With the Broadway bikeway now fully open, this stretch of Capitol Hill streetscape might just be the most festooned roadway in Seattle. You can thank artist Claudia Fitch and her play with the theme of the opening-soon First Hill streetcar as a connective thread through the city’s neighborhoods.
“The whole public art concept — that single wire that powers the streetcar as a thread connecting the city resulted in a lot of different images related to idea of sewing, and the fabric of the street,” Fitch tells CHS.
Her eye-of-the-needle style streetcar power poles and bright blue loop bollards line the streetcar and bikeway route connecting the International District to Capitol Hill via First Hill.
Fitch said the bollard ideas especially took a variety of forms including the teeth of a zipper at one point. She settled on the idea of “big fat threads, big stitches” after playing with some modeling clay. SDOT officials liked the idea for its simplicity — and its bulk.
There are 21 bollards along the 1.2 mile bikeway within a two-foot buffer separating bikes from parked cars along the route. The bollards were manufactured of molded plastic by Landscape Forms in Kalamazoo, Michigan and are filled with hundreds of pounds of sand. Members of the Seattle Conservation Corps assisted with their installation, SDOT writes in a blog post on the functional art.
Fitch said she hasn’t seen the effort the Capitol Hill tagging community has already put into customizing her creations but that she expected the bollards to be tagged just as the chartreuse balls on the poles marking streetcar stops have been marked up. The issue was discussed with the manufacturer, Fitch said, and the materials were designed to be “refreshed” and can stand up to repeated cleanings.