Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bellevue Public Spaces - Crossroads Mall

If you appreciate public spaces, as I do, this interesting New Statesman article ties the Bellevue Crossroads Mall with such upscale public arenas enjoyed in Rome, Lyons and Barcelona. The Crossroads Mall, doubling as gathering place, extended communal livingroom, Mexican-style Zocolo? Well, in a word, yes.

My husband literally lived at Crossroads when he first moved here. At least, he used the mall as living space, business office and dining room.

He slept in his car nearby, rolled out of bed and grabbed a cuppa at Starbucks. He'd join the newstand crowd and read the papers, then take his laptop to the mall's own Public Library outlet for the free WIFI. He'd work work work, then stroll the food court and eat.

It's a surprisingly good place to grab some chow. Growing up in the 80's I know all about mallish food courts. As the clever teen movie, "Mean Girls" observes, food courts are like watering holes in the Serengi, where young animals come to display and strut their courtship rituals.

This food court is actually worth your dime, your time. The ethnically-oriented fooderies are locally-owned and the result is real food, not plastic-tasting microwave reheats. I approve. Nice, multi-generational and tolerant ambience.

I also personally recommend the Thai food cashew-chicken with salad and the huge Italian cheese calzones.

Back to Dan: after food-foraging, he could join the chess players on either the small tables or the giant floor set, or do a bit of shopping for basic supplies, and then settle in for more computer work. In the evenings, he'd either read in the bookstore or stroll into the movie theater. Free, live shows often entertained appreciative local crowds in the central mall area. What's NOT to like?

My cynical self initially derided the place as just another enclosed, aging mall. Cripes, it's only one level high - how could it compete with Downtown Bellevue's ritzy shopping experience? But a newly emerging, more hopeful and tender self agrees this "mall" is really just a heck of a nice place to hang out with other humans. Other humans also responding to the primal urge to "hang around". To congregate. Mingle. To even relax a bit.

The author of the New Stateman article admits he'd rather be in Barcelona, frankly, or even at Seattle's own Pike Place Market. But, he adds, "so would many people who live in Crossroads. But the fact is they live in Bellevue, and it's a great thing that they have a mall where they can run errands, meet their neighbours and have some fun."

More on the Crossroads Bellevue Mall at their Website.

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