A 1983 documentary produced by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the Seattle Engineering Department about how Seattle got its groove (and groves) back.

This is an open thread.

50 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Reforestation”

    1. Replied in the wrong spot. Not yet, but eventually. You can see the numbers below.

  1. Just moved from Sammamish to Redmond this week.

    Does anyone know why the 219 and the Redmond tail of the 554 don’t continue to Bear Creek Park & Ride instead of ending at a stop in the middle of nowhere (Redmond Way and NE 185th)?

    1. The Redmond tail of the 554 exists only because it’s on the way back to the bus base, so they figure, may as well let people ride it if they want to. That’s why the trips that serve the Redmond tail have such odd hours. The actual base is located in Bellevue, near the junction of 520/405. Bear Creek P&R would add a detour and carry almost zero riders (those coming from downtown would be better off on the 545). From Redmond Way/185th, the bus can get right on the freeway and back to the base, allowing the bus driver to clock out for the night.

      1. That doesn’t explain the 219.

        I would also argue that the 554 end point not being at a convenient transfer stop causes issues for riders that justify it continuing for another few minutes before ending it’s route.

      2. The 219 is rush hour only, so every trip, the bus is going back to the base, so the same reason applies.

        In general, Metro is designing these routes only really caring about people going from downtown Seattle to Sammamish. Sammamish->Redmond is outside the stated purpose, so they don’t care.

      3. Does the 216 also go directly back to base? It’s the one bus of the set that does go to Bear Creek Park & Ride.

  2. Looking at the wiki page for light metro (medium capacity rail systems) the capacity has to be at least 15,000 people per direction per hour according to the world bank.

    The conceptual operating plan for East Link + North Link is 20 trains per hour, with 4 car trains that have a maximum crush load capacity of 252 people per car (194 is considered standard capacity).

    So at standard capacity you get 15,520 per direction per hour and at maximum crush load you get 20,160 per direction per hour.

    So I would say it isn’t yet, but it will be as soon as 2023.

    1. That’s the first I’ve heard of a number threshold for light metro, so I wouldn’t take it too rigidly. The article even says, “The definition of a medium-capacity system varies due to its non-standardization. Inconsistencies in international definitions are even reflected within individual countries…. Generally speaking, medium capacity systems has a lower ridership capacity when compared to other heavy rail systems in the same area. However, passenger capacity volume is just one possible criterion used to define a medium-capacity rail transit system.”

      The comparison is with fully grade-separated rails on the one hand, like BART and the Chicago El; and typical light rails on the other, like MAX, VTA, and San Diego that are almost all surface. The size of the trains and stations are also a factor, and how it’s powered, with third rail being common for heavy rail and pantographs for light rail (because third rail is too dangerous for areas where people walk or drive over the track).

      Light metro came out of the 1970s renewal of tram technology, the goal was to get some of the benefits of a full metro on a budget, with the expectation that they’d later be converted to heavy rail as the population and demand grew. But many of them ended up performing so well that there was no need to convert them, so that was scrapped and they were expanded to more areas.

      Link is somewhere in between light rail and light metro. The SODO and MLK segments with the Beacon Hill connecting tunnel are what you’d expect from light rail, and the elevated segment to SeaTac could go either way (because there are several interpretations for it: it was originally planned as surface, it has to cross highways, north Tukwila is an industrial area with no use for stations and the routing would be impractical surface). But the DSTT and the tunnel to Northgate are definitely like light metro. because there was a conscious decision to reject minimalist surface options and to get it right to neighborhood centers (at least Broadway, U-District, and Roosevelt), where it was hoped that people would rise to the occasion and ride it massively to justify the investment. When the U-Link extension opened somebody said Capitol Hill and UW stations look like “real subway stations” — the kind you’d expect for a heavy-rail subway, not like the dinky stations on south. So that makes it more like light metro.

