The iconic Seattle landmark has been saved, but an unsettled issue is where to put it. On the old P-I building? At South Lake Union? Along the "new" waterfront? Under Puget Sound? Experts weigh in, and the Museum of History and Industry asks for your ideas.
Last March, the beloved Seattle Post-Intelligencer Globe — the giant revolving sign atop the newspaper's former headquarters — was "saved" in a deal between the P-I's owner, Hearst Corp., and the Museum of History and Industry. It ensures that no matter what happens, the Globe will wind up in the care of MOHAI. Shortly thereafter in April, the Globe received city landmark status as the Landmarks Preservation Board voted unanimously to protect it.
There's no indication yet when or if the Globe will be removed. The assumption is that it will be dislodged from its perch on Elliott Avenue. No word on that yet. But even more important than the timing is this: if the Globe needs to be moved, where will it go?
MOHAI's boss Leonard Garfield says no decision has been made. The assumption is that Hearst would hoist the 13-plus-ton Globe off the building and it would then be carted somewhere for refurbishing, maybe one of those old hangars at Magnuson Park. The Globe is in good condition; engineers have inspected it but a more thorough survey could be done once it's on the ground. The cost of removing, transporting, restoring, and relocating the Globe, says Garfield, could run around $300,000, maybe more. It depends on its condition, and things like how much of a hassle it will be to move it. The good news is an anonymous donor has made a significant contribution to cover part of the cost. Some smaller donations have also been received. More will have to be raised.
But where should the landmark go after it's refreshed?
The Globe was a recognizable landmark from the day it went up on the old P-I building in Belltown in 1948. In 1985, it was removed, cracked in half, repaired, and moved to its current location on the waterfront where it has been highly visible since early '86.
A number of suggestions have been made for a new home.
An assumed option is the new MOHAI at South Lake Union. The Museum has made a home for many beloved signs like the iconic Rainier Beer "R." But Garfield says the new museum's grand hall isn't big enough for the Globe, and the old Naval armory's roof structurally can't handle it. And that's assuming the zoning would even allow it. Another option would be to find a place for it in the adjacent South Lake Union park. It might be a popular addition to the skyline as seen from the new high-rise apartments and condos planned for the neighborhood.
The Olympic Sculpture Park right near the old P-I's Elliott Avenue offices would be another possibility. The urban, waterfront park has made a point of incorporating and playing-off of old neon signs. The Old Spaghetti Factory looks right at home there.
If not the Sculpture Park, the redesign of the central waterfront might offer some possibilities. Could it be placed in the new park, or on an adjacent piers? Could it be a beacon on a new Colman Dock ferry terminal? Or, one idea thrown out by Michael Herschensohn, president of the Queen Anne Historical Society: What about placing the Globe at the north portal of the new tunnel? That would keep it near its original location by the Pink Elephant Car Wash sign, and it might even receive some state funding as public art!
And speaking of Washington State Department of Transportation projects, one wag at City Hall suggested that the Globe could be put to use as a pontoon on the new 520 bridge.
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