On September 12, 1988, Seattleites and citizens of the Soviet city of Tashkent dedicate the Seattle-Tashkent Peace Park built in Tashkent by volunteers from both cities. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tashkent, a 2,000-year-old city with a population of more than two million, became the capital of independent Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is located in central Asia near Afghanistan and China. The dedication of the Peace Park takes place simultaneously in Tashkent and at the Seattle Center, with the two groups of celebrants speaking via telephone.
During the summer of 1988, 175 volunteers, mostly from King County, Washington, traveled 6,000 miles to the Soviet Union to help build the park. Thousands who stayed home helped by decorating tiles that were then sent to Tashkent to become part of the park. The 10,000 or so tiles, made mostly by Seattle school children, line irrigation channels that lead to fruit trees.
At the Seattle Center dedication, 1,000 celebrants lighted candles. Seattle mayor Charles Royer said, "I feel very proud of my community tonight" (Broom). Rosanne Royer, the mayor's wife and chair of the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Association, was in Tashkent with the celebrants there.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, became a sister city to Seattle on January 22, 1973. It is the largest city in Central Asia. Tashkent is situated on the legendary Silk Road trade route that connected China and Europe for 13 centuries. In 1220, the city became part of the Genghis Khan empire and in 1865 part of the Russian empire. With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tashkent became the capital of independent Uzbekistan.
In 1966, an earthquake destroyed much of the city. Since then, rebuilding has transformed Tashkent into an industrial and cultural hub with a diverse economy. Irrigation projects have turned desert into land producing fruit, vegetables, and cotton.
The Seattle volunteers who helped built the Peace Park were from the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Association chaired by Rosanne Royer; the Seattle chapter of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility; the Washington chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects; and Ploughshares, an organization of Seattleites who had served in the Peace Corps.
Ceramics artist Steve Roache volunteered many hours to oversee the firing and glazing of the tiles. Sculptor Richard Beyer (well-known for such sculptures as Cow, a life-size bovine seated on a bench at the farmers' market in Ellensburg, and Waiting for the Interurban, a group of figures standing in the Seattle neighborhood of Fremont), contributed a 20-foot-high sculpture to the Seattle-Tashkent Peace Park titled Life, Love, Time and Game.