West Seattle, Washington
Right now, a few floral tributes rest at the base of the Alki Statue of Liberty, simple remembrances of 9/11 on its 12th anniversary, though a shadow of what was there two years ago on the 10th anniversary:
The plaza built around the statue, a touchstone for gatherings of many kinds, has just passed a milestone anniversary of its own: Five years since its dedication on September 6, 2008. If you moved to West Seattle sometime after that, you might not realize the statue was originally on a square concrete base in a sea of asphalt:
Now, it is the centerpiece of a swirling plaza of bricks and benches:
This West Seattle icon was renovated in two stages: The statue itself was replaced and re-dedicated in 2007. By then, a local couple who had met nearby was leading a committee pursuing the vision of something grander to surround it, a new statue pedestal and plaza. Libby and Paul Carr headed up the Seattle Statue of Liberty Plaza Project, a citizens’ committee that made it happen, mostly through private donations. We saw Libby last weekend at another special event nearby and talked about the plaza’s anniversary. She later shared this remembrance:
It was wonderful to see another great example of community support and participation with the celebration of the Harbor Seal Day festivities and dedication of the “Sentinels of the Sound” sculpture just north of the Bathhouse on Alki Beach.
It reminded Paul and I of another picture-perfect day just 5 years ago … and another wonderful community celebration for the long awaited completion of the new Statue of Liberty Plaza. The Seattle Statue of Liberty Plaza Project worked for almost two years to bring this long awaited project to completion, which was overwhelmingly supported by the whole West Seattle and greater Seattle community. In fact, people as far away as Brooklyn, NY, and even further, bought bricks, plaques and benches which raised the money to build this beautifully designed space, designed by architects Matt Hutchins and Chris Ezzell, who so generously donated their work.
Like so many people, we have have often enjoyed strolling on the promenade and then coming to the Statue Plaza to enjoy a slow meditative meandering and reading many of the brick inscriptions and getting glimpses of the meaning and history this place holds for so many.
I am glad that Paul and I and the whole community could participate in building this special space that promises to be here for a long time to come …
Libby Carr, Co-Chair of SSLPP
We were first reminded of the anniversary by one of the architects Libby mentioned in her note, Matt Hutchins of CAST Architecture. We asked for his thoughts, five years later:
For my part, the plaza is more of a success than I had hoped!
When we were working with our neighbors during the community design process, our goal (from my design presentation notes, Sept. 2007) was to:
‘Provide a community landmark with a safer, rejuvenated public space that celebrates not only the symbolism of the Statue, but also the commitment of this community to this part of Alki Beach history. The plaza is designed to inhibit vandalism and reduce the need for City maintenance. ”
Given the nearly three-year struggle to get it approved, funded and build, nothing is more satisfying that to see the Statue and plaza so well used and loved. I’m always filled with pride seeing how many people are hanging out there, meeting friends, doing tai chi, salsa dancing and, yes, even using it for guerrilla-art installations.
It is holding up very well given the environment and the use, and I credit the ongoing efforts by community members, the Parks Department, and the maintenance endowment written into the fundraising campaign.
Your editor here is finishing this story while seated on a bench at the plaza, where in just the past hour or so we’ve seen people stop by to look at the floral 9/11 tribute, to read the statue’s plaques, or just to bask in the sun and sea air on a 90-degree afternoon.
P.S. Stewardship of the plaza, by the way, is now in the hands of the Alki Community Council, since a 2010 agreement.
