Seattle and King County Milestones

  • By HistoryLink Staff
  • Posted 10/27/2004
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7110

Pre-1851

  • Earthquake of enormous magnitude hits the Pacific Northwest coast on January 26, 1700

  • Smallpox epidemic ravages Native Americans on the northwest coast of North America in the 1770s

  • Capt. Vancouver explores and names Puget Sound in 1792

  • Hudson's Bay Company establishes first Puget Sound post in 1833

  • Capt. Wilkes surveys and names Elliott Bay in 1841

  • Great Britain cedes control of Oregon Country to the United States in 1846

  • Congress creates Oregon Territory (including Washington and Idaho) in 1848

  • Donation Land Claims Act takes effect on September 27, 1850, spurring American settlement of Oregon Territory.

1851-1860

  • Collins, Van Asselt, and Mapel select first legal Donation Land Claims in King County on September 16, 1851

  • Denny Party lands at Alki beach on November 13, 1851

  • Denny Party select claims on site of Seattle on February 15, 1852

  • Most of Denny Party settlers relocate to present-day downtown Seattle in April 1852

  • Henry Yesler picks Seattle for Puget Sound's first steam-powered sawmill in fall of 1852

  • King County created on December 22, 1852

  • Manuel Lopes (1812-?) arrives and establishes Seattle's first black-owned business in 1852

  • Washington Territory created on March 2, 1853

  • Duwamish Coal Company established near Black River on October 20, 1853

  • Most Native American tribal leaders sign treaties in 1855

  • The Rev. David Blaine builds Seattle's first church in 1855

  • Native Americans attack Seattle on January 26, 1856

  • Population in King County in 1860 tops 300

1861-1870

  • Territorial University (University of Washington) opens on November 4, 1861

  • Catastrophic preventable smallpox epidemic kills 14,000 Northwest Coast Indians from April to December, 1862

  • Seattle's first newspaper, Seattle Gazette, is published in 1863

  • First group of Mercer's Maidens arrive in 1864

  • Transcontinental telegraph reaches Seattle in 1864

  • Chief Seattle dies in 1866

  • Snoqualmie Pass wagon road completed on October 7, 1867

  • U. S. Senate ratifies purchase of Alaska from Russia on April 9, 1867

  • City of Seattle incorporated (for second time) in 1869

  • Northern Pacific Railroad survey triggers land boom in 1870

  • 1870 Census: Population tops 1,100 in Seattle and 2,100 in King County in 1870

1871-1880

  • Coal train runs on first railroad in Western Washington on March 25, 1872

  • Schwabacher Brothers erect Seattle's first brick building in 1872

  • Coal gas lights Seattle streets, businesses, and homes for the first time on December 31, 1873

  • Northern Pacific Railroad picks Tacoma over Seattle for its western terminus in 1873

  • Construction of independent Seattle & Walla Walla Railroad begins in 1874

  • YMCA holds its first Seattle meeting on August 7, 1876

  • Telephone is demonstrated in Seattle in 1878

  • Squire's Opera House, Seattle's first theater, opens on November 24, 1879

  • 1880 Census: Population of King County nearly 7,000 and that of Seattle tops 3,500 in 1880

1881-1890

  • Lynch mob hangs three men in Seattle on January 18, 1882

  • Steamship, first to cross Pacific from Seattle, departs Seattle in December 1882

  • Women granted right to vote in city elections (later repealed and restored) 1883

  • Northern Pacific builds railroad spur from Tacoma to Seattle in 1884

  • Chinese people rounded up by Seattle mob on February 7, 1886

  • First electric generator demonstrated in 1886

  • Ferry service starts between Seattle and West Seattle on December 24, 1888

  • Washington is admitted as the 42nd state to the United States of America on November 11, 1889

  • Electric trolley line in Seattle begins regular service on March 31, 1889

  • Most of Seattle burns to the ground on June 6, 1889

  • 1890 Census: Population of King County tops 63,000 and that of Seattle tops 42,000 in 1890

1891-1900

  • Seattle University forerunner, St. Francis Hall, opens in February 1891

  • Annexation of north-of-downtown communities doubles Seattle's size on May 3, 1891

  • Transcontinental travel from Seattle begins on June 11, 1893

  • Panic of 1893 sends King County into a four year depression on May 5, 1893

  • Classes begin at new University of Washington campus in 1895

  • Japanese shipping firm begins regular run between Seattle and Japan on August 31, 1896

  • Steamship docks in Seattle, with ton of gold, from Klondike on June 17, 1897

  • First phase of Denny Hill regrade completed in 1899

  • Seattle's first automobile, a Woods Electric, arrives in 1900

  • Weyerhaeuser buys Northwest forests in one of history's largest land deals in 1900

