FORMING IDENTITY THROUGH MEMORY, HISTORY & PLACE

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In Seattle, WA, rapid growth and urbanization have sparked concerns about displacement, gentrification, and a lack of social cohesion. In response, this research concentrates on creating a narrative and an experience that demonstrates a connection between memory, history, and place. It is seeking to answer the questions: How is identity shaped by our built environment? Can storytelling along with physical movement alleviate feelings of place attachment? As a case study this research is located in Seattleā€™s Central District neighborhood. To answer these questions, I conducted research on theories of place and identity and published an online survey targeting residents of the central district. I also interviewed eight central district residents and created a composite walking tour that illustrates the historic landscape of the neighborhood from their collective memories and stories. My final product, a narrated walking tour, serves as a mechanism to bring people together, to educate the public about the central district, and to highlight the interplay between spatial geography and social identity. The tour conjures lost places and memories into the physical world and serves as an urban planning tool to heal displaced communities. As Seattle continues to grow and change, experiences such as this walking tour provide a living, breathing example of our shared history to anchor old residents while inspiring new citizens to honor our natural and built environment.