Light Rail Station in Fog

Since University Link opened, many more of you have occasion to use light rail in the course of your daily lives. Moreover, lots of stuff happens on Capitol Hill, and for most people, Link is part of the best transit path to get there.

Nevertheless, if you’re not of those lucky rail riders, tomorrow will see the Beacon Hill Block Party right by the station, from 12pm-8pm. There will be artists, vendors, food, and lots of people right by the station. Come down (up?) and enjoy yourself.

21 Replies to “Light Rail Excuse of the Week: Beacon Hill Block Party”

  1. It must be an old photo of the Station.
    Surely it’s now surrounded by high rise, mixed use development and housing.

    1. From the flicker page:

      Taken on October 29, 2010

      So hopefully it doesn’t look like that today. Anyone have a more recent photo?

      1. Honestly – not much. There is one new apartment building a block to the south and the new El Centro affordable housing development to the north on the other side of the street, but other than that there has been nearly zero TOD near the light rail station since it opened. This does appear to be changing over the next 5 years or so however, as I hear of more and more projects in the works nearby.

    2. The El Centro TOD is just past the left edge of the picture. The station block itself has more decorations but I don’t think there’s a building there. I think there’s a bike locker on the left side of the station?

    3. I’ve been out of the country for the last three years, so I have seen how development has grown (or the new crazy housing prices) around stations, but I’m always puzzled why we even have above ground station buildings at all. I’m particularly confused by the Capitol Hill and UW stations have such a huge above ground footprint. Why the hell aren’t these stations (and Beacon Hill) not completely underground so useful development could take place directly on top?

      1. Good question, although the Moscow and St Petersburg Metros have some entrance buildings like this although smaller. The size is probably for ADA requirements. The external prominence that’s not attributable to size is probably because there’s no building around it. Part of the space is due to elevators (ADA requirement), elevator mechanics, and ventilation shafts from underground. These would all be invisible if there were a building around it.

        But we have fragmented politics, ownership patterns, and agency limits. The public wants something that’s freeway-like and low capital cost, is reluctant to make integrated transportation/land use decisions, takes a long time to upzone (Seattle Process?), doesn’t want to disrupt its SOV/parking/low-density lifestyle, and does not expect Sound Transit to develop or own real estate (beyond the intrinsic transit infrastructure). That precludes simply designing a Vancouver-like tower over every underground station.

        The only station we’ve been promised a tower over it is U-District, and even there some activists are trying to get an open-space plaza instead. I guess Roosevelt could have a tower, but ST didn’t pursue integration, and I think the station is being designed to not support the weight of a tower. That was an issue with the Camlin hotel lot south of Convention Place Station. They put a building in the parking lot but it couldn’t be tall because the tunnel underneath couldn’t support its weight. And maybe the tunnel was too close to the surface, since tall buildings have deep foundations.

  2. That’s a last-century picture, man! El Centro Orientado al Desarrollo de Tránsito (well, get the RIGHT translation, it’s important!) is now going through its finishing touches as the Latino-themed development STB has long been advocating.

    But greatest thing of all is that the Station Cafe, probably the most intentionally transit-located cafe on LINK, is a quarter block north of Beacon Hill Station. When service is at 10 minute headway, it’s like electrified drive-in service. Luis, the owner, put an ATU Local 587 certificate on his front wall the day he opened.

    Calls to mind my 14 (now 47) route when the monorail still had an “L” station across Pine, pigeons and all. Monorail Espresso’s first location where, like the monorail station, should have stayed. So I could order my coffee on my way to Mt. Baker, and they’d hand it up through my driver’s window next trip through.

    But Luis, if that’s you on the roof, you ought to know better! Soon as they make espresso illegal to make up for marijuana, Don Howardo Schultz won’t even need a scope for a hostile takeover.


  3. I think there have been events like these I haven’t been able to get to. I’m curious as to how many people usually show up. Thinking of a LINK route as a neighborhood itself might also be a very good idea for the future.

    One of the things I value most about transit at the level we now have it is that I can start a day with coffee on Beacon Hill, errands Downtown, lunch in Kirkland, afternoon coffee in South Lake Union, and supper in Freighthouse Square at Tacoma Dome Station.

    Also, much as I really enjoy driving, and know enough back routes to avoid usual worsening jams on I-5, I always get home more rested and relaxed for not having to drive. Transit has to be much faster. Two hours for a 60 mile trip straight up I-5 is much too long for the average person’s work life.

    Right now, since I’ve got very little work pressure, if I can’t travel as fast as I should, I can really enjoy the whole trip. But to not actively hate the trip, one needs considerable knowledge about stops, schedules, amenities an bathrooms.