4:05 PM: Two weeks after the first “guerrilla art” sighting at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza (WSB coverage here and here), and a week and a half after the followup, something new showed up today. Ben Hutchinson shared the photo and observation:
This one looks like an assault rifle. On the front of this work of art, it has written in French, “Ceci nest pa un fusil d’assault”. I put this into Google Translate, which gave me the English translation “This is not an assault rifle”. I’m not sure, but I believe this may have been a protest in response to a number incidents in various places that have been mentioned in the news over the past few months, about kids who were suspended from school or even arrested for simply carrying Nerf guns (shoot foam rubber darts) or other toy guns like squirt guns or cap guns either to school or onto pieces of property (such as a park/playfield) that belongs to a school. Children are often forbidden from doing so under so called “no tolerance” rules involving anything that even looks like a gun (in one such case, a kid was suspended for just pointing his finger in a way that looked like he was pretending it was a gun, while playing, as kids tend to do). I believe the artwork here is a protest against such no-tolerance policies, for how strict (and possibly unfair) they can be in some situations.
We didn’t see Ben’s e-mail in time to check while we were at Alki so we don’t know if it’s still there.
12:43 AM: The “not a rifle” has been moved to Walking on Logs. The sighting was reported by @macjustice on Twitter when we were downtown picking up a family member; checked it out on the way back, and it’s either the same one or a duplicate.
ADDED EARLY MONDAY: We heard on Sunday from Chuck, who identified himself as the artist, but said he is NOT the person responsible for the previous creations left at Liberty Plaza and in The Junction. He says somebody had removed the “not a rifle” from Walking on Logs by 10:30 am Sunday, adding, “I hope that whoever took it returns it. If they don’t, I guess it served its purpose. I had a lot of fun making it.”
… a hatchet:
While we were checking this out at Alki about 45 minutes ago, we spoke with a Parks Department crew member who was working nearby. He didn’t know about it until he saw it; he tried calling the local maintenance office but hadn’t reached anyone by the time he had to move on. So we’re checking on their plans, and also the larger question: Is it illegal to place something in a park?
11:16 AM UPDATE: Sandra DeMeritt from Parks tells WSB, “We posted a sign on the object a little while ago stating we will remove the item tomorrow. We like to give the public some notice. We also will have to bring the truck and front loader in to remove it. We won’t save it at the Parks Headquarters this time as it is so big. We will break it up and take it to the Transfer Station. We will also make sure the paint is cleaned up as well. I assume it is acrylic paint and not enamel (hopefully). One of our crew members is supposed to put some spill pads down to keep any paint from running down to the beach.”
12:42 PM UPDATE: And to the big-picture question, Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad replies:
It is not actually illegal to place guerrilla art in a park, unless you consider it litter…in which case it is illegal. We don’t really consider it litter. We consider it guerrilla art, which is sometimes fun, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes beautiful, sometimes not. What we generally do with guerrilla art is post it to let the artist know they have a certain amount of time to remove it. When that time is up, and if the art is still there, we take it away. Guerrilla art is ephemeral, and the artists know that. They don’t have an expectation that the art will stay for the long term.
In this particular case, the guerrilla art is leaning against legitimate and permanent art. The Alki Community Council and the individual donors who raised money for the Alki Statue of Liberty worked closely with Seattle Parks and Recreation to develop the proposal for the redevelopment of the plaza. They also raised funds ($47,000) for its long-term maintenance. It would be unfair to them to allow the art to remain.
Since the Alki Statue of Liberty has been a touchstone on 9/11 ever since that first night-after in 2001, we visited late this morning to look for tributes. On the side visible from the street, a few bouquets had been placed, plus a small creation from stones; on the water side, a note, and stones arranged in the shape of a heart:
The note is a prayer, reading in part, “Help us to live with love rather than hate. Help us to forgive.” Meantime, we’ll check back this evening. While there was an organized, well-attended vigil last year (WSB coverage here) on the 10th anniversary of the deadly East Coast attacks, we haven’t heard of any official plans this year (please let us know if you have).
ORIGINAL 12:05 PM NOTE: Sorry for the late notice, but we just got word of this – Craig Parsley‘s 5th-grade Shakespeare production from Schmitz Park Elementary is planning a “flash mob”-style performance at Alki by the Statue of Liberty around 12:30 pm. Spectators encouraged!
