How Seattle got a partly ‘European-style’ street
The City wanted to let pedestrians and vehicles mix in a somewhat gritty setting. ADA requirements and corporate attitudes complicated the effort.
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“How close can we get to a European-style pedestrian-oriented street?” Grace Crunican asked in 2003 when she was director of the Seattle Department of Transportation.
At that time, the City was overseeing plans for extensive redevelopment of a faded industrial neighborhood near Lake Union, north of downtown. Crunican looked at Terry Avenue North—an irregularly paved street that sloped down toward the lake—and envisioned it as a place where pedestrians and motor vehicles could comfortably coexist. It could be a “heart location”—a social hub—in billionaire Paul Allen’s emerging South Lake Union mixed-use district.
The story of Terry Avenue North appears as a case study in Living Streets: Strategies for Crafting Public Space, newly published by Wiley (334 pages, $85 hardcover). Better! Cities & Towns followed up on the book’s release by talking with Lesley Bain, one of the three authors, and with Lyle Bicknell, chief urban designer for the Department of Planning and Redevelopment on the street project.
Around the world, interest is growing in how to create and manage streets where pedestrians and vehicles can mingle without tension. Crunican thought the six blocks of Terry could be a model of that for Seattle. She collaborated with varied interests, including Allen’s Vulcan Real