When I travel, especially in cities, I'm always searching for echoes of the past. That's what I call the small things—the shadow of a vintage ad, for example, painted on an old brick wall—that give you a feel for how a place once was.
Some people judge the cultural vitality of a city by its museums, orchestra, opera, or other big-time performing-arts organizations. In Seattle, I recognized another leading cultural indicator: indie record stores.
While in Seattle I had lunch with architect, urban planner, and former city council member Peter Steinbreuck. Wanting to get his take about how Seattle has changed over the past 20 years, I asked him about the city's current crop of up-and-coming neighborhoods.
Call me a Seattle superfan. The city may readily inspire images of coffeehouses and grunge, but this Pacific Northwest capital of cool is also part Disneyland, featuring spectacular attractions like the monorail and the underground tour, to name just a couple.