April 20, 2013

The Circumnambulation of Queen Anne: A Walk Around My Neighborhood

"Just a closer walk with me...."

22 Coffee Shops. No Waiting. The Route Around Queen Anne
"Queen Anne, where couples of all genders move to settle down and raise a dog."

In my Seattle neighborhood of Queen Anne, everything necessary to life except a hospital and a gas station is within a two mile walk. If you don't drive and don't get sick, you can go from cradle to grave and never leave this map.

And if coffee's your thing, Queen Anne is the dark, hot heart of coffee culture in Seattle.

I've begun to take a two-mile daily walking tour of my neighborhood in Seattle's Queen Anne. This is mostly because of the elemental concept that I should get at least some exercise on a daily basis. It's also because of my long held belief that even with a route that is well worn and well traveled and well known, you can, if you open your mind discover something new every day.

And it is true. Today for example I discovered that if I walk around the corner and three blocks up the hill to to McGraw and Sixth it is possible to have one quick shot of espresso at Ken's market. Which I did. And then I felt like walking some more.

I took my camera and here's Queen Anne, once around the top.

Walking down and then up a hill and turning right, it is then possible to have a shot of espresso at Cafe Lladro on Queen Anne Street. Which I did. Made me want to walk.

Moving down the street two and a half blocks at a rapid clip, you can then have a shot of espresso at Cafe Diablo. Which I did. Gotta go.

Out the door and down the street two more blocks gets you to Cafe Appassionata where you can have, yes, a shot of espresso. Which I did. Moving right along.

From there you can go down the hill, making towards home, and as you do you come face to face with Cafe Florian where you can have a shot of espresso. Which I did. And then out the door I went.

After that I made my way home and I'm here to tell you thatttttttttttttttttttttttt........

Well, never mind.

Let us go then, you and I.

Our Quest for Today: Shouldn't be too hard to find.

Going Up: The Route is at the Top
Going Up: The Route is at the Top -- Photo from 1910 showing the Counterbalance streetcar line. Looking up Queen Anne Avenue from around Mercer.

At the Top of Queen Anne Hill
Galer Apartments in 1934. This building is still standing. The Galer Apartments are still renting. Next door is Christine's Counterbalance Barber Shop complete with two good dogs. Next to that is a dry cleaner and a garage which was in operation in 1910 and still providing parking today.

New, Korean, and Controversial
Flash Forward to 2010-- New, Korean, and Controversial: Next door to the surviving local hardware store ( the classic one was turned into 2 failed -- so far -- restaurants about two years ago), is this just opened store. Started by a Korean-American and his family, the store drew classist criticism from the local Queen Anne Buttinsky Party. It seems the store would sell, among other things, candy (!) and winebeer (!!) and cigarettes (!!!). What's worse, school children would walk by it. Shock, horror, and a petition to halt its license to sell wine and beer got started. This little episode epitomizes the worst of the white "I've got mine, now you keep out" attitude that can crop up in the neighborhood.

Blossoms Like Snow
Blossoms Like Snow: In just Spring, the blocks of the neighborhood are hung heavy with the blossoms and scent of dozens of different species of trees. If a storm comes at the right time you can wade through the blown blossoms on some streets.

A & J: Steaks, Chops, Fish, Sausage, Chicken, Pork
A & J: Steaks, Chops, Fish, Sausage, Chicken, Pork A & J Meats: Such a good butcher it became Very controversial in the past. It deals, you see, in MEAT. This had made it fair game to the whacked out morons of the "meat is murder" crowd that infests pockets of Seattle. For awhile broken windows and spray-painted graffiti were it's lot. That passed and all seemed well until a drunk driver smashed into the door in the right corner. Shut down the store for at least a week. The driver? The family that runs the store may have got ahold of him. Stories vary. But the wise bought no sausage at the store for six months after the accident. The hard-core Seattle foodies were in for it every other day.

Green-igrants: Legal or Illegal
Green-igrants: Legal or Illegal: It wouldn't be Seattle without multiple causes at all times. Here's the new push to suck money out of residents for planting into areas that nobody asked to be made into plantable areas. Passing behind is one of the endless and expensive campaigns to make the illegals of Seattle and Washington into nice legal Democrats. The sign is truthful in that the man pictured is indeed from the Americas... South or Central.... but the appeal to for your white, white heart to bleed never ceases in this whitest of all American cities.