      ST2 Link is almost completely grade-separated and can run at 55 mph throughout, and ST3 probably will too (notwithstanding the Ballard drawbridge: a river bridge that opens four times a day is not like a road crossing that opens ten times an hour). So with ST2 Link will be something like 90% grade separated, and thus look a lot like a light metro. But that term isn’t really used in the US, especially by the public, so it will still be called light rail, which is unfortunate because it significantly underestimates its accomplishments and risks misunderstanding by people whose experience is typical American light rails, which leads to the claim that it’s “the most expensive light rail country, way too expensive”. Yes but that’s not a fair comparison. Its grade separation and speed make it more effective, which over time should lead to high ridership, and its costs are typical for light metro.

      1. My own definition of “Light Metro” is pretty much same as “Light Rail”. If the trains are able to run sixty miles and hour, but also to negotiate streetcar track where conditions demand, they class as “Light Rail.”

        The “Light” refers not to weight or passenger load, but to degree of right of way reservation it requires. Will lay off the Electroliner before Flickr takes it out for being terrorist, but really is perfect example.

        If you be sure to calculate in both the restaurant section with white table-cloths and GP street running, stop signs and all in Milwaukee, you’re safe. However, as long as some trains on the line needed a combination passenger and baggage far with a freight door for milk cans and tractor parts, term was “Interurban.”

        Long shot could be if we called ST-3 “Interuban” instead of “Light Rail”, might sound prestige historic-rural enough to get some out-state votes. But bet calling it The Electroliner (connoting lightning-speed line-haul transit, rather than future purpose of some oinking baggage car passengers) would definitely swing a “squeaker.”

        But I think these pretty much sum it all up.











        To complicate “Branding”, however. In Norway and Sweden, name for this category of transit is “Streetcar” or “Tramway” if it can run street track at all. Like both First Hill streetcar and LINK.

        The use to which these particular cars are being put is “Tverbannan” which means, “Link.” But at least reference is solid. Major purpose of the lines is to “Link” heavy-rail subway systems.




        However, another terrific re-brand for LINK:


        Among the Swedish nobility, literal name “Swine-head” meant the Wild Boar’s Head symbol of a clan who’d make link-sausage out of anybody with a problem with it. So probably better to stay with “Electroliner. Still, we might get a little more respect out of Razorbacks fans.



      2. We could call it the Interurban because that’s roughly its function, even though it’s not in the original corridor and it has city neighborhood stops which were on a separate network. However, Sounder South is in the original corridor so maybe it’s the real Interurban.

        “To complicate “Branding”, however. In Norway and Sweden, name for this category of transit is “Streetcar” or “Tramway” if it can run street track at all.”

        The original interurbans were called streetcars too. But we shouldn’t use that term now because it has been defined as only sub-performing,, useless trains. A street in that era was a dirt path, and a street car was a think that ran on tracks in those paths, which was the fastest way to get around. They used the same word for both city trains and interurban trains because there was no other kind of streetcar or car to confuse it with. Automobiles started appearing but they weren’t called cars until the post-streetcar era.

      1. You’re right, Mike. Translation is spårvagn: Spore-vang. Probably, literally, street with tracks, like railroad “spur”. But that’s mostly guess. Mainly, means pretty much that if it can do street running, that’s what it is.


        PSE (Puget Sound Electric) ran both under trolleywire in town, and third rail cross country- which cost some livestock their lives.



      2. I don’t know Swedish but vagn means car as I recall, and spor is probably related to German Spur, a trail (the kind cart wheels make, a detective follows, or Hansl & Gretl leave). So trail-car.

  3. Since my car-bike collision on 19th Avenue @ E Cherry Street on March 2nd, and since I’m newly out of rehabilitation (too early IMO) I’ve come to see how poorly the street has been designed to account for large amounts of water (rain.) Yesterday (April 14) I was on my walker on Broadway @E Pike Street by the KFC. There was a good three or four inches of water on the street and pretty much all the vehicles that traversed the street through up huge “rooster tails” of water much of it making its way to the sidewalk where pedestrians had to hug the sides of buildings in order not to get drenched. It appears that 1), vehicles are *not* observing the 25 MPH speed limit and 2), the street was not well-designed for rain drainage. It’s not as if Seattle is a stranger to lots of rain either.

    1. There were some very strong (un-Seattlelike) downpours at times on the 14th. I witnessed them in West Seattle, but I’m quite sure they weren’t that localized.

