It was a day to celebrate as city officials, artists, project staff and citizens gathered in front of the Ranch Market at Highway 99 and 76th Avenue Avenue West in the heart of Edmonds’ International District to dedicate the latest enhancements to the city’s increasingly diverse neighborhood.
Begun in 2006 with a $316,000 Federal Highway Enhancements grant to cover seven lantern-themed streetlights, the project has expanded in the intervening years thanks to $346,000 in additional federal funding. The latest phase, completed in 2013, includes 14 new large street-light standards on the east side of Highway 99 and eight 16-foot pedestrian light poles on the west side, all with banner signage identifying the Edmonds International District.
Seattle artist Pam Beyette designed the fixtures, embodying a classic design that evokes the lantern icon as a shared cultural symbol of light, celebration, abundance, harmony and joy.
“More than 60 languages are spoken in the Edmonds International District, so I felt compelled to choose a symbol with cross-cultural meaning and significance,” Beyette said. “From simple to complex, lanterns are used throughout the world to light up temples, shrines, gardens, festivals and public spaces. Their shapes are as diverse as the communities and cultures that use them, and regardless of cultural context the lantern is a universal symbol of lighting the dark path and illuminating the proper course.”
The street and pedestrian lights create Beyette’s vision of an “Eight Paths of Light” gateway to the city’s International District.
In addition to the beauty, visual identity and symbolism, the new lighting also enhances security and encourages pedestrian use, city officials noted.
“By incorporating cobra-head fixtures with Pam’s lantern-style pedestrian lighting, we’ve been able to significantly increase sidewalk illumination levels and improve safety,” said Stephen Clifton, Director of Economic Development for the City of Edmonds. “People can feel more secure, and will be more likely to return to the area to enjoy the international flavor of the restaurants, shops, and other businesses in our ID.”
A third phase of the project, currently in the design stage, will extend these improvements north into the Health Care District anchored by Swedish/Edmonds Medical Center.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel