Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Andrea Williamson

Caitlin Lockhart

A new trend has begun withrespect to Seattle’s downtown alleyways. According to an article written by Natalie Swaby for King 5 News onSeptember 8, 2011, the trend was begun by Seattle resident Todd Vogel. Vogel had moved into an office off Nord Alleyjust east of 1st Avenue South, between South Main and South Jacksonstreets near Occidental Park in one of Seattle’s more sketchy areas. A neighbor, Jack Bennetto, was quoted inSwaby’s article as saying, “There were a lot of people that would come here touse it as a bathroom or for drugs or prostitution.” Vogel was quoted in the article as saying, “…people who do unhealthy things don’t want to be around people who do healthythings.” So Vogel decided to institutechange. He placed a table, which he boughtoff Craigslist for $26, in the alley and encouraged neighbors to put out plantsand flowers on their balconies. Hecontacted the city and arranged for trash to be picked up daily so the largedumpsters could be removed. He alsoapplied for grants and gathered donations. Vogel is quoted in a blog by Gabriel Campanario of the Seattle Times assaying, “We started respecting the space and people started to respectit.” Now Nord Alley is the venue formonthly happenings, such as evening jazz performances or pet adoption events,and has sparked a trend.

We visited Nord Alley on arecent cold, but dry, January day. Therewere a few trash bags sitting out, presumably waiting for the daily garbagecollection. There was also a deliveryvan blocking the south entrance. NordAlley did have potted plants, a bird feeder, and a beautiful sculpture mountedon the building’s side above our heads. Despite the presence of a transient population in Occidental Park, wefelt comfortable walking through this alley. Surly this is a great trend for the city!

Campanario, Gabriel. “Downtown alley leaves dark days behind,welcomes pedestrians.” http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/seattlesketcher/2011184707_green_alleys.html
Feb. 24, 2011.

Toole,Daniel. “Tight Urbanism: Alley Architecturein the US, Australia, and Japan” http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2319461

Swaby,Natalie. “DowntownSeattle alleys undergoing transformations.”
September 8, 2011.

All photos by Caitlin Lockhart.

Nord Alley in a larger map

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