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Old Posted Sep 30, 2009, 8:06 PM
hellachans hellachans is offline
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Aberdeen, WA (Birthplace of Grunge)

Here is my photo tour of Aberdeen, Washington. It is located in Grays Harbor County and is that county's largest city. It is best known as the birthplace of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, both of whom later moved to Seattle. As far as I know, the city has been in a permanent state of decline since its founding in 1890. It's nickname before Kurt Cobain (BC) was 'the hellhole of the pacific'.

Despite its negative reputation, the city was the center of Washington's timber industry in the early 20th century and seems to have experienced a relatively prosperous period between 1900 and 1929. The great depression led to three quarters of the mills being shuttered and that decline continues to this day. It's a city with a lot of potential, but opportunities are scarce and because of this, the city's best and brightest move to Seattle.

The city's population is around 17,000 and anchors Grays Harbor County's population of nearly 70,000.

Beginning with downtown's commercial buildings:

The Odd Fellows Building


Key Bank

The Daily World Building

The Electric Building (Quite fond of this building)

JC Penney Building

An old hotel that is in the process of demolition... (Also fond of this building)

The D&R Theatre

The old Bon Marché Department Store

Bank of America Building

Aberdeen's Masonic Temple

An old theatre (now a church)

The old Post Office

Aberdeen Public Library

Aberdeen City Hall

Aberdeen High School (the old one, which was quite impressive burnt down a few years back)

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church

Awesome old apartment buildings

An Elementary School (I didn't remember the name)

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Parish & School

The Driftwood Playhouse

The old Washington National Guard Armory

...I hope you enjoyed Aberdeen's grunginess and grit. Hopefully I will be able to share the rest of my pictures from my adventure to Grays Harbor County when I upgrade my Flickr Account at some point after this Friday. I got some good ones of Hoquiam, Montesano, Pacific Beach, and Elma, so keep your eyes peeled!
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Old Posted Sep 30, 2009, 8:32 PM
RockMont RockMont is offline
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Fine looking little city. I like the downtown architecture. Also the birthplace of John Elway.
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Old Posted Sep 30, 2009, 9:25 PM
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There are some nice buildings there, but, city hall looks like a prison. Nice photos, thanks!
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Old Posted Sep 30, 2009, 10:11 PM
hellachans hellachans is offline
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Yeah, unfortunately much of the old downtown has been redeveloped in the strip-mall style. That type of development is still continuing today, so I don't know what kind of a future the downtown has. I agree about the city hall, it definitely has a prison vibe to it.

I don't really know much about the social or political climate of the city, but I do know that economically, the city has been hurting for decades. However, their attempts to revitalize downtown end at the sidewalks and clearly the city is more interested in luring back industry than working on building new industries such as tourism, which most of the rest of the county depends on already. I hate to break it to the people of Aberdeen, but THE MILLS AREN'T COMING BACK! They appear to be attempting to lure bio-diesel manufacturers and I've heard that they already have one plant in the works, but they're going to need much more than that to revitalize the region. If they developed their port infrastructure and enhanced both cargo and passenger connections to the Puget Sound Region and Portland, they might have a shot at re-industrializing. However, improving infrastructure would also allow a better shot at tourism too, which I see as the best bet for the near-term.
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Old Posted Sep 30, 2009, 11:26 PM
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Great tour. It actually looks a little better than it did a few years ago.
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Old Posted Oct 1, 2009, 2:06 AM
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very grungey town
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Old Posted Oct 1, 2009, 3:27 AM
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Cool tour! It has kind of a strong middle-American/Iowan look to it.
I believe Krist Novoselic was born in Compton, CA.
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Old Posted Oct 1, 2009, 4:22 PM
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I drove through Aberdeen back in the summer of '93. I knew nothing about the town but remember thinking that it was one of the most depressing places I'd been through. Now, looking at your photo thread, it didn't seem as bad. Were the residential neighborhoods also depressed looking? I just came away with a feeling that this was a real tough town.
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Old Posted Oct 1, 2009, 4:49 PM
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Aberdeen has some nice buildings. Did you happen to see the house that Kurt Cobain grew up in?
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Old Posted Oct 2, 2009, 1:37 AM
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The interesting thing about Aberdeen is that when you're driving through town it appears depressing. It looks like a much smaller version of what I imagine that Gary, IN looks like. However, upon walking around and really interacting with the town, I got a more hopeful feeling about the place. Actually, since the town never really rebounded after the depression, most of the population lives in neighborhoods with pre-war gridded streets and houses from the same era. There's been some redevelopment here and there, but for the most part the residential areas have some charm.

Aberdeen exhibits a very different kind of decay, where derelict buildings aren't necessarily a sign of social decay and high crime. The city's crime rate is average for Washington although I've heard that suicide rates are incredibly high for the state. I think that economic hardship for Aberdeen never resulted in the kind of every-man-for-himself attitude that seems to afflict so many other communities. People are out mowing their lawns, walking their kids to school, kids are hanging out at parks, it's an odd place.

I really recommend that people (especially Seattleites like myself) venture out to Aberdeen to check it out for themselves. It's a very different take on Washington State that you don't see anywhere else. I think that Washingtonians take growth and prosperity for granted and Aberdeen reminds us that we must have a diversity of economic and social drivers to ensure that that lifestyle continues. Seattle is the epitome of a truly unparalleled economic diversity that has enabled the region to profit in terms of dollars and more importantly culture. Even the rural parts of Eastern Washington have the asset of incredibly cheap electricity and specialized farming such as apples, hops, and wine that continue to deliver economic growth. Aberdeen just seems to have missed out on all of the prosperity, which is why I think that investing in port infrastructure is their best bet. A port between Portland and Seattle that could offer lower costs would see a lot of business... Hell, Prince Rupert and Nanaimo, British Columbia have already figured that out.

... and yes Krist Novoselic was born in Compton but graduated from Aberdeen HS.
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Old Posted Oct 2, 2009, 2:22 AM
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Old Posted Oct 3, 2009, 9:50 AM
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I don't think it has a huge tourist potential, but I could be wrong.

It is a fairly depressing place - it gets so much more rain than Seattle even. You caught it on a rare sunny day!
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Old Posted Oct 8, 2009, 3:41 AM
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Interesting. This place looks very depressing in rain from what I've seen in documentaries.
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Old Posted Dec 12, 2009, 5:50 PM
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wow. reminds me of parts of Oklahoma City and Birmingham that have seen better days.

i like the Woolworth's.

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Old Posted Dec 12, 2009, 11:26 PM
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Interesting exhibit...slightly bereft, but interesting nontheless.
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2009, 6:48 PM
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Glad this thread came up again, I missed it the first time around. The city looks like it's seen better days, but there are some wonderful old buildings still there. Thanks for the tour.
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2009, 7:05 PM
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There is some nice architecture there. Too bad they're demolishing the old hotel. Keeping the historic core intact is probably a good way to preserve any chance of a potentially prosperous future.
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Old Posted Dec 14, 2009, 7:03 PM
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hey, that was interesting, altho' if I lived there, I think I'd want to move to Seattle too...
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