Discover the secret stairways of Seattle

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by JOAN KINSEY / Evening Magazine

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KING5.com

Posted on February 6, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 8 at 12:57 PM

The city of Seattle has its ups and downs - and nobody knows that better than Jake and Cathy Jaramillo.

They've seen the highs and lows of various neighborhoods by taking the stairs.

"We think of stairways as the secret byways of the neighborhoods,” said Jake.
 
What Cathy and Jake discovered on trips to the top they share in their new book Seattle Stairway Walks.

"We call it healthy fun,” said Cathy.

"You go up some stairs, you get a little break, you go up another set of stairs, you get a little break, and overall it's a pretty good workout," added Jake.
 
The Blaine Street stairs, on east Capitol Hill, give good reason to pause and rest.

The hidden Streissguth Gardens are to be admired along the way, in addition to a turn-of-the century home.

"It's one of the few house around that was made from plans in a Sears Roebuck catalogue," Cathy pointed out.
 
Two blocks away on Howe Street is Seattle's longest stairway with 388 steps. Back in the day, like most city stairs,  it connected neighborhoods to trolley stops.

"So stairways were the natural last link from a home to a job," said Jake.
 
There are 650 publicly accessible stairways in Seattle and more than 100 of them can be found in hilly Queen Anne.

"There are numerous stairways in Queen Anne and they are all elegant,” said Jake.

That includes the Comstock stairs built in 1909.

"I call it the grand dame of stairways,” said Cathy. “It’s my favorite stairway."
 
Another favorite stairway of Jake and Cathy is on 53rd Street in Alki.
"We like how the history of the stairs changes as you go from top to bottom," said Jake.

The top flight of the stairway is narrow, old and conceals a piece of Seattle's progressive past.

"If you come up here, you can see very clearly this is the old trolley rails,” pointed Cathy. “They recycled the trolley line into stairway handles. So, Seattle was recycling well before it was the popular thing to do."
 
It is just one nugget from a neighborhood waiting to be discovered by anyone willing to step it up.

"I guess our challenge is to take the book and start exploring and get some exercise,” said Cathy. "Start small and enjoy yourself while you are doing it."
 
Not only can you enjoy taking the stairs profiled in Jake and Cathy's book, you can lace up the ol' tennis shoes and participate in a "Feet First" event on Saturday, February 9.  There are 15 walks scheduled around Puget Sound from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00p.m. and many take you on the routes featured in the book.
 
Get more info on Cathy and Jake's book Seattle Stairway Walks.

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