    Which, as ridership in general and as individuals, become acutely important as we and our population age. This isn’t funny, both for human dignity and for the system. Also, for the system I have in mind, pretty much like same facilities in a busy pedestrian street 60 miles long.

    Seriously, thanks for the word on the events. But look forward to eventual events that’ll extend the length of every rail line in the region, maybe for a whole weekend. At least the long ones. Served by transit fast enough to attend them all.


  4. And to complete the thought above. Right now, at this stage what our system needs most is a corps of guides who can personally both explain details like the above for every route, and if needed, meet passengers who need them, accompany them where they need to go, pointing out things they need to see to understand the system.

    Information that the beneficiaries can then pass along.

    I think events like theme of this posting are examples of good places to base service like this. To help put the idea in people’s minds that a transit ride is a way to be in a community, and not just moving through it. One of many reasons, incidentally, that I hate “wraps” on vehicle windows.

    A ride inside a bill-board does not encourage a community-participating frame of mind. Let alone let passengers see the businesses, and their advertising, which give transit both its tax base and its inducements to bring customers into every community on its route.


    1. “… police force accountability… no comprehensive homelessness policy…”

      Yes, these are long-term issues. It’s not a good idea to get too simplistically one-sided about them, or reject the mayor for not having a perfect solution to every problem.

      “… policies that accelerate gentrification and displacement of poor communities and communities of color…”

      Now what would that be? Is this the “density harms poor people” argument? What about El Centro’s own density, is that beneficial? So the statement is too vague to be meaningful, and it hinges on unspecified assumptions of what the mayor did wrong. I hope the folks behind “Block Party” have a more nuanced and constructive total position.

      As for the mayor’s presence, it reminds me of when George W Bush went to visit the troops. If I were in the military, I’d find it difficult to be part of a visiting ceremony, especially if I had to personally talk with Bush or shake his hand. But what Bush imposed on the military and the country is light years worse than any mistakes Murray made. And the group didn’t actually disinvite Murray, it just stated its general opposition to his policies. Mayors get that every day. To me this just seems like (unfortunately common) leftist excess, or poor timing. And a neighborhood block party is presumed to represent the entire neighborhood, not just those who agree with the organizers’ views. So if I were mayor I’d still attend to engage the entire Beacon Hill neighborhood.

      1. Ed Murray did end up attending. I took a picture of him signing an Orlando solidarity poster. I don’t believe he stuck around very long, however.

    2. Went to the party; it was very small. It could probably turn into something bigger over time. I like the idea of a coordinated light rail festival, not so much about the train as the communities along the line.

      Beacon Hill is a small urban village, and thus kind of a weathervane for other small villages that exist or could exist. The commercial district seems small, but in a Feet First walk around the neighborhood the leader said that there are so many events and activities every week that they have trouble finding space for them, So some of its community life is probably invisible from the street, and thus is more active than it looks.I haven’t spent much time in Beacon Hilll and I’ve only known a couple people who lived there, so I can’t say for sure. It had early opposition to mixed-use development, but I understand the current problem is not so much zoning but certain landowners refusing to build.

      1. I was actively involved in neighborhood planning projects on Beacon Hill in the 1990s. The community embraced the Urban Village concept as promoted in the City’s first Comp Plan adopted in 1994. The community has always supported upzones to encourage denser development in and near our business district — to provide more built-in customers, is how we put it. The most recent upzone a few years ago increased heights from 40 to 65 feet on the south end of the El Centro block and a couple of adjacent blocks. At the public hearing, support was almost unanimous — only one lonely voice was complaining.

        The owners of remaining parcels on the station block have continually resisted development. Sound Transit leased the land during construction, and the family owners received more in lease payments than they would’ve in a fee-simple sale! Lesson learned by Sound Transit: Buy the damned property, all you need for construction, and then sell the surplus after construction, so it gets developed. What ST is doing at Capitol Hill Station.

    3. I went around 6:30 pm – I thought it was just the right size. Great energy and performers, and no sorority girls drunkenly dancing their hair onto me. I could actually see the stage. I also appreciated the flag of the People’s Republic of China flying next to the Norwegian flag: lands with topolects unite?

      And I would not have been able go without knowing that my travel time would be constant via LINK, since I had to be home at a certain time afterwards.

      Jakub, could you expand the SWM TLA? I can’t tell from context which you mean.

  5. Also: Honk Fest right outside the south entrance of the Capitol Hill station. It was a pleasant surprise after heading to Capitol Hill for dinner last night.

    1. I saw that yesterday evening. Small brass bands are having a gathering at the park. I asked one whether it’s a competition or something, and they said it’s just something fun to do.

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