Sustainable but Barely Edible
Sustainable but Barely Edible The buzzwords writhe on the sign: ORGANIC | SUSTAINABLE | LOCAL | SUSTAINABLE | ORGANIC. Get it? Inside everything is stuck in three walls of freezers emitting an ear smothering humm selling pre-made frozen dishes at high prices. Not a lot of business going on here after the guilt-ridden try it once and find it, yes, quite mediocre. I know. I did.

When We Say the "F" Word We Mean It
When We Say the "F-Word" We Mean It: Here's where fresh means FRESH. The catch comes up from Fisherman's Terminal docks about half a mile away down the hill. Of course, you could get it fresher by just going to the docks, but that would mean coming down off the hill. Why bother when they bring it up at about the same price?

Gossip*Mail's Got It All for Les Girls
Up the block on Queen Anne Avenue Gossip*Mail's got it all for les girls: Mail drop. Shipping. Fax. Panties. Stockings. Leotards. Funny Cards. Babes to wait on you and a couple of shop dog totems wandering around on the floor.

Restaurant with Attitude
Restaurant with Attitude: One of the second-tier celebrity chefs of Seattle runs this trendy-deco hole in the wall. Nice enough. As you can see, it's the kind of small plate nouveau-tapas joint that's coming in at about two dollars a bite. Crowded when it opened, it now sort of drifts along. Maybe three dollars a bite will bring the date-night diners back.

The Quiet Elegance of Jabbing Ink Into Your Flesh
The Quiet Elegance of Jabbing Ink Into Your Flesh: If eating a wolf has gotten you into a bestial mood, this place is just next door. Not just any fly-by-night ink sink. No. Not even, if you will, tattoos. Say rather, "Permanent Cosmetics." After all, this is Queen Anne.

Bored Games
Bored Games: An odd against the wind sort of place. Every kind of board game known to personkind. Video gamers, don't let the sun set on you here.

The Proper Bostonian
The Proper Bostonian: This place on the north end smells right but Christine at Counterbalance on the south end gives you a better cut for the same money and she's much hotter and funnier. Her two dogs are cooler too.

Brewskis @ Hilltop Ale House
Brewskis @ Hilltop Ale House: Seattle is where the great American wine circle and the great American beer circle overlap. It boasts a weekly magazine devoted to home brewing. But there's no need to trouble yourself with that. Hilltop has a wide selection on tap and more bottled in the cooler. Just the thing to cut the espresso buzz.

Caffeine Crossroads
Caffeine Crossroads The Teacup is at a cross street. Until two months ago, there was a Peets Coffee diagonally across from it, but that folded. No matter. Facing it is a Starbucks, and ten yards from that a Cafe Ladro, another espresso joint, and down the street at Local they're selling $1 lattes while up the street in the other direction is Cafe Diablo, when Cubano espresso rules.

Elfried Apartments 1937
State of the Affordable Apartment art in 1937, the Elfried stands (for now). The house on the right is gone, replaced by a soon to be gone Metropolitan Market. The telephone poll and the wires endure.

Elfried Apartments 2010
Elfried Today: A survivor from early in the 20th Century, the Elfried is soon to be reduced to rubble -- as soon, that is, as the typical 5-year Queen Anne Argument about "heritage" (even when ugly) is over.

We Used to Have a Gas Station Up Here...
We Used to Have a Gas Station Up Here... but it died for lack of interest.

When I arrived five years ago, a 76 Station still occupied this lot. It was ground into the dust by green fury and the , at the time, high land values. A drug store occupies the slot now. Seen here is the station that was in that space in 1933.

The Metropolitan Market
The Metropolitan Market Upscale, Whole Foodsesque, 24 hour supermarket. There's a Safeway a half a block away, but Metropolitan is where you go when you have a driving compulsion to pay more. It's due to be redeveloped out of existence in the next couple of years along with the Elfried Apartments and a couple of houses so that granite counter apartment condos may rise for the Queen Anne couples of all genders that move here to settle down and raise a dog.

