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 exhibit opening at AIA Seattle

Posted in Uncategorized by seattlealleys on May 15, 2011
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Tight Urbanism, a set by camerarchitect on Flickr.

Thank you to everyone who came to the opening of Tight Urbanism at AIA Seattle this last Wednesday.  Thank you as well to those that sponsored, advised, and helped with this whole study.  I would like to thank the AIA Fellows’ Committee for allowing me this great adventure.  The exhibit will run until July 1st at the AIA gallery in Belltown from 10-5 weekdays.  If you would like a private tour, please let me know ahead of time and I will block out times throughout the day.

Additionally, the exhibit will move to Maynard Alley behind the Wing Luke Asian Art Museum for an alley party in early July.  I will be leading a walking tour Saturday, June 25th in conjunction with the gallery exhibit that you can buy tickets for through the Seattle Architectural Foundation here.

Thank you to Richard Tran, a friend of mine, for taking fantastic photos of the exhibit opening Wednesday.  I would also like to thank people that came through Firehouse Alley last First Thursday to see what we were up to!  There are a few more alley parties and activities that will take place in Pioneer Square alleys this summer.  Stay tuned here and on the tweet feeds to the right for when and where they will be.

I have consolidated my travel sketches, photos, and writing into a little book titled Tight Urbanism that I will be selling on here  on the next post.

Thank you again everyone for the opportunity and support with this work.

– Daniel Toole

Chicago day 2

Posted in Chicago by seattlealleys on September 15, 2010


After speaking with downtown photographer, Bob Thall at Columbia College, I continued to move north through the alleys bumping into the beautiful Prie Scott building and a couple other Chicago gems.
Bob described a Chicago with a fleeting past – a downtown losing its best century through souless envelope maxing developments without the scale of the beginning of the city. His book on alleys is the third in a series of four on various layers of the downtown. He seems to have a similar fascination with their ability to very bluntly show history and give a sense of the city that cannot be experienced in the continually remodeled streets and storefronts.
I then spent a good deal of time looking at the first downtown green alley, Couch Place, which unifies a fee theaters’ entries south of the river. The permeable paving looked similar to small bricks with gravel in the joints. The clean lines have the space a more civic appearance. I hope to meet tomorrow with the department of transportation office responsible for the green alleys to discuss their successes.

Chicago day 1

Posted in Chicago by seattlealleys on September 14, 2010


Chicago is an American Manhattan. After an early morning trip to Oak Park to see frank Lloyd wrights prairie work as well as his home, studio, and the jewel box Unity Temple, I walked from congress parkway and wabash through downtown, across the river all the way through old town and back through Wicker Park.
The city grows seemlessly as Manhattan from neighborhood to neighborhood stitched together by the visibility of the incredible collection of a century of skylines and the rickety crash of the elevated metro.
The collect of alleys here is certainly staggering. Most downtown ones maintain a very utilitarian existence similar to their Seattle counterparts yet old town has a more residential breed that is flanked by back steps, carriage houses converted to garages and children riding bicycles and skateboards about. This area is very rich in texture and apparent history. Two additional highlights were stumbling across one of the remaining four alleys with the use of treated wood pavers and Gaslanp Court, where you have to ask to be let in the gate to see its collection of timber fire escapes, planters, and fountains. This is apparently an old alley once lit by gas lamps and now serving as a backdrop courtyard space for a couple shops, offices, and condominiums.

Chicago/Detroit alleys itinerary

Posted in Chicago, Detroit by seattlealleys on September 8, 2010

This Saturday, September 11th, I will embark on trip two.  I will spend four days in Chicago and three days in Detroit.  While in Chicago I will be meeting with the Department of Transportation in regards to their Green Alleys program that has successfully remodeled a number of downtown alleys.  I will also be meeting with photographer Bob Thall, whose book, City Spaces, explores alleys and their role in the city’s identity.

“Investigating these spaces reminded me of my earlier sense of the city as a mysterious landscape to explore. My history as a Chicagoan, my history as a photographer, the history of the city, and, in a small way, the history of photography—without any plan or anticipation, these photographs brought these histories together for me.” – Bob Thall

While in Detroit, I will visit the Green Garage and their freshly remodeled alley on their grand opening day, Thursday.  I will also be taking an architecture tangent to Cranbrook while in the city.  Let me know if you have any additions to these maps, or if you know of any interesting alleys in either city.  Check back throughout next week for frequent posts.

Innovation incubator

Posted in Chicago, San Francisco by seattlealleys on May 19, 2010

I would like to thank my office, Perkins+Will, for their generosity in providing an additional $1000 to expand my study area to Chicago and San Francisco. I will be visiting these locations between July and August to document what’s going on in their alleys.

Perkins+will is celebrating their 75th anniversary this year and plans to launch a brand new site in early July. The innovation incubator grant is a new program set up by the national leadership institute to facilitate the endeavors and pursuits of individuals within the office striving to better the built environment. The alley project was one of about twenty to receive funding in this first round.