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Yesterday I posted this comment in the Alternative 1: Capitol Hill and First Hill thread:

The 11’s poor ridership in Madison Park was (is?) rooted in traditional local racism. Back in the day, the 11 was considered a fine way for domestic help to get to work, but no resident of Madison Park/Broadmoor would ever ride the 11.

Unfortunately I didn’t include any information about Seattle’s historic pattern of housing segregation (known as red-lining) which, until the 1960s, concentrated Seattle’s Black citizens in an area that was bordered on the north by Madison Street, but kept the Madison Park residential area whites-only. By failing to provide that historical context in my post, it may appear that my post is trying to say that Madison Park currently doesn’t generate great ridership because Madison Park residents are racist. That was not my intention and I would like to apologize to anyone that read my comment and felt insulted by my words. Also, an apology to the STB editors and staff for my clumsy self-editing. STB cultivates a well-mannered and intelligent readership. I hope my words didn’t make STB look like a haven or a mouthpiece for some crazy village idiot.

Red-lining was a policy practiced by banks and real estate companies that refused to allow people of color to purchase or rent property outside of a certain geographic area. Combined with the racially restrictive convenants that were often added to real estate deeds on property located outside of the “red lines”, it was nearly impossible for people of color to live outside of the red-line zone. In Seattle, those policies concentrated the Black population in the area that is today known as the Central District. For a better summary of the history of red-lining in Seattle, I can refer you to these on-line sources:

  • a 1960 map showing the effect of red-line segregation in Seattle
  • Seattle's Negro Population 1960

  • a page from the Seattle Municipal Archives about the Open Housing Campaign in the 1950s and 60s
  • this Depression-era map, created by the FHA, that labels the Central District as “hazardous”.
  • FHA map

    One result of red-lining was that the transit routes that served the Central District (2, today’s 3S*, today’s 4S* 11) were patronizing almost exclusively by Black riders. The wealthy neighborhoods located at the end of those routes (Madison Park, Madrona) accepted transit mostly as a means to convey their domestic help to and from work. Today, Madison Park and Madrona are much more accepting of public transit (and people of any race), but those low-density neighborhoods don’t typically attract great numbers of transit riders outside of peak-hour commuters. Meanwhile, the Central District has become gentrified and more transit oriented. So, what I was trying to express in my statement is my opinion that the history of segregation in Seattle still influences transit patterns–not that Madison Park is a enclave of racism. Again, my apologies to anyone who understandably took offense at my statement.

    *then know as the 12 E. Cherry or 12 – 26th Ave. So.

    31 Replies to “An Apology”

    1. Thanks. I think the comment conveyed that Madison Parkers don’t take the 11 now because it’s “for the maids”, which I think is false. They don’t ride the 11 much because no wealthy area rides transit much. Also, it only goes downtown. If there were a direct bus from Madison Park to U Village or the Eastside, they might take it. But geography prevents a grid in all directions; there’s only one way out, and it’s toward downtown.

      There’s a book I read that tells how much the federal government created redlining problems. I think it was “City: Urbanism and its End” by Douglas Rae but I’d have to read it again to be sure. It might have been “The Option of Urbanism” by Christopher Leinberger, one of my favorites. Or it may have been another book. “City” focuses on the history of New Haven, Connecticut, and similar trends in other cities, while “Option” is a good introduction to how the American landscape changed in the 20th century.

      But whichever book has it, there’s a passage about how FHA surveyors went around cities estimating the percentage of minorities in each neighborhood. If they saw 25% or 50%, or sometimes even just one black person, they marked the neighborhood as “blighted” and ineligible for FHA loans. Those are the loans that bring the down payment down from 20% to 3%, and are also used for renovations. In contrast, FHA loans in greenfield suburban tracts were readily available, so it really catalyzed suburban expansion and subsidized it. But the reality in the redlined areas — echoing Jane Jacobs — were successful communities with family ties and work and culture, and a good legacy of houses and urban infrastructure. What they mostly needed was loans for renovation and maintenance, because everything had stagnated for 15 years with the Depression and WWII. But FHA policies blocked the loans. So they couldn’t renovate or sell their house, and others couldn’t buy it; their only choice was to live in a declining house and neighborhood. It’s just evil what the FHA and banks did, and areas like Rainier Valley still haven’t fully recovered.

