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Allied Arts of Seattle
Allied Arts of Seattle is one of the city's most influential advocates for urban design and the arts. It grew out of the Beer & Culture Society, a small circle of academics, architects, and artists who first met in early 1952. On October 3, 1954, they convened a Congress of the Arts that established Allied Arts as a permanent organization to advocate for public funding of the arts, better urban planning and architecture, and other civic improvements. Allied Arts has since played leadership roles in promoting the creation of the Seattle Arts Commission; the development of Seattle Center; the preservation of Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and other historic landmarks; and other causes.
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Century 21 -- The 1962 Seattle World's Fair, Part 1
The 1962 Seattle World's Fair, otherwise known as Century 21, gave visitors a glimpse of the future and left Seattle with a lasting legacy. The exposition gave Seattle world-wide recognition, effectively "putting it on the map." Years of planning went into the fair through the hard work of visionaries, go-getters, civic boosters, and dreamers. Many of the concepts and icons of Century 21 remain ingrained in Seattle culture, even as the "real" 21st Century begins.
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Century 21 -- The 1962 Seattle World's Fair, Part 2
To many, there never was a fair to compare to the Seattle World's Fair, or Century 21. Between April 21 and October 21, 1962, close to 10 million people visited the fair to climb the Space Needle, ride the Monorail, see the exhibits, take in a show, and enjoy the food, fun, and festivities. Maybe one of these people was you.
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Chief Seattle (Seattle, Chief Noah [born si?al, 178?-1866])
Chief Seattle, or si?al in his native Lushootseed language, led the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes as the first Euro-American settlers arrived in the greater Seattle area in the 1850s. Baptized Noah by Catholic missionaries, Seattle was regarded as a "firm friend of the Whites," who named the region's future central city in his honor. He was a respected leader among Salish tribes, signing the Point Elliott (Mukilteo) Treaty of 1855, which relinquished tribal claims to most of the area, and opposing Native American attempts to dislodge settlers during the "Indian Wars" of 1855-1856. Chief Seattle retired to the Suquamish Reservation at Port Madison, and died there on June 7, 1866. This essay includes a sound recording of the correct pronunciation of Chief Seattle's name, provided by Skagit elder Vi Hilbert (1918-2008).
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Chief Seattle -- his Lushootseed name and other important words pronounced in Lushootseed by Vi Hilbert
In this sound recording, renowned Skagit elder Vi Hilbert (1918-2008) correctly pronounces Chief Seattle's name and other common names in Lushootseed, the language of the several Coast Salish peoples. The recording was done on December 7, 2006, by Janet Yoder, a longtime student of Hilbert's and who has written on her life and work in preserving the Lushootseed language. The file also contains a transcription of the tape.
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Columbia City (Seattle) Tour
This is a guided photographic tour of Columbia City, an historic Seattle neighborhood and designated landmark. Also available as a printable walking tour
(PDF format). Written by Cassandra Tate. Produced by Chris Goodman. Historical photographs provided by the Rainier Valley Historical Society and Paul Dorpat, with funding from the City of Seattle.
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Japanese Americans in Seattle and King County
For more than a hundred years, Japanese Americans have made significant contributions to the commercial, cultural, and social history of Seattle and King County. Early immigrants arrived just before the turn of the century to work on railroads and in sawmills and canneries, eking out a living while enduring discrimination in immigration, employment, and housing. Others turned to farming, converting land covered with marshes and tree stumps into productive cropland.
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Lake Union (Seattle) Tour
This is a tour of Seattle's historic South Lake Union neighborhood, including the Cascade neighborhood and portions of the Denny Regrade. It was written and curated by Paula Becker with the assistance of Walt Crowley and Paul Dorpat. Map by Marie McCaffrey. Preparation of this feature was underwritten by Vulcan Inc., a Paul G. Allen Company. This tour begins at Lake Union Park, then loosely follows the course of the Westlake Streetcar, with forays into the Cascade neighborhood and into the Seattle Center area. It was updated in 2012
Also available as a printable walking tour
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Lake Washington Ship Canal
After decades of often-rancorous debate, construction of a ship canal to link Lake Washington and Puget Sound finally began in 1911. Following the failure of several private canal schemes, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gen. Hiram M. Chittenden (1858-1917), advanced the project, and his name was later given to the Government Locks linking the Sound and Salmon Bay at Ballard. The canal required digging cuts between Salmon Bay and Lake Union at Fremont and between Lake Union and Lake Washington at Montlake, and building four bascule bridges at Fremont, Ballard, the University District, and Montlake. The Locks officially opened on July 4, 1917, but the canal was not declared complete until 1934.