  4. How many of the large old trees in the video are still there? Are there any limits at all on tree-removal? Because to me, given the amount of air-cleaning and atmospheric replenishment they do, past a certain age I don’t think they should be considered private property at all.

    Good case that the trees clean pretty much the same amount of air that your presence requires cleaning. Same with roots keeping streets and train tracks from becoming part of your yard.

    Rule should be that if you buy property with a tree past a certain size on it, you’re getting something valuable at no cost to you. We’ll even get you a break on your property taxes for having it. Certainly enough to compensate you to keep something that will only increase the sale price of your property.

    Problem with that, find a property without any trees on it, and don’t plant one you don’t plan to keep. Trolley-wire, case by case basis. I’m being ruthless to make a point. Really jealous looking at some of those pictures. The more battery-powered vehicles, the less problem for transit. But main idea: Think of a large tree as as already on the Historic register.


    1. And they did all that without knowing how vital trees would become for air cleaning and defending against climate change, which are not mentioned at all in the video.

      It’s also good to be reminded what Seattle looked like back then, because even though i lived through it, the changes were so gradual that I don’t grasp how much the whole has changed. Yes, there are seven-story buildings on this block where there used to be one or two story, but the sidewalk-level view is so limited you only see the local effect one block at a time, not the aggregate effect from a larger distance. And those downtown scenes were especially telling. I assume the JC Penney’s sign was for the downtown building at 2nd & Pike? I thought that Penney’s had closed before then. But in any case, that number of people was typical for the downtown retail district then. There was a massive increase in crowds in the 1990s with the Westlake Park rebuild and DSTT and Pacific Place and the movie theaters and more upscale shops going in, so thick that Pine Street has pedestrian traffic congestion all day and until 9:30pm. I was stunned for years at the crowds although I’ve gotten used to them now, but it wasn’t like that in the 80s. So not only was the city different then, but that affected their view of what decisions they should make and what impact they would have.

      I can see the point about trees being an essential public utility. But that very much clashes with Americans’ sense of private property. And the tree giveaway program was essentially a contract, an explicit promise that the trees would remain privately owned. So I don’t see how much you can do about it. I also don’t think it’s an urgent issue because I don’t see many trees being cut down nowadays. Just a handful, far less than 1%. I do wonder how well the homeowners and subsequent homeowners kept up their end of the bargain to take care of the trees. But since the trees are still there I guess they’re doing an adequate job. I wonder how well it’s communicated to homebuyers that certain trees were given free by the city and came with an obligation to take care of them, or how much information they get on how to take care of them.

      1. The street that the JCPenney sign is on looks more like NW Market Street in Ballard than 2nd Ave. I think there was a Penney’s store there years ago.

      2. Ah, it does look more like Market Street. I didn’t know there was a Penney’s in Ballard. I thought it was only downtown and at the malls.

      3. There was a JC Penny’s on Market Street that was closed and developed into Ballard Square on the north side of the street between 24th ave and 22nd ave. You could park and enter it from the street behind on its second floor.

        After Ballard Square went in, there was a place to renew car tabs and other small shops. Don’t know if it is still there. In the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a big record shop that became Peaches. It took up most of the second floor. It was considered big for a while. Had radio commercials and announced band concerts.

        I think in this video with the kids on the Big Wheels you can see an white office building which is part of Ballard turned Swedish Hospital.

      4. That JCPenney almost looks like the one in West Seattle, which was there until at least 1985. That doesn’t really look like downtown to me. I could be wrong though

      5. I am not positive that video is on Market Street. But it does look like it to me. The only thing I am sure of is that Big Wheels were fun. Also I remember going to Freeway park when I was a kid. Still have pictures that look just like the video. It was smaller because the Convention Center was not there yet.

      6. Yes, that’s the old JC Penney’s on Market Street in Ballard. You can see the marque of the old Bay Theater in the background (now remodeled and expanded as the Majestic Bay). This was back in the day when Ballard still had Scandinavian shops.

      7. Yeah, it is definitely Market Street — that I recognized. What confuses me is the street shown at 3:46. They showed it a couple times, and I just can’t place it.

