Seattle, among many cities in the United States, had the opportunity to celebrate America’s 246th birthday with traditional fireworks for the first time in three years. The Covid-19 pandemic had previously confiscated Seattle’s celebrations for Independence Day in 2020 and 2021, so this year was significant for the Emerald City and others.
Typically, the most popular gathering place in the city to watch the Independence Day fireworks is Gas Works Park, which is consistently PACKED with hundreds — if not, thousands — of spectators all day on July 4th. The view is an incredible one, especially if you don’t mind standing body to body with hundreds of other people and scouting a spot to locate oneself hours before the fireworks extravaganza begins!
On July 4, 2015, I was hired by Seattle’s Parks & Recreation department to photograph the day’s activities at Gas Works Park. Throughout my entire residency in Seattle, Independence Day 2015 was the only one that I had ever spent there because the crowds are massive and swarming with people nonstop. I remember the temperature was nearly 100 degrees that day and the same Top 40 pop songs were blared repeatedly, ad infinitum, from the loudspeakers in the park. (That was the beginning of the end of enjoying Taylor Swift’s songs, “Shake It Off” and “Style”).
Admittedly, the photographs that I was able to obtain that night made the day worth it, but I knew that I was unlikely to spend the holiday there again because the crowd was quite overwhelming (for me). Also, if you’re a resident of Seattle, you are well aware of the commuting debacle that occurs each year immediately after the fireworks’ grand finale. I rode my bike to and from that day to make my escape…ahem…life easier.
This year, I went to the Columbia Center Skyview observation deck, the same vantage that I visited on the same day on July 4, 2014. I figured that I would get some updated images from that spot. Also, the fact that only a minute fraction of people visited the observation deck compared to other locations in Seattle on Independence Day made the choice easy for me. I got there as early as I could to pinpoint the location I would capture this year’s images.
Mother Nature didn’t disappoint with the weather for the holiday either. The people who did visit the observation deck were a merry group of individuals and, to my own surprise, I engaged in conversation with several of them while preparing not one, but two of my cameras for action at different angles. There appeared to be a consensus among the other spectators that I knew a lot more about the city since I was able to answer virtually every question an onlooker had about downtown Seattle and other neighborhoods one could view from the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest. (15 years of living and exploring a city year in, year out will do that).
Please enjoy the images from this year’s Independence Day celebration featured in this article. I am personally proud of them considering it is often a challenge to come up with fresh perspectives for annual events in the city.
More of my Independence Day photos from Seattle can be viewed, licensed, or purchased here.
Let’s see what TIA can achieve next year!