ADDED 4:00 PM: Photos and video – the troupe did a great job in a tough setting! Here’s the teacher/director with a few of his students just before the (invisible) curtain rose on “Midsummer Night’s Dream”:
We didn’t fire up the video camera fast enough to hear him shout the announcement of the “flash mob,” but here’s some video from the first few moments (as he explained to them on the sideline, lots of “ambient” noise):
No costumes or set – but a few props:
Well, OK, there was ONE bit of costumery:
The play was performed recently at school – one performance for their fellow students, one in the evening for parents/community.
Shakespeare has been a tradition in Mr. Parsley’s classes at Schmitz Park; he’s moving to K-5 STEM at Boren next year and told us recently he was hoping to take the tradition along.
Sounds like common spam e-mail, but it turned up on Brittany’s door:
Just wanna give you guys heads up that this afternoon between 4 & 4:30 my boyfriend working outside came in to find a note around our door knob giving us IMPORTANT notice that our “Chase” account needed attention. The notice was in both Spanish and English. The person walking door to door made not effort to speak with him as he was in the yard working thus leaving us to believe this is not a true important notice along with the fact that this was a at home printed note with no chase logo anywhere.
They arranged for last night’s vigil to happen at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza (here’s our as-it-happened coverage) – and this morning, Southwest Seattle Historical Society/Log House Museum volunteers are literally picking up after it. While the flowers will remain, they’re collecting unretrieved keepsakes/tributes, as the museum is keeping an ongoing collection (including John Loftus‘s 9/11/01 photos) regarding the statue’s role as a touchstone in 9/11 mourning and memorializing. (Regular museum hours are Thursdays-Sundays, noon-4 pm, by the way, if you haven’t been lately.)
ORIGINAL 7:13 PM REPORT: Hundreds have gathered at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza as the day ends and the 9/11 10th anniversary vigil begins, at the site of so many vigils in the first few weeks after the attacks. Though it’s not dark yet, candles are being lit:
At right, looking at the tributes and memorials that have accumulated at the statue’s base during the day (our earlier report is here), is Vicki Schmitz-Block from Fauntleroy. We’re told there is no formal program – you can just come down to remember and look back, as this solemn anniversary makes way to night. At least two TV stations are here too.
7:24 PM: A round of “America the Beautiful” has broken out – and then applause. This event was organized by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society/Log House Museum, whose Clay Eals has been showing their 9/11 memory album to visitors:
And now, they’re singing the national anthem, loudly, proudly. Some are waving small flags. One woman is wrapped in a flag-pattern sweater. … “Amazing Grace” followed, as did other songs, including “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” (update: here’s the video):
7:48 PM: It’s getting dark enough for the candlelight to stand out, ringing the base of the statue (which was recast four years ago and unveiled here on September 11, 2007; the plaza was built around it the following year, and dedicated in September 2008). Rev. Randy Leskovar of West Seattle’s Calvary Chapel offered a prayer. Absent a formal program, people are coming and going, and probably will for a while.
8:10 PM: Still at least 60 or 70 people gathered. More candles, and quiet tributes, and a luminaria bearing a wish:
ADDED LATE SUNDAY NIGHT: More photos:Read More
These first two photos are from September 11th, 2001, when the first night after the 9/11 attacks brought the first gathering at Alki’s Statue of Liberty, and they are by John Loftus. He thinks he might have been the only person to take photos that night.
John tells WSB, “I had an early (2 megapixel) digital camera and was able to shoot discreetly without using flash. The objects left at the Statue of Liberty have been extensively photographed, but I don’t know that there are other photos capturing the images and mood of the people at the shrine that same night it happened. When the Log House Museum did a show on the 1st anniversary, one of my photos was blown up 6 feet long, I recall.” Today, John placed a framed poster at Liberty Plaza, with a collage of his photos. WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand captured an image of it this morning, even before we heard from him about it; we published a wide shot this morning, but here’s a closer view:
He says he visited the Log House Museum 9/11 display this afternoon and that his photos were indeed the only ones in the album from that first night. Meantime, tonight’s vigil, organized by the museum, is coming up at the top of the hour (7 pm).
