CATEGORIES On the Scene
It's hardly as iconic as the Space Needle, but the Coryell Court Apartments draw a fair share of Seattle tourists: In 1992, it was home to a handful of twenty-somethings looking for love in Cameron Crowe's 'Singles.'
Set against the backdrop of Seattle's exploding grunge scene, the film boasts cameos from local music gods Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell, but the biggest extended cameo was the apartment building where most of the main characters including Bridget Fonda, Matt Dillon, and Campbell Scott -- all lived, loved and listened to a killer soundtrack of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix and Alice in Chains.
Location as Character: The connecting factor in this '90s classic: the two-story brick apartment building of "singles" (e.g. "one-bedroom apartments") where our characters' paths cross on a daily basis. Janet (Bridget Fonda) lives in an upstairs unit and crushes on self-absorbed lead singer Cliff (Matt Dillon), who fronts the fictional band Citizen Dick. (The rest of his band: Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam. Here's a clip of them reading a less-then-stellar review in the now-defunct local music mag, The Rocket.)
Remember the closing scene in the elevator where Cliff tells Janet "Bless you," after she sneezes, thus making her realize he is the guy for her after all? (The scene starts at 5:44 of this clip.) It wasn't filmed here. Since the building's only two stories, there's no elevator, says Seattleite Suzanne Asprea, who lived there from 2000 to 2008 (her second-story apartment wasn't featured in the film). Other inventions for the movie, says Asprea, who didn't live there during filming but got the scoop from previous tenants: "The fountain was styrofoam and it never held water. Matt Dillon's 'apartment' was actually in the basement laundry room and storage area. I think they put posters or rugs up to cover the electric meters in the movie." During shooting, the residents were put up in a local hotel.
Historical Significance: It's not a historic landmark, but the building does date back to the '20s (1928, to be exact) like many brick buildings in the neighborhood that miraculously have not been torn down to build condos. The apartment's name -- Coryell Court -- comes from the alley it borders (also called Coryell Court, which is named after 19th-century Seattle attorney and City Council member George Coryell). Crowe was just spotted filming a segment there for an upcoming documentary on Pearl Jam.
Directions: The building is located at 1820 E. Thomas, on the backside of Capitol Hill, which lies just east of Seattle's downtown. From the South, take the Olive Way exit on I-5. Continue to E. John St, turn left on 15th Ave. and then take the first right onto E. Thomas.
Visitor Info: Unless you know a tenant or there's a "For Rent" sign up (as we learned in the film, people come and go all the time), you won't be able to get into one of the apartments. But the courtyard isn't gated and you're perfectly welcome to stand across the street and take photos. Just don't expect Chris Cornell to come walking down the steps while you're there.