Given the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we don’t always pay attention to things that are before our very eyes. After seeing the same object so many times, whether it’s a sign, a statue, a landmark, a building or some other structure, it’s almost like it becomes invisible.
I’ll give you an example. For years I commuted by ferry to Seattle and walked to my office near Pioneer Square. (For those not in the know, the Pioneer Square District was Seattle’s original downtown.) At least twice a day I walked by the smokestack depicted in the above image, paying absolutely no attention to it. I had no idea what it was, why it was there, or whether it still served any function. For all I knew, the building was completely empty. So where had my natural curiosity gone? Good question. It was only after photographing the structure that I finally got off my duff and did some online research. Turns out the red-brick Seattle Steam Plant at 619 Western Avenue, including its formidable smokestack, was one of the many buildings that rose from the ashes after the Great Seattle Fire in 1889. Originally serving about 30 buildings, it now provides steam for heat and hot water to nearly 200 buildings. And the smokestack won’t be going away anytime soon, I might add, as the plant owner signed a new 50-year contract in 2004.
Let me also comment on the perspective of this image, which also shows the nearby ferry terminal and waterfront next to scenic Elliott Bay. If given the opportunity, I always prefer to look down (or across) at my subject for a fresh or different look, as opposed to a view from ground level. On trips overseas, this often means trudging up and down a ton of steps in narrow stairwells of old towers (410 steps is my personal record – but who’s counting?). I avoided a cardio workout this time, however, as I only had to ride an elevator to the top of an open-air parking structure to get my vista view.
My gallery on Bainbridge Island includes an excellent variety of canvas prints, including an attractive 24×36 print of “Smokestack in Pioneer Square.” If in the neighborhood, you should consider stopping by for a look! For gallery hours, please visit my Contact page.
Ciao for now!
Andrew (“Andy”) Bergh