Tonight, the Alki Statue of Liberty will again be a gathering place, to remember, and to hope, as it was a decade ago. This morning, tributes are already there – including this poem:
As shown here earlier this week, Alki’s Lady Liberty is holding a flag for the occasion. Across the street, a large flag went up this morning:
Tonight’s vigil is at 7 pm, sponsored by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society/Log House Museum, whose 9/11 exhibit is viewable today from noon till 7, just a block south at 61st/Stevens. (photo added 1:48 pm)
Other West Seattle/White Center commemorations are on this list.
(September 2001 photo by David Hutchinson)
If you were here in September 2001, it is an indelible memory – the gatherings, the tributes, the luminaria at the Alki Statue of Liberty. Right around this time tomorrow, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, a candlelight vigil (organized by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society/Log House Museum) will again bring people together to pay tribute, to remember, and to look ahead. But that is not the only West Seattle/White Center event tomorrow commemorating the anniversary; in case you haven’t seen it yet, we wanted to call your attention one more time to the running list we’ve been keeping of all the events we know of, tomorrow morning, afternoon and evening. See the list here; please let us know if you notice something missing, so that we can add it before it’s too late (firstname.lastname@example.org) – thank you.
With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 just a few days away, the West Seattle spot that became a regional touchstone is ready for candlelight-vigil visitors on Sunday night. David Hutchinson shares a new photo of the Alki Statue of Liberty, with this update:
The Alki Community Council would like to thank Seattle Parks & Recreation for completing the fall maintenance of the Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza in time for this weekend’s 9/11 10th anniversary memorial. This afternoon, Tiffany Hedrick, of the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, completed cleaning and waxing the statue and hung the flag provided by the SW Seattle Historical Society.
As previously noted, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society/Log House Museum is hosting a candlelight vigil at the plaza starting at 7 pm Sunday night. Our partners at the Seattle Times have just published a preview, noting that the museum plans to bring to the plaza, just for the occasion, some of what it collected from the hundreds of tribute/memorial items left there in the days/nights after the attack. Several other tribute/memorial/remembrance events are planned in West Seattle/White Center; we have just added two more to the list (see it here, and please let us know if you have something to add – thank you).
Less than 2 weeks until the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which will bring many more commemorations and remembrances around the country than usual. Last week, we published first word of the Log House Museum‘s tribute plans, focused on the role the Alki Statue of Liberty played as a touchstone in the days after 9/11; Marcy Johnsen from LHM/Southwest Seattle Historical Society sends word the event is now finalized, with Parks‘ permission – full details in our original preview here, which also mentions the tribute during the Holy Family Community Street Fair in White Center (20th/Roxbury) that day. And just added, Providence Mount St. Vincent (4831 35th SW) plans a 1 pm remembrance service in its chapel on Sept. 11th, all welcome; folks at The Mount are making paper cranes in hopes of having 1,000 by then. (Photo by Alki photographer David Hutchinson, taken September 12, 2001)
If you have an engraved brick in place at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza – you have something no one else can get from here on out. The Alki Community Council has announced that the plaza brick sale has ***ended***, so they are not taking any more orders. From the ACC: “We wish to thank all of you who contributed over the years to the success of this project. Since the ACC assumed the responsibility of selling the remaining bricks and plaques in 2009, over 600 bricks and 7 Tribute Plaques have been ordered. The Council is allowed to retain a small fiscal sponsor fee and pays the cost of engraving the bricks and casting the plaques. More than $47,000 has been turned over to Seattle Parks & Recreation for future Statue and Plaza maintenance needs.” Now, as for those two bronze Tribute Plaques that are still available – you can find out more about how to order one by calling Eilene at 206-933-8352 or e-mailing her at email@example.com. (Photo by David Hutchinson)
A big part of today’s Summer Streets event on Alki (coverage coming up!) was organized by the Alki Community Council. While you’re at the beach, you can find out more about what ACC says is your last chance to be part of Statue of Liberty Plaza:
The sun is setting on the Alki Community Council Brick & Plaque Sale. Orders have been placed for an additional 154 engraved bricks and 2 bronze Tribute Plaques. Seattle Parks & Recreation will be installing these by late May or early June. Donations from this portion of the sale totaled $20,410. The ACC is allowed to retain a small fiscal sponsor fee and is responsible for paying for the engraving of the bricks and casting of the plaques. The remaining amount will be turned over to Seattle Parks & Recreation, to be placed in a dedicated maintenance fund for the future upkeep of the Alki Statue of Liberty and the surrounding plaza. Last year, $35,566.22 was transferred to Parks for this fund.