Services, Services, Services
Services, Services, Services: Your body bugging you? Your marriage bugging you? Your kid bugging you? Are you bugging you? Whatever's bugging you, we have service people waiting to serve on Queen Anne.

Inside Cafe Diablo
Inside Cafe Diablo: Cubano coffees like liquid crack. Newspapers. Comfy chairs. Pastry and Sandwiches. What's not to like?

Wink: As proof that Satan is alive and well on top of Queen Anne, this outpost of the cupcake plague just opened about a month ago. Cupcakes, just like eating a whole piece of cake but you're gipped out of the frosting on the side. Zaw "artisan" cook-at-home pizza also just opened about a half a block down the street. More proof that yuppie doom is closing in.

Fashion Princess and Her Handmaid
Queen Anne Fashion Princess and Her Handmaid: Every morning she gets up, dresses herself, glances in the mirror and says, "Thank the Lord for my innate ability to accessorize."

The Glorious 5-Spot
The Glorious 5-Spot: It's not that the food's that good, it's that the food's never that bad. Add in Hank, one of the last of the professional bartenders in the zone, and you've got a hang-out that is essential to life as we know it on Queen Anne.

The 5-Spot Corner in 1973
The 5-Spot Corner in 1973: Sure could use that burger joint these days. Off to the right you can make out Ace Hardware which survived until 2008. From there to the corner it's been consumed by new buildings housing a solid restaurant and some sort of weird holistic spa operation. Tempis fugit.

The Queen Anne Steps
(Some of)The Queen Anne Steps: When I first moved here I thought jogging up and down these steps would keep me in shape. I made it through three rounds and then bagged it for the bar at the 5-Spot.

Yes, Trader Joes
Yes, Trader Joes: When you can't stand the Metropolitan charging above $30 a pound for some imported cheeses, off you go for great deals, great bread, and a bottle of "Two-Buck Chuck" red wine (Which, sadly, has gone to three bucks.)

Oh, and there's always free coffee in case you haven't had enough at the other 21 places to get it on the route.

Cafe Fiore Serving.... yes.... Coffee
Cafe Fiore Serving.... yes.... Coffee: This one's off the main drag of Queen Anne Avenue beyond Trader Joes. It's there in case you run out of a coffee buzz in the block and a half since the last espresso parlor. Nice joint though. Has a playpen set up inside for when the world of wives and mothers comes out for a coffee break after their morning coffee.

Tribunali Pizza
Tribunali Pizza: Doing one thing and doing it perfectly. Thin crust pizza. Some salads. Superb wine list and some desserts. Wood fired brick oven in the back means that even if you aren't thinking "pizza" it will hook you in the nostrils and drag you in the door.

Death by Doughnut
Death by Doughnut: I was doing very well on my daily constitutional and somewhat slimming walk until the fiends of Top Pot opened this outpost on the backside. I've tried to take detours around it but it never quite works. Like a black hole, the doughnuts in here just suck me in.

I thought I was free a few days ago when I tried their version of the maple cream doughnut and found it (praise the Lord) inedible; they'd fatally confused the "maple cream" concept with an "English Toffee" concept.

After two bites I rejected the doughnut and returned it for a credit. I was just about to make for the door when one of the two cops sitting in the doughnut shop (honest) said, "Try the lemon cream old fashioned." Since he was wearing a gun, I complied....

Just when you think you're out, they pull you back in.

Rafael Carrabba Violins
Rafael Carrabba Violins: When I say that Queen Anne has "everything necessary for life" I mean it. Let's just say you happened to be a concert violinist and needed a new bow or your Stradivarius restored. Hey, we've got you covered.

Southwestern in Seattle
Southwestern in Seattle: Another fascinating facet of Queen Anne is that it is pretty much a century old walking museum of residential architectural styles. From vintage Queen Anne mansions (hence the name of the hill) to this coy little faux-adobe duplex to some really revolting post-modern Yuppie Huts, the neighborhood has them all.

Spring on the Sidestreets
Spring on the Sidestreets: Just across from the splendid Queen Anne Library.

