If you have entered a bookstore or opened up a newspaper in the past couple of months, chances are that you have heard of this book, and have invariably heard of its author, Knute Berger. Seattle native and long-time writer-about-town, Berger has made his mark on the Puget Sound area with his insightful and sometimes scathing predictions about the region’s future.
photo/image: Sasquatch Books
Whether or not you are a fan of Berger’s opinions, you must admit that Pugetopolis is indeed an interesting read. In the first chapter, Berger discusses the implications of the region's massive growth, writing: "As Pugetopolis gobbles the countryside, we salute what we have displaced with a whimsy that masks a grim reality."
As I have lived in Seattle for only a brief time, perhaps it is not fair for me to comment on this, but I must say that I see Berger’s point of view. I am originally from New York. Some of the things which drew me to Seattle were the positive similarities to NY, such as the emphasis on arts, music, literature, the political attitudes, and the convenience of city life.
While New York is a great city, there are many drawbacks to living there. For one, New York is densely overcrowded, and this extends well beyond the city limits into the suburbs of Long Island, the once semi-rural areas of lower upstate New York, and even into New Jersey. The cost of living in New York or even in reasonable commutable distance to the city is astronomical. And the areas of natural beauty that remain are extremely scarce.
It is frightening to read Berger’s predictions about the Puget Sound region’s future, but perhaps that is the path we are on. What do you think; do you agree with Berger? Is Seattle (along with the surrounding region) doomed to become a cookie-cutter, overcrowded metropolis unless we change our ways?
What about his stance on public versus private transportation? I am a big advocate of walking and taking public transit, especially in Seattle where it is relatively easy to do so. Does this issue strike a chord with you? Are there other points in Pugetopolis about which you feel strongly, such as the "greening of Seattle?"
And for all of the negative aspects of the region which are accentuated throughout the book, do you feel that Berger offers a viable solution for righting any of the "wrongs?"
Please feel free to discuss your opinions in the “reflections” section below.