An additional 22 bricks have been sold for installation this fall. This means that less than 30 bricks and only 2 plaques are available. When these are sold, the sale will be concluded. Be sure and stop by the ACC table at today’s Summer Streets event. Order forms for the remaining bricks and plaques will be available. The Council would like to thank those who have supported this effort over the years.
David & Eilene Hutchinson
ACC Brick & Plaque Sales
Alki Community Council‘s volunteer work party at Statue of Liberty Plaza, featured in this morning’s preview, is now a case of “mission accomplished,” reports David Hutchinson (who also shared the photo):
The Alki Community Council wants to thank the dedicated volunteers who came this morning to the Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza. The Council sponsored this event to assist Seattle Parks & Recreation in replanting the landscaped areas surrounding the Plaza. Fortunately, the rain held off and, working under the direction of Parks Senior Gardener Phil Renfrow, the planting was completed by 10 am. Parks will be adding mulch in the next few weeks. The new plants were purchased with money from the Parks-administered maintenance fund, created with the proceeds from the ongoing ACC sale of engraved bricks and bronze plaques.
The plaza itself came to life thanks to a lot of volunteer power 2 1/2 years ago!
(Photo by Eilene Hutchinson)
Over the weekend, Alki’s David Hutchinson shared a photo of the debris tossed onto the Alki park and shore by the wild wind-whipped waves (second-to-last image here). Tonight, he sends word of a cleanup at the plaza – and the latest on brick sales, which help pay for maintenance:
Today, volunteers from the Alki Community Council removed sand and other materials deposited on the Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza by Saturday’s windstorm. The ACC agreement with Seattle Parks & Recreation makes a commitment to provide volunteer work parties to help with the maintenance of the Plaza. Parks will be replanting the landscape beds surrounding the Plaza in the coming months making use of funds from the sale of bricks and plaques the ACC has turned over to the City. Only 90 additional bricks are available and orders received by April 1st will be installed by Parks in late May or early June. Orders received after that date will be installed in the fall. Go to www.sealady.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
If your name or message isn’t part of the Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza already – you’re running out of opportunities. David Hutchinson sends the latest on the brick/plaque sales (which pay for ongoing plaza maintenance, so that doesn’t come out of dwindling public funds):
The Alki Community Council would like to thank all those who have supported the Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza this past year through the purchase of engraved bricks and plaques. Seattle Parks & Recreation has notified us that our most recent order for 168 additional bricks arrived at their warehouse in West Seattle last week. Now that the recent cold weather has moderated, Parks will be determining a date for installing them in the Plaza. This will bring the total number of engraved bricks installed to over 2,700. In accordance with our agreement with the Plaza designers, to preserve the spiral pattern on the main plaza floor, only about 130 bricks remain available for sale. Bricks will be installed each spring and fall until this supply is exhausted.
Order forms may be picked up from the info boxes at the Plaza or downloaded from the Sealady website at: www.sealady.org/brickform.pdf
There are also 4 bronze Tribute Plaques available for sale. Information on these can be obtained at: www.sealady.org
Proceeds from the sale of the bricks and plaques are turned over to Seattle Parks & Recreation, and are placed in a dedicated fund that is used to maintain the Statue and Plaza. By the end of this year, the ACC will have raised almost $40,000 for this fund.
