Photo by Scott Durham, of centraldistrictnews.com
Instead of digging down into post-glacial gravel, backhoes found a morass of rotting timber instead: the discarded slash from the old mills, the century-old pilings of old wharves and railroads, and the miscellaneous debris that nineteenth-century land developers had tossed into the city's marshy waterfront to transform wetlands into dry quays above sea level.
This item came to my attention via hugeasscity, which noted that the city's plan to renovate the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct (the concrete urban renewal scar visible in the background of the photo above) calls for putting the freeway underground. Which sounds like a neat-o plan for a Tomorrowland version of Seattle, until you consider that the whole gleaming, modern Seattle waterfront district is actually built atop an unstable, sinking pile of wood. Plus an active fault line.
In the end, it doesn't matter how many lattes and condos you sell above ground: the roots of the city will always be in Skid Row.