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Archives Find of the Month – September 2011

 A regular feature highlighting interesting, important, and odd items from the Seattle Municipal Archives’  collection, along with the stories they tell.

Air parks

AirplaneIn the 1940s, there was discussion of building one or more “air parks” in Seattle. Commercial traffic had Sea-Tac Airport, which opened in 1944 and had a civilian terminal by 1949. Meanwhile, private pilots and “air visitors” were looking for a place to land within the city limits.

Interestingly, women seemed to have been the most vocal in lobbying the City Council to build an air park in Seattle. A Mrs. Robert Wittig wrote to the council in 1946 expressing great disappointment in the lack of any plan for air parks. A Seattle native who had moved east of the mountains, she and her husband made frequent trips to the city for business and pleasure, and had bought a light plane for that purpose. She wrote, “As part of a vast number of people far from shopping and business sections, we are increasingly conscious of the value and inevitable progress of aviation, of which the average urban housewife (and a few city ‘fathers’) are grossly ignorant and totally unaware.” She argued that air parks were inevitable, and by delaying their construction the city would be spending more money in the long run. She also implored, “Please don’t let the unfortunate ‘buzzing’ of a few ‘screwballs’…sour you on anything as big as Aviation.”

The following year, Lorinda Miskell wrote to City Council on behalf of the Seattle chapter of the International Organization of Women Pilots, also known as the 99′ers. The group was concerned that Seattle was falling behind other cities “in opening its doors to private flying and progress. Many would be ‘air visitors’ now avoid our city because of the expense and inconvenience in transportation from one of the outlying private fields.” The letter closes by arguing, “Just as a few years ago, good highways brought growth to a city, now in this day and age, accessible Air Parks will bring Commerce.”

See other Archives Finds of the Month here:

http://seattle.gov/CityArchives/Exhibits/finds.htm

For other interesting images and textual items, check out the Seattle Municipal Archives’ photostream on flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/

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