Amazon’s decision in 2007 to locate its headquarters in downtown Seattle has transformed the city in its image.
As the global e-commerce giant has grown from 5,000 employees in the city to more than 40,000, a flurry of development has followed.
The sea of parking lots, warehouses, motels, and car rental agencies that made up Seattle’s South Lake Union and Denny Triangle has become gleaming skyscrapers, luxury rental towers, tech offices, and restaurants.
Using Google Street View’s Time Machine feature, we collected before and after pictures to show just how radically the neighbourhoods have been remade in a decade.
This is the corner of 6th Ave and Virginia Street in Denny Triangle in 2007. It is now the heart of Amazon’s urban campus.
The building on the right is Amazon’s Doppler Tower. Doppler was the internal codename for the Amazon Echo.
Denny Triangle and South Lake Union were once full of empty parking lots, car rental agencies, motels, industrial buildings, and warehouses. This is 7th Avenue and Blanchard Street.
This intersection continues to be remade. On the right is Amazon’s Day 1 Tower, the first floor of which is Amazon Go, the company’s cashier-less grocery store concept. On the left, construction is underway for another Amazon office tower.
Westlake Avenue is the main thoroughfare of South Lake Union. Development had already begun by 2007 in the area.
By last September, several new office and residential towers had been completed. Amazon isn’t the only company driving development. The Paul Allen-owned company Vulcan owns much of the area’s real estate and has spurred construction.
The city of Seattle has long wanted to turn South Lake Union into a new business district. The $US200 million mixed-use development housing Whole Foods was completed in 2006 by Vulcan.
Source: Vulcan Real Estate
As one of the first parts of South Lake Union to be developed, this particular intersection hasn’t changed much in the last decade.
There’s still tons of areas in the neighbourhood that are currently being developed. Fairview Avenue on the eastern side of South Lake Union was untouched even in 2011.
But by last year, it has largely been developed. Swedish developer Skanska built the 13-story tower on the right. It combines 320,000 square-feet of office space with 17,000 square-feet of ground-level retail.
Source: Curbed Seattle
Mercer Street has been nicknamed the “Mercer Mess” since development of South Lake Union began. It connects downtown Seattle to Interstate 5, the main route for commuters. Construction and an influx of new commuters has turned it into a traffic nightmare.
On the right is Amazon’s Nessie building. Vulcan is currently developing four new buildings for Google on Mercer.
Source: Vulcan Real Estate
This is Republican Street and 9th Ave in 2007. The intersection still has the area’s signature low-slung industrial buildings.
Now the street is flanked by Amazon’s Nessie and Brazil buildings. The shuttle on the right is one of Amazon’s buses to ferry employees to and from far-out suburbs. Unlike other companies, Amazon has kept the shuttles white and without signage.
Development had just begun on corner of Thomas and Terry Street in 2007.
Amazon’s Arizona and Ruby office buildings now sit on the block. Ruby is home to a few restaurants, like Cactus and Brave Horse Tavern, on the ground floor.
Though Vulcan had already completed the Whole Foods on Westlake in 2007, the rest of the avenue looked more like this.
Now the block has a Umqua Bank, a Homegrown sandwich shop, a Chipotle, and a few other businesses. Amazon occupies the upper floors of the building.
This is the same block, viewed from the other direction. You can see that some construction was underway on Westlake in 2007.
In 2017, the neighbourhood looks practically brand new. On the left are Amazon offices. The office of Sellen Construction, which has developed numerous projects in the area, is on the right.
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