    2. Thanks for posting. The legacy of redlining in this city is so, so vivid, once you know what you’re looking at. I hope a look at the maps above will help readers see things on the Seattle street in a new light.

      I think it’s vital when historical racism is at play in a current policy debate to make quadruple-clear that the racism you are discussing is historical. Even where structural or even individual racism is still affecting current outcomes, saying so will never, ever help convince anyone on the other side of any point. That’s one area where no one will ever give the benefit of the doubt. People really don’t like feeling personally accused of racist attitudes or behavior, and will make long jumps to reach the conclusion that that’s what is happening.

    3. Y’all forgot the most important thing… Madison Park’s a “master planned community” and its homeowners covenant included a “No non-WASP” clause. You couldn’t buy a house there if you weren’t Northern European, White, and Protestant.

      1. Before they were made illegal by Federal law such deed restrictions were common. Madison Park was far from the only neighborhood you couldn’t buy property in if you were anything other than Northern European, White, and Protestant.

        Even today you will find evidence of these restrictions by where historic neighborhoods for various ethnic groups are. Very often where an ethnic group concentrated was determined by the areas they were allowed to own property.

        1. Probably even more direct evidence exists on the property titles. It wasn’t uncommon for them to sometimes say, explicitly “this property not to be sold to persons of color.” If the property has stayed in the same hands for a long time or a new owner couldn’t be bothered to do the legwork (or pay someone else to do it) sometimes such language can still exist.

          A relatively recent (and admittedly anecdotal) story on the matter:—racism-on-title–seattle-real-estate

    4. As a long time resident of Madison Park and despite the background you’ve provide, I still find the post offensive in its tone and it unfortunately set a poor tone for others to follow on Madison Park’s bus use. Some in the blog have made us into second class tax payers of Seattle by the attack comments on the Alternatives.

      The proposals affect Madison Park and everyone who uses the 11 today and who wants to get to locations they need to get to! It’s real easy to tell us to walk, transfer, take a cab or find other places to shop, but you forget one big point, some of us live here actually need the bus and this change is not a joke to them or myself!

      Yes, we are will to compromise, but we are not ready to give up the easy access we have today to places in Seattle. We are getting 15-minute service in September and that is a big help and NOT a selling point for Alternative One anymore! I believe that there is a third alternative and I’ve given it to Metro today! I’m sticking my neck out because some in Madison/Washington Park may not like it, but I believe it is a better plan than Alternative One.

      1. I didn’t mean to make light of your comments. Sorry if it came off that way. I just wanted you to hold yourself to the same standards you request of others, and I took offense at a number of your comments. (You probably guessed that by now.)

        I’d also encourage you to use the fist person singular in your comments, in deference to the Madison Park residents who posted comments disagreeing with some of your comments. If you are speaking as a representative of an organization, then I suppose the plural voice makes sense.

        Out of curiosity, have you met those commenters?

        1. I am speaking as a long time resident of Madison Park who pays very high taxes and expects services where it be transit or police protection!

          By I also am the Lead for Nextdoor Madison Park and as such I have been passing on comments, but without names, since it is their choice to post on this blog or not. And yes, they have been given the address of this blog so they can comment on their own! BTW, I have met some of the people posting on Nextdoor and I am well known in Madison Park and active in the community too!

      2. I’m curious what your recommendation was. Did it include an equal reduction elsewhere to compensate for the service hours? Did it leave more places with half-hourly evenings, especially places closer to Broadway? That is the area where I think full-time frequency is vital, and places like Madison Park have less claim, unless they’re willing to increase taxes to fund both.

        1. My Alternative three is a compromise,it’s comprehensive and most will benefit. I would post on this blog, but given the experience I had this week on the blog, it’s just not worth the stress, BTW, I will take heat in Madison Park too, You may contact me offline if you wish.

          DeAnna has been given a heads up and the plan and we will be going over it with the Metro planners next Wednesday. Hope you see that I am serious in my attempt to make this work and very frustrated with this blog. I don’t have to mention names, but two apologies in week says it all, don’t you think!

          The only thing that I ask that we deal with the issues today and not housing policies which are illegal today and I’m not a WASP and proud of it!

