Final Stop: International District Post Office
So, if the downtown Seattle Post Office is a harbinger of modernism in the Emerald City, what to say about the Post Office in the International District?
Well, first of all, for those not familiar with the neighborhood just southeast of downtown Seattle, let’s start by defining the meaning of this “International District.” Why so international? Three reasons: Japan, China and Vietnam. All three of these countries, as well as smaller populations from many other Asian nations, are strongly represented here; Chinatown lies south of S Jackson St, Japantown is to the north of S Jackson St, and Little Saigon heads east of 8th Ave S. What’s that you say? You’d like to see a map? Click here!
If the post office building itself is unremarkable, perhaps its location adjacent to Hing Hay Park is its most exciting feature? Both landmarks represent a gathering place for the neighborhood community. While Hing Hay Park offers a convenient space for various forms of loitering much of the time, it is simultaneously an event venue for programs such as the Night Market and JamFest. On weekend days, you might join a group practicing tai chi, or find a rally against neighborhood crime. In September 2011, the park was one of the stops along the route of the art-focused Nepo House 5k Don’t Run. The post office, for its part, shows off its neighborhood-centric flair for those waiting in the interminable line by adding a couple of interior decorations:
We are all familiar with the business of the USPS – to send and receive mail – so perhaps that is the reason for which the offices are relatively nondescript: there’s not much need for flashy advertising. At the Ballard Sip N’ Ship and the Queen Anne Dispatch, these services are jazzed up with the addition of coffee or boutique shopping, respectively. The downtown Seattle Post Office is little more than a box-shaped “hell,” according to public reviews, and the International District Post Office is relatively nondescript. Yet each of these stops on our Post Office Tour reveals a bit about its neighborhood and the priorities of the nearby residents. Whether tempted to hang out or get in and out as quickly as possible, you may want to consider these places as a jumping-off-point for exploring Seattle’s neighborhoods and thinking about what makes each one a thriving community.
One final note: In 2007, Seattle Parks and Recreation was able to raise the money to expand Hing Hay Park into the space that is currently the International District Post Office, so the future of the USPS in the neighborhood is not certain. The question is, if the post office disappears from this neighborhood, as was the case in Lower Queen Anne, will it be missed?