A step in the right direction

He is what some people would call an urban hiker. Thomas Horton, a local architect, loves to hike in cities, discover new buildings, businesses and secret passages.It was while exploring in Queen Anne that he found the staircases."I was so excited about it I thought, 'why don't I find them all and make a map?'"Which is exactly what he did. And now some months later, the map is complete with about 100 staircases recorded, some lavish, some plain, some privatized or abandoned, and one, reportedly haunted. On the latter, the short of it is that a woman in the early 20th century was killed at the staircase in a mudslide and her ghost still haunts the defunct staircase today.But there are several staircases that are quite grand, such as the Comstock at the corner of West Comstock Street and the Wilcox Wall. That public staircase was built by a man named Wilcox but the adjoining wall was built by the Olmstead brothers who designed Central Park in New York City, Horton said.Horton will give his presentation, "The Lost, Wild, and Oft Pedestrian Public Stairs of Queen Anne Hill" at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 28, at the Queen Anne Library Branch. The Powerpoint presentation will be part of the Queen Anne Historical Society's annual meeting. Horton, who lives in Queen Anne, has created a map that looks like something out of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, with decorative and elaborate artwork, woodland creatures, a sea serpent and a secret message. Kim Turner of the historical society and the Seattle Public Library were instrumental in helping Horton proof the map. He plans on selling the map for $5 and will make it available through the historical society after the presentation.He hopes that the map and the presentation will encourage people to discover Seattle's 600 public staircases. "It would be great," Horton said, "if this map served as a model for somebody else to go out and engage their neighborhood and provide another reason for people to get out and get walking."[[In-content Ad]]