Despite protests, the ditch wasn't capped until Freeway Park was built, dedicated on July 4, 1976.
AN ACTIVE member of the Mountaineers, photographer Frank Shaw also liked to hike Seattle with his Hasselblad camera, especially in pursuit of cityscapes and public art. Building Interstate 5 through Seattle was one of the subjects he followed, and at the center of this elevated look west from University Street and Ninth Avenue into the Central Business District he has recorded a surreal swath of cleared lots prepared for digging the I-5 ditch.
Protests against the freeway’s design were featured in the news of June 1961. The First Hill Improvement Club and Century 21 architect Paul Thiry led the charge. Shaw took this photo on Sunday June 4, 1961, one day before the club’s protest march through these same blocks. With practically every public official against them, the club’s proposal to cap the ditch with a green parkway was doomed. In a city then ambitiously building a world’s fair, there was no support for studying the proposal.
Once the ditch was dedicated in 1967, the urge to cap it was revived with some of the same public officials — perhaps to atone. The results were Freeway Park, dedicated on July 4, 1976, and seen, in part, in the “now.” The sprawling Washington State Convention Center followed in the 1980s.
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Also in the news that June of 1961: Soviet Premier Khrushchev’s enchantment “like a smitten schoolboy when the ice thaws along the Volga in the springtime” with Jacqueline Kennedy at a Vienna banquet; “freedom riders” in the Jackson, Miss., jail; the decision to name Century 21 the Seattle World’s Fair, and arguments over Fidel Castro’s proposal to exchange 500 American tractors for 1,200 Cubans captured in the failed April invasion of the island.
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