  • Population of Seattle tops 80,000 and that of King County tops 110,000 in 1900

1901-1910

  • Seattle's first Sephardic Jews arrive in 1902

  • Seattle Symphony Orchestra performs for the first time 1903

  • Olmsted arrives in Seattle to design city parks in April, 1903

  • Alaska Building, Seattle's first steel-framed skyscraper, is completed in 1904

  • Cedar River Power Plant, first municipally owned power plant in the United States, starts on January 10, 1905

  • Carnegie-funded Public Library opens in downtown Seattle in 1906

  • Seattle's King Street station opens on May 10, 1906

  • American Messenger Service, forerunner of UPS, begins in Seattle's Pioneer Square on August 28, 1907

  • Pike Place Market in Seattle opens on August 17, 1907

  • Seattle annexes six towns including Ballard and West Seattle in 1907

  • Seattle's first "world's fair," Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held in 1909

  • Transcontinental auto race ends in Seattle on June 23, 1909

  • Women in Washington state win the vote on November 8, 1910

  • An airplane flies in Seattle for the first time in 1910

  • Seattle City Light created in 1910

  • Train disaster at Wellington kills 96 on March 1, 1910

  • 1910 Census: Census counts population of 240,000 in Seattle and 284,000 in King County in 1910

1911-1920

  • King County voters create Port of Seattle in 1911

  • Seattle voters reject Virgil Bogue's comprehensive Plan of Seattle in 1912

  • Smith Tower, tallest building west of Mississippi, opens in 1914

  • William E. Boeing builds his first airplane in 1916

  • Washington voters prohibit sale and possession of alcohol in 1916

  • Lake Washington Ship Canal is completed on May 8, 1917

  • Stanley Cup won by Seattle Metropolitan hockey team on March 26, 1917

  • Seattle takes over ownership and operation of the streetcar system on April 1, 1919

  • General strike paralyzes Seattle for a week in February 1919

  • Radio Station, Western Washington's first, starts broadcasting in 1920

  • 1920 Census: Population of Seattle tops 315,000 and that of King County nears 390,000 in 1920

1921-1930

  • President Harding drops dead shortly after visiting Seattle in 1924

  • Community bonds fund construction of Olympic Hotel in 1924

  • Seattle elects Bertha K. Landes as first woman mayor of a major U.S. city in 1926

  • Boeing begins forming United Airlines in 1927

  • Boeing Field, Seattle's first municipal airport, opens on July 26, 1928

  • Stock market crash halts downtown building boom in 1929

  • Final phase of Denny Regrade completed in 1930

  • Population of Seattle tops 365,000 and that of King County tops 460,000 in 1930

1931-1940

  • Aurora Bridge completed in 1932

  • "Hooverville" shantytown forms south of Pioneer Square in early 1932

  • Seattle Art Museum opens in Volunteer Park on June 23, 1933

  • West Coast waterfront strike spreads to Seattle harbor in 1934

  • Boeing 247, first modern airliner, debuts in 1933

  • Prototype of Boeing B-17 makes maiden flight in 1935

  • Strike shuts down Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1936

  • Lake Washington Floating Bridge opens in 1940

  • 1940 Census: Population of Seattle stagnates at 368,000 and that of King County tops 500,000 in 1940

1941-1950

  • Trackless trolleys and buses replace streetcars in Seattle Transit System on April 13, 1941

  • Japanese Americans are ordered to evacuate Seattle on April 21, 1942

  • Boeing intensifies production of bombers at Boeing and Renton factories in 1940s, and hires large numbers of women and African American workers for the first time

  • Boeing B-29s drop atomic bombs on Japan, August 6, 1945, ending World War II

  • University of Washington opens a medical school on October 2, 1946

  • Canwell Commission begins investigating "Un-American Activities" in 1947

  • First wide-audience TV broadcast is seen around Puget Sound on November 25, 1948

  • Severe earthquake rattles region on April 13, 1949

  • Port of Seattle dedicates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 1949

  • 1950 Census: Population of Seattle tops 465,000 and that of King County tops 730,000 in 1950

1951-1960

  • First summer "Seafair" held in 1951

  • First stage of Alaskan Way Viaduct, first downtown "freeway," opens in 1953

  • Bellevue incorporates in 1953

  • Seattle expands to its present boundaries in 1954

  • Boeing 707 prototype makes maiden flight on July 15, 1954

  • King County voters approve "Metro" plan to clean up Lake Washington in 1958

  • UW scientist collects blood sample of first documented case of HIV in 1959

  • Port of Seattle expansion is approved by King County voters on November 8, 1960

