In the heart of a city credited with redirecting the ways we work, connect and invest our minds, money and imaginations—Seattle is home to Microsoft, Amazon, Costco, Boeing and Starbucks after all—the sound was utterly out of place. It was a throbbing, mechanical basso profundo, an aural aberration in this click-clickety digital temple. And it repeated throughout the day, coming from just outside my hotel’s front door. It was a sound from a time long past, the ...

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