Thanks again for your support, and we wish everyone a happy holiday season.
The Alki Statue of Liberty has been through more than a few changes since becoming a place for tributes on 9/11/01. On 9/11/07, the recast statue was unveiled at the beach; a few days before 9/11/08, Statue of Liberty Plaza was dedicated; days after 9/11/09, a time capsule was buried at the plaza. This year, 9/11 is the eve of Family Fun Day (full details here) – but something else is going on, according to the photo above, and report below, shared by David Hutchinson:
Tiffany Hedrick, of the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and Adam Fah, of Adam Fah Studios in Olympia, are busy this afternoon working on restoring the patina on the discolored plaque on the south side of the pedestal. Touch-up work is also being done on the statue. Adam’s studio specializes in the conservation and restoration of metal sculpture. The work will be completed in time for tomorrow’s Alki Community Council Family Fun Day and Bluegrass Concert.
This restoration is being paid for with funds raised by the ACC’s continuing sale of engraved bricks and bronze plaques.
WSB Statue of Liberty coverage is archived here.
This Sunday’s the big day for the Alki Community Council-presented Family Fun Day and Bluegrass Concert (first previewed here last month) at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza. And this morning, the schedule of events is out, starting with a welcome at noon and the Dog Parade at 12:30, continuing through a Kids’ Talent Show and other entertainment, then concluding with a bluegrass concert. In addition, ACC says 25 vendors will have booths by the plaza, including “an authors’ table open to published writers of West Seattle.” Read on for full (free!) details:Read More
Meet the group working on one of West Seattle’s biggest events in the works for summer’s end: The Alki Community Council “Family Fun Day” – from left, Laura Sue Hoover, Paul Carr, Libby Carr, and Antonio Fernandez. We met at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza – for which, you’ll recall, Libby and Paul led the charge three years ago – to talk about the big event they’re planning on Sunday, September 12th, for what you might call the second anniversary of the plaza’s dedication. And with only a month to go, they’re casting a net right NOW for sponsors as well as for entrants in the youth talent show as well as the dog parade – you do need to sign up in advance! – read on for the details:Read More
Low tide wasn’t the only big activity at Alki today – David Hutchinson sends a photo and update on Statue of Liberty Plaza work:
Seattle Parks & Recreation employees were at the Alki Statue of Liberty early today applying an oil finish to the benches in the plaza. We also have been informed by Tiffany Hedrick, of the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, that the cleaning and waxing of the statue will be taking place shortly. These two maintenance items are part of the commitment Parks made in an agreement with the Seattle Statue of Liberty Plaza Project and fiscal sponsor Urban Sparks. This work, which is done twice a year, is paid for by the Parks held maintenance fund which was created with the proceeds from the earlier sale of bricks and bronze plaques. Money from that fund will also pay for the new plants that will be placed in the landscaped areas surrounding the statue later this year.
The Alki Community Council wants to thank Seattle Parks & Recreation for the excellent work they are doing. We particularly appreciate the contribution of Parks employees Ed Jackson and Carol Baker in coordinating these tasks. The ACC is continuing to accept orders for approximately 100 more engraved bricks and 5 bronze plaques. Information and order forms can be found at the plaza or downloaded from www.sealady.org . Money raised by this sale will be turned over to Parks and will supplement the existing maintenance fund.
ACC Brick Sales
Note that this is one park not contributing to the department’s maintenance-funding crisis (we expect to hear the latest citywide budget info at the Parks Board meeting tonight). Meantime, the ACC’s next meeting is a week from tonight – 7 pm May 20, Alki UCC Church. Scheduled guests include Brenda Peterson of Seal Sitters and Dolly Vinal of the West Seattle Wildlife Habitat Project.