No, Seattle is Not the New San Francisco

Can we stop comparing everything, always — especially cities? Oakland is not Brooklyn, Baltimore is not Ferguson, and, no, Seattle is not the new San Francisco. Our mind’s natural impulse to categorize everything can cause us to lose sigh of each city’s unique history, economy, culture, landmarks, demographic trends. I say this as a reminder to myself. Our conversations about where we live can be so much richer than the usual complaints about the cost of housing, or how the city has changed, or how it’s more like this and less like that.

I’ve had too many of those conversations about Seattle recently, and sometimes I’m guilty of starting them. There is so much about the city that I have yet to learn — the histories of its immigrant enclaves, its literary community, the local manufacturers — because I haven’t asked. I’ve spent far too much time comparing and not nearly enough time exploring. I hope I don’t fall into the same trap here in San Francisco.

Seattle is changing, just as it has always changed, just as all cities always change, and that’s OK. Jeff Reifman has done a good job articulating some concerns about the growth, but there are plenty of upsides. The city is becoming more diverse; new restaurants, cafes and bars are cropping up; there are more job opportunities than ever before — including some interesting startups in a city formerly dominated by a handful of massive corporations. And, despite all the complaints, Seattle is doing a pretty decent job of promoting density and transit while maintaining the city’s character, charm and green spaces.

I’m optimistic about Seattle’s future. Whatever it becomes, we’re counting on one day calling it home again.

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