Since receiving his honorary degree in 2013, many Bowdoin students have ogled over Patrick Dempsey. But perhaps now is the time to reflect on the people from McDreamy’s non-Bowdoin home. 

Claire McCarthy ’18 and Philip Kiefer ’18 both grew up in Seattle and described their childhoods in the rainy, green city as very typical.

“When I was a young child, I had the quintessential childhood: awesome, huge backyard, dog and cats. And we would play in the streets. It was the classic childhood,” McCarthy said. “But once I was a teenager, I had access to the more urban lifestyle and experiences. All my friends lived in the city. So I kind of moved away from the suburban lifestyle. It was like the things I had the option to do expanded and I got to choose and in a way I got to live both a suburban and an urban lifestyle.”

The influence of the urban lifestyle on Seattle as a whole seems to be transforming the city, especially with the influx of tech companies.

“The tech industry has brought a very different group of people into Seattle, a lot of millennials, a lot of people starting their careers in tech. It’s brought a lot of diversity into Seattle, and also, a lot of wealth,” said McCarthy. “The tech startups have been huge especially for people who have grown up in Seattle and lived there their whole life so they want to come back and live there as adults.”

Kiefer also felt the ways in which the tech boom on the West Coast was painting his home in a certain way.

“I went to school with a ton of kids of Microsoft execs and Amazon people. I think it’s really interesting to read about the role of technology in the world and then see who it actually is creating that stuff and Seattle is experiencing incredible growth because of the growth of Amazon,” he said. “It’s kind of like seeing that human side to the Silicon Valley, seeing that the internet isn’t this abstract thing. It’s this thing built by the people largely in Seattle and Silicon Valley and Boston, to a certain extent.”

Kiefer, too, began to see the growing effects of the tech industry on his life and not all of them were positive.

“But, honestly, that isn’t doing great things for the city. The way the city has gentrified in the last five to 10 years because of the explosive growth of the tech industry has driven out a lot of that diversity that I think sets the West apart,” he said. 

The gentrification can also be seen by the ways the tech industry has affected the socio-economic diversity of the city as well.

“A lot of people are saying that this booming tech industry that we have in Seattle is kind of pushing out the middle class a little bit. And a lot of the neighborhoods in Seattle that historically may not have been the greatest neighborhoods are now located in central locations in relation to the tech companies,” said McCarthy. “So we’re seeing a lot more wealth move through those areas and like for the community as a whole, it’s been a great boost to the local economy and small businesses. But at the same time some of these communities are losing a lot of their culture.”

Yet, McCarthy sees the city actively working to change and to maintain a semblance of the same city.

“I think it’s important to have Seattle maybe look at Silicon Valley, maybe see what they did wrong. Yes, they have amazing economic opportunities there and an amazing tech boom there but it’s almost entirely reserved for white males between the ages of 25 and 35. I think that the leaders in Seattle are looking at that really closely and making sure Seattle doesn’t turn into that,” said McCarthy. 

In fact, with the influx of new wealth being poured into the Seattle economy and the growing job opportunities in the city, McCarthy sees the new industry as a positive influence on Seattle.
“I think a lot of people look at what’s happening in Seattle right now and say it’s the tech companies, but the tech companies are actually providing a lot of opportunity across the board,” said McCarthy.

Both Kiefer and McCarthy, throughout the changes still see the city they love for all its central characteristics that so innately shape it.

“Seattle is a fairly green city. Pretty much anywhere you turn there’s like a giant lake or the ocean. Just geographically nature is definitely a contributing factor to life there,” Kiefer said. “You can get up in the winter and everything will smell salty and it’s kind of misty and you can look out onto the ocean and it’s just lightly covered in fog. And that’s kind of a physical feeling that I miss. But it’s more just the experience of being in that place.”