Welcome to the Thunderbird Motel

Aurora Avenue seems like it probably has a storied past.  These days, the story is urban highway and blighted business districts.  At one time, it seems like everyone decided it would be a great place to build glorious old-timey motels.  Back before the Motel 6s and Holiday Inns, everyone had cool names and even better signs.  At present, most of those places are out of business, but some remain, and better yet, they haven’t torn down the relics quite yet.  I don’t think they’ll last long, so this will be the first in a series of what is left.  All of these are on Aurora Ave N (State Route 99) north of downtown Seattle.  First up, the Thunderbird Motel.

thunderbird motel, aka fremont inn

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Most recently, this place was actually called the Fremont Inn, but I’ll defer to the huge neon thunderbird.  This was actually one of the first of the motels to be forcibly shut down under the nuisance laws.  I can’t say I’m sad that it isn’t up and running but I hope they turn it into something worthwhile instead of just another vacant lot or hole in the ground.

I think it’s safe to say, this place has seen better days.

Thunderbird Motel, fenced and vacant

Twin Towers of Seattle

What’s it about hotels? I think the glossy glass monoliths of Seattle just leave me a bit cold, and the sort of kitchy but at least more… I dunno… hopeful(?) stuff from earlier generations seems like it has a bit more soul. Like our vestigal monorail and Space Needle (both products of the 60’s), the Westin at least *looks* like it hails from the same age.

Twin towers of the Seattle Westin

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As it turns out, the first tower was built in 1969, but the second wasn’t completed until 1982 – I guess by then they had to follow the same plan.  I like the idea of Seattle having a set of twin towers to call its own – maybe not as graceful or aspirational, but they fit the vibe of summertime in the northwest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palm Trunks of the Rich and Famous

Maybe it’s a personal thing, but I really like these shots I took of the hotels in Waikiki.  They’re geometric and I like the simplicity, but they don’t scream Hawaii.  To make up for it, here’s this:

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That is all.

Waikiki Beach Skyline

Waikiki is the epitome of Hawaii 5-0-style Hawaii.  The beach culture of the mid 20th century might have evolved a bit between then and now, but the beach is the same.  They’re even bringing back the series, so nostalgia runs high.

I can appreciate the beach and strolling the sand, but the encroaching high-rise hotels, some of them dating back directly to those glory days, make for some of my favorite pictures.

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Starting from the south (zoo, aquarium) end of the strip with Diamondhead at your back, the Aston Waikiki Beach is the first big hotel you see.  I love the scalloped balconies.

I got a bunch more.  Click for the jump.

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Black, White and Modern

I was back in San Diego last week.  Especially downtown and along the waterfront, so much has changed since I lived there.  I blame Petco Park, but mostly I think it was just the real estate boom.

For all the new, there is still some old.  Down in Seaport Village, the Marriott Hotel is still going strong.  As much as those new buildings might look nice, this is the only one I wanted to take pictures of.

San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina

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Since it’s all geometry and lines and shapes, I think it turned out pretty well in black & white. Color isn’t bad either, but this got my vote.