Here’s a provocative essay by one of the Northwest’s greatest living writers Jonathan Raban. It argues that Seattle’s beautiful setting and self-concept as a back-to-nature capital have crippled its city building, actually causing its failure to grow more urbane, more dense, less sprawling. The argument is contradicted by many counterexamples. (Vancouver and Portland have similarly stunning settings and outdoorsy cultures but more successful architecture and city planning. The differences are in policy, which stems from different histories.) But the writing is top drawer.