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.

Crosscut archive image.

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

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

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.


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