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Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.

The Viaduct — A History

The Alaskan Way Viaduct is a great grey monster, a tharrump–ing noise, a vital north–south traffic artery and a safety hazard. But it wasn't always like this. Once upon a time it was a thing of beauty, a landmark and a source of civic pride. In this four–part series, Dominic Black explores why the Alaskan Way Viaduct came to be, and why along the Seattle waterfront. It's a tale of cultural upheaval, politics, geography. And concrete. Lots and lots of concrete.

"The Viaduct" was reported and produced by Dominic Black and edited by Jim Gates. The assistant producer was Jason Pagano. Web production by Carmen Santos.

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Elderly woman walking under Alaskan Way Viaduct, 1972. Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.

The Viaduct: The Inspiration

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

In our four–part series we are looking at the history and the meaning — yes, the meaning — of the concrete behemoth, the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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The Viaduct: The Politics

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Trying to trace the roots of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is about as easy as trying to have a conversation when you're standing underneath it: it's murky, indistinct and kind of confusing.

Listen to this story spacer Construction of the Alaskan Way Viaduct on April 9, 1952.  Photo courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives.

The Viaduct: Building It

Thursday, July 08, 2010

No sooner was the ink dry on the city ordinance giving the viaduct the go–ahead than a special design team was assembled. One of the young engineers brought in was Daniel J. Evans, recently graduated from the University of Washington, and a future governor of Washington state.

Listen to this story spacer Seattle march to Stop the Ditch, the construction of Interstate 5, and in support of a downtown lid, June 5, 1961. Photo courtesy of

The Viaduct: The Viaduct And Beyond

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Alaskan Way Viaduct was just the beginning of new highway developments throughout Seattle. It also marked the beginning of public opposition for new transportation projects that threatened to displace thousands of residents.

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Special thanks to Knute Berger, Peter Blecha, Ann Dornfeld, Ernie Dornfeld, Paul Dorpat, Daniel J. Evans, Matthew Klingle, KaDeena Lens, Loraine McConaghy, Kristy Van Ness, Pat O'Day, Ron Paananen, Mike Peringer, Junius Rochester, Jeffrey Sanders, Mimi Sheridan, Michael Sullivan, Sage Van Wing and Frank Bero.

This series is dedicated to the memory of Ian Docherty.