"Everything Necessary to Life" Including A Masonic Temple
"Everything Necessary to Life" Including A Masonic Temple Suppose you woke up one day and were transformed into a Mason. Would you have to leave the top of Queen Anne for your arcane and mysterious rituals? No way.

Creeping Hipster Crude Intrudes
Creeping Hipster Crude Intrudes: This seems to be the new style of "with it" house being slapped up setback to setback whenever a lot opens up. I'm sure the owners think of themselves and cool and edgy, but the reality is these structures steal the light from houses on either side of them. Not a nice thing to do in a city with a lot of rainy dark days.

Targy's Tavern
Targy's Tavern: Every decent neighborhood needs a decent dive bar, and Targy's is it. Of course, it's Queen Anne so it's rather upscale. It stays respectfully closed until four in the afternoon so the little kids can get home from the elementary school without being tempted by a boilermaker. It is the Queen Anne way.

Star-Class Craftspeople Like Beverly Hunnicut
Star-Class Craftspeople Like Beverly Hunnicut: This woman can sew anything from any fabric and make it beautiful. A great source for accessories and gifts too. She's been working through a vast stock of vintage Japanese kimono fabrics for years. Amazing skills and an amazing choice of rare and beautiful gifts.

Neighbors Who Take Holidays Seriously. Every Holiday.
Neighbors Who Take Holidays Seriously. Every Holiday. This is cute and benign. Wait for their Halloween. They're planning it now and digging up their relatives in the back yard.

The New and Wonderful Bustle Cafe
The New and Wonderful Bustle Cafe: Because having an espresso stand just across the street at Ken's Market meant you'd have to cross the street for an espresso. Inconceivable.

Bustle's a major upgrade to the Nail Salon that previously occupied this space. A drop in spot now inhabited thickly by students from Seattle Pacific University in the afternoon and well into the evening.

Sleep Dentistry
Sleep Dentistry Hey, that's for me. Why be miserable when you can be unconscious?

Macrina Bakery: Queen Anne Branch
Macrina Bakery, Queen Anne Branch But just as deadly as the original. Incredible bread. Incredible dinner rolls. Lethal cinnamon breakfast rolls. Cookies, cakes and pies. A bit too much of a "Ladies Lunch" spot for my taste, but I can't imagine bread life without it.

Ken's Market: Why Pay Less?
Ken's Market -Why Pay Less? It's a great store and a great neighborhood resource. What do you get for a little extra money? A great staff and no waiting. They've three registers and the minute a line of two forms at one, the call goes out "Second checker!" Should a line of two form at both, the call goes out, "Third checker!" If people should continue to stack up I've no doubt they'd roll a fourth register out of the back room and call out, "All hands on deck!"

And with that we have, as they say, come full circle. Or in this case, full rectangle.

Your Tour Guide
Your Tour Guide: Thanks for coming along. See you around the hood.

Posted by Vanderleun at April 20, 2013 12:51 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Lovely photo essay. Looks like a lot of fun, but I'm wondering where you found the glowy dayball for some of the shots. I'd heard it's a myth.

(FWIW, sedation dentistry is a Good Thing™ for those poor souls for whom local anesthetic no longer works. Like my husband. After the first side of his mouth was done, he mentioned, "I forgot what it's like when your teeth don't hurt.")

Posted by: B. Durbin at April 20, 2010 2:22 PM

Fun pictures, tho it's a good thing for me and my caffeine addiction that there aren't so many great sources of it in my neighborhood. I always admire the way you can get candid shots of people (your NYC ones were great). Around here, if you aim a camera at somebody (especially a cute kid), you are glared at (even if one is somebody's mom).

I agree about seeing something different each time you walk a familiar route, if you are looking for it. Why it was a good thing in the old days when cops walked a beat...

Posted by: retriever at April 20, 2010 4:12 PM

My grandparents, all four of them, rode that streetcar up and down Queen Anne Hill. We have variations of that photo in our family album, taken originally to send to those uppity second cousins in San Francisco who thought Seattle didn't have any real hills. Henry Yesler may have flattened our town a bit, but we still can be proud of our inclines - and the shapely legs we get from climbing them!

