Alleys of Seattle

Tight Urbanism: the book

Posted in Chicago, Detroit, History, Japan, Melbourne, San Francisco, Sydney by seattlealleys on July 24, 2011


Finally after a first round of edits, the book chronicling my travels, adventures, sketches, and photos from this year-long foray into alleyways is available at  Please email me if you have any questions.  You can purchase it from the link above!

Thank you for supporting my work.

– Daniel Toole


Tight Urbanism

Posted in Chicago, Detroit, International District, Japan, Melbourne, Pioneer Square, San Francisco, Sydney by seattlealleys on March 23, 2011

Please keep your calendars marked for my exhibit on my travels.

The exhibit, “Tight Urbanism”, scheduled for its’ opening reception May 11, 2011 will showcase the findings of the AIA Seattle Emerging Professionals Travel Fellowship  travel through several mediums including photographs, sketches, video, and physical models.  The exhibit is slated to run from May11 to July 1st, with a potential move to the International District in July.

I will be at the Nord Alley to hand out invites to the exhibit on Thursday, May 5 at their alley party.  I highly recommend everyone to come to this for the debut of their permanent art installation in the alley, food, music, and more.  Please stay tuned.

Let me know if you have any questions, or if you’d like to schedule a private tour of the exhibit, I am happy to take groups, individuals, and organizations throughout May and June.

– Daniel Toole

Sydney overview

Posted in Sydney, Uncategorized by seattlealleys on October 6, 2010

Australia is hard to put a finger on – or even, understand.  Sydney felt a bit like New York, a bit like London, and a bit like San Francisco.  It is expensive, peninsular, and teeming with various cultures.  The blocks in the central business district, and general center run north-south into a few fingers of land with the historic Rocks/Circular Quay area, the Opera House, and a fantastic botanical garden reaching out or yielding to the bay.

Alleys here are on the rise to catch up to Melbourne’s advanced laneway culture.  I met with architect/planner Craig Allchin, of Six Degrees, and now a consultant to the city of Sydney. He explained to me the formal history of the city, its latent problems, and how the mayor has recently taken a liking to laneways and begun catalyzing their habitation through various financial stiumuls programs, specifically one for the encouragement of small bars, which Craig refers to as “the cafes of the night”.  These types of spaces are seriously lacking in many of the American cities I have looked at, especially Seattle.  Craig began his alley affair with the opening of one of the first laneway bars in Melbourne (check the link above and find Meyer’s Place Bar) with five other recent architecture graduates a number of years ago.  After the success of this, along with a few other factors, Melbourne has transformed into the most amazing collection of revitalized service lanes out of any other Western cities I have seen. It looks to set the bar high for a competitor.

An amazing alley art series is curated annually, with the most recent just debuting a couple months back, there are some fantastic pieces that transform the mundane Sydney laneway into a unique urban encounter.  Due to no phone, or upload access, these blog entries will for th most part be textual until my return on the 16th,

Last night, I paid a visit to small business of the year, Grasshopper, a fantastic two-level bar and restaurant off the tiny and sketchy looking Temperance Lane off George Street.  This space used to be a printing press area and due to the new bar stimulating program, has taken off into a fantastic little place.  I also visited Via Abercrombie in Abercrombie Lane, which was essentially what looked like a garbage room transformed by lining the walls with cabinets and placing a table in the middle into a very popular lunch-time sandwich spot.  Both of these places were fantastic to sit in and see the engagement with the laneway, and the city fabric itself.  These places were very uncharacteristic of the otherwise service-oriented lanes throughout the city.

I see a parallel in Sydney to the Seattle alley cause, as they are trying to transform something that has been utilitarian into something that aspires to be more.  The city’s acceptance of Craig’s ideas and the successes of Melbourne is very encouraging to the Seattle future.  These types of spaces really begin to add an entirely new layer to the perception and attractiveness of a downtown.  We have endless potential – off to Melbourne!

Sydney and Melbourne itineraries

Posted in Melbourne, Sydney by seattlealleys on September 29, 2010

This Saturday, I will be heading down under for two days in Sydney and about twelve in the myriad of laneways in downtown Melbourne.  I will be checking out the arts program currently in Sydney’s blossoming laneways, as well as a series of city-catalyzed bars and restaurants that have been encouraged through public funding to develop along the laneways.

In Melbourne, I will do research into the history, management, and development of the hugely successful laneways around the downtown.  Please let me know your suggestions!