Hayburners to Interurbans
1884: Frank Osgood builds Seattle's first horse-drawn street railway on 2nd Avenue.
1886: Seattle's first electric generator is demonstrated.
1887: Lake Washington Cable Railway links Leschi and Pioneer Square.
1889: Osgood introduces city's first electric streetcars; work begins on interurban railroad between Seattle and Georgetown.
1893: Economic depression bankrupts many streetcar lines serving outer neighborhoods such as Rainier Valley and Ravenna.
1900: Stone & Webster utility cartel (ancestor of Puget Sound Energy) buys up Seattle streetcar lines and wins 35-year city franchise; King County's first automobile arrives.
1902: Seattle voters approve future municipal electric plant on the Cedar River; Stone & Webster opens electric interurban rail service between Tacoma and Seattle.
1910: Seattle City Light is organized to provide public power; Stone & Webster completes interurban line between Seattle and Everett. Private developers also float stock for an interurban monorail.
1914: Voters approve purchase of Rainier Valley interurban line but its owners balk and funds are spent to build streetcar line to Ballard.
1918: Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson agrees to buy Stone & Webster's Seattle streetcar lines at an inflated price.
1920: Fearing a monopoly “Concrete Trust,” voters soundly reject first proposed state bond issue for highway construction for $30 million. (The state would not use bonds for road construction until the Great Depression.)
1922: State Supreme Court bans use of non-fare revenue to pay off Seattle's streetcar debt, dooming the system to eventual bankruptcy.
1928: Highway 99 completed between Tacoma and Seattle, ending interurban service.
1932: State builds Aurora Bridge without streetcar tracks.
1939: Seattle-Everett interurban service ends. Seattle voters to retain streetcars but national automakers block needed financing.
1940: Federal government loans Seattle $10 million to retire streetcar debt and fund new bus and trackless trolley system. First Lake Washington Floating Bridge opens.
1941: Last Seattle streetcar completes its run and tracks are torn up and sold for scrap.
1951: Washington State takes over private Blackball ferry system. Last Kirkland-Seattle ferry ends service.
1952: King County voters reject proposed "home rule" charter, which includes regional transit authority; region’s first shopping center opens at Northgate.
1953: Bellevue incorporates as a city of 10,000.
1953: First section of Alaskan Way viaduct opens.
1956: Federal government establishes interstate highway program.
The Birth and Death of Metro Transit
1958: Suburban voters reject first "Metro" plan that includes transit service, but approve second plan limited to waste treatment.
1962: Seattle's Monorail opens for World's Fair; most of Interstate-5 completed through Seattle; voters reject Metro request for transit planning authority.
1963: Evergreen Point Floating Bridge opens a year late.
1965: Metro leader James Ellis calls for "Forward Thrust" to manage growth through regional improvements and transit. Interstate-5 completed between Everett and Tacoma.
1967: First Puget Sound Regional Transportation Plan rules out rail transit in favor new highways and roads.
1968: King County voters approve 7 of 12 Forward Thrust bond issues, but reject 47-mile rail transit plan costing $1.15 billion ($385 million local).
1970: Second Forward Thrust rail plan fails amid Boeing Bust, and reserved federal funds are allocated to Atlanta; for the first time, the census counts more King County residents living outside Seattle than within.
1971: Expansion of I-90 halted due to inadequate environmental impact statement.
1972: King County voters approve Metro Transit plan limited to bus service; Seattle voters scrap R. H. Thomson Expressway and reject Bay Freeway.
1973: Metro Transit introduces "ride-free" zone in downtown Seattle.
1981: Puget Sound Council of Governments (now Regional Council) renews rail transit planning.
1982: George Benson’s Waterfront Streetcar enters service (it is extended in 1990; City Councilman Benson also saved the Monorail during the Westlake Center development and championed installation of rails in the downtown bus tunnel).
1983: Metro approves construction of downtown transit tunnel for new "dual-mode" electric-diesel buses.
1985: King County passes first true growth management plan to combat sprawl.
1990: State Legislature approves expanded growth management powers and planning for Puget Sound rapid transit system; downtown transit tunnel opens; Federal Judge William Dwyer rules Metro Council unconstitutional; original Lake Washington floating bridge sinks during repairs.
1992: Voters approve King County's absorption of Metro services effective 1994; State completes last mile of Interstate-90 at cost of $1.2 billion.
Light Rail Rules
1993: King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties form Regional Transit Authority (RTA, future Sound Transit).
1995: First RTA plan, costing $6.7 billion, fails to win needed three-county majority for new taxes.
1996: Revised "Sound Transit" plan, costing $3.9 billion, passes.
1997: Seattle voters approve Initiative 43 to establish Elevated Transportation Co. (ETC) to study and build a citywide monorail system.
1999: State Initiative 695 slashes automobile excise tax revenue for transportation, but does not affect special Sound Transit taxes.
2000: Seattle voters approve Initiative 52 to fund additional Monorail plan for resubmission to voters. Top Sound Transit executives resign amid revelations of massive cost overruns.
2002: Voters reject Referendum 51 plan to raise gas taxes for $8 billion in state transportation improvements while approving Tim Eyman's Initiative 776, which cuts motor vehicle taxes. Seattle voters narrowly approve a new Seattle Popular Monorail Authority to build a 14-mile system.
2004: Opponents of the planned third runway at Sea-Tac Airport abandon further legal challenges. City of Seattle and Washington State Department of Transportation select tunnel design as preferred alternative to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
2005: Legislature approves $8.5 billion in transportation taxes and voters reject initiative to repeal the taxes. Sound Transit installs the first rails for the Central Link light-rail line from south of downtown Seattle to the airport. Following cost overruns and revenue shortfalls, city voters kill the Seattle Monorail project they supported in four earlier votes.
2006: Governor Chris Gregoire calls for Seattle voters to decide between a $2.8 billion new elevated structure and a $4.6 billion tunnel as the replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.