A silent movie of various activities performed by the Seattle Department of Streets and Sewers in 1926. Skip to 1:14 for some footage of trolleys and automobiles at a familiar spot.

This is an open thread.

21 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Department of Streets and Sewers, c. 1926”

  1. Wonderful video, Bruce. Machinery- another world. Really awesome to see that “half track” truck pulling a “Fresno Scraper.” Were sport jackets work clothes in those days? Not noticing hard-hats.


    Is that also where The Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle got the idea about what-all to have its agency do? But since Sound Transit is still in the realm of public utilities, one thing I’d like to see it bring into line with water and sanitation:

    Especially now, I think King County Superior Court would appreciate it if ST stops wasting court time over pretty much same ORCA “Card Tap” mistake as sending a fully-paid-up monthly sewer bill to the wrong office. Not only would flow improve, but a lingering really putrid odor problem would certainly be gone for good.

    Maybe what’s needed is for ST’s accountants to join ATU Local 587- the crew in the video, what local?- and start filing “runaround” grievances about having their work of apportioning money unloaded onto judges, making them “work out of grade.” None of whom would complain that anyone’s trying to Defund them.

    Know also, though, that when the Fresno operator got off duty and headed home, he’d always have a smile and a good word when he boarded the streetcar and gave his money to the CONDUCTOR. Who not only also gave constantly up to date information, never claiming that a northbound car was headed to Angle Lake.

    And who not only enforced but personified ORDER.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Cool. That had some tidbits I didn’t know. This is a cool video as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl2rObdNUFw. I didn’t realize that not too long ago, Federal Way/Burien/West Seattle all used to be an island. Then it got filled in by a Lahar from Mount Rainier. South Sounder essentially follows both branches of that debris fill (the only flat route around).

      1. Local boy makes good! Nick had a Nova on the history of the North American continent this past week. He is a GREAT presenter; the Isaac Asimov of Geology.

        OPB has him every day.

  2. And THANK YOU, SAM!!!!!!! First question being, how long will it take us to evacuate this death trap and move it where…Moses Lake? At the very least, shouldn’t DSTT 2 be re-routed to the First Hill alignment, station at Boren and straight south under Beacon Hill?

    Reason also that from the beginning, every route map presented to the public should show as many section views as plan views. Making land-use planning the 3D matter it was Created to be. In voters’ minds, as well as the ground.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Hi Mark,

      As I recall Seattle is the third riskiest place for earthquakes behind SF & LA. One of the more concerning aspects of this is the fact that the metro area uses nuclear power generation & evacuation in case of an accident would be difficult at best & devastating if a quake were to be factored in.

      Rather than playing the panic porn card here, I’ll leave it to those here who know far more than I do on this subject & maybe I could learn something from the locals.

      1. Seattle actually gets almost all of its electricity from hydroelectric dams in the Cascade mountains. A small amount of electricity comes from Columbia Generating Station in Hanford but that’s far outside the hazard area of any earthquake that could hit Seattle (though it does have some of its own seismic risk). WPPSS’s Satsop plant would have been in Gray’s Harbor county but the project failed before it generated any electricity so isn’t really a risk (though it was the largest municipal bond default ever).

        That isn’t to say that Seattle doesn’t have risk from earthquakes, but the hazard is in our dependence on bridges with dubious designs and maintenance, the West Seattle Bridge being the most obvious example of that right now, but another example would be the sinking of the I-90 floating bridge in Lake Washington back in 1990. There’s also other infrastructure that we’re dependent on, like I-5, gas pipelines and other utility corridors that traverse the Seattle Fault. A failure of any or all of those would be hugely impactful to life in Seattle, including transit.

      2. Thanks for the correction. It was something I saw on ABC News , but it was several years ago.

        Thanks again.

      3. The Skagit River Bridge collapse is another recent example. Infrastructure well outside the city can have a big effect. Any major disruption to the rail system would cripple the Port. Although the risk of tsunamis is low in Puget Sound landslides triggered by a major quake could do this. There’s also the risk of another one of our volcanoes erupting. Rainier could set off a Lahar which crosses I-5 near Milton.

