IN TODAY’S STORY about Seattle landmarks and places, I looked for items of interest that were overlooked or helped by a fuller explanation.

Over the years, I’ve learned the value of something like the 167-page 1984 report titled, “Abandoned landfill study in the City of Seattle.”

Don’t groan; think, “This is great! There’s gotta be some interesting nugget in those giant PDFs.”

Cover story: The surprising stories behind Seattle landmarks

In the story, I write about the Montlake Dump, the 200-acre landfill just north of Husky Stadium that now is a huge parking lot and sports fields.

It’s in that parking lot that in prepandemic times took place those memorable football tailgate parties.

The report has this nugget, listing all the kinds of garbage taken to the dump when it was in use from 1926 to 1966: “ … large timbers, waste lumber, shrubbery, building refuse of all sorts, leaves, paper, boxes, barrels, scrap metal, logs and stumps, bed springs, tanks, large cans and some garbage.”


When you learn that you’re tailgating on top of bed springs, you get a different perspective.

Another part of the story is about Green Lake, one of the most manipulated urban lakes you’ll find.

I used an incredible digitized collection found in the Seattle Municipal Archives, the work of Donald N. Sherwood, an engineer for Seattle Parks and Recreation for 22 years until 1977. When he discovered that older department files were being destroyed as employees retired, he set out to preserve them.

In neat, handwritten print, he put together drawings and the history of every Seattle park. Green Lake gets 11 pages.

That’s where you find out about when Aurora Avenue went through Woodland Park, in 1930.

Once, the lake had been considerably bigger, extending south to North 54th Street. It shrunk when the lake was lowered and dredged.

The city had to carve through the hillside at the park to build the arterial. Guess where the fill ended up? In what used to be the south of the lake, and now is playfields.

It’s all a matter of perspective about PDFs.

There’s a 29-page study titled, “Seattle’s Pike Place Market (De)constructed: An Analysis of Tourist Narratives about a Public Space.”

Oh, yes.