        2. I can’t get your address without asking the staff, which I don’t like to do too often. It wouldn’t hurt to summarize your suggestion in a comment, and it may help your cause. I haven’t sent my feedback yet, and without knowing your suggestion that “most will benefit” from, I can’t consider it.

        3. My Alternative Three will be posted on the Madison Valley Website very shortly, but I would ask you to keep the comments to Page 2, since I don’t want a repeat of last week. I actually welcome your comments in refining it and note that it has been distributed to all the communities we can reach and yes comments are coming.

          My plan is not a Madison Park plan and it does impose pain/compromise on all and amazingly if you review it you will see that it may actually put butts in seats on the 11 since it will follow the propose BRT route in some ways.

          Again, it is a work in progress and uses some of Alternative one and does eliminate some runs too. And yes, I don’t talk about frequency!

        4. Which site? I found a and a Madison Park Blogger but neither had the proposal. Although the first site has some information about the BRT, which I’m quoting because it doesn’t seem to have a direct article link:

          “SDOT has received a lot of feedback suggesting they extend the BRT to Madison Valley, so they are adding the extension to the Valley to the study. The feedback and research does not support taking BRT to Madison Park, so that is no longer on the table. The BRT busses will be mixed in with cars from Madison Valley up to [i.e., east of] 23rd, where the BRT will have a dedicated bus lane. This is because Madison St. is not wide enough for a dedicated lane beyond 23rd coming down the hill. SDOT does not know yet if the dedicated bus lane will be only for BRT or for all buses. Locations for BRT stops in Madison Valley are still under consideration, but they are looking at an eastbound stop on Madison in front of Essential Baking, and a westbound stop in front of Bailey-Boushay House. The location for the bus turnaround and layover station is also being studied, although it’s looking as if the station will be on E. Arthur Place behind the dry cleaner & Jae’s Bistro. This does mean the one way on E. Arthur will change to the opposite direction.”

    5. The website is and please give them a chance to upload given that it is Sunday. Please forget about the BRT arguments, since I think you will see that it incorporates some of the rational, but without the cons! Please be patient you will see it see that my idea will work and many many benefits for the Madison corridor from Madison Park to the Coleman dock.

      Please remember this is one of the piece and everyone will read it before attacking it!! I proposed the plan since it’s too easy to be against and sometimes you have to propose your alternative that incorporates what people have said.

      Again, this is NOT BRT and I’m not a fan of it either because it was not part of a total plan and proved that SDOT and Metro were not working together! That is why I and other voted no on the sales tax increase. And if Metro doesn’t listen to its riders they will have an even tougher time the next time at the ballot box!

      1. Thanks, Reg. I’ll look forward to seeing your plan. If you remember, would you mind giving us a heads-up when it’s posted? Otherwise, I’ll try to check back every couple days.

        I’m not a fan of the BRT either; what I’ve seen so far has many too few stations – even downtown – to be of use for most of my trips in the Madison area. And, like you said, it doesn’t interface very well with many of Metro’s other routes.

        What you said earlier about “I don’t talk about frequency” makes me a little concerned; frequency is one of the most important things in my mind. But I’m not perfectly satisfied with Alternative One either, so I’m looking forward to seeing your alternative.

        1. I left frequency out, because the Metro Planners can work that and given the funding form Prop 1, it shouldn’t be a problem with 15 min service on the 11. To be hones am still fried from last week working this on this blog and Nextdoor too!

          Yes, we are getting comments on Nextdoor with valid concerns the biggest appears to be the 12 on 19th Avenue! And I will give a heads up when it is posted, but I ask that it stay on Page Two for now!

    6. Nice post. For what is it worth, I knew what you meant all along. But it got you to write a very interesting post, so I think it was worth it :)

      I think one take away is how rare it is for bus lines to change. If a bus route is influenced by things that were made illegal almost fifty years ago, or by streetcar lines much older than that, then maybe our bus routes don’t change often enough (especially in a city that experiences a huge amount of churn).

