Home Latest News Proposed version of the city that failed to pass

Proposed version of the city that failed to pass

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not all Seattle Infrastructure projects end up going as planned, and many times, Seattleites are only themselves to blame – or thank – for this.

For example, on this day in 1970, voters in King County Rejected a bond package called “Forward Thrust” Which would have created a regional rail transit system heavily subsidized by the federal government. Instead, federal money was passed to Atlanta’s MARTA system, according to history link.

Whereas now we have the Sound Transit Light Rail – which Will open three new stations this fall And the area continues to expand – many locals see that vote as a time half a century ago when the city could get a head start on building a transit system.

But for every bold infrastructure plan or building that makes its way across our city block, there are some ideas for municipal reform that never made it. From a European-style civic center to a floating stadium, here’s a look at some of the other projects that could have transformed the city, for better or worse.

An aerial view of Virgil Bogg’s grand civic center for Seattle. The center would have capitalized on the newly opened area of ​​Deni Regrade, but the business interests of the city resisted moving the city center to the north.

Seattle (Wash.)/Seattle Municipal Archives

1. Bogu’s Grand Civic Center

Seattle would look very different – ​​and perhaps more European in architecture – today if engineer Virgil G. The plan for the town of Bog was passed in 1912.

bug plan A city would have been plotted with rapid, subway transit lines connecting east to west, north to south and neighborhoods throughout the city; above ground rail lines between Everett and Tacoma; and Mercer Island as a public park as a whole.

Bogg mentioned Europe’s great cities during his plans for Seattle, including his proposed Civic Center in Fourth and Blanchard, which would house the city’s municipal buildings.

But perhaps Seattleites in the early 20th century were unprepared for that ambition, as voters ultimately deemed it too costly and rejected the visionary plan.

Rendering of the proposed floating stadium.

Rendering of the proposed floating stadium.

Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr

2. A floating stadium


In keeping with the city’s maritime nature, some King County officials actually supported plans to build a floating pro-sports, retractable roof stadium on Elliott Bay in 1963, because of the success of the World’s Fair, which encouraged architects and city planners to become larger. Got a chance to think.

The proposed stadium would have a monorail extension from the Seattle center, and the project would cost approximately $22.4 million. According to the March 1963 edition Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the stadium floated on concrete pontoons used for floating bridges.

“Our people feel that our region is in dire need of a stadium to pace the game, among other advancements here,” engineer Brian Mather told PI. “We checked a map to find Seattle’s population center. But there was no land available in such a good location. So we decided to go out on the water.”

Funding – and parking – remained an issue for the far-flung floating stadium, and voters later rejected a $15 million bond offer for the idea. The Kingdom would eventually break ground in 1972.

Another sketch of the RH Thomson Expressway, scrapped in 1971 after a neighborhood uproar.  Pictured is the planned Madison Street interchange, which would have doomed the Central District.
Another sketch of the RH Thomson Expressway, dismantled in 1971 after a neighborhood uproar. Pictured is the planned Madison Street interchange, which would have doomed the Central District.Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr

3. RH Thomson Expressway

What if Seattle’s famous “Ramp to Nowhere” had actually gone somewhere?

In the 1950s, the RH Thomson Expressway was designed to connect the Central District and Northeast Seattle, with 520 bridge-leading ramps. However, residents and activists alike opposed the expressway, now Known as the Freeway Rebellion, saying it would displace people and destroy neighbourhoods.

City leaders closed the expressway in 1971, ruining the ramp for its “nowhere” state at the Arboretum. But many would say it’s a good thing the RH Thomson Freeway never passed. After all, where will summer swimmers jump into the Arboretum?

But Seattle’s ramp was nowhere to be demolished until 2016 as part of a major revamping project (though a few bits still stayed).

Proposed in 1961, it was part of the RH Thomson Expressway which was never built.  This view looking south from Laurelhurst.

Proposed in 1961, it was part of the RH Thomson Expressway which was never built. This view looking south from Laurelhurst.

Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr

Another part of the freeway never materialized: an ambitious plan for a six-lane underwater crossing of the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Union Bay.

What South Lake Union would have looked like if voters had approved the Seattle Commons.

What South Lake Union would have looked like if voters had approved the Seattle Commons.

4. Seattle Commons

Before Vulcan, Amazon and other tech companies replaced South Lake Union with offices and condos, Paul Allen’s vision was about a sprawling urban park called ‘Seattle Commons’ in the ’90s.

Supporters dreamed of NYC’s Central Park in Seattle, but opponents worried that Allen would just get rich, and the Commons lost in two public votes.

Image of the 2003 Green Line monorail plan.

Image of the 2003 Green Line monorail plan.

5. Green Line Monorail System

This is what Ballard would look like if the Green Line monorail were successful. The plan – originally for the 14-mile, West Seat-to-Ballard Line – died in 2005 after financial problems surfaced.

Ultimately, taxpayers paid about $125 million for a project that never happened.



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