In the last decade, Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood has transformed into a tech and biomedical hub. As full city blocks are built out for both office and housing needs, buildings constructed a century ago are vanishing or being consumed by development. Three workers cottages dating from 1911, collectively referred to as the Cascade Workers’ Cottages, are nearly all that remains of the years when Seattle’s Cascade neighborhood was evolving into an early industrial hub for the city. Characterized by their modest size and design, buildings in the area reflected the working roots of the early tenants, which in the case of the worker’s cottages included a paint spray operator employed at the nearby Ford Motor Company and an elevator operator at Smith Tower.
The three cottages have since been combined into one building and alterations over the years have ultimately rendered the structures ineligible for local landmark designation. Advocates believe, however, that the cottages do still convey the early history of the Cascade neighborhood and are crucial to retain. The struggle to balance new development without erasing the past remains ongoing in South Lake Union.