The Andy Aupperlee Explosion 5000

Aurora Avenue

by on May.16, 2009, under Fremont, Night Photography, Seattle, Vistas

Aurora of Seattle

Aurora Avenue bisects the heart of northern Seattle. From They Battery Street Tunnel to 224th Street, Aurora is the designation given to Washington State Route 99. Heading north, Aurora climbs Queen Anne Hill until it reaches The George Washington Memorial Bridge. After crossing Lake Union, Aurora charges through Fremont and slices through Woodland Park Zoo. I took this south facing photograph of Aurora Avenue and the George Washington Memorial Bridge from the 41st Street pedestrian bridge. The Space Needle is partially obscured by Queen Anne, and the Seattle skyline sits to the east (left of the photo). Yachts moored on Lake Union are also visible in the far left of the photo.

I set my Nikon D300 on a tripod and used a remote shutter release to take the shot (more meta data). To frame the picture, I cranked the Nikon 18-200mm VR lens to 62mm. With the camera in full manual, I selected an ISO of 200, shutter speed of 6 seconds and aperture value of f/16. Nikon’s picture control was set to vivid with +3 saturation. The six second exposure captured streaking traffic, yellow headlights from the northbound cars and red taillights from southbound vehicles.

The part of Aurora Avenue that cuts through Fremont presents an interesting juxtaposition. The Fremont and neighboring Wallingford and Ballard neighborhoods are booming centers for the hip, young urban middle class. Construction of luxury townhouses and condo developments are not unfamiliar sights as they replace older properties. The major north-south artery that intersects this area, Aurora Avenue, is still littered with the origins of these burrows. Aurora’s auto repair shops and rent-to-own outfits contrast with the trendy coffee shops and boutique eateries located just off the route. Remnants of roadside motels serve as a poignant reminder that the world’s oldest profession still thrives along this corridor.

Marco Polo Motel

Last summer I moved into a house that sits several feet from Aurora. Every morning, I jump into my car and head south on Aurora, through the Battery Street Tunnel, along the Alaska Viaduct and eventually crossing over to I-5. Before the behemoth juggernaut that is I-5 was constructed, Aurora and US-99 were the major north-south routes in Seattle. They were apart of the Pacific Coast Highway that ran from Mexico to Canada. Aside from the rich history associated with these surface streets, they also offer unique views of Seattle, Elliot Bay and the surrounding geography. This post is first in what will become a series about Highway 99. In the future, look for the “Scene from 99” tag on posts for photos and commentary on its motels, vistas and history.

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5 comments for this entry:

  • julie h

    Excited for this series! I’ve thought of doing a series of film photographs of the dingy motels along Aurora and now have a film camera to do it with. It’s interestingly bizarre how a quiet family neighborhood sits only a block away from the unkept, “oldest profession” area of town.

    -hip, young, urban middle class

  • Jill M

    I too am excited to see this photo series. I drive 99 everyday, and I love the random “encounters” I observe, and of course the view of the city and Sound is unlike any other. I rarely even take I-5 for this reason. Great work, Andy!

  • Chris

    The Seatte night pics are awesome!

  • JC

    where did all the boeing pics go? loved that expose. the XPLO is the only one bringing us that coverage!!

  • Jenn

    I heart these Hwy 99 pictures Andy. Fabulous.

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