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Now & Then -- Seattle's Fremont Bridge
This file contains Seattle historian and photographer Paul Dorpat's Now & Then photographs and reflections on the Fremont Bridge. The bridge crosses the Lake Washington Canal, connecting Seattle's Fremont Neighborhood with Queen Anne on the other side.
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Olmsted Park Plans for Seattle Tour
This is a tour of the parks, playfields, and boulevards laid out by famed landscape designer John Charles Olmsted in his 1903 and 1908 plans for the Seattle Parks Board. It was prepared by HistoryLink with Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks to commemorate the centennial of John C. Olmsted's arrival in Seattle on April 30, 1903. Original map art by Marie McCaffery.
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Olmsted Parks in Seattle
The majority of Seattle's parks were designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm. John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920), the stepson of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), who designed Central Park, was the firm's principal designer in Seattle. His 1903 master plan laid out a 20-mile-long greensward of parks and boulevards that ran from Seward Park along Lake Washington and across the city via Woodland Park to Discovery Park. Olmsted also designed the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909 and the Highlands subdivision. (The Highlands is a "gated community" on Puget Sound immediately north of the Seattle City Limits.) He is credited with introducing the playground concept to the city.
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Seattle’s venerable Parker's Ballroom (which opened in 1930 on the "New Seattle-Everett Highway," now known as Aurora Avenue N) held a unique place in Northwest music history. Like a few other local dancehalls, it spanned all of the sequential musical era’s from the wild jazz days of the Prohibition Era right on up through the forties swing scene, from the rise of rock ‘n’ roll in the fifties, to the psychedelic sixties, and onwards to the heavy metal, disco, and punk rock scenes of the seventies. Unlike most other historic dancehalls, Parker’s survived into the twenty-first century before being demolished in 2012.
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Seattle -- A Brief History of Its Founding
Seattle was founded by members of the Denny party,
most of whom arrived at Alki Beach on November 13, 1851
and then, in April 1852, relocated to the eastern
shore of Elliott Bay. With the filing of the first
plats on May 23, 1853, the "Town of Seattle" became official.
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Seattle -- Thumbnail History
Seattle is the largest city in Washington state and its economic capital. Settled in 1851, its deep harbor and acquisition of Puget Sound's first steam-powered sawmill quickly established it as a center of trade and industry. It gained the Territorial University (now University of Washington) in 1861, but was snubbed by the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1874 when it picked Tacoma as its western terminus. Despite this, the town prospered thanks to independent railroad development fueled by local coal deposits. It recovered quickly from its Great Fire of 1889, but languished during the aftermath of the economic Panic of 1893 until rescued by the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. In 1907, Seattle doubled in area with annexations of Ballard, West Seattle, and Southeast Seattle, and in 1909 held its first world's fair, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. Its population topped a quarter of a million in 1910, which grew to 365,000 by 1930. A strong "labor town," Seattle was the scene of the nation's first general strike in 1919. Hit hard by the Great Depression, the economy rebounded with World War II and orders for Boeing bombers and naval warships. Its large "Japan Town" was interned and largely supplanted by the migration of thousands of African American defense workers. Seattle marked its postwar prosperity in 1962 by hosting a second world's fair, the Century 21 Exposition, which gave the city the Space Needle, Monorail, and Seattle Center. Seattle's population reached 565,000 in 1965, then stalled. The "Boeing Bust" of the early 1970s depressed the economy, which was rescued by construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. The subsequent expansion of investment in aviation, computer software, international trade, regional tourism, biotechnology, telecommunications, and other fields have helped to diversify and energize Seattle's economic, political, and cultural leadership. The city's population has resumed growing and passed 575,000 in 2005.
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Seattle 1907: a Milestone Year
In 1907, the City of Seattle annexed the municipalities of West Seattle, Ballard, South Park, Southeast Seattle, and Columbia City as well as Ravenna Park and vicinity and unincorporated southeast neighborhoods, thereby doubling its land area amid a dramatic surge in population. The year 1907 also witnessed the establishment of a number of major institutions including Pike Place Public Market, Children's Orthopedic Hospital, and Moore Theatre. The year saw the founding of the future United Parcel Service and the completion of St. James Cathedral and the Home of the Good Shepherd. Finally, groundbreaking for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition on the University of Washington Campus took place on June 1, 1907. These landmark events were recapped in a series of eight large exhibit panels written by Alan J. Stein and designed by Marie McCaffrey for the Mayor's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. The panel graphics are here reduced in size and reproduced as PDFs for online viewing.
