A decade ago this year, Amazon moved from Seattle’s Beacon Hill to South Lake Union, a neighbourhood that locals now call “Amazonia.” City planners predicted that Amazon might have 6,000 employees in Seattle by the time it completed its campus.
Today, the company dominates South Lake Union and much of the city, where it employs over 40,000 people and has over 37 offices. And its campus is still growing.
Since Amazon arrived, South Lake Union has seen a 50% jump in the number of people working there, contributing to a construction boom. And Amazon has continued to spur an influx of high-skilled tech workers.
South Lake Union’s transformation is easy to see. Buildings have gotten higher and fancier, independent businesses have shuttered, and run-down parking lots have turned into shiny redevelopments. Some residents have given a name to this phenomenon of surging housing prices, unrelenting traffic, overcrowding, and culture clash: “Amageddon.”
Through Google Street View photos, take a look at how the neighbourhood has changed over time:
Amazon occupies (or plans to occupy) three dozen office buildings in and around South Lake Union. Here’s what one of these office plots looked like in June 2008.
Source: The Seattle Times
Today, an Amazon building called “Invictus” sits on the site.
One of the biggest changes South Lake Union has seen in recent years is a rise in tall towers. This thoroughfare had few skyscrapers in 2008.
Towers now surround the avenue, where Amazon’s Doppler building is located.
When this photo was taken in May 2008, 8th Avenue North was a relatively quiet street.
Amazon’s Apollo building can now be seen in the distance. The corner is also under construction.
South Lake Union has renovated some of its streets, too. In 2008, a concrete road led to the waterfront naval base.
In the road’s place, there’s now a pedestrian path and a larger green lawn.
Further south, the intersection of Lenora Street and 7th Avenue consisted of parking lots in 2008.
In early 2018, Amazon completed construction on its Spheres — three plant-filled glass domes where employees can meet up and escape their desks. Across the street, there’s an Amazon office building with a ramen restaurant on the ground floor.
Over the past decade, home prices in South Lake Union have increased significantly. The median price for a home in was approximately $US195,000 in 2009, compared to $US445,000 today.
In this complex, two-bedroom apartments rent for upwards of $US3,049 per month.
Some older buildings have remained. This parking garage still stands today.
But the smaller building has since been torn down for an apartment complex, as seen on the left.
Not every resident is thrilled with the changes. Cynthia Brothers, a 36-year-old Seattle resident, has noticed that coffee shops, grocers, and restaurants beloved by locals are increasingly shutting down to make way for upscale redevelopments.
Referring to Amazon’s campus, she said the company has “constructed an artificial neighbourhood” that strays from its roots.
In 2018, Amazon will announce the future home of its second headquarters, which could dramatically change the face of another North American city.
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