        As far as the cops go, for some reason I think the “Bobby” hats were used only for the cops down in Pioneer Square. Most cops drove around by then, but the city had a special walking patrol for that area. Giving them an English look was probably meant to reduce tensions. That’s my recollection, though, I only have vague memories of the cops back then.

      8. The Ballard Building is still there, if you mean the 4-story prewar building at Market & 22nd. I used to work there in the early 00s on the fourth floor. Or do you mean the one-story red BECU building west of it?

      9. I think you asking me so I will answer. I looked it up on Google maps. It is now a reddish building with a BECU in it that you mentioned. The building has a sign on the front that still reads Ballard Square. If you go to the back of the same building, entrance off of 56th street, there is a small parking lot. Just like 40 years ago. It also says Ballard Square. That used to be the entrance to the second story or back entrance to JC Pennys. Later it was Peaches record store. The building was actually 3 stories, if you include the basement. The JCP was only a neighborhood store. It had clothes and not much else. No electronics, small appliances or toys. I hated it. As a kid it was a boring place to shop. The licensing place is still there now.
        I cannot remember all of the storefronts in the bigger Ballard building. But it used to have a pretty popular small rock concert club in it. It was next door to the Italian restaurant. I don’t think it is where Starbucks is but it was there long before it. Starbucks showed up on the corner around 90-91.

        BTW, it used to be there were 2 bars for every church in Ballard, with all true Scandinavians driving cluelessly with their seatbelt hanging out and left signal on. That must be why they have to have 2 Bartells in one mile. New generation store for hangover medicine for a new generation of drunks. Now I want a beer.

  5. Also: 120 comments on problems with escalators- to the point somebody noted the [OT] mechanism had probably become an escalator. Can think of a lot of reasons of my own. But really curious as to why so many others stayed with this one so long. Suspect it’s a perfect example or symbol of more than one other much larger transit fact that needs attention.


    1. We’re just seeing another pattern. People love to talk about Link alignments, and it also seems they love to talk about escalators.

      I don’t discount the tangental OT comments because those occur every article, so there’s no reason to subtract them from the escalator number.

      1. “I don’t discount the tangental OT comments because those occur every article, so there’s no reason to subtract them from the escalator number.”

        I totally concur.

      2. No complaint about the [OT]. Without an editor, family tells me I’m channeling Hunter S. Thompson, giant purple bats and all. Sharpening a knife always means removing metal. I was looking for the “chord” that topic struck with so many people.

        For me, theme of brand new equipment from a company from Finland – rep for world’s best machines failing on a very large scale. Without a whole lot of explanation. Being that subject is transit, to me details of machinery pretty high up the list.

        Also, major inconvenience due to communications breakdown due not to anything technical besides crossed signals that for two hours, nobody caught. I wonder if this isn’t a morale emergency more than anything else. “Given our finances, and the forces that don’t let us have any…why bother?”

        Thing I’m looking to find who’ve found really compelling reasons to help them bother to get things straightened away. That’s all. Any advice and direction, welcome.

    2. An escalator is generally viewed by a rider as another vehicle in a transit trip. Unlike buses or train cars, when one goes down the base can’t just send out a replacement. ST doesn’t put extra escalators in stations or have an adequate “replacement strategy” when one goes down except to use an elevator at UW Station.

      The blog would blow up if the ST escalator design deficiency issue was applied to vehicles! This blog would blow up if blow up if buses or trains ran only 95 percent of the time! This blog would blow up if a route that runs with full articulated buses every 6 minutes was temporarily “replaced” by a minivan running every 15!

      This my friends is exactly why so many posts came forth.

  6. What’s up with those British-looking policemen? Did Seattle police uniforms really look like that? I’d almost think they were Halloween costumes. Of course maybe they were.

    1. Now that Star Trek has been around so long it’s more Long Ago in a Galaxy etc. than the future. So- maybe Bruce can vouch for this- might be good to reference a time when “‘Ullo, ullo, ullo, and wot ‘ave we ‘ere?” and “‘Ere now, wot’s all this!” brought much cooperation.

      And right now, would feel much safer with authority represented by officers wearing blue than the increasingly popular black. In popular idiom now…..who the Hell’ s lives to “Blue” refer? Would love to be contradicted about this, but I’ve had younger officers tell me that the color gives them more “Presence”.

