Seattle Culture

Back page: Things have changed in Seattle. Or not.

Seattle is grappling with the same issues half a century later

By Rob Smith June 9, 2023

Seattle Cover magazine June 1969

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2023 issue of Seattle magazine.

Nobody would argue that it’s very different today than it was in 1969. Or is it? In June of that year, Seattle magazine tackled several issues facing the city, including transportation, the racial divide, rapid growth, city politics, the environment and neighborhood revitalization.

Sure, some of the finer points are different, but the broader debate is ongoing. The introduction reads, in part: “Suddenly (Seattle) has became a city with smog, clogged freeways, urban sprawl, and ahead looms the vision of a monster Pugetopolis.” Back then, the population of the Puget Sound region was about 1.5 million. It’s 3.5 million today.

If there’s a lesson here, it’s this: There’s no stopping growth, but managing it in a thoughtful way is a challenge that will never cease. And while the city has its share of problems, it has done quite well for itself. The debate rolls on.

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