Seattle felt like a bust town 47 years ago. The aviation industry was in a tailspin, and people were leaving the Emerald City to chase jobs elsewhere.
Two real estate agents named Bob McDonald and Jim Youngren scraped together $160 to rent a billboard near the Sea-Tac Airport and they tried to inject a little humor into a bleak attitude that was permeating the city: “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE — Turn out the lights.”
The future was uncertain. Would all the airplane jobs move to California? Would the economy continue to crater in Seattle? Was this area destined to be a quaint little outpost in the corner of the country? There was much debate and hand wringing at the time.
We all know how that part of the story ends. Seattle did not become a ghost town. Through a combination of good geography, luck, and hard work we now live in one of the hottest economic spots in the world.
Think about this for a minute. The two richest men on the planet, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, both choose to live here. The fact that’s a thing is astonishing. Between them they have a combined fortune of around $200 billion.
How did this happen? How did Seattle go from bust to boom this quickly? And how has this rapid turnaround affected us and our collective opportunities? Maybe that’s the wrong question to ask.
Seattle is not a quaint little outpost anymore
Maybe we should ask what our personal geography is? Is the current Pacific Northwest still the right physical place for you?
Many people love to live in quaint little outposts. Many people adore the bustle of a city. I think the dissonance that we feel nearly 50 years removed from that billboard is when our mind’s eye pictures things one way, but in reality, what we picture is gone.
We’ve all probably had that sensation of feeling like you’re 25 years old, then you look in the mirror and think, “Who’s that old person?” Perception and reality collide.
So this is our reality. Fifty years from now we won’t recognize this place, and we’ll long for the time when you could rent an apartment for only $3,000 a month.
Quaint little Seattle is gone. If that’s your dream spot, it’s not coming back any time soon. Maybe your outpost is waiting for you, it’s just not where you thought it was.
You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.