From Madam Damnable’s Hotel to Profanity Hill, a New Guide Walks You Through Seattle History

‘Seattle Walks’ outlines 17 walkable routes that reveal segments of this city’s past.

It’s easy for newcomers to be deterred by the hills or the rain, but the truth is that Seattle is one of the most walkable cities in the country. Unlike, say, the ugly monotony of Florida’s cities or the imposing boulevards of California’s, Seattle feels pedestrian-sized. There’s enough happening on street level to reward a wanderer’s attention, and enough straight-shot trails available between neighborhoods to make long-distance travel relatively easy.

Walking isn’t just pleasurable—it’s often more efficient, too. Some days it’s almost faster to walk from downtown to Fremont at rush hour than to catch a bus. And when you start heading outside Seattle, you’ll discover the existence of a web of paved trails—the Interurban to the north and south, the Mountains-to-Sound to the east—that can take you to the suburbs without encountering more than a handful of intersections with traffic.

In his new book Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City, David B. Williams encourages readers to slow down and look at the city through a pedestrian’s eyes. It’s a worthy cause. Once you start walking Seattle, you truly gain an understanding of its day-to-day life. You watch buildings being built and notice the businesses that have quietly shuttered. You learn where neighborhoods begin and end. You discover the strange ways that parts of the city connect.

Read the rest of this review in Seattle Weekly’s print edition or online here at seattlereviewofbooks.com. Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

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