      Meaning, in their minds, intimidation. The way both the London “Bobbies”and the Irish policemen in our precinct in Chicago projected their “Presence” was just being Present. In the form of authority who’d main order just by being there. At least the expectation they were held to. Does anybody still use term “Peace officer anymore?

      Because was a time not so long ago when a lot of our returning troops had memories of black uniforms whose wearers’ authority owed only to fear. Usually with skulls and crossbones above their visors.I know Seattle police and King County Sheriff’s deputies by name. You know who you are. Make your forces give you back uniforms that represent you for what you are.

      You’re better than this!

      Mark Dublin

    2. Those British “bobbies” were a special police uniform for foot patrols in the Pioneer Square district, at least during the fair-weather tourist season.

      1. Thanks, I said that up above (should have said it here). That was my recollection as well — it is nice to get confirmation that my old memory isn’t too bad after all. Now where did I put my keys …

  7. Bruce
    I wish I had the idea of taking pictures of what I saw when I grew up here. So much has changed and I am forgetting how each street used to look. It is good that you are doing this. I appreciate the modern pictures. They will end up being memories for people who just moved here.
    Just wait till the Millenials are saying: “Back in the day” about Seattle. It will be infunny and interesting what they remember as old and long gone. But with you they will have more footage to jog their memories.
    Thank you.

    1. Seattle has to be one of the more rapidly changing cities in the country. To begin with, we aren’t that old. Even for a very young country, we are nothing like the east coast. Then there are the major changes to the physical landscape. The various regrades were most notable, but the changes in the waterways are also significant. Various rivers flowed into different lakes — Lake Washington used to flow out the Black River. There is just enough “old city” to make it interesting (the pictures of Pioneer Square aren’t that different) while other parts of the city keep changing (it took some folks a while to recognize Market, since it looks so different). There are plenty of places in the country that change, but few have as much relatively old architecture along with rapid change (they tend to have one or the other).

  8. This video reminds me how few street trees I saw when I moved to Seattle in 1968. Those planted during the World’s Fair in 1962 were still saplings. The only streets with major canopy were the Olmsted boulevards, and a very few neighborhoods where homeowners had done early planting.

    The big push for street trees came after 1969 when Wes Uhlman was elected mayor. The first progressive urban Democrat in that seat, which had been previously occupied by dour Republican businessmen.

    When urbanists and others lament the city’s loss of tree canopy over the years, I think they overlook all the canopy that was created on city streets. Sure we had loss of canopy from development on private property, but we got a lot of that back with street tree canopy.

    Was good to hear the voice of Mike James, the long-time KING5 news reporter and anchor — back in the day when KING was owned by Dorothy Bullitt and was the only station worth watching for great coverage of local news and public issues.

    Ah….those were the days….

    1. “Was good to hear the voice of Mike James, the long-time KING5 news reporter and anchor — back in the day when KING was owned by Dorothy Bullitt and was the only station worth watching for great coverage of local news and public issues.”

      I second that sentiment, though I didn’t arrive in Seattle until the 1980s.

  9. In addition to seeing our old streets, it was also fun to here the voice of Mike James from King 5. We watched King5 news every night when I was a kid in the 70’s. I miss the old local news.

  10. Does STB offer anything for donations? I mean, a t-shirt? Coffee mug? I’d love to have some STB merch.

  11. When did the Engineering Department stop existing? I’ve seen a lot of high quality video material from them. Though all of it was from much earlier than the 80s so I originally assumed they must have stop existing midcentury. That’s clearly incorrect given this video

    1. The Engineering Department morphed into the Transportation Department (or is it Department of Transportation..) a while ago, probably a couple of decades. The Engineering Department was an original charter-defined department, with a requirement to be headed by a licensed Professional Engineer. But the charter got amended (approved by Seattle voters) taking such departments out of the charter, to be defined by city ordinance.

    2. The Engineering Department was dissolved in 1997 and its divisions were spun off into SDOT and Seattle Public Utilities (which itself succeeded the Water Department).

  12. The sequoia tree they show being planted downtown is the same one that the mentally ill guy occupied and was throwing pine cones from a few years back. At least I think so.

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