I prepared the map below after biking downtown. Red shows occupied retail space, which is probably 1/3 to 1/2 pre-Covid. Total sales volumes are probably much less. It’s a wonder that the remaining coffee shops and convenience stores in the government and financial district are still open.

Downtown is now anchored by three kinds of places: 1) tourism: the Pike Place Market, the Washington State Convention Center, and hotels; 2) department stores: Nordstroms, Target, and Ross; 3) cultural institutions: the library, Benaroya Hall and the Seattle Art Museum.

The green star shows what used to be the retail heart of the city, Westlake Park. Macy’s and Pacific Place were a few blocks away and are now gone. What remains is a weak, six-block walk between the Convention Center and the Pike Place Market. In a public referendum 52 years ago, Seattle voters saved the Market. It’s a good thing they did.

A tip for mayors and city managers: to view activity in your downtown or retail center, create a heat map of sales tax collections.