1. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    the OTHER Emerald City

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by ManOrAstroMan, May 22, 2012.

    Hey, all. I need a bit of help for my novel. It's an urban fantasy/mystery set in modern-day Seattle, Washington. Now, I know the best way to get to know a city is to go there, but my situation prevents me from going. (though, it is one of my top cities i'd like to visit).
    Is anyone here from Seattle, or does anyone at least have first-hand knowledge of the city? I've read travel books and downloaded lots of information about the city, but it's not quite the same, is it? After all, the chamber of commerce is hardly likely to say, "stay away from this area if you want to keep all your organs intact."
    I've gotten a pretty good idea, statistically, of where the wealthier and poorer areas are, but I'd still like to know:
    Where are the "bad" neighborhoods?
    Do most people own cars, or is public transport the norm?
    Where is a modestly successful graphic designer in his mid twenties likely to live?
    What does it smell like? (where I live, it's mostly a combination of asphalt, exhaust and farmyards)

    Any other information would be WONDERFUL.
    Thanks!
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i lived there for a while some years back...

    Where are the "bad" neighborhoods?
    ...can't help you much there... but there's a rather seedy area downtown, somewhere along first/second aves, i think... peep shows, missions, and the like...

    Do most people own cars, or is public transport the norm?
    ...cars, though there's a decent publc transit system, including a monorail...

    Where is a modestly successful graphic designer in his mid twenties likely to live?
    ...along lake washington [the far side, which is where the gates 'complex' is, has the more wealthy types]... the 'leschi' area where i lived would be an area such a person would like, imo... or around u-dub, given his age...

    What does it smell like? (where I live, it's mostly a combination of asphalt, exhaust and farmyards)
    ...depends on where you are... downtown, like any urban area; around pike place market, fishy; on the lake, or the island [mercer], mostly just fresh air... a 'heavy' sort of air anywhere, given the amount of water in all directions...

    it's been a good 15 years+ since i was there, though, so things could have changed... if you can get episodes of the tv series 'the killing' you can see many of the areas for yourself, but they really overdid the rain, so know that it's not really that dark and murky and wet all the time... the 'millennium' series was filmed there, too...
     
  3. Piddlepup
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    Piddlepup New Member

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    I live and work in Seattle, so I can give you some insight. I'm originally from NC and have been here for about 18 years so I may provide some contrasts for you as well.

    Where are the "bad" neighborhoods?
    A good idea of statistics on crime in the area can be found by looking at redfin.com. When we were recently looking to move, I noticed that they also include information on crime percentages and types in particular neighborhoods. With that in mind, I think some of the more crime rampent neighborhoods are Lake City (especially around the Northgate Mall) and south of the stadiums in the districts around shipping and manufacturing.

    Do most people own cars, or is public transport the norm?
    Most people do own cars. However many only have one car and one of the couple uses the bus exclusively to get around. A fair amount of people I work with have a car but in the summer months(like right now) start to bike at least twice a week to and from work. We also have a huge trail called the Burke Gillman that snakes around the city and provides easy access for many people to stay off the busy streets and get to and from work.

    Where is a modestly successful graphic designer in his mid twenties likely to live?
    I know a few grpahic designers and they like to live in Queen Anne and Capital Hill areas mostly. These are expensive so most have appartments in those areas, sometimes even if they are successful just because they don't want to deal with home maintenance.

    What does it smell like? (where I live, it's mostly a combination of asphalt, exhaust and farmyards)
    You smell the faint tinge of mold in the air. It rains alot, even now until around the end of June. What you don't experience is the smell of ozone in the air during rain like you do in the south. Near the water you can smell the sea along the docks. Near the Asian restaurants you will almost always smell the food cooking. You smell truck exhaust on the streets but otherwise it's a calm clean smell. When the blooms in the trees are releasing alot of pollen you will smell it everywhere and it coats the cars. Most people find they are alergic when they get here(to both mold and pollen), so you sneeze all year long.

    Some more information:
    People will not go out of their way to say hi like they do in the south. Most people stay to themselves and when they get to know you, you can make some very good friends. Most businesses will have people sick alot or taking vacation when the sun is out in the summer. Winters can be harsh for some people. The joke used to be you would need Prozack to survive here. I've known many people who they or there spouse coudn't deal with it and had to leave. Golf is popular even in the rain. Hikers don't care if it's going to rain on them, they will go anyway. Tourists have umbrellas, locals just wear rain coats.

    I can tell you lots more if you need, just let me know what information you're looking for.
     
  4. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Thanks! This info actually helps a lot!
    I did find a travel book that--while it didn't actually say which areas were more expensive--led me to believe that places like Capital Hill might be beyond my MC's budget.
    (When I say he's "modestly successful," I meant that he makes enough for this to be his "real" job, rather than something he does on the side. Rent, food, a few minor luxuries like the occasional video game or taking his girlfriend somewhere nice for dinner every now and then. He's essentially freelance, so there's no weekly paycheck, but he does have a few repeat clients.)
    I would like to know a few things about the Seattle police department, but I imagine that would require a little more specialized research.
    Right now the only other question I can think of is what the average minimum wage would be, but again, if anyone has any info, it's welcome!
    And hey--if y'all want to know about central missouri, let me know!
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    stats like that can be easily gotten with a quick google...
     
  6. Piddlepup
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    Piddlepup New Member

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    As of January 04 the Seattle Times reports the minimum wage is $9.04.

    A side note. I have alot of friends in the restaurant industry. What's interesting to note about this is that waitresses are also paid the minimum wage here. If you are familiar with the way waitresses are paid in other areas you will see that they are paid pretty well. In other parts of the country, a waitress makes a below minimum wage salary and then tips, which can mean they make more than most people in the restaurant(even more than the managers) if tips are good. Then you add the fact that they are making minimum wage and tips in an area with a good job market and you realize that they are making pretty good money at that point. Your character could be supplementing their salary with waitressing and helping them make ends meet. Just an idea.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Also, it's extremely rainy and overcast there the majority of the time. (I've got relatives in Seattle)
     
  8. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Did some research on the average annual income of a graphic designer, and came up with a number around $45K. Which neighborhood would a person making that much live in?
     

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