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Seattle's gone-but-not-forgotten places

The 'Vanishing Seattle' exhibit brings pieces of the city's history together for the first time. #k5evening

SEATTLE — Faded remnants of a city's past are on display in Pioneer Square at an exhibit called "Vanishing Seattle."

"With Seattle having gone through a lot of change in a pretty quick amount of time, it's easy for that history to be lost or forgotten," said curator Cynthia Brothers.

Brothers is the founder of the Vanishing Seattle website and social media outlets. Since 2016, they've provided a place in the digital world for people to share memories and memorabilia of places lost to gentrification and development.

The public arts group Forest for the Trees has partnered with Vanishing Seattle to provide a space in the historic RailSpur building to bring those memories alive in the physical space.

Two months ago, Brothers put out the call for local residents to loan their artifacts for display, and she was overwhelmed by the response. The result is a 12,000-square-foot collection of signs, menus, photos and other relics of a vanished and vanishing Seattle. There are also some pieces representing the businesses that still survive.

"I think these signs are important to people because they played a really meaningful part in people's lives," Brothers said, "They may have seen their first show at RKCNDY, they may have gone to the Doghouse after work or brought their kids there. So, I think it's just the very personal connections that people feel with these spaces, both for the folks that salvage the signs, and then for people who see it and just remember the role that it played in their lives."

Credit: KING-TV
Sticky notes bearing visitors' memories adorn the walls of the "Vanishing Seattle" exhibit.

An interactive element of the show is a collection of sticky notes that visitors have been encouraged to write and place near the objects. The messages pay homage to the places featured in the exhibit, as well as many others.

"People are invited to write what they're feeling, write their memories, share spaces in Seattle that they don't see here but that were important to them and that they miss," Brothers said, "and that helps to bring these physical objects to life."

The Vanishing Seattle exhibition was originally scheduled to end after the August 3 "First Thursday Art Walk" but, due to its popularity, may remain open on weekends through September 3. 

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