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Seattle and King County Milestones
This is a chronological list of milestones in Seattle and King County History.
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Seattle and King County's First Non-Indian Settlers
In the vicinity of the Duwamish River and Elliott Bay where in 1851 the first U.S. settlers began building log cabins, the Duwamish tribe occupied at least 17 villages. The first non-Natives to settle the area were farmers who selected their claims on the Duwamish River on September 16, 1851, and brought household goods and family members to the claims on September 27, 1851. These original King County settlers were Luther Collins (1813-1860) and his family (Diana Collins and children Lucinda and Stephen), Henry Van Asselt (1817-1902), Jacob Mapel (or Maple) (1798-1884) and his son Samuel Mapel (or Maple) (1827-1880). Following shortly behind were the members of the Denny party: brothers Charles and Lee Terry, brothers Arthur and David Denny, the Low family, William Bell, Carson Boren and his two sisters Louisa Boren and Mary Boren Denny (married to Arthur). This essay gives a detailed chronology of the arrivals and settlements of the Collins party, the Denny party, and various other claimants to first settler such as John Holgate (1830-1868). It sifts various debates and assertions about who came when and what this meant.
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Seattle Central Waterfront, Part 1: Overview
Coast Salish Indians fished, hunted, and gathered shellfish along Elliott Bay for millennia before May 1792, when European sailors first gazed at the site of present-day Seattle. Sixty years later, U.S. settlers began building a sawmill and wharf on the muddy shores of today's Pioneer Square. Maritime trade was crucial from that first day, and Seattle's harbor defined and energized the city's development over the next century and a half. This overview summarizes the history of the Seattle waterfront. The evolution of individual piers is further elaborated in Parts 2 to 10.
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Seattle Central Waterfront, Part 2: From Coal to Containers, Piers 46, 47, and 48
Piers 46 and 47 are located south of Pioneer Square and Pier 48 is located directly west of Pioneer Square. Piers 46 and 47 serve as the Port of Seattle's vast loading apron for containers. Pier 48 is currently (2004) vacant pending possible expansion of the Washington State Ferry Terminal to the north, but visitors can find giant periscopes on its south side offering magnified views of the Port's container activity.
File 2481: Full Text >
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Seattle appears in print for the first time on October 30, 1852.
On October 30, 1852, the Olympia newspaper The Columbian
prints an advertisement for Dr. David S. Maynard's store, the "Seattle Exchange." This (and a notice in the same issue about Henry Yesler's sawmill) marks the first use of the name Seattle in print.
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Seattle residents celebrate July 4, 1854, and adopt names for Lake Union and Lake Washington.
On the Fourth of July, 1854, most of Seattle's few hundred residents gather to celebrate near a lake called Tenas Chuck ("little waters"). Thomas Mercer (1813-1898) addresses the group and proposes naming the larger lake to the east, known variously as Hyas Chuck, Geneva, and D'wamish, as Lake Washington. He also proposes renaming Tenas Chuck as Lake Union because he believes that a canal will ultimately connect it to Lake Washington and to Puget Sound.
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Seattle receives epithet Queen City in 1869.
In 1869, Russell and Ferry, a Portland real estate firm, gives Seattle the epithet the Queen City.
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A large cougar is shot in Seattle near Lake Union on about January 1, 1870.
On about January 1, 1870, C. Brownfield shoots and kills a "large panther" in "Pioneer Valley" in Seattle, near Lake Union. The animal, very likely a cougar, is 8 feet 9 inches long and weighs 300 pounds. It has recently killed a steer belonging to David Denny (1832-1903) at the south end of Lake Union and a heifer belonging to Thomas Mercer (1813-1898) whose farm is located near Denny's. In the early 1870s, King County settlers have persistent problems with cougars.
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Northern Pacific runs first train from Tacoma to Seattle on June 17, 1884.
On June 17, 1884, the first Northern Pacific Railroad train runs from Tacoma to Seattle, giving Seattle citizens hope of regular service between the two cities. Seattle passengers and Duwamish and White River farmers are quickly disappointed at the poor or nonexistent service, and the line is soon nicknamed the Orphan Road.
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Seattle burns down in the Great Fire on June 6, 1889.
