Alex (yakshaver) wrote,
Alex
yakshaver

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Houseboats

I fell in love with Seattle's houseboats the first time I visited one, when I was about 9 years old. I was with one of my mom's old lefty friends, one of three or four such women I grew up with as ersatz grandmothers. She stopped off to visit an old friend of hers, who taught at the University of Washington — to which he commuted by canoe. I was enthralled.

I used to get the strangest looks when I'd try to tell people who hadn't spent time in Seattle that I'd always wanted to live on a houseboat, until I realized that in other places, it means an ungainly boat with a large cabin, usually used as a vacation rental.

Which probably explains why, when the Seattle houseboat community got organized in the face of "urban renewal" idiots in the 1960s trying to declare them an urban blight, they called their organization the "Floating Homes Association."

But today I stumbled across a picture that may better illustrate than anything I've ever seen how Seattle houseboats are really much more houses than boats:

That thing in the background is the Sea-Based X-Band Radar platform, which is 116 m long — imagine looking out your front window and seeing that float by. Hell, imagine living somewhere you could look out your window and see something like that floating by.

(Now that I've looked at the picture more, I wonder if these houses aren't actually built on pilings, rather than floating. Though for that to be the case, the picture would have to have been taken at just about the highest tide of the year — otherwise they'd be uninhabitable. Still, I think it's more likely that they're houseboats, just ones with some gaps between their floats. And I love the picture, and especially love the fact that these look like old-school, three or four room working-class houseboats, untouched by the bohemian and then yuppy eras that have mostly taken over Seattle's lakeshore houseboat communities.)
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