Seattle Municipal Archives and HistoryLink Celebrate 150 Years of Seattle with New Book

'Seattle at 150: Stories of the City Through 150 Objects from the Seattle Municipal Archives' highlights the big moments in our city's history
Yesler Way and First Avenue South circa 1895 – 1900

This article appears in print in the November 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

This year, Seattle celebrates 150 years of incorporation; it became a city in 1869, with a population of more than 2,000 at the time. To commemorate an era of evolution, the Seattle Municipal Archives dug deep into its collection of photographs and ephemera, and partnered with HistoryLink to write a book, Seattle at 150: Stories of the City Through 150 Objects from the Seattle Municipal Archives, published last month and available for free online. Here are just some of the moments the book highlights:

1914: The Japanese American farmers of Pike Place Market wrote to the Seattle City Council in 1914 (and 1913 and 1915) seeking relief from discriminatory practices regarding stall assignments. They never received a response.

1951: Alaskan Way Viaduct construction, 1951 (The structure opened to traffic in 1953.)

1970: Seattle launched the Medic One “hospital on wheels” program in 1970, making Seattle the best place to have a heart attack, according to the TV program 60 Minutes in 1974.

1971: In 1971, Seattle City Light raised the price of electricity for the first time in 50 years, ending a decade-long period of ad campaigns promoting liberal electricity use.

1976: Freeway Park, designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin’s firm, opened in 1976 to ease the visual impact of new highways.

2012: On December 9, 2012, same-sex couples were married in Seattle for the first time, thanks to the passage of Referendum 74.

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