At about 2:30 p.m. on June 6, 1889, a pot of glue bursts into flames in Victor Clairmont's cabinet shop at the corner of Front (1st Avenue) and Madison streets. Efforts to contain the fire fail and it quickly engulfs the wood-frame building. Thanks to a dry spring and a brisk wind, the flames soon spread, and volunteer firefighters tap out the town's inadequate, privately owned watermains. By sunset, Seattle's Great Fire has burned some 64 acres to smoldering ruins.
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Seattle authorizes extension of Seattle water to Fort Lawton on January 25, 1898.
On January 25, 1898, Seattle Ordinance 4764 authorizes the laying of a water main from Blaine Street and 3rd Avenue W to the Fort Lawton Army Post on Magnolia Bluff. This is the first system to run outside of city limits to supply water to a distant point. The system is more than 18,000 feet long, and runs through a six-inch pipe.
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Seattle Chamber of Commerce reports the waterfront highly developed on December 31, 1901.
On December 31, 1901, following a period of building on the waterfront to support the growing trade with Asia, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce reports: "Instead of the old irregular of wharfs and bunkers, there is now a complete chain of piers constructed along similar lines and in general conformity with each other ... . They represent a period of greatest development of the city" (Bermer, 23).
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Seattle annexes South Seattle on October 20, 1905.
On October 20, 1905, the Town of South Seattle is annexed to the City of Seattle. Seattle increases in size by .85 square miles.
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Seattle celebrates its 54th birthday and dedicates the Alki Point monument on November 13, 1905.
On November 13, 1905, the City of Seattle celebrates its 54th birthday by unveiling historic plaques throughout downtown, and by dedicating a granite monument on Alki Point, where the city's first settlers landed in 1851. In attendance for all the events are three surviving members of the landing party, as well as a host of some of Seattle's most notable individuals.
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Seattle annexes Ballard on May 29, 1907.
On May 29, 1907, the City of Ballard ceases to exist when it is annexed to Seattle, adding a new neighborhood to the northwest as well as 17,000 people to Seattle's population.
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Seattle City Light becomes an independent department on April 1, 1910.
On April 1, 1910, the Seattle City Council approves the creation of an independent Department of Lighting, later known as City Light. The new department is separated from the former Department of Light and Water, which had built the city's first hydroelectric dam at Cedar Falls in 1905, and it is made a full member of the Board of Public Works. James D. Ross (1872-1939) takes charge of the new department in 1911 and serves as its superintendent until 1934.
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Liberty Bell visits Everett, Seattle, and Tacoma on July 14, 1915.
On July 14, 1915, the Liberty Bell -- one of the United States's foremost symbols of freedom and independence -- visits Everett, Seattle, and Tacoma en route
to the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. The bell traveled the country by train, greeting throngs of joyous well-wishers in towns along the way. The crowds in Washington state are no exception.
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Seattle's Fremont Bridge opens to traffic on June 15, 1917.
On June 15, 1917, Seattle's Fremont Bridge, spanning the Lake Washington Ship Canal, opens to traffic. The bridge is built to connect the neighborhood of Fremont with the west side of Lake Union at the base of Queen Anne Hill. The Fremont Bridge is a bascule bridge with counterweight balancing and cantilevered "leafs" (the parts that raise and lower). It is painted blue and orange. The bridge clears the water by 30 feet and has opened and closed its double-leafed gates more than any other Seattle drawbridge. It is one of the busiest bascule bridges in the world.
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Seattle's University Bridge opens on July 1, 1919.
On July 1, 1919, the University Bridge, which connects Seattle's University District with Eastlake, is dedicated and opens to traffic. The bascule bridge crosses Lake Union where the lake connects with Portage Bay.
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Seattle City Council votes to build Aurora Avenue through Woodland Park on June 30, 1930.
On June 30, 1930, by a vote of six to two, the Seattle City Council approves an ordinance extending Aurora Avenue through Woodland Park. The Council majority follows the advice of city and state highway engineers, supported by Mayor Frank E. Edwards, that the multi-lane Aurora "speedway" is needed to provide a direct approach from the George Washington Memorial (Aurora Avenue) Bridge then under construction to north Seattle and beyond. The council decision to bisect Woodland Park's 200-acre urban wilderness triggers outrage among park supporters and other speedway opponents. With the vociferous backing of The Seattle Times
, opponents gather sufficient signatures to force a referendum on the council decision, but voters in the November election approve the ordinance and two years later the speedway is built through the park.
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Seattle's George Washington Memorial Bridge (Aurora Bridge) is dedicated on February 22, 1932.
