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VIDEO: Former Mayor Charles Royer, others tell stories about the West Seattle Bridge

[This video presents the entire July 14, 2014, panel discussion, “Bridging the Gap: The Full Story Told by Those Who Were There.”]

 

Thirty years to the day from when the West Seattle Bridge was fully opened to the public, we sponsored “Bridging the Gap: The Full Story Told by Those Who Were There,” a free panel presentation on Monday evening, July 14, 2014.

The event was part of a month-long series in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the bridge. (For details, scroll down.)

For the July 14 bridge panel, 30 people joined us in the Hotwire Online Coffeehouse courtyard, 4410 California Ave. S.W., for a pleasant and extended discussion of how the high-level bridge came to be built from 1980 to 1984. The speakers were:

  • Charles Royer, former Seattle mayor
  • Bob Royer, former Seattle deputy mayor
  • Tom Rasmussen, current Seattle City Council member and former aide to then-Seattle City Council member Jeanette Williams
  • Gerry Johnson, attorney and former aide to U.S. Sen. Warren Magnuson
  • Jack Block, former Port of Seattle commissioner
  • Bruce Wasell and Tom Mahoney, former Seattle Engineering Department project engineers for the bridge
  • Terry Finn, former editor of the West Seattle Herald

For context, sit back for a few minutes and marvel at this vintage 1973 footage, courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, by way of Seattle City Council member (and West Seattle resident) Tom Rasmussen:

 

[This color 1973 footage from the Seattle Municipal Archives looks west and shows the twin Spokane Street bascule bridges in action, opening for a ship headed northbound along the Duwamish River. The span on the left was opened in 1930, and the span on the right was opened in 1924.]

 

[This color 1973 footage from the Seattle Municipal Archives follows a ship headed northbound along the Duwamish River as it passes through the open Spokane Street Bridges, which connected West Seattle to the rest of the city. The twin spans were opened in 1924 and 1930.]

 

[This color 1973 footage from the Seattle Municipal Archives looks east from the hill just west of the Fauntleroy Expressway and shows the twin Spokane Street bascule bridges in the distance, then looks west from Beacon Hill and shows the same twin spans in the distance. The spans were opened in 1924 and 1930.]

 

[This color 1973 footage from the Seattle Municipal Archives shows models depicting plans for a new West Seattle Bridge to replace twin Spokane Street spans that were opened in 1924 and 1930.]

(History note: The