As the Floating Walkway of the Cheshiahud Trail re-opens to the sneakered strides of strollers – and above the walkway, the Fairview Trestle accepts again the rolling wheels of buses, bikes, scooters, jitneys and jalopies – a moment is due to contemplate “Sheardraft” at the southwest corner of Fairview and Eastlake Avenues.
Seattle Times Columnist Jean Godden, opining upon Sheardraft’s November 1995 unveiling: “It’s a plane. It’s a boat. It’s a wave.” But it is so much more.
During the 1990s, all around town neighborhoods were posting “WELCOME TO” signage on utility poles. Eastlake neighbors were having the same considerations yet kept stumbling on the tag line. Eastlake is not the “Center of the Universe,” “Seattle’s Near-to-Oldest Neighborhood,” “The Birthplace of the Boeing Company,” nor asking people to “Come as They Are,” “Stay a Day or a Lifetime,” or to “Shop Here.”
The consensus couldn’t accurately tag-line Eastlake by its past, present, or desired future. The Eastlake Greenway Project and a $42,000 matching grant from the City Hall led to “Sheardraft” as our WECOME TO EASTLAKE signage.
Cheryl Trivison, President of the Eastlake Community Council and wife of Gasworks Park visionary Rich Haag, led the neighborhood side of the project. Thomas Alexander Lindsey (1942-2017), a modestly successful artist-designer-architect-welder-teacher-musician-sculptor working from an art studio on Guemes Island, won the commission. The piece was fabricated at Lake Union Drydock. The land was donated by Zymogenetics. The site is now maintained by Alexandria, the REIT that owns the Steam Plant, and has constructed a constellation of bio-tech laboratories nearby.
Mr. Lindsey’s manifestation of the seaplane float and a wing’s ribs blended into a sailboat’s boom and hull – with a hint of anchor and wave –speaks to our neighborhood’s legacy of maritime movement.
COVID canceled any 25th anniversary celebration of Sheardraft in 2020. But its undercurrent message – Eastlake’s welcoming self-identity is purposefully not a four-word tag-line – brings forth a celebratory smile each time by.