Letter From Washington

Cruising the Cybermansions

A virtual tour of the new Seattle wealth.

Click on the icons at the bottom of this page for an interactive tour of Seattle’s cybermansions.

Not long ago, the rich in Seattle were earnest bores who lived in interchangeable Tudors tucked into old gated communities. They were Stimsons, Boeings, and Nordstroms, and they made their money cutting down trees, building airplanes, and selling shoes. Like the Cascade Mountains, they were “partially visible some of the time, and completely visible none of time,” a University of Washington sociologist once said. The Cascades are still a rumor for much of the year. But the rich have come out in force in this corner of the country once known for its Scandinavian reserve. Their arena is Lake Washington, the 18-mile-long moat that separates Seattle from the Eastside locales of Bellevue, Mercer Island, Kirkland, and Redmond–global headquarters of Slate. The transition of Lake Washington from a decent water-skiing pond into something Gatsbyesque and gawk-worthy has been so dramatic that now some people visit the Northwest for the sole purpose of staring at all the man-made creations on and around the lake. Rather than disparage this trend or try to describe it with one-dimensional, snide remarks, we offer instead our own tour. Semiauthoritative, free, and interactive–with a few snide remarks nonetheless.

Click here to start the tour.

On the tour, click on a numbered circle to advance to that tour stop.

Click here for text-mostly version.