Into the Wild Blue Yonder

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A life size model of a wheel on the Mars rover Curiosity. Holes in the tread help with guidance and spell JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in Morse Code.

This past weekend the Museum of Flight in Seattle held a preview of their recently acquired space shuttle full fuselage trainer. While the museum did not win the honor of displaying one of the space shuttles, they received this ply wood mock up as a consolation prize. The trainer sits in the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery surrounded by space artifacts and displays.

The needle of the Concord juts past the nose of the former Air Force One.

Founded in 1965, the Museum of Flight is the world’s largest private aerospace museum. The museum is located amidst Boeing’s many offices and hangers on Boeing Field. Although Boeing is a major patron of the Museum of Flight, the museum is independent of the Boeing Corporation with a collection covering the breadth of aeronautical history. Some particularly interesting aircraft in the collection include a Lockheed Martin SR-71 supersonic spy plane, the Boeing 707 that severed as the first Air Force One and a British Airways Concord.

A F-14-A Tomcat with landing gear detail. Entering service in 1970, the F-14 served as the United States’ primary navel air support aircraft until its retirement in 2006. It is particularly famous for its role in Top Gun (1986) and its use by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

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Want to visit or learn more about the Museum of Flight and its collections? Visit here


Jack Block Park: A Window on the Port of Seattle

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The Port of Seattle container yard stretches into the distance framed by the West Seattle Bridge and a container crane.

Most landscape architects are familiar with Seattle’s Gas Works Park. Designed by Richard Haag, Gas Works Park and several German parks launched a new design movement that preserved and celebrated industrial landscapes. However, Seattle is filled with parks that not only celebrate past industrial activity but provide a window onto working industrial landscapes.

My favorite example is Jack Block Park in West Seattle. Like many of Seattle’s industrial parks, Jack Block is hidden behind railroad tracks and freight containers. The only sign of the park is an arched gate and a road winding away into the Port of Seattle’s train yard. Following this road, visitors find themselves immersed in an island of green on the edge of Elliot Bay with stunning views of the Port of Seattle and downtown.

This week’s sketch was done on the Jack Block Park observation platform. The platform offers a 180 degree view of Elliot bay and is a perfect place to watch the parade of freighters, ferries, cruise ships and pleasure craft using the port. The sketch shows the view to the south, dominated by the Port’s container yard and cranes with the West Seattle Bridge in the distance.

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A train car waits to be loaded in the Port of Seattle’s train yard.

The Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal

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A ferry unloads cars at the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal.

Since ancient times, the Puget Sound has served as a highway for maritime traffic. Before the arrival of Europeans, the Seattle harbor served as a center of trade for the native Salish. A busy trade route ran along the Puget Sound carried by cedar canoes.

Shortly after the arrival of European settlers, the first passenger fleets on the Puget Sound were started in the 1850s. Known as the Mosquito Fleets, each private fleet was made up of a variety of steam powered boats. In the pre-freeway era, these steam ships filled the need for fast and cheap transportation across and along the Puget Sound.

Following World War 2, the Mosquito Fleets saw a gradual decline as the car replaced the fleet as a convenient means of travel in the Puget Sound area. However, the demand for transportation across the Puget Sound and to the Sound’s many islands remained. Since bridges were not practical the Washington State Department of Transportation launched its first car ferry across the Puget Sound on June 1, 1951.

Today, Washington State operates the largest ferry system in the United States. The Washington State Ferry fleet contains 22 ships with stops at 20 terminals. This week’s sketch shows the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal in West Seattle. This terminal provides access to Vashon Island and the City of Bremerton.

To learn more about the Washington State Ferry System visit here

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A ferry waits to load cars.


The Locks to Seattle

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The Great Northern Railroad Bridge is notable for its single counter weight suspended above the tracks.

In 1916, the Army Corps of Engineers completed the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks between Seattle’s Magnolia and Ballard Neighborhoods. This connected Lake Washington to Puget Sound via Lake Union and the Lake Washington Ship Channel.

The locks separate the lakes’ fresh water from the salty Puget Sound, keeps the lakes’ water level 20 feet above sea level, and allows ships to move between the Puget Sound and Seattle’s lakes.

The Lock’s had an immense impact on Seattle. The Lake Washington Ship Channel cut the city in half and required the construction of numerous bridges during and after construction.

This week’s sketch shows the Great Northern Railroad Bridge over the Lake Washington Ship Channel. Completed in 1917, the Great Northern Railroad Bridge is one of five bridges completed as part of the channel project. These bridges can open and close to allow ship passage using counter weight systems.

Later bridge projects would eliminate the need for these systems by using steel spans to build bridges over 150 feet above the channel’s surface.

A boat waiting to go through the locks to the Lake Washington side.

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