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Archives Find of the Month: Alaskan Way Viaduct

Seattle’s citizenry was generally enthusiastic about building the new Alaskan Way Viaduct. However, its construction disrupted normal life in the work zone. In 1950, Ivar Haglund wrote to the city’s traffic engineer complaining that construction-related lane closures on Alaskan Way were limiting access to businesses on the water side of the street, leaving them no alleys for delivery and no parking areas. He asked that at least one additional lane be opened, as it would “be considerable help to the great volume of fish handling and shipping.”

Haglund wrote, “I feel that we should have some immediate and friendly consideration, and you will find us cooperative and also very seriously concerned.” In response to this letter, along with a similar one from the Washington Fish and Oyster Co., the city engineer wrote a dispatch to the Public Safety Committee in which he outlined traffic changes that he hoped would alleviate the construction difficulties.

Even in the midst of the inconvenience to his business, however, Haglund was quick to note that “we are all definitely pleased to see the Viaduct come and are interested in anything that will further its speedy completion.” This civic pride extended through the construction period and culminated in Resolution 16304, passed by City Council on April 6, 1953, to mark the occasion of the viaduct’s debut. The document expressed appreciation to the mayor and two city engineers who guided the project from conception through construction, and stated that “this magnificent thoroughfare stands out as one of the greatest structural achievements in the history of Seattle.”

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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