Boom Let It Be Nothing
posted by March 15 at 12:53 PMon
Llyod’s Rocket is dead again:
I think it died this year. But for much of 2005 it was slowly revived/remodeled, and for much (if not all) of 2006 it barely lived as a restaurant/bar and coffee drive-thru. I visited the Rocket once (it’s across the street from a bar I love, Saba) and was impressed by its ghostly crowd of empty tables and barstools. Lots of loud jazz art covered its walls, and there were lots things to do (flat-screen TVs, happy music, a posh portico) for the lots of people who were not there. Instead, the place had five souls in it: three making up the staff; and two (myself and a friend) making up its customers.
Before Llyod’s Rocket was restored in 2005, Diana George wrote about it in this passage from a longer piece called “Empty,” which was published in The Organ, a now-defunct NW art journal:
On the tiny triangular plot formed by the three-way crossing of 12th, Boren, and Yesler sits the abandoned Lloyd’s Rocket building. From 1961 to 1995, it was a gas station run by Joe Lloyd. He closed the station a year before he died; his wife Erma owned the property until her death in 2001, when it passed to the Lloyds’ children. It was never more than a notional structure—some big-windowed walls; a flat, bi-level, stepped-down roof; two carport-like awnings; some columns. The irregular, sprawling building slid into decay over the years. Weeds sprang up, pigeons roosted in the empty service bays, tires were dumped in the lot. In 1998, a chain-link fence went up around the lot, to deter crime, and the empty building was boarded up with large murals painted on plywood. The murals, depicting Seattle’s African-American history, are said to have been painted by “kids;” a sign, now gone, labeled the effort the “Lloyd’s Rocket Beautification Project.” With its proximity to the Youth Detention Center (a little further up 12th), the beautification of Lloyd’s is ambiguous. The murals were only partly, if at all, an expression of community spirit; they were also graffiti control measures, and the same kids who painted them were also potentially subject to the sorts of civility laws that might have landed them in the detention center: laws against sitting, against postering, against graffiti. Nor did the murals halt or even slow the building’s decay, as they too grew bleached and weathered.
Entrepreneurs and developers of Seattle listen! Leave Lylod’s Rocket alone. Just let it rot. The place is good for pigeons, good for graffiti, good for nothing.