Alethea Myers

Holocaust Center for Humanity dome, right, at 2nd Ave. and Lenora Street.    Photo:  Alethea Myers

At an understated entrance on 2nd Ave. and Lenora Street in Belltown, the Holocaust Center for Humanity stands on the historic Crystal Pool/Natatorium site. Reservations are required to tour the center, featuring the current exhibit, “Let Me Be Myself: The Life Story of Anne Frank”.  As much of the world knows, Anne Frank, her family, and others hid in a secret attic above her father’s office in Amsterdam for two years before the Nazi reign of terror claimed them. Being Jewish, they were sent to concentration camps once discovered. Of the family, only her father Otto survived. Through Anne’s vivid diary, we were all given a glimpse of a young girl’s hopes and dreams.

Anne Frank at her writing desk.  Photo:  WikiCommons

The exhibit about Anne Frank will be at the Center through May 30th. Reservations are required, and the suggested donation for touring the interior is $10 per adult and $5 for students or seniors. It is family-friendly (though with sobering content) and recommended for children in 5th grade or higher. But there are activities available to keep younger kids occupied, too. On large panels printed with simple words, the exhibit juxtaposes events from that period in history with photos of Anne and her family’s life. There is a replica of Anne’s diary and a scale model of the family’s hiding place in Holland during those two years, as well as everyday items from that era. A 30-minute documentary is the pinnacle of this display.

In addition to Anne’s exhibit, Holocaust Remembrance Day (“Yom Hashoah” in Hebrew) will be commemorated on April 15th at the Center. The event is free, but reservations are required with limited seating. Two survivors of the Holocaust will speak, the Anne Frank exhibit will be open, and there will be a memorial service with a candle lighting.

Another fine way to commemorate those lives lost during the Holocaust can be viewed at the Seattle Center. You can gaze upon an actual offshoot/descendant from Anne Frank’s chestnut tree, which she took solace in from her attic window. It’s planted in the Peace Garden there, near the Space Needle. And like Anne’s diary, it lives on.

Anne Frank sign in Holocaust Center for Humanity window.  Photo:  Alethea Myers

The Henry and Sandra Friedman Holocaust Center for Humanity
2045 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA  98121

Hours: Wednesdays and Sundays, 10 am – 4 pm, with reservations. Student field trips and adult groups can be arranged.

Angie’s Umbrella in Belltown.   Photos:  Alethea Myers

Ever wonder about that big, red umbrella on the small traffic island where Elliott and Western Avenues merge at Lenora Street? Standing 30 feet tall, this kinetic sculpture’s brushed aluminum red “fabric” is blown inside-out in a perpetual storm, turning like a weather vane in the wind, and named Angie’s Umbrella.

Why is it here? Angie’s Umbrella is one of a series of public artworks that mark the border where Pike Place Market ends and Belltown begins. A Seattle Arts commission process selected the public artist for this project.

Who created it, and what are they doing now? Jim Pridgeon was chosen as the artist by a neighborhood jury, the former Denny Hill Association, and they liked his upturned umbrella idea. Pridgeon then worked with artist Benson Shaw to co-design the final idea and bring it to fruition, which took roughly 2+ years.

  • Jim Pridgeon, in addition to being an artist, has worked for over 40 years in the UW Medicine Neurological Surgery department. Jim has worked as a research administrator, summer neuroscience program manager, grant writer, communications writer, scientific papers co-author related to research, and co-taught a class on “Art and the Brain” with a neuroscientist. He has also created museum-based installations locally and nationally, and says of his co-collaborator on different art projects, “Benson [Shaw] has been absolutely critical to the success of many of those works.”
  • Benson Shaw, a full-time public artist then and now, creates works for neighborhoods and local organizations (city, county, state, transit). He is often the mover and shaker who brings the necessary pieces, vendors, and people of a project together. Besides co-designing this Belltown project with Pridgeon, Benson also managed the fabrication and installation of Angie’s Umbrella. On his own projects and with other artists, he provides project management, planning, design, procurement, CAD services, fabrication and installation. Benson is also integral in historic preservation, such as replacing Ballard’s historic sidewalk street names.

Who was Angie, and why is it dedicated to her? The plaque embedded in the sidewalk northwest of the sculpture states, “in honor of Angie Pridgeon, optimist”.  Jim Pridgeon’s mom, Angilee Frankie Pridgeon, had a positive outlook on life and was 86 years old then. In her life, she showed true grit: being born on a ranch in Oklahoma without the aid of a doctor, herding cattle, surviving a tornado that tore off their roof, supporting her parents for over a year due to health issues after losing their ranch during the Dust Bowl/Great Depression, and lived through personal losses during World War II. She became a pilot in 1944. While working on the umbrella project, Jim Pridgeon regularly flew down to San Diego to take his mom to her doctor appointments. In spite of the cancer she was experiencing, Angie went out of her way to introduce herself and engage with everyone in the waiting room, he said.

In addition to a nod to our local windy days, like Angie herself, the sculpture could also signify resilience and optimism, in spite of rainy weather. As Jim Pridgeon recently put it, “She always made the best of things and, for her, a blown-out umbrella would have been both very funny and a great story to tell.”

The sidewalk plaque near Angie’s Umbrella.  In addition to those listed, Cristalla Condominiums was also a sponsor and Murray Franklyn provided a major grant.

