By now, you may be thoroughly tired of “2010 in review,” since 2011 is in its third day. We weren’t able to finish it sooner – new news always comes first – but just in case you’re still interested, after the jump, our decidedly nonscientific, maybe even highly disputable picks for WSB’s top stories of 2010:
Please note, we are not saying these were necessarily the most IMPORTANT stories of last year, but the “top” in terms of discussion, followup, attention, a variety of factors. Most came immediately to mind when we started chatting about “if we were going to do a top-stories list …” but to doublecheck, we scanned the top 250 links from among those that made for another record traffic year (9.3 million pageviews):
(8/17/2010 photo of Air Force One at Boeing Field by David DeSiga)
10. THE SONIC BOOMS!
On August 17, 2010, President Obama came to Seattle and parked Air Force One at Boeing Field, just over the ridge. So when two thunderous booms came out of nowhere on that sunny August afternoon, many thought the worst. For WSB, it was a huge lesson in how many people have come to trust us for immediate breaking news – so many hit the site at once, our server crashed for about 10 minutes, right after we posted the one line “Yes, we heard it too.” Of course, we all learned before long that what we heard were sonic booms from two fighter jets scrambled from Oregon because of a private pilot’s “no-fly zone” violation. And for our part, we have dramatically increased the WSB server capacity, taking this as a lesson for what might happen in case of something else sudden and widespread, such as an earthquake.
(4/15/2010 video by WSB editor Tracy Record)
9. GRAY WHALE STRANDS, DIES IN THE ARROYOS.
On the sunny afternoon of April 14, 2010, our 24/7 phone rang with a call asking us who to notify about a whale that seemed to be in trouble off West Seattle’s southernmost shores, in The Arroyos. After attempting to offer advice, we headed down to see for ourselves. Right off the bulkhead of a waterfront home, a gray whale had just breathed its last – first one to strand and die in West Seattle in 11 years. Reporting from that bulkhead (thanks again to Scott and Jennifer), we sent word out on Twitter, published updates on WSB, and soon TV helicopters was roaring down the coast. The next day’s low tide revealed the whale’s full carcass, a both sad and fascinating sight; we followed through till it was towed away on the third morning after its arrival. (The postscript made international news – what was found in its stomach.)
(7/28/2010 photo by Christopher Boffoli – Rotarians who watched the pole’s reinstallation)
8. ROTARY VIEWPOINT PARK TOTEM POLE – RESOLUTION, RESTORATION, REDEDICATION.
The saga began toward the end of 2009, with the theft and recovery of the West Seattle Rotary Viewpoint Park totem pole, but continued to play out over the first two-thirds of 2010. The man suspected in the theft was never charged, but in May, the Rotary announced he had agreed to pay $20,000 in restitution to the club and the Parks Department. That paved the way for restoration work, and in August, the pole was returned to its place in the park, and rededicated. Sadly, one of the longtime Rotarians who had helped solve its mysterious disappearance, Ken Wise, died between the pole’s return to the park and the scheduled rededication ceremony.
(11/16/2010 Alki Bakery post-shutdown photo by Ellen Cedergreen for WSB)
7. BUSINESS CLOSURES – PARTICULARLY ALKI BAKERY.
Several businesses closed abruptly this year, but none seemed as shocking as Alki Bakery‘s shutdown on November 15, 2010. Fans were in mourning, workers were angry. (As 2010 closed, the owners of nearby Alki Café confirmed they’re working on a deal to take over the bakery space.)
(September 2010 video by Christopher Boffoli – Admiral Safeway demolition)
6. TWO BIG PROJECTS PROGRESS – ADMIRAL SAFEWAY BEGINS, LINK APPROACHES COMPLETION.
Though the construction business overall has slowed somewhat, 2010 saw much activity on two major projects. After a long Design Review process, the new Admiral Safeway finally got the green light, and construction of the new store (and other buildings on the site) began with demolition work in September. (See the construction-site webcam here.) Meantime, in The Triangle, the end of 2010 meant the end was near for the construction of Link, the Harbor Properties project with 200 apartments, a child-care center, a vegetarian restaurant, and a TBA third tenant.
