Rom-coms are notorious for largely undoing your disbelief, but how do you feel about a romantic comedy that ends with a couple first meeting?
This is exactly what “Sleepless in Seattle” asked of its audience 25 years ago. When it was released on June 25, 1993, the whole movie depended on the idea that two people could be so attracted to each other that they would instantly fall in love as soon as they looked at each other, whether it was upstairs or the Empire State Building on Westlake Avenue North.
That brings us to the main star of Sleepless in Seattle, the city.
It was one of the many 90s products – Frasier, Microsoft and Starbucks – that put Seattle on the map, raised our public profile and gave our city a “face”.
They haven’t done everything right – for every sight they visit that wows the Seattle viewer, there is just as much that baffles and confuses (Meg Ryan! Why are you driving like this while chasing the man you are vague about are interested? )
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The film reflected a lot of changes for almost everyone involved: star Tom Hanks switched from comic book personality to more serious actress in the 80s, Nora Ephron got her first chance as a director, the core idea of the film is mostly about a man who haven’t been on a date since the 1970s and is now dealing with a new wave of feminism that is shaping the dating market.
“Sleepless in Seattle” came out in 1993, a big year for Seattle. Grunge was still going on and sports was fun to watch (Randy Johnson’s pitching, Sonics in the playoffs). Those things ended, but the legacy of the film lives on, through the crowd of tourists screaming …
(DVD for the 10th anniversary of “Sleepless in Seattle”)
Houseboats looked charming back then, but not everyone has loved them since. The city proposed banning new houseboats in 2010 on the grounds that they are believed to harm fish, and wants to crack down on “houseboat-like boats”. (Joshua Trujillo / seattlepi.com)
The Athenian, opened in 1909, was once again a restaurant for locals and vintage cars. Photo:
Joey DeVilla, Creative Commons Flickr.
The Dahlia Lounge also served as an atmospheric backdrop for Tom Hanks and his date. But then the restaurant was at its old location on 1904 Fourth Avenue. Photo: angela n., Creative Commons Flickr.
And at the time, the city was facing a pretty big change: the takeover of Amazon was waiting in the late 1990s. When the film was shot in Seattle, the official population was just over 525,000. Now there are nearly 700,000, and for many city dwellers, that difference seems to have happened in the past few years alone.
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Does any of this owe any of this to “Sleepless in Seattle,” the title of which gave people something to stick with the idea of Seattle and plaster on novel T-shirts at the airport? Probably not. But it still feels like a pretty big moment in Seattle’s history as an up and coming city.
In honor of Sleepless in Seattle, who is of legal age to rent a car, stop by and try to figure out how many changes you can see between the city skyline then and now.