My last column reviewed Seattle’s rapid growth from a small, provincial city into a major metropolitan center for the revolutionary, high-tech world. This week I want to make a few more comments on these changes.
In nine years – between 2008 and 2017 – Seattle’s population ballooned by 100,000 and most of those people were under 30 years of age. They were millennials, so-to-speak. I also suspect most of them were single, though I have no hardcore statistics to back that suspicion. Most had at least a few years of college, if not a degree, and most were trained and/or educated in the high-tech arena. (Indeed, many moved to Seattle searching for employment in that field.) And finally, since they were single, many, if not most, settled in the downtown core; that is, in Belltown and Capital Hill. No wonder the cost of a one-room, studio apartment has gone through the roof!
In part because of these astronomical prices, many newcomers are giving up on cars, thereby saving the cost of insurance, parking, gas, and payments. They not only don’t have cars, in a few cases they don’t even have drivers’ licenses. Everything they want, from groceries to entertainment, is within easy walking distance. Of course, if you live in the suburbs, cars are an absolute necessary because Seattle’s mass transit system isn’t worth a damn. This is a serious problem that drains some of the city’s potential and won’t be solved anytime soon because building a finely-tuned subway system will cost tens-of-billions of dollars.
And newcomers are still coming in massive numbers from all over the world, bringing with them a wide assortment of religions, races, wealth, and cultures. They’ve pulled up Seattle’s provincial roots and planted a new cosmopolitan style. They openly welcome all kinds of diverse believes and values and actually explore the different creeds, various drugs, and every kind of sexual preference that might come down the pike, whether gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual, ambisexual, and even asexual. (GLBTARZ or whatever.)
This is the very definition of cosmopolitan.
As Seattle’s liberal attitude evolved, those wonderful, avant-garde, dingy “speakeasies,” where you can bask in the warmth of weed and sip a Pink Lady, began to appear on Capital Hill. About the same time, we witnessed the rise of those sophisticated, all-mahogany lounges like the Hunt Club and the ZigZag. No “newfangled” drinks in these classy bars; just a gin martini. Please.
In closing, I’d point out that Enumclaw is a pleasant, very appealing, little suburban community. It’s an excellent place to buy a home and raise children. However, if you’re over 21, feeling restless, and have no desire to settle down with family responsibilities, I suggest you give Seattle a shot. It’s one of the most hip, progressive city in the entire U.S. and we’re lucky to have such a front-line metropolis within an hour drive.
Well, perhaps within a two-hour drive, depending on the time of day. Then again, maybe it’s best to take the train.