Seattle then and now

Pedestrians walk past the Amazon Spheres in downtown Seattle, May 10, 2018. (Photo by Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

The essential local historian Paul Dorpat and photographer Jean Sherrard have a new book coming out in October highlighting, with color photography, some of the best of their long-running “Seattle Now and Then” columns in the Seattle Times. I’ve seen advance galleys of the book and it’s spectacular. Dorpat and Sherrard contrast past and current images to tell stories about how the city has changed, or not. It’s fascinating, moving, dynamic, yet never nostalgic. Inspired by this, I decided to try my hand — without photography — with some quick impressions of life and culture in Seattle past and present. I’d be happy to hear your “Then and Now” musings too.


Then: Loved shopping downtown at Fredrick & Nelson

Now: Bed Bath and Beyond leaving Belltown!


Then: White people moved to Bellevue because of a racist fear of Black people

Now: White people buy Black-owned homes in CD, put up Black Lives Matter Signs


Then: Had modest cabin getaway on Hood Canal

Now: Have 2nd home chateau on Lake Chelan


Then: Fix Mercer Mess

Now: Fix the “Late 8”


Then: Lesser Seattle

Now: Upzoning


Then: Ruby Chow’s for Chinese

Now: Uber Eats for Chinese


Then:  Ballard Lutefisk

Now:  Ballard microbrews


Then: The economic collapse of 1893, the Great Depression, Boeing Recession, bust, Great Recession

Now: Median Seattle area home price stalls after topping $800K


Then: Seattle General Strike of 1919

Now: Rolling back Amazon head tax


Then: Eating cheap salmon regularly

Now: Resident Orcas are starving


Then: Worried about oil spills on Puget Sound

Now:  Banning plastic straws


Then: Addicted to Frango chocolates

Now: Taxing soda pop


Then:  Built the Lake Washington Ship Canal

Now: Trying to buy buses that don’t exist


Then: Seeing Mariners at Safeco Field

Now: Seeing Pearl Jam at Safeco Field


Then: Building Safeco Field with public money to save the Mariners

Now: We’re not paying for a new roof!


Then: Rebuild Seattle with bricks to avoid fire

Now: Tear down brick buildings before Big One hits                            


Then: Bill Gates, richest man in world

Now: Jeff Bezos, richest man in world


Then: Cheap parking downtown

Now: Bikes in trees


Then: Hooverville

Now: Tent cities everywhere


Then: Mercer Island floating bridge a world wonder

Now: Amazon’s Spheres


Then: Comfortable Nordstrom shoes

Now: Hygge lifestyle


Then: Save the Market!

Now: Save the Showbox!


Then: Filson

Now: Filson


Then: Left town in August to avoid Blue Angels noise.

Now: Leave town in August in order to breathe.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.