The origins of Seattle Community College can be traced to 1946. Returning World War II veterans who wanted to earn their high school diplomas were not blending well into conventional high schools. The Seattle School District converted Broadway High School into Edison Technical School. Demand grew both for vocational training and for courses that would allow admission to four-year colleges. Seattle became the only place in the nation where adults could earn their high school diplomas during the day or at night.
With the opening of Seattle Community College, two campuses, one north and one south were planned to absorb the student population. South Seattle Community College opened in the fall of 1970 at 6000 16th Avenue SW in West Seattle. North Seattle Community College opened that same term at 9600 College Way N, near Northgate. The Broadway High School site evolved into Seattle Central Community College. The Jackson Vocational Institute opened at 2120 S Jackson Street.
In 2001, Seattle Community College ranks in size in the state only behind the University of Washington.