Hard Times Shoe Shines

Street performance

One of Tacoma's most historically significant, and iconic building has sat largely empty for over 50 years. 
Tacoma's beautiful Old City Hall (built 1892) is on Washington Trust's Most Endangered Properties List.  This iconic building can be found on countless postcards, posters, and websites yet it has sat largely empty for over 50 years.

"I sat down on the makeshift seat of stacked crates for a quick shoe shine and to hear his story" writes Kari Vandraiss. "An intrepid artist, activist and shoe cobbler, Gabriel Brown is familiar with being down on luck, having been laid off from four jobs in the past few years. He decided to dress like City Hall because 'It is the most beautiful historic building in town, and it’s empty,' he says. 'It needed a job.'" Click here for full article by Kari Vandraiss

Writer Marisa Petrich states "When the Tacoma Mall was built in 1965 the landscape of the city began to change. So did the stores and products that were available. Brown is trying to get back to basics, or at the very least remind people what they are. 'It's my subtle way of fiercely rebelling against mass production and disposable shoes,' he said as he set up shop at the market. The idea was inspired by the Hope in Hard Times exhibit currently on display at the Washington State History Museum, which focuses on Washington in the Great Depression. Even his suit, which he made of foam and old political signs, was a strategic choice." Click here for full article by Marisa Petrich.