As economic conditions pave the path for growth in many markets across the United States, what can be learned from Seattle's last decade? Here, The Seattle Times outlines issues and challenges that give us the opportunity to be proactive.

TEN YEARS AGO, attorney Kyle Karinen moved to Seattle from suburban Detroit by way of Montana, Wenatchee and Tacoma.

Looking back, his impressions of the city are “overwhelmingly positive.”

He says, “The quality of life, the physical beauty of the area, the culture and arts, and the vibrancy of the regional economy are fantastic. I think everyone’s perception of where they live is somewhat colored by where else they have lived, and when.

“So, by comparison, Missoula was too small for what I wanted to do professionally … Wenatchee was not a great fit outside of work, and Detroit has no mountains and is much less diverse culturally. By comparison, Seattle is just a wonderful fit.”

We're living in a future created by the past 10 years of transformation in Seattle. Throughout 2018, Pacific NW magazine will bring you stories that explore changes few saw coming, and analyze what our new and sometimes disorienting trajectory means.

He’s not the only one who thinks that. Between 2008 and 2017, Seattle added more than 100,000 people. For a Sun Belt metropolis, this is an average pace. For Seattle, with fewer than 84 square miles, the growth was staggering.

Comparisons can be found only in the 1890s and the first decade of the 20th century. In the former, Seattle almost doubled in population. Between 1900 and 1910, it grew from about 80,600, to more than 237,000.

The past decade also saw Seattle and the Puget Sound region solidify its place as one of the most economically potent spots in North America, with headquarters of two of the five Big Tech giants and a varied set of other assets. A diverse world city facing Asia for the Asian Century.

To be sure, not everyone is happy about it. This transformative period also saw housing grow more expensive, and traffic increase. The number of people panhandling on city streets or living in makeshift camps also increased. Collegial “Seattle nice” politics was replaced by a hard-left City Council where crowds of “activists” sometimes shout down other-thinking people who try to speak. A scandal forced out the mayor.

Longtime resident Connie De Roy says, “I have lived in Seattle for 63 years and have renounced this city as the home of my heart, even though I still live here. It’s a different place. I loved the Seattle I grew up in. It was a fun and special place back then.”

By most measures, it still is — this is one reason people keep moving here. But it’s much changed from 10 years ago.

What’s arresting is to contemplate how differently things turned out from what seemed possible, even likely, back then.

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