Council members think the world of P-I globe, seek landmark status
Seattle City Council members joined the director of the Museum of History & Industry on Tuesday in announcing an agreement with the Hearst Corp. that would help keep the P-I globe spinning in Seattle at a location the public will help select.
Seattle Times staff reporter
One of Seattle's beloved landmarks — the steel and neon Seattle Post-Intelligencer globe — was nominated for city landmark status Tuesday, likely ensuring that it is protected into the future, whatever the fate of newspapers.
Seattle City Council members joined the director of the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) in announcing an agreement with the Hearst Corp., which owns the globe, to keep it spinning in Seattle at a location the public will help select.
MOHAI is making plans to refurbish the 13 ½-ton globe and to find a new permanent location. It will be taken to a temporary storage site — possibly a former airplane hangar at Magnuson Park — for cleaning and maintenance, likely sometime later this year.
"We are honored to become the steward of this cherished symbol of Seattle's journalism and our local history," said Leonard Garfield, executive director of the museum.
Garfield said the museum is launching a campaign, "Light Up The Globe," to raise money to restore and relocate the icon. He estimated the costs at about $400,000, including removing it from its current location atop an office building on the northern end of the downtown Seattle waterfront.
The impetus to have the globe designated a city landmark was launched shortly after the print edition of the P-I folded in March 2009. Although Hearst continues to operate the news site seattlepi.com, it moved most of its remaining news operations to another building last year.
Three former journalists on the City Council, Jean Godden, Tim Burgess and Sally Clark, worried about the globe's fate.
At a news conference in City Hall on Tuesday morning, the three announced they would present their nomination to the city Landmark Preservation Board on Tuesday afternoon, along with the agreement signed by Hearst to donate the globe to MOHAI.
The board is expected to act on the nomination next month.
The globe was built in 1948 of two hemispheres of hollow steel with elaborate neon tubing to outline longitude and latitude and the continents, with an 18-foot eagle perched on top and the revolving motto, "It's in the P-I."
It was a celebration of the neon advertising signs that were lighting up American cities in the 1940s, as well as a confident assertion of Seattle's place in the world, according to the nominating application prepared for the landmarks board by Seattle historian Mimi Sheridan.
Godden, a former columnist for both the P-I and The Seattle Times, said the globe also represents the decades of journalists who worked beneath it.
She noted the P-I was formed in 1881 and bought by Hearst in 1921.
"The history of the P-I is the history of Seattle," she said. "I'm so pleased to be moving it to landmark status."
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @lthompsontimes.
Information in this article, originally published March 7, 2012, was corrected March 9, 2012. A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Seattle historian Mimi Sheridan, who wrote the nominating application.