Posted by: raincityjazz at April 20, 2010 5:25 PM

After all those coffee's, I'm surprised you were able to take any pictures that were in focus.

I enjoyed the essay

Posted by: pdwalker at April 20, 2010 5:27 PM


looks like a great place to well er um... live.

Posted by: reliapundit at April 20, 2010 6:22 PM

What a great essay! I'd love to do something like that in some of the neighborhoods around here, but I don't live in the interesting ones. I live in the part of town where it's not unusual to see police tape.

Posted by: Gordon at April 20, 2010 6:56 PM

Nice photo essay, but I'm not too sure about the Galer Apartments photo. I'm no expert on cars, but that one looks newer than 1910. It looks more like 20s or 30s to me.

Posted by: rickl at April 20, 2010 7:00 PM

You might well be right. I'll check the source again.

Posted by: vanderleun at April 20, 2010 7:13 PM

You are correct. It is 1934. I conflated the information with another image from the same source at.


Posted by: vanderleun at April 20, 2010 7:23 PM

Great neighborhood. I know because my son lives there. And the best part is he lets us visit.

Posted by: f/zero at April 20, 2010 9:24 PM

Couldn't help but think of Chase Jarvis' "create, share, sustain" paradigm and the great video he posted in January of a couple of guys who spent a day recording life At the End of Yonge Street in Toronto.

Infinity's grain of sand doesn't have to be on a beach. It could just as easily be urban grit.

Posted by: shoreacres at April 20, 2010 9:44 PM

Man...that brings back memories of living in a studio on the fifth floor of the Narada on Highland in my twenties. There were three gas stations on the hill when I was there if you count 7-11 which had a couple pumps out front. The Top Pot was the old S&M Market before they moved down the street. Nice to see Olympia Pizza is still there. Great green salad if you like canned black olives and a mountain of Mozzarella. The modern pad looks familiar. Pretty sure I know the architect. Targy's was my second home back when it was a real neighborhood dive. Can't recall the owners name but he would violently 86 us weekly for some minor breach of etiquette such as throwing cue balls across the bar and either didn't remember or didn't care when we showed back up the following Monday.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane Gerard.

Posted by: westsoundmodern at April 21, 2010 12:24 AM

A counterbalance streetcar is known as a Funicular ('rope') railway, and is commemorated in the song "Funiculi, Funicula". FYI.

Posted by: Brett_McS at April 21, 2010 1:21 AM

As a child I listened to my grandfather, a rapscallion of the first order, sing that song in horribly mispronounced Italian. With a heavy Danish (German) accent. Fun times, growing up Scandinavian in Seattle in the 50's. Now I'm really homesick. Thanks, Gerard.

Posted by: raincityjazz at April 21, 2010 6:10 AM

Lovely essay, and wishing every day in Seattle was as sunny.

Posted by: Fausta at April 21, 2010 3:26 PM

dear Mr. Vanderleun: "See you around the hood." No, dam it, not unless you have a time machine. In 1995-96 I worked at the Queen Anne branch of the Seattle Public Library. Since it was one of two jobs, the other being down by Harborview Hospital, I never had time for anything but running for the bus. A dam shame, as your photo essay proves. I missed a lot. What I remember most vividly was the weekend I worked at QA, and as part of Seafair, the Navy's Blue Angels roared overhead. You'd swear they were going to be landing on the library roof. Got rid of the dust on the old fashioned light fixtures at QA.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Posted by: Gregory Koster at April 21, 2010 5:03 PM

Very cool read. Enjoyed it alot! I'll def remember to check out the area next time I'm in Seattle.

Posted by: ty at April 21, 2010 11:37 PM

I lived there for about a year. I remember walking my dog down that big ol' hill to walk through the park at the bottom. I remember the breathtaking view of Mount Rainier from the kitchen window too!

Posted by: patricius at April 30, 2010 8:55 PM

Thanks !

Posted by: Grace at April 20, 2013 11:00 PM

Loving one's little platoon -- the mark of a fine spirit.

Posted by: HappyAcres at April 21, 2013 4:38 PM