Brick and mortar telling tales

Like many an information junkie, I’m happy to be living in the age of the internet. When I was a kid and you wanted to know something you’d have to trek on down to the library and research it in heavy Britannicas or other similarly dusty volumes. I still believe that’s the best way to do certain research—and I certainly confirm things with reliable sources—but I’m excited that my desire to know can often be instantly gratified with some appetizers of information.

I frequently stumble upon these tantalizing sites while verifying spellings and details for the blog. I found one such gem yesterday. The city of Seattle maintains a division called the Department of Neighborhoods, and I found some very useful information while looking up Seattle’s cast-iron street clocks. I surfed around within the site and found a resource that’s going to occupy me for many joyful hours—the Historic Resources Survey with its Database of Historic Properties.

I worship architecture, and I’m an incurable historian. I love to wander the streets and admire the buildings in our town. I’ve also lived in and visited many of our older apartment dwellings. I wonder about the stories of the structures I ogle. This database lists many historic properties by address. You can sort by neighborhood, too. Some listings have more details than others, but all seem to contain a photo, and many give specifics about the architects. The attached descriptions often tell why a building was built, what amenities the buildings had originally boasted (and what remains), and give specifics about the neighborhood at the time.

The articles tell that certain buildings were constructed to satisfy post WWII needs for apartments while others were designed to lure people who might buy homes into luxury spaces. My friend lives near one such place—an elaborate Tudor with a wide-open courtyard. It’s fun to peer in its virtual windows via the website.

This database allows me to satisfy some of my hunger for more info on the neighborhoods and houses I love without begging to be invited in or doing lots of legwork of my own. It might also be a fun read for those outside the area who are interested in architectural history. I love these hidden gems of the information age!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

128. Does your local government provide information you might be interested in somewhere on their website? Explore and find out.

Link, should you desire it:

http://seattle.gov/neighborhoods/preservation/historicresources.htm

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