(Video shot by Bill Schrier as he, and many other West Seattleites, walked home on 11/22/2010)
5. SNOWPOCALYPSE 2010.
November 22nd brought the biggest snow woes in two years, with some icy aftermath the next two days. And though city leaders had promised they were ready – the snow got ahead of them around 3 that afternoon, and they never quite caught up, leading to a horrendous evening commute, with so many trouble spots that, as the video above shows, dozens if not hundreds of West Seattleites just gave up and walked home. (This was also a recordsetting event for WSB, with the biggest traffic day ever – more than 80,000 pageviews – and the most-commented story ever – 586 comments on the afternoon-evening coverage during that nightmare commute, with people sharing information all the way down to exchanges along the lines of “I’m on (a certain) bus”/”Hey, do you see my husband on there too?”)
(9/23/2010 photo by Christopher Boffoli)
4. QUADRUPLE MURDER-SUICIDE SHOOTINGS.
September 23, 2010: A deadly nightmare in Highland Park as a grandmother opened fire on her own family, killing three relatives, including two teen and tween granddaughters, and then herself. The family of 60-year-old Saroueun Sok said she had struggled with mental illness. This past weekend, by the way, the family planned to continue the healing journey with the 100-day ceremony at a Seattle temple. Southwest Youth and Family Services has continued to help them get housing and address other needs; we had an update last month, when we met shooting survivor Thyda Phan and daughter Nevaeh unexpectedly at the SWYFS offices.
Now for a changeup, number three and number two are introduced in this brief, narrated-by-your-editor-at-the-scenes video clip:
(Oops, Freudian slip toward the end of that narration … for almost the entire day, we thought that one might deserve to be #1.) Anyway, if you couldn’t view the video or didn’t want to, the stories are spelled out lower in this story. But first! We also have a short, narrated clip to tell you about what we did ultimately think had to be #1:
Now as promised, here are the top three, in writing:
3. “THE HOLE” MOVES CLOSER TO RESOLUTION – MAYBE.
So much happened, though the site’s been idle more than two years – community advocates pressing for its perimeter to be made safer, the first trial over who had dibs on any prospective money from a sale, Whole Foods officially saying it’s out, the foreclosure sale order, plus there’s now a challenge filed in the State Court of Appeals. So it will continue to be a major story in 2011.
2. DEAL SIGNED FOR WEST SEATTLE TRADER JOE’S.
June 16, 2010: After years of rumors, questions, and endless wondering, Trader Joe’s FINALLY officially made a deal to open a West Seattle location. Yes, some scratch their heads and say, “What’s the big deal? It’s just another chain store,” while others are on cloud 9 waiting for the day they’ll be able to find the Fearless Flyer deals just a couple miles from their house. A month and a half before the announcement, we pointed out the city DPD website hinted it was coming, but both property owner Steve Huling and Trader Joe’s itself said nothing was final. Six months after the announcement, signs of progress finally started showing up at the site, like the permit-process sign that went up just before Christmas.
1. TWO VIADUCTS, ONE ONGOING TRAFFIC CHALLENGE.
All year long, construction work related to The Viaducts – Spokane Street and Alaskan Way – has affected West Seattle drivers, bus drivers, and bicyclists. While work on the south-end replacement for the latter is just beginning, and the tunnel talk continues, the Spokane Street Viaduct work has affected West Seattle drivers’ lives in a big way – particularly the opening of the new eastbound offramp to 4th Avenue South in August, and the pre-demolition closure of the old westbound onramp from 1st Avenue South. We can almost predict this will be a strong contender for top story of 2011, too.
(Honorable mention for inclusion in the list – South Park Bridge shutdown on June 30th and replacement-funding announcement in October. It’s not IN West Seattle, so we cleared it off this list to make more room, but it certainly affects a lot of West Seattleites, and it may be the only time you ever see such pomp and pageantry accompany a bridge shutdown – makes you wonder what will happen when the new one is built and opened in a few years.)