good news. I'm sure that the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles would be salivating at the prospect of obtaining this treasure. Hopefully it can take up residence next to the Rainier "R" (which was always backwards for those coming into Seattle) in the MOHAI collection.

dbreneman

Posted Tue, Mar 6, 8:12 p.m. Inappropriate

Forget the MOHAI collection. The globe belongs exactly where it is, appropriately maintained. If Portland can save its "White Stag" sign, surely Seattle can do no less.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Stag_sign

Posted Wed, Mar 7, 11:07 a.m. Inappropriate

I'd actually prefer to see it return to its original location, just because that looks so much more like a newspaper building, which it is! But I'm happy to know that it will be cared for and remain part of the city.

MBBrown

Posted Wed, Mar 7, 12:13 p.m. Inappropriate

Yes, by all means, the globe should return to its original perch at the corner of 6th and Wall Street. Context is fundamentally important in historic preservation, and the cylinder that was the entrance to the PI's headquarters for nearly 40 years was the globe's first and most legitimate home.

Unfortunately, the PI building at 6th and Wall Street was vandalized a few years ago when it's new owner, the Sabey Corporation, decided to conceal its handsome Wilkeson Sandstone exterior (from the quarry at Mount Rainier) beneath a cheap veneer of synthetic stucco. After the PI vacated, Group Health used the building as its corporate headquarters for a few years, but now it's been reduced to a typical spec. office building; the presses are gone. It used to be a great Seattle experience, right out of a film noir movie, to walk off the street into that lobby and stride across the black terrazzo floor. Now that was a newsroom!

Bring the globe home to 6th and Wall!

CP

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