Apropos of Knute Berger’s idea to re-name city streets after local icons, Benjamin Lukoff catalogues the un-named places of Seattle. (Lukoff figures that it’s easier to name blank spots on the map than engage in contentious re-naming exercises.) So what’s out there just waiting for a name?
Nameless places include perhaps as many as 150 bridges; fully 463 pedestrian stairs, some of which are magnificent, and a handful of pathways; numerous park drives and paths; shoreline street ends; minor urban creek branches; and many others. But maybe Lukoff’s most promising idea is naming the so-called POPOS (aka Privately-Owned Public Open Spaces).
Here’s how the city describes them:
Since 1966, Seattle has allowed greater development rights for downtown projects that include spaces open to the public, such as plazas, arcades, atriums, hillclimbs, and green streets. Granted through the provisions of the Seattle Land Use Code, these are privately owned spaces that are open to the public for their use and enjoyment.
All of Seattle’s POPOS are located downtown; none of them are formally named (at least as far as I can tell); and some of them are surprisingly lovely settings that soften the hard edges of the urban palette. (There’s a cool video of a walking tour of POPOS here.)
Conferring official names on POPOS would help identify them and advertise them—claim them, really — as important public places. All the better if those places were named for distinctive local characters. It would be a way of honoring the evolving history of the city.