On February 22, 1932, Seattle's George Washington Memorial Bridge, commonly known as the Aurora Bridge, is dedicated. The nearly 3,000-foot, steel cantilever structure spans Lake Union between the Fremont and Queen Anne neighborhoods and completes the final link of U.S. Highway 99 (decertified in 1967 to State Route 99) from Canada to Mexico. Fifteen thousand people turn out for the dedication, which Washington Governor Roland Hartley (1864-1952) presides over and dignitaries from Canada and Mexico attend. Designed for the Washington State Highway Department, it is the first major highway bridge built in Seattle.
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Seattle begins its year-long centennial celebration beginning on November 13, 1951.
On November 13, 1951, the city of Seattle celebrates the 100th anniversary of the arrival of its founding settlers. A re-enactment of the landing party is held at Alki point, the Alki monument is rededicated with a time capsule, and General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) comes to town to partake in the festivities.
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Seattle becomes The Emerald City in 1982.
In 1982, the Seattle-King County Convention and Visitors Bureau adopts "The Emerald City" as an epithet for Seattle and incorporates it into a logo to promote tourism. (An epithet indicates some quality or attribute characteristic of the person or thing described. In Homer's Odyssey
, "wine-dark" in "wine-dark sea" and "grey-eyed" in "grey-eyed Athena" are epithets which recur every time the sea or the goddess is mentioned.) The Convention and Visitors Bureau choose the name after putting on a competition for the best epithet or nickname. Several people submit "The Emerald City," and the grand prize winner (for her essay in support of the name) is Sarah Sterling-Franklin, a California writer and photographer who owns a summer home on San Juan Island. Runners up, including Kris Sherman, receive Space Needle passes and other goodies.
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Seattle City Council names street for Fremont Troll on August 1, 2005.
On August 1, 2005, the Seattle City Council approves renaming a two-block stretch of street in honor of the Fremont Troll sculpture that graces its north end. Mayor Greg Nickels (b. 1955) says that the name change "honors one of our most famous citizens." The change is estimated to cost $310, and will be paid for by the Fremont Neighborhood Council.
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A History of the Seattle Mayor's Desk
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels shares an undated "history" of his official desk, which dates back to 1928. The anonymous typescript was found in the desk by Mayor Nickels and is an artifact in its own right.
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Creating Cal Anderson Park by Kay Rood
Cal Anderson Park, a beautifully renovated and expanded park on Seattle's Capitol Hill, re-opened on September 24, 2005. Originally one of Seattle's Olmsted-designed parks (named "Lincoln Park,"), it had by 1993 deteriorated into weeds, trash, and a graffiti-covered rest room, and was avoided by community members as a druggy and dangerous place. Kay Rood and the community organization Groundswell Off Broadway was a prime mover in the process of organizing to rebuild the park into a beautiful community asset with an undergrounded reservoir, a playground, community buildings, a water feature, paths, gardens, and benches. This is Kay Rood's story of the long process of rebuilding the park, which is named for Cal Anderson, Washington's first openly gay legislator.
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Seattle Neighborhoods -- Past, Present, Future
Seattle, Washington, with 563,000 people, is the largest city in the state and the 24th largest in the nation. But as in most urban settings, people in Seattle seldom think of themselves as residing in the city as much as inhabiting visually and culturally distinct neighborhoods. From trendy Belltown to Scandinavian-influenced Ballard to the diverse Chinatown-International District, Seattle neighborhoods offer a fascinating range of architecture, cuisine, and lifestyles that reflects the diversity of the city. This essay was prepared by Walt Crowley (1947-2007) and Dr. Quintard Taylor to help orientate attendees at the American Historical Association annual meeting in Seattle, January 6-9, 2005.
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The Seattle Waterfront Streetcar -- The Steep Grade from Idea to Reality by George Benson
This speech on the history of the Seattle Waterfront Streetcar was given in 1992 by the streetcar's advocate and founder, George Benson, who was then president of the Seattle City Council. He presented it to the Vintage Trolley session of the 1992 TRB International Light Rail conference, held in Calgary, Canada.
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Turning Point 7: A Bumpy Ride: Seattle's Economic Booms, Busts, and Comebacks
The seventh essay in the Turning Points series for The Seattle Times
traces the Seattle area's economic ups and downs starting in 1873, when the Northern Pacific Railroad's selection of Tacoma for its terminus burst Seattle's first speculative bubble. The article continues with recaps of the economic Panic of 1893, the Great Depression, and the Boeing Bust of the early 1970s, which prompted a coordinated public-private effort to diversify the metropolitan King County economy. This article was written by Walt Crowley and the HistoryLink.org staff and published on April 20, 2001.
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