Seattle Flashback


The Personal Archive

There’s a closet at the bottom of the stairs in my parent’s house that’s filled with nothing but old family photos – real, actual pictures you can touch and hold in your hand. What a novel idea! Every now and again, when I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, I like to open it up and sift through the many albums. I found a lot of excellent pictures this time around (my mom with a perm, or even worse, my dad with a perm) and also a few clunkers that are probably best left hidden in the closet. Bar miztvah pictures are never flattering.

In addition to all the pictures of my parents wearing bell bottoms and questionable eye-wear, I also managed to find some really interesting shots of Seattle looking equally awkward and unfamiliar in the late 1970’s. As someone who has only known this city as a place with shiny high-rises, sparkling condos, and modern architecture, it was quite a surprise to see it looking so barren. If the fuzzy photo quality doesn’t convince you that these photos are old, then just look at the lack of traffic and abundance of available street parking for proof.

According to my mom these pictures were taken in the summer of 1979. The first three are shots taken from the Space Needle. Check ’em out:


Looking South. The Alaska Way Viaduct leads towards the Kingdome. Belltown is in the foreground and the waterfront and Puget Sound is on the right. Clearly condos where not popular at the time this picture was taken. Now it looks a bit more like this:

photo: Ian Turnbull


I think this is the view looking Northwest from Space Needle and that lower Queen Anne is in the foreground. The city looks kind of naked without all the big buildings.


This is the view looking towards Lake Union from the Space Needle. Westlake is in the foreground, and beyond that is I-5. That was then. This is now:


The Space Needle as seen from Gas Works Park. Now it looks more like this:

photo – via


Here are some kids who scaled the support columns on the old Seattle Coliseum (now the Key Arena). As a kid I always wanted to climb up those inviting ramps, but sadly, they are now adorned with lots of sharp nails that keep birds, and people, from perching on them. Damn you liability lawsuits!


One response to “Seattle Flashback

  1. What great photos! You need to copyright these. I could use some of them on our Seattle Homes web sites.

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