Today’s local to know is all about documenting local history. Susanna Ryan is the author of “Seattle Walk Report” books and the creator of @seattlewalkreport, all of which house guides to the most intimate and intriguing parts of Seattle history in comic form. Susanna is a longtime Seattleite with a love for wandering the city in her alone time, which is pretty great way to get to know the city if you ask me. Whether it’s the history of a local sinkhole or hidden gems of the Central District, Susanna will open your eyes to some local sights and history you had no idea you were missing. Now let’s have Susanna walk us through what she loves most about the city!
Who are you? What do you do?
I am the author and illustrator of two bestselling books, “Seattle Walk Report: An Illustrated Walking Tour of 23 Seattle Neighborhoods” and “Secret Seattle: An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Offbeat and Overlooked History”, both spun off from an Instagram comic series called Seattle Walk Report that I started in 2017 to document my long walks through the city. I also work for the Seattle Public Library!
Wax poetic a moment and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?
I love the feeling of being alone in Seattle, on foot, with nowhere to be and nowhere in particular to go, and just following whatever captures my attention, whether it’s an intriguing-looking pile of free furniture or an interesting set of stairs. Venturing out without any expectations while being open to the possibilities of the day has helped me feel more connected to Seattle and its rhythms, and more connected to myself.
What’s your favorite Seattle memory?
Nearly every memory I have has taken place in Seattle so it’s hard to pick just one, but a recent highlight was taking my out-of-town friend and her dog to walk around Seward Park for the first time. I love Seward Park and seeing it through fresh eyes made me fall in love all over again!
If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Until very recently it would’ve been the spicy teriyaki wrap from Mia’s Off Broadway on Capitol Hill, a cornerstone of my diet for the past decade. Mia’s closed at the end of last year and I am not quite ready to emotionally move on, but if I had to pick something else, it would probably be the veggie nopal burrito from Carmelo’s Tacos. I’ll never forget you, Mia’s spicy teriyaki wrap!
Outside the stop above, tell us your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Seattle day.
What’s your favorite local social media account?
Currently it’s the Instagram account @onhedges, which features some fine, mostly Seattle-based hedges, sure to please hedge enthusiasts everywhere!
If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?
If you’re able, go out and explore outdoor spaces in the city! I spent my first 27 years here thinking I knew Seattle well enough, but it wasn’t until I actually went out and started seeing it myself on foot that I realized I didn’t know it at all and that there would always be new and interesting things to explore.
How does Seattle help you do what you do/influence your work?
Seattle is a renewable source of inspiration for me and a huge part of my creative life and output. I’ve often felt like Seattle and Seattleites create the content for my books and Instagram account for me, I just record and interpret it in my own way.
What’s a popular opinion you have about the city?
This isn’t so much an unpopular opinion but the city itself, but about a common sentiment Seattleites express. I don’t think there is any shame in the umbrella game! I usually go for a giant waterproof rain jacket instead, but umbrellas have their place. Just be conscientious of others and aware of your surroundings!
What are you looking forward to this year?
I usually prefer cooler weather, but I am definitely ready to sit by Lake Union or Lake Washington and soak up some sun this summer. I feel like I haven’t had vitamin D in ages!
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