Skyway Park: A Harrowing Tale

So I just went for a walk.

A Slight Exaggeration

The accomplishment isn’t that I went for a walk, it’s that I did it here, in my neighborhood, on a path I’ve never walked before. While I’m not fundamentally opposed to this sort of action, and in fact I do it all the time around my work, and downtown Seattle, and downtown Portland, and really just anywhere that’s not Skyway. Because of crime, and also, possibly, racism. But really crime. Skyway Park, located just down the hill from my house, is apparently prime territory for a gang of local roughs (I had a lot of fun writing that phrase). And, the stories are true, they were there, manning their post. But that’s not what this is about—at least, not directly.
Back in Ireland, my family moved into an in-development neighborhood (our house was actually the model for the cul de sac, and you could have a model home because all of them were identical). This meant that for a solid year at the start there, we—the local roughs—had construction sites to play, and possibly die, in. Even after that, just a couple blocks up the road was a large abandoned factory*, a canal, a highway underpass, and a longer, more post-apocalyptic-seeming stretch of the same canal. And throughout our entire stay at 6 Talbot Downs, Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland, any part of this was under some stage of construction. And despite the fact that everything I’m talking about is right next to a major highway, to my young mind it was at the exact halfway point between pure wilderness, and stark civilization.

Skyway Park is sort of the reverse. There’s a clear sense that people have lost their hold on it. The park, as it is, is pretty nice—a couple softball diamonds, a track around the edge, and the whole thing is bisected by three giant towering electrical cable lines that, if you stand and listen, crackle with energy—and it’s still well maintained, but there’s a definite sense that, stuck somewhere between the park and the houses that surround it is an entire world that mankind has simple forgotten about.** Fences and signs and even houses lie in disrepair, and the trees are clearly returning to claim their own. Halfway between wilderness and civilization, only this time it’s going the other way.

*One of my great regrets is that I never broke into that factory and explored it. Then again, the interior spontaneously combusted at a rate of twice per year (minimum), so maybe it shouldn’t be.

**Of course, this is actually the realm of the homeless and the drugdealers***, and the same was true of my old neighborhood in Ireland. It’s just nice to try to view it through the lens of childhood.

***I left my phone at home while I was out, and it got dark while I was writing this, but tomorrow I’ll go out and snap a couple pictures.

(Pro-Tip: If you ever get the urge to Google Maps your old neighborhood and/or elementary school on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, don’t. Spare yourself the mindfuck.)

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