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How the design firm behind the Xbox built the bike of the future

Stashed in: Design!, Cycling!, Seattle, Seattle, Cycling

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Design with a purpose! Bicycles that people need every day.

What ARE the seven hills?

You can't ride a bike in Seattle without thinking about the seven hills. (No one can agree on which ones make up "the seven," but they're not a friendly ride.) And you better think about the city's famously unpredictable weather patterns. And who knows? You might finish work and want to head straight to the trails or the beach. These are the things that make Seattle unique. They're also a complicated combination if you're trying to build a bike.

So says Roger Jackson, a creative director at Teague, a storied design firm in Seattle that's known for designing the original Xbox and building interiors for Boeing. "We have a ton of hills, steep hills. We obviously have rain as well, so those hills can get slippy in the wet. So we were trying to have a bike for all occasions: something that you were comfortable riding downtown, but if you wanted to hit the trail, if you wanted to head out to one of the farmers markets, you didn't have to think about your bike or plan the day around the bike as you set out. We wanted you to just be able to take the bike and then go with how the city kind of moves on that day."

Hmmm... First (aka Pill Hill), Cherry Hill, Capitol, Beacon, Denny Regrade used to be Denny Hill, Queen Anne, Magnolia maybe?. It's sort of weird because some of them don't exist any more... like Yesler Hill kind of got absorbed into First Hill.

Good answer!

There is no firm agreement on which hills were counted to arrive at the original “seven,” but the main candidates are:

  • First Hill, also called "Profanity Hill" because of the cursing indulged in by climbers of its steep flank. It rises east of downtown Seattle, and was the city’s first true residential neighborhood.
  • Second Hill, also called Renton Hill after Capt. William Renton, who owned and logged the Central Area ridge roughly along 17th Avenue.
  • Denny Hill, which stood immediately north of Pine Street and was flattened in the early 1900s to create the Denny Regrade.
  • Capitol Hill, northwest of downtown and named by developer James Moore in 1900 to promote sales of luxury homes near Volunteer Park.
  • Yesler or Profanity Hill (actually part of First Hill), original site of the King County Courthouse and now Harborview Hospital at Jefferson and 9th Avenue. Legend holds that it was named by the lawyers who had to trudge up Yesler Way’s steep slope from their Pioneer Square offices before a cable car line was installed in 1887.
  • Beacon Hill, south of downtown. Although first settled in 1851, the ridge was not formally named until 1899, when developer and M. Harwood Young christened it after Beacon Hill in his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Queen Anne Hill, originally called Temperance Hill due to a high number of teetotalers who lived there, and now known for the prevailing architectural style of its early homes.


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