The 2013 Heritage Turkey list is just the tip of the bird. There were many more Turkey-worthy heritage disasters that did not make the final cut, a veritable embarrassment of debacles, bad judgment and "what-were-they-thinking" moments. Like, the guy who's building a vacation home on top of a native graveyard. Or trucks crashing into an historic icon again and again and yet again. We even saw heritage havoc wreaked by a naked dude. Here are highlights of the lowlights of the year:
Winner: Idiots who ram their trucks into Pioneer Square landmark
The Pioneer Square Pergola is one of Seattle's most famous structures. Built in 1909, it is the very model of the city's emerging urban aspirations. It signaled a civilized town and to prove the point it offered an underground public restroom. How better to impress visitors to our first international fair, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition?
The Pergola also served as a stop for the Yesler & James cable car. Its elaborate glass-and-iron structure is a thing of beauty and a national landmark. Unfortunately, it is also a target. The original was flattened by a truck in 2001 (above). The current Pergola is a carefully crafted restoration. But this year, truck drivers have not been kind to it. A semi crunched it in April, another got wedged under it in May, and in July it was rammed by yet another truck. WTF? We all know that transportation around the Pioneer Square is a mess, but truckers, please, stop battering The Perg.
Nuking the Park
Winner: The U.S. Senate, for letting a bill die (again) that would have created the Manhattan Project National Park
Whatever you think about atomic bombs, there's no question they're a huge part of our history that should be recognized and explored. Advocates of a National Park archipelago of properties that would commemorate and preserve the memory of the world-changing, WWII Manhattan Project had success this year when the proposal was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The park would include Hanford's historic B Reactor site, as well as sites at Oak Ridge, Tenn. and Los Alamos, New Mexico.
In negotiations over including a larger defense authorization bill, the park idea was "left on the cutting room floor." The proposal has bipartisan support: Washington's Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray back it along with Washington Republican Rep. Doc Hastings who says he'll continue to work on getting the park approved in 2014. For now it's a victim of Congressional process — or dysfunction.
Blitzing Ancient Burials
Winner: The British Columbia government's Archaeological Branch for approving a vacation home on a native graveyard
Grace Islet is a mini-island in beautiful Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring Island in the Canadian Gulf Islands. Archaeologists have long known it as the burial ground of an ancient Salish village, Shiya’hwt waht. Grace Islet is covered with burial cairns and human remains have been found there. Still, a private owner from Alberta wanted to build his vacation home there.
Tribes such as the Penelakut, Cowichan, Saanich, and others have objected. British Columbia has seen a fair amount of conflict over native grave sites and development, and in some cases it has assisted tribes to buy such lands back. But with tight budgets and what some critics say is a bias toward development, the BC government's Archaeological Branch approved a permit in September. The permit requires only that the homebuilder build high enough to place parts of the structure over some of the stone cairns (read: Gravestones).
Would we allow an Amazon millionaire to build his dream home on stilts over, say, Seattle's historic Lake View cemetery on Capitol Hill? Sorry, shouldn't give anyone ideas. Chief Earl Jack of the Penelakut Tribe said the idea of building on top of the grave site was "a cynical and vulgar notion." Yup.
Tear Down History, Put up an "Amshak?"
Winner: Washington Department of Transportation for proposed historic demolition for new train depot
Wow. It sounded like a win-win. A new train station in Tacoma's Dome District to improve travel times enough to add more train trips and give an economic boost to a neighborhood. Everything was going smoothly until the unveiling of WSDOT's plans.
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