West Seattle, Washington
King tides have swamped Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza multiple times in recent years, and that’s just part of why many of the inscribed bricks that comprise much of the plaza have faded into illegibility. A suggestion for restoring them was brought to the Alki Community Council last night, from one of the community advocates who made the plaza happen 15 years ago. She wonders what you think of the idea.
Libby Carr doesn’t live in West Seattle now, but did in the mid-’00s, when she and husband Paul Carr fought bureaucracy and amassed serious fundraising to first recast the statue and then create a new base for it and a plaza befitting it. The statue was re-dedicated in 2007, the plaza a year later. A major part of the fundraising came from selling more than 3,000 inscribed bricks and plaques. Now, after almost 15 years of wind, waves, and sand, it’s all but impossible to go to the plaza and find “your” brick.
Libby Carr told the ACC that her research has turned up someone who says he could reinscribe the bricks with a method that would be much longer-lasting. He estimated the 3,003 bricks could be reinscribed for about $60,000. The cost of removing and replacing them would have to be determined, though. But Carr sees a way to cover much if not all the costs: She says the ramp down to the plaza, built some years later, could hold 29 inscribed plaques that could be sold for $5.000 each, raising $145,000 for starters, more than double what it would cost to fix the bricks.
In the years since the plaza was dedicated, a maintenance fund – left over from the $350,000 raised for the plaza and statue – has seen Parks and the ACC partner on keeping the plaza maintained, but they’ve tried many ways to protect and restore the inscribed bricks, without much success. But Carr had a key question: Does the community care? Are West Seattleites – both those who bought bricks/plaques and those who did not – interested? “Is there will and desire in the community to do this all over?” (If you have a thought either way, consider commenting below.) The ACC agreed to talk about this again at its next meeting. Carr said she’d be happy to come back.
Two other topics of note:
ALKI ART FAIR: Its longtime leader Giovannina Souers brought this year’s toplines. Three days again this year, July 21st through 23rd, 2 pm-8 pm Friday, 10 am-8 pm Saturday, 10 am-6 pm Sunday. They have more than 80 artists lined up for this year. The AAF is a nonprofit, and powered by volunteers – Souers says more are needed, as well as a vice president who will then step up to president (she has been president off and on for the festival’s quarter-century of existence and is about to have to step down again due to term limitation). You can find out how to get involved via the Alki Art Fair website.
ALKI BEACH PRIDE: Roger Starkweather was there with an early Alki Beach Pride preview. Biggest change this year – a street party on Alki Avenue SW. It will be closed from Harry’s Beach House to Blue Moon Burgers for activities noon-7 pm on August 20th; then there’ll be a movie at Alki Playfield at 8 pm. ABP will feature a beer garden, entertainment, kids’ activities, vendors, and more. They’re expecting about a thousand people to attend. “It’s not about a big show, it’s about community.” They’re still accepting vendor applications, too.
Alki Community Council meets at 7 pm on the third Thursday of most months, in person at Alki UCC (6115 SW Hinds) and online via Zoom.
Thanks to Allen for the photos. Along with flowers, someone has left a pictorial memorial at the Alki Statue of Liberty, which became a Seattle gathering place after the 9/11 attacks,
While hundreds gathered there for a 10th-anniversary vigil in 2011, nothing formal is planned today/tonight.
SIDE NOTE: On 9/11/2007, the refurbished statue was unveiled. The plaza surrounding it, with a new pedestal for the statue, was dedicated a year later.
Thanks to the reader who just emailed that photo, reporting that someone has left flowers and a sign at the Alki Statue of Liberty in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The statue has been a magnet for other civic tributes in the past (as shown in our coverage archive), most notably after 9/11.
Seven years before getting its own plaza, the Alki Statue of Liberty became a gathering point for the community on 9/11. Ten years after the attacks, an anniversary gathering filled the plaza. Other anniversaries are quiet, like today, the 17th:
We stopped by a little while ago and found that lone bouquet at the base of the statue’s pedestal.
(2008 photo by David Hutchinson)
Ten years ago today, the Statue of Liberty Plaza at Alki Beach was dedicated. The reminder is courtesy of Matt Hutchins, a West Seattle-residing architect who donated hundreds of hours of work to the project as one of the plaza’s designers. The plaza was a community-initiated and -funded enhancement to what started as simply a project to recast the statue, which was in bad shape thanks to damage including vandalism over the years. The new statue was installed on the old pedestal in 2007, and a year later it was re-dedicated on its current pedestal as part of the new plaza. You can see before-and-after photos here; our entire coverage archive of the project and other significant events involving the statue is here (in reverse chronological order).
Thanks to DN for the photo: The most-quoted lines of the poem that graces a plaque at the Statue of Liberty have been placed at the base of her little sister on Alki Beach. The poem is “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus; you can read it in full on the Statue of Liberty National Monument website.