  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UgIWDKzT-Q


    Notice one thing about the tires on that “half-track” pulling the “Fresno”, and several other older trucks of that era: hard rubber tires. Very early trolley-buses had them too. For the longest time, heaviest duty trucks had chains like bikes.

    My only argument with Goodyear is my belief that mixed traffic rush-hour motoring will always have too many variables to dispense with a human driver. We’ve been programmed to handle traffic since we were parameciums.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark,

      Calling us paramecium is an insult to the council of parameciums & they would like a word with you. You should have gone with amebas,they’re not as sensitive as parameciums can be.

      Sorry Mark Dublin, couldn’t resist an attempt at humor there.

  4. Humor correction always much appreciated, Sean/ Age five, raced my mom to the mailbox every Thursday to get the Charles Addams cartoon before she got The New Yorker. Don Martin….could lay low longer than COVID. There’s a glossary of his sound effects online. Now needed worse than ever!

    Problem with disasters as porn is that in all ways they’re the opposite of exciting. But Denny regrade and its accompanying ilk prove

    one positive thing: Fill lagoons with garbage, flush a range of hills into the Sound ’til it almost fills up….

    For good and ill both, a magnificent example of what a city can do IF IT DECIDES IT WANTS TO DO IT! Which means……..given the ‘quake danger and the rest of it, think of how many people we can employ dredging SODO up out of the lagoon and giving Belltown back its view of the Olympics!

    Will also not forget an order I heard Chief DSTT Engineer Vladimir Khazak tell his crew foremen vis a vis aboriginal and paleontological delays in the path of the boring machine…”Direct order….YOU DON’T FIND ONE BONE!” Making our first challenge to find out where his crews hid them all! Think of what SAM could charge people to see them.


    1. On the other hand, this “surge” is a 1% rise in attacks versus last year. A bad thing, but not so acutely bad IMO.

      1. It’s not the percentage that matters, it’s the willingness of a visible minority to spread a deadly virus just to make a selfish political point.

        Remember these people have always been there, but thanks to both recent toxic politics as well as a disgraced British doctor named Andrew Wakefield who falsely attributed the MMR vaccine to autism back in 1998, these two separate elements have generated the insane mindset we see today regarding mask waring & the distrust of basic science concepts by some in our country.

      2. Ridership is down 50-80%. You would expect the attacks to decrease. Per rider, and probably per operator, attacks are much more common this year.

        The article provides some detail: “Over one-fifth of the incidents stemmed from the MTA’s social distancing or face covering requirements; all but two of those attacks occurred on buses, the MTA said.”

  5. Over the time period when these conflicts came down, how many passengers were carried who did wear their masks? Would appreciate it if somebody who’s actually been an army medic would set me straight if I’m ‘way off base.

    But it seems to me that if the system would hire teams of two nurses each, with experience in combat units to ride the system, wearing uniforms that spoke to their credentials to at least speak with the uncooperative and advise them of the danger they’re presenting…..a lot of voluntary compliance would result.

    It’s not about authority to enforce a rule. It’s about a respectful request from someone whose authority stems from years of looking Death in the face and politely requesting that He leave the premises.

    Just a thought.

    Mark Dublin

      1. Excellent thought, Mike. It wouldn’t surprise me if our country’s recovery from its present ailments included a more or less universal national service very much like Sweden’s.

        Everybody leaving high school gets enough military training that no firearm of theirs ever again goes off by accident. And that neither they nor their elected politicians will ever again get us into a war by accident either.

        However, the main thing will be that for most participants, whatever their career choices in life, they’ll come out of the service able to take a public service job connected with their chosen skills. And since at age 18 they’re eligible to run for the legislature in Washington right now, their participation in that trade will definitely count as national service too.

        Given what I think is ahead for us these next years, medically and economically as well as educationally and militarily…….I don’t think we’ll have to forcibly conscript anybody.

        Most difficult issue in its shaping, however, will be the number of people who’ll claim that if we can’t get in at age 75, we’ll sue (and start voting politicians out of office as vote we always will) for Age Discrimination if we don’t get it. Thanks for bringing up this subject.

        Mark Dublin

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