Late June in 2017, the first expansion of Pike Place Market in 40 years, the MarketFront, opened. Producers Hall and the Pavilion that rises above it is one section of that complex. On a cool, overcast winter day here in Belltown, this is a look at this building:

The newer Producers Hall & Pavilion is just west of the original Pike Place Market (on right in photo). The yellow Joe Desimone Bridge connects the old & the new.   The north end of Producers Hall and the 2nd floor Pavilion that rises above it. In warmer, busier months, the upper Pavilion will provide additional space for farmers and craft vendors. It is partially enclosed at this time of year, with glass somewhat sheltering guests walking through from Elliott Bay winds.

Distinct market pig hoofprints imprinted in the sidewalk next to Producers Hall. Three businesses, at the far end of the block in this photo, now occupy the hall: Honest Biscuits, Old Stove Brewing, and Indi ChocolateLittle Fish restaurant will be arriving in the future, in a different section of the hall.
Above right: Indi Chocolate factory and store. Inside the east entry to Producers Hall.

Inside Producers Hall.  Honest Biscuits (left), Indi Chocolate (in far back at center) and Old Stove  Brewing (right) share an open floor plan which looks out over the waterfront. A quiet winter weekday.

The Pavilion on the 2nd floor above Producers Hall.  The left photo is looking south, the right photo is facing north.

All photos:  Alethea Myers

Popular Cutters crabcake with corn succotash

Situated just north of Pike Place Market in Belltown, you’ll find Cutters Crabhouse. This writer has regularly lunched at this restaurant with its incredible waterfront views for well over a year now. In this time, the food, view, and friendly, professional service provided have made this a consistently good experience and reason to return. Although seafood is featured on their menu, Cutters also has a great selection of other fare to choose from. Their fettucine, for example, isn’t a bland white sauce typically found in most eating places, but a mix of fresh spinach and tomatoes in white sauce, sprinkled with bread crumbs.

According to Brett Gardner Howell, Executive Chef, their most-requested dish is the crabcake with creamy corn succotash, made with both Alaskan and snowcrab meat. The crab sandwich is flavorful, mixed with artichokes, shaved onion, parmesan, cheddar, topped with a tomato. All of their food is from the Pacific Northwest, sourcing the next door market and fresh, local venues whenever possible. For example, their menu currently has local Beecher’s fried cheese curds as an appetizer and Mick’s Jelly, both sourced a block away, and excellent when served together. Cutters has a “Fresh Sheet” which changes every 2-3 months, in addition to their seasonal menu, and they always have a soup of the day.

Concerning those panoramic views: Cutters Crabhouse has expansive windows, looking south over Victor Steinbrueck Park to Pike Place Market, eastward spanning the Big Wheel, working waterfront, ferries as well as other boat traffic, and the snow-capped Olympic Mountains across Elliott Bay. Even on a cloudy winter day, it’s pleasant to eat here.

Beautiful view at Cutters Crabhouse, even on a cloudy day

They often partner with Pike Place Foundation, and recently won a 2017 Hoofprint Award for their ongoing support for these events, donations and their participation. “Cutters Bayhouse” was the original name when it opened in 1983, and has remained at the same location. Longevity extends not only to the business but to some of the people who work there: 15-and-20 year anniversaries were recently celebrated for two employees. And families are made welcome with activity sheets that kids can draw on, as well as on the large white paper “canvas” spread on each dining table. As Chef Howell commented, “The best thing about our restaurant is our people. We take a lot of pride in our family atmosphere.”

Cutters Crabhouse, on many levels, is a cut above.

Left:  Cutters’ Kale & Romaine Caesar Salad with Oregon Bay Shrimp.      Right:  Delectable Beecher’s Cheese Curds & Mick’s Jelly

A smaller Italian restaurant, Mercato Stellina, opened December 1st less than a block from the north end of Pike Place Market. It creates a diverse compliment to its neighbors in the same building: the long-established and fine seafood restaurant Cutters Crabhouse, and Mercato Stellina’s also newly-opened sister restaurant Chavez, which serves Mexican food.

Mercato Stellina has an intimate feel: the narrow galley shape of the space, low lighting, sophisticated high-end music, and the combination of tables and counters, some at which you can directly watch chefs/cooks as they prepare your dish. Seated at another counter, you can sometimes glimpse head pasta maker Joe Obaya creating fresh pasta for the restaurant through a glass pane. He has worked extensively in the restaurant business, doing his internship at the Herb Farm after culinary school years ago and now exclusively forms pasta for both Mercato Stellina as well as Cantinetta’s two locations. Last summer, Joe spent time in different areas of Italy researching and shopping for good Italian pasta-making machines and also studying techniques used by generations of pasta makers in the little town of Lecco.

Mercato Stellina’s Tagliatelle and also Sausage Pizza.   All photos:  Alethea Myers

Some of the ingredients on the menu are somewhat adventurous, such as utilizing unusual seeds grown at Steel Wheel Farm in Fall City, WA for pickled watermelon pieces (similar to sharp chutney) which accompanies honey on the burrata cheese antipasti. Or giant Alaskan octopus, cracked raw egg, rabbit, and toasted grasshopper, all featured on different pizzas or pasta.

Aspects of the menu will be changing out 4-5 times per year depending on the season, including some cocktails, and eventually may include a special Market Menu that features specials of the day. If you live in this zip code or work in the restaurant industry, you can receive 10% off your bill with their Neighborhood Discount. A 20% service charge is added in lieu of tip.