  • Population of Seattle tops 550,000 and that of King County tops 925,000 in 1960

1961-1970

  • President Kennedy delivers major policy speech at UW on November 16, 1961

  • Seattle voters elect first Asian American, Wing Luke, to City Council in 1962

  • Seattle "Century 21" World's Fair is held in 1962

  • Teamster President Dave Beck (1894-1993) goes to prison on June 20, 1962

  • Second Lake Washington Floating Bridge opens in 1963

  • Washington State Commission on the Status of Women is formed on February 20, 1963

  • Open housing referendum fails in Seattle in 1964

  • Major earthquake rattles King County on April 29, 1965

  • Seattle voters elect first African American, Sam Smith, to City Council on November 7, 1967

  • Helix, Seattle's first underground newspaper, debuts on March 23, 1967

  • King County voters adopt new "home rule" charter in November 5, 1968

  • King County voters approve Kingdome and reject rail transit in "Forward Thrust" election of 1968

  • Boeing-built Saturn booster sends Apollo 11 on first moon-landing mission in 1969

  • First Boeing 747 flies in 1969

  • Anti-war "Freeway March" blocks Interstate-5 in 1970

  • Jimi Hendrix dies in London 1970 and is buried in Renton

  • Population of Seattle dwindles to 530,000, less than half of total King County population of 1,150,000, in 1970

1971-1980

  • Aerospace recession and "Boeing Bust" on September 18, leads to massive layoffs in 1971

  • Seattle voters save Pike Place Public Market from demolition in 1971

  • Dan Cooper parachutes from skyjacked jetliner on November 24, 1971

  • King County voters approve creation of Metro Transit on September 19, 1972

  • Ruby Chow becomes first Asian American elected to King County Council in November 1973
  • Native American treaty fishing rights are affirmed by Federal Judge George Boldt on February 12, 1974

  • Dorothy Hollingsworth is elected to Seattle School Board in 1975, becoming first African American woman to serve on school board in Washington state
  • Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees relocate in King County

  • Kingdome opens to a crowd of 54,000 on March 27, 1976

  • Seattle City Council rejects investment in "WPPPS" nuclear reactors on July 12, 1976

  • Freighter Chavez rams West Seattle Bridge on June 11, 1978

  • Seattle voters uphold gay and lesbian rights in 1978

  • Seattle SuperSonics win NBA championship in 1979

  • Mount St. Helens erupts on May 18, 1980, but ash cloud spares Seattle area

  • Population of Seattle drops below 500,000 and that of King County increases to 1,250,000 in 1980

1981-1990

  • Fourteen patrons of Wah Mee gambling parlor massacred in 1983

  • Columbia Seafirst Center, tallest building in Seattle, opens doors to first tenants on March 2, 1985

  • Ron Sims becomes first African American elected to the King County Council in November, 1985
  • Microsoft sells first public shares on March 13, 1986

  • Washington State Convention¬†& Trade Center officially opens on June 23, 1988

  • Serial killer Ted Bundy dies in the electric chair in Florida on January 24, 1989

  • Norm Rice wins election as Seattle's first African American mayor on November 7, 1989

  • Ted Turner's Goodwill Games open in Seattle on July 20, 1990

  • Bus service begins in downtown Seattle transit tunnel on September 15, 1990

  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center researcher Dr. E. Donnall Thomas wins 1990 Nobel Prize for pioneering bone marrow transplants

  • Original Lake Washington Floating Bridge sinks on November 25, 1990

  • Population of King County exceeds 1.5 million and Seattle rebounds to 515,000 in 1990

1991-2000

  • Velma Veloria first Asian American to be elected to the Washington State Legislature on November 3, 1992

  • Gary Locke becomes first Asian American to be elected King County Executive on November 2, 1993

  • President Clinton convenes APEC summit on Blake Island on November 20, 1993

  • Seattle Mariners win the American League West pennant on October 2, 1995

  • Sound Transit plan clears second vote on November 5, 1996

  • State Legislature approves funds for Mariners Stadium in 1996

  • Seattle voters approve extension of Monorail in 1997

  • Ron Sims elected first African American King County Executive in November, 1997
  • Seattle voters approve "Libraries for All"¬†bonds in 1998

  • Puget Sound salmon stocks listed as endangered species in March 1999

  • Federal judge declares Microsoft a monopoly on November 5, 1999

  • Safeco Field wins, Mariners lose, in stadium debut on July 15, 1999

  • Seattle hosts WTO Ministerial Conference in November 1999

  • Swedish Hospital merges with Providence Hospital and discontinues elective abortions on February 29, 2000

  • Kingdome is imploded on March 26, 2000


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