Public Art Illustrates the Coming of the First Hill Streetcar

Unidentified standing objects signal the city's new transit option

If you’ve noticed a series of mysterious poles popping up in the Central and Chinatown–International districts, you may have wondered—are they not-so-subtle NSA spying devices? Beacons for drones? Signs of an alien invasion? The truth is out there, and while it’s perhaps less enigmatic, it’s exciting nonetheless. The silvery shafts are part of a public art installation heralding the new First Hill Streetcar, scheduled to open this fall. Designed by Seattle artist Claudia Fitch (whose blobular, oversize head sculptures adorn CenturyLink Field), the poles are both metaphorical and functional. Working with a sewing concept, in which the streetcar wires are the threads stitching the stops together, Fitch re-envisioned the poles that mark the stations and suspend the wires as needles. Some are festooned with abstract “beads”; others, like the one pictured, are capped with an “eye.” As you ride the latest in Seattle mass transit, picture yourself in Godzilla’s sewing basket.


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