Create, Destroy, Create: The Aesthetic Evolution of Capitol Hill

I make an effort to get off campus at least once a day, otherwise I will go crazy.

On my frequent wanderings I always make a point to walk past the construction site on 11th and Union for swooning purposes. It’s a striking stretch of urban clutter. Around 5 to 6 p.m., especially after a good rain, it literally glows. The exterior of the old red brick building frames a giant ditch filled with planks, piping and multi-colored cranes.

The first time I walked past it I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, “Wow. What a great picture.” I went by a couple more times and watched it collect graffiti on the outside and neon construction markings on the inside.

“The bright orange safety flags strung across the sky really bring it all together,” gets a laugh from my friends (who have gotten used to rerouting walks back to campus to look at some broken concrete).

What really gets me is that the whole scene is reflected in a giant puddle that lines the site along 11th—truly breath-taking. It reminded me of the Sunset Electric building on 11th and Pine that grabbed my attention in a similar way just last year. I remember watching the progression of its demolition–the masses of graffiti and posters appearing, disappearing, then reappearing.

For a while there was a single chunk of crumbling wall rising out of the debris with a door at the top–a very striking site. I felt strangely guilty the day I noticed the door was gone. I missed a great opportunity to document something beautiful.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, I went past the site on 11th and Union to take pictures for this blog post and was extremely disappointed to find that the glass of the windows had been taken out. They were filled with all kinds of crazy art and messages that I would have loved to captured. I reflected on my urge to document and I realized that a photograph is just as finite as the scene itself.

“You’re doing just fine,” a spray painted piece of a wall assured me. And besides, people are always doing their people things. They ceaselessly create, destroy and then create some more. The city is dripping with aesthetic wonders, some are intentional and others are a natural product of its residents simply existing. I realized Capitol Hill is constantly evolving whether I’m there to witness it or not. However, I personally prefer to obtain first-hand accounts than have to read about someone else’s experiences.