      I also think the history and influence of redlining in Seattle is interesting. Back in the day, Seattle never really had the slums that most cities its size had. There were a number of reasons for this, but one was the location of the lines they drew. Perhaps the best example of this was at Garfield High School, which was considered the main “inner city” school back in the day (they used to have a cheer that included “soul in the ghetto”). My sister attended Garfield in the mid-seventies, and I attended right afterwards (graduating in 1980). The demographic change was striking. As white kids, we were used to waving to the other white kids. This was typical for us (having gone to school at Minor, Madrona and Meany — all very black at the time). But this changed rapidly during the 70s, partly with forced busing. By the end of the decade, Garfield had a racial makeup that was probably closer to the country as a whole (although still not as white as Seattle).

      But even when Garfield had very few white kids, it was an outstanding school. Partly this was because of the effort made by the school board (to hire lots of top notch teachers) but this was also due to the makeup of the student body. I can’t help but think that a lot of that was due to the proximity to the UW. One of the few buses that did not go downtown would connect those neighborhoods to the UW. There were a lot of very smart people of all races that sent their kids to Garfield, and it lead to some surprising results (e. g. an inner city school winning state championships in chess).

      But maybe the most surprising thing is how well everyone mixed. I distinctly remember a classmate of mine mentioning this, while we played cards in the lunchroom. She essentially said it was unusual the way kids of all races were mixing in the lunchroom. Being a child of the sixties, I assumed this was the norm — or at least, about to be the norm. Of course, i thought, we are just ahead of the curve. I’m sure other big cities are like that and the rest of the country will be that way in a few years. Only later did I realize that this wasn’t the case.

      1. I attend Minor McGilvra, Meany, Garfield and I also worked at A&P in the central area so I’ve been through it all, but this discussion should focused on how we can help Metro do it’s job to provide transportation for now and the future!

        1. Well, the whole focus of this post was race, housing and its effect on transit. So, while your efforts to talk about Metro are laudable, I think I am more on topic. In other words, I think this discussion should focus on the things I mentioned, since they are the entire focus of the author’s post.

    7. Alternative Three is now posted at and I hope you can respect my wish to keep it to Page Two. This plan does not discuss bus frequency since that is a job for Metro planners and a lot of that has already been handled by Prop One!

      1. Please not there is an error on the map (hopefully corrected soon) the 11 will turn to E Pine at E Madison to Broadway and then south to Madison to go West again!

        1. Since Reg wishes to keep comment on this confined to Page Two, perhaps a Page Two author could create a new post for this discussion. A central point for discussion could focus the comments on this particular plan among the usual STB commenters.

        2. Good idea. If you don’t mind, I’ll write up a post about Reg’s idea, some of my own ideas, and (I hope) some guess at frequencies.

      2. Thanks for posting this!

        My first reaction is: Good idea truncating the 8-North to CHS; that’ll insulate everyone else from the Denny delays. Also, a Madison bus line diverting to CHS is a pretty decent idea.

        My second reaction: Central District residents really won’t like truncating the 48. They’re already riding it to the UW in great numbers; they’ll object to transferring at 23rd and John for all the same reasons you do.

        My third reaction: Did you really mean to delete all service from north Broadway? It’s highly used, and it’s been in place for a long while. Residents there would have even more cause to complain than people around 19th and John: they aren’t even being forced to transfer; your plan cuts them off from all service. If you want to merge the 10’s tail with something else without regard to trolleybus wire, I’d rather merge it with the 43 (turning it on Aloha if necessary.)

        In short, your plan contains some very good elements, but it needs more work. Perhaps the two problems can be combined into a solution by extending the 48-South up Broadway along the 49’s route? I’m not sure if doing that and saving the 43 is worth it, but it’s at least worth thinking about.

        1. Well, all I can say is thank you for your comments and you are totally right about the 10, 43 and 48 49 and hope there are better ideas out there. My attempt was to give everyone south of E John direct access to CHS if they (and Metro) want it and to sill allow north Capital Hill access.

          It really looks better on the map and hopefully you saw my Broadway correction for the 11. Based on the map, I’m wondering if the new 38 could go north on 19th, 12th or Broadway. The idea of merging the 10 and 43 has merit too.

          Hopefully the ideas will keep coming that is what I was hoping for!

          I am totally open to improvements as long as the revised 11 is kept since I think it will be a real asset for all the Madison Corridor with many of the pros that SDOT was pushing, but this one does it now as part of a total plan.

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