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The Amazonians Transformed their City

post Thursday January 9, 2014

Tags: amazon, seattle, silicon valley

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South Lake Union is a harbor district in Seattle, Washington. This district of Seattle is also the place of birth of the biggest online market in the world, also known as Amazon. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, stayed loyal to his hometown Seattle. Amazon became the biggest online market on the Internet which had a very positive influence on Seattle. The employees of Amazon, the so-called ‘Amazonians’, work and live in the neighborhood. With this great migration, the fancy restaurants, real estate brokers, expensive supermarkets and coffee shops came along.

The heart of America’s technology sector is not in Seattle, but in Silicon Valley, which is home to Apple, Google and Facebook. These companies chose to settle outside of the city. Microsoft was founded near Seattle. In these days employees preferred to live in the suburbs. However, the preferences of young (tech) professionals have changed over time. Shops, restaurants, music and training facilities have become more important and Amazon decided to position itself as a local company and was based in the heart of the city, just like Twitter in San Francisco. The introduction of Amazon to Seattle made the city even more popular. The residents of Seattle speak of a wrinkle-effect. The explosive growth of Amazon attracts more people and entrepreneurs to the city. The fifteen brand-new buildings of Amazon will eventually be home to about 30.000 employees, while the city has approximately 640.000 inhabitants.

Until recently, the most important part of the city was in the south, where Amazon’s first office was settled. Now, the prices of residences in the south are dropping and the buildings are running empty. While the area of South Lake Union is booming. For a town with a lot of drugs traffic and other problems, the importance  and influence of Amazon is huge. According to experts, the example of Amazon has never been shown anywhere else in the world.

However, there are also disadvantages, the people of Seattle are complaining about the lack of parking spaces. Traffic jams have become daily business in an area which was once deserted. Due to the rising prices of houses, the elderly of Seattle are almost forced to leave. According to some retailers and residents the Amazonians are ruining the ambiance. This phenomenon is also known as the ‘boomerang-effect’; renovation of the city leads to intense reactions. Only a handful of people are actually complaining about the quick change of Seattle, most of the residents and retailers are delighted and cheerful about the growth of the company, which also gave the economy of Seattle a huge boost.

Source: Invasie van de ‘Amazonians’. NRC Weekend. November 17, 2013

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