Denny Hill was removed to give way to Belltown and the Denny Triangle neighborhoods.

Share story

A massive hill stood where the Denny Triangle and Belltown are today.

A project began in 1902 to remove the hill, made of millions of cubic feet of soil. It was gone by 1930.

That year, a Sunday morning Seattle Times article said the 100 acres of level land created by the Denny Regrade would provide room for business in Seattle to expand.

See more historical photos

The same article said the 1902 attempt to remove the hill by sluicing it left the area a mess; the leaking pipes would flood adjacent streets with mud and water.

The final effort used electric shovels that loaded conveyor belts, which would take the dirt to Puget Sound aboard self-dumping barges.

Video from the Seattle Municipal Archives shows how the massive dirt pile was removed.

In the early 1900s, Seattle was bursting at the seams and it leveled hills to make more room. Excerpts from “Seattle Moves a Mountain” (1970) courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives with footage of the 1928 Denny Hill regrade. (The Seattle Times)

A caption from an October 1929 Seattle Times photograph described the massive undertaking:

“Despite the apparent hoodoo pursuing the contractors in charge of the Denny Hill regrade job, each day more and more of Seattle’s downtown skyline is becoming visible from points north of the regrade area.”

The accompanying story described the current state of the regrade as such:

“Trouble has been the chief recent cause of delay in the $5,000,000 regrade job, which, when completed, will mean the 6,000,000 cubic yards of earth have been taken from the hill and carried to the waterfront by conveyor belt to scows, which take the dirt out into Puget Sound. Completion of the Denny Hill regrade job will open the way for expansion of the uptown district.”

“Regardless of all the hard luck and repeated setbacks to which the regrade job has been subjected, the vast task may still be completed by the end of next September – the time limit set for the contract. This was the assurance given by Alfred Lincoln, engineer in charge of the project. After having been interrupted by disabling of barges, which carry the waste off into the Sound, regrade work was to resume full blast tomorrow morning. A fifth electric shovel will be pressed into service the middle of the week, Mr. Lincoln said, and half of the hill will be gone by Christmas. The second half will move much more rapidly, he declared.”

Read more about the Denny Regrade by reading our recent review of the book “Too High & Too Steep.”

Postcards from the Past is an occasional feature, highlighting the history of the Pacific Northwest. The images are from The Seattle Times archive.