While there’s no official observance planned at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza today, we stopped by at midmorning and found tributes already in place, on this 15th anniversary of 9/11. In the hours and days after the attacks, the statue became a focal point for Seattleites’ mourning and memorials, and that continues, to varying degrees each year.
Five years ago, on the 10th anniversary, hundreds gathered for a vigil. So far today, the tributes are quieter – even this small one we spotted:
As mentioned in our morning calendar highlights, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s Log House Museum – less than a block inland from Statue of Liberty Plaza, at 61st SW/SW Stevens – has brought out a 9/11-related display, today only. The museum is open until 4 pm.
P.S. If you are new, a bit more history — the statue itself was recast and returned to the beach in 2007, unveiled on September 11th of that year. One year later, the plaza – the result of a community-led project – was dedicated.
About an hour before sunset at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza tonight, West Seattleite Samuella Samaniego reverently removed the Orlando sympathy sash and banner she had placed on the statue five days earlier.
Hundreds signed what became a two-piece banner after its earlier removal and return; Sam says she will be sending the messages off to Orlando, where six days now have passed since 49 people were killed.
After five (interrupted) days, Samuella Samaniego says she plans to take down the Orlando-solidarity/sympathy sash and banners at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza tonight at 8 pm. She adds, “A bagpipe musician has made himself available for the removal. I realized (that) if I did not do something different (for the removal), it might end up feeling like I was simply taking down a petition that had all the signatures it needed. The people who lost their lives, and/or their loved ones, who now have to find a way to live with the loss, should be honored with something more than cutting the ties that have kept the memorial secured to the Statue.”
We visited this morning to take the photos you see above; the panels are covered in names and messages so there’s not much room to add new ones, but if you want to see them before they’re gone, or to be there this evening as a tribute, now you know.
(WSB photo, this morning)
1:08 PM: Following up on the discovery yesterday afternoon that a Seattle Parks crew had removed the Orlando-sympathy sash and banner from the Alki Statue of Liberty because of “complaints,” less than a day after West Seattleite Sam Samaniego had placed it there:
Yesterday evening, two hours after we first reported on the removal, Parks said it was a mistake and would return it today. However, as noted this morning thanks to a photo tweeted by Heather, only the banner – covered with signatures – was returned. We’ve been waiting to hear back from Parks spokesperson Dewey Potter before publishing a separate followup. Now we have. Her reply starts with something else we had requested, details on the “complaints” cited yesterday as a reason for the removal:
A member of the grounds crew was at the statue yesterday afternoon. A man approached her and identified himself as a veteran. He said he was offended by the way the banner was attached to the statue and asked her to take it down. She tried to reach her crew lead by phone and could not reach him. It was late in (her workday) and she took it down. It is now back up on the statue. The crew chief reports that the sash was not in the truck with the banner.
Good news, though – while we were writing this, Potter e-mailed again to say the sash has been found and that Parks “will have it back up late today or tomorrow.”
In her first e-mail this afternoon, she also included this:
Seattle Parks and Recreation welcomes and supports spontaneous community events whether they are to celebrate a happy event or to mourn and grieve a horrendous one. Parks are gathering places where people come to be with their neighbors, and we welcome the expressions of happiness or grief that come along with those events. We regret that the banner was removed, and hope to identify local groups who may want to make a permanent home for it, as we did after 9/11 when the Southwest Historical Society Log House Museum made a home for the artifacts left at the statue then.
At Cal Anderson Park, we are waiting 30 days before we remove any remembrances, and are trying to identify groups who might have left items they would like to claim. It is our practice to post a sign at a site with items left behind giving a date when items will be removed, to give people an opportunity to collect them.
That was noted in our original report, looking back at several instances of guerrilla art at the plaza a few years ago that had warnings posted before removal – something that did not happen in this case. We will of course be checking back to see when the sash returns (let us know if you see it first!).
5:11 PM: As noted in comments, the sash is back (albeit windblown) – we drove by about 45 minutes ago; Parks says it was put back in place at 3:20 pm.
The Alki Statue of Liberty has long been a place to gather, a place for tributes, and today it becomes that again: Sam Samaniego decided to make a sash for Lady Liberty, as a show of love in the wake of this morning’s Orlando massacre. It’s inscribed ‘From Our Coast to Yours’ and as we write, they’ve added a banner along the base that you’re invited to sign:
Sam says she’ll of course be sending the banner to Florida – but before then, she sees power in the photographs people will take, and hopes that they’re seen in Orlando so people there know people here care:
15 years ago, Alki’s mini Statue of Liberty became a gathering place to mourn the 9/11 victims, and five years ago, it drew hundreds for a tribute on the 10th anniversary of the attack.
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.
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)