From the Womxn's March to Bertha's breakthrough to Mayor Murray's resignation, 2017 was an enormous year in news for the Seattle area, not to mention the nation. As we flip the calendar to 2018, here's a look at 20 impactful stories from the past year

Share story

What a year.

To celebrate the new year, we’re taking a look back at 20 of the most significant stories from 2017. Our picks, recommended by editors around the newsroom, are below.

This is not a definitive list of the biggest local stories of the year – we of course had a presidential inauguration, court battles over travel bans, North Korean missile tests, controversy at the Evergreen State College, the election of Seattle’s first female mayor in nearly 100 years, the ongoing #MeToo movement, progress on the Boeing 797, renovations at the Space Needle, a highly anticipated Apple Cup and much more. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below about the year’s biggest stories.

The list below is a selection of the most impactful and memorable stories of 2017. If you find these stories valuable, please consider supporting The Seattle Times’ local journalism by subscribing — and many thanks to those of you who already support the work we do.

All right, on with the show.



James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, Trump’s defense secretary pick, always comes home to Richland, ‘this town that formed me’

Jan. 7
Did you know the secretary of defense is from the Tri-Cities? Before President Trump took office, we peeked into Mattis’ life in Richland, Washington, where he listed a modest wood-framed house — built by the government for Hanford workers — as his residence. He would serve on the board of a food bank, stop by the VFW and, in 2016, he reported for jury duty.
Read the story »



Record Seattle crowd asserts women’s rights: ‘Trump has galvanized everybody’

Jan. 21
Seattle history was made as more than 100,000 people marched through the streets Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration, to stand up for women’s rights. The record protest for the Womxn’s March on Seattle far surpassed previous demonstrations in the city.
Read the story »



A lost voice: Surgery was supposed to mean a better life for Talia. But something went wrong.

Feb. 10
After enduring years of painful headaches and injuries, Talia Goldenberg — a lively, uninhibited artist — was ready for surgery at to help stabilize her flexible spine. At Swedish’s premier neurosurgery hub, internal records and interviews with staff revealed an array of warnings about patient safety amid concerns about retribution from a star surgeon in charge.
Read the story »

View the entire Quantity of Care investigative series »



UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it

March 29
A University of Washington professor started studying social networks to help people respond to disasters. But she got dragged down a rabbit hole of twitter-boosted conspiracy theories, and ended up mapping our political moment.
Read the story »



Inside the Highway 99 tunnel: Bertha’s done digging, but the roadway work rolls on

April 15
After breaking through April 4, cutting machine Bertha was removed, and then road decks, walls, lights and fireproofing quickly began taking shape inside the new Highway 99 tunnel under Seattle. The 9,270-foot dig ranks among the trickiest megaprojects in history.
Read the story »


‘We were very lucky no one died’: What caused the unprecedented flood at the West Point treatment plant

April 28
It was a disaster years in the making. A cascade of errors led to catastrophe at King County’s workhorse wastewater plant during a torrential storm Feb. 9. It was one of biggest infrastructure catastrophes in regional history, and it was sheer luck that no one was seriously injured or killed.
Read the story »



Portraits of Homelessness

May 4
Pacific NW magazine invited residents of several homeless encampments in Seattle to share their personal stories, life lessons, frustrations and dreams based on their experiences living without permanent shelter. The resulting journal features their handwritten remarks, accompanied by black-and-white portraits that each person helped create. Later in the year, The Times launched Project Homeless, an initiative to examine the complex issues around homelessness.
Read the story »



Chris Cornell: Soundgarden’s dark knight of the grunge scene

May 18
“Chris Cornell painted in song the darkness and beauty of life in Seattle,” said Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. Cornell died in May at the age of 52.
Read the story »



Immigrants use Washington state to sneak into Canada for asylum. Here’s how, and why.

June 8
Washington has become a portal for people seeking asylum in Canada, where they feel they’ll be more welcome than in Donald Trump’s United States.
Read the story »



Charleena Lyles case: What crisis training did Seattle police bring to her door?

June 27
Seattle police had won praise for their crisis-intervention training and results. Why did their encounter with Charleena Lyles, a young mother with mental-health problems, turn deadly in June?
Read the story »



Pike Place Market opens $74 million addition: 360-degree views of the new MarketFront

June 26
At 110 years old, the Pike Place Market has survived and thrived. It still pulls on the emotions of Seattleites of all stripes. Now, a new project is mingling with the old magic on the Market’s northern side.
Read the story »



Homeless students drawn to Seattle schools by sports are often cast aside when the season’s over

July 22
Laws aimed at creating some stability in the lives of homeless students are being misused in some Seattle high schools to sidestep academic and anti-recruitment rules. Coaches, former players and several school district officials say adults are teaching students how to gain homeless status but offering little support when the season is over.
Read the story »



Busted: How police brought down a tech-savvy prostitution network in Bellevue

July 26
Local tech workers used computer skills to help create websites where men would promote and rate South Korean prostitutes working in upscale Bellevue apartments. The escalation of activity led a prosecutor to conclude that a group of “sex buyers” had become an organized criminal enterprise.
Read the story »



Being awe-struck — by a solar eclipse or another astounding event — has surprising benefits

Aug. 20
Awe is a powerful emotion that can make people feel more generous, creative, helpful and connected to something bigger than themselves. The total solar eclipse in August delivered a big dose of the emotion.
Read the story »



Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigns after fifth child sex-abuse allegation

Sept. 12
For five months, Murray rejected calls for his resignation amid allegations he sexually abused teens decades before entering politics. But he couldn’t withstand a devastating new allegation from within his own family.
Read the story »



Why so much smoke in Seattle from B.C. wildfires? ‘Nature’s air conditioning’ is broken, weather service says

Oct. 12
Seattle’s heat wave and the hazy, smoky air this past summer were due to an unusual phenomenon: The typical Pacific Ocean breezes weren’t blowing.
Read the story »



Cellphones led investigators to one of the Northwest’s biggest poaching cases ever

Oct. 12
A remote wildlife camera in Oregon led officers to the suspects. Then texts, videos and social-media posts on the suspects’ phones led the officers into the forest. (Note: Some people may find images disturbing.)
Read the story »



A Washington county that went for Trump is shaken as immigrant neighbors start disappearing

Nov. 9
Many in Pacific County thought President Trump would take away “drug dealers, criminals, rapists” with his immigration crackdown. They were shocked to see who started to go missing.
Read the story »



City Hall, brought to you by Amazon

Nov. 9
A review of some of the bids to woo Amazon’s second headquarters to other cities and states shows it’s not all about the money. In some cases, democracy itself is a bargaining chip.
Read the story »



‘Holy cow, so the train is actually on the road?’ The wreck of Amtrak 501

Dec. 24
The Amtrak train derailment was horrific, especially for passengers and their families. But it was also a story of courage by those passengers, along with witnesses and emergency responders. Here’s an inside view of what happened on Dec. 18.
Read the story »



Did you find these and other stories valuable in 2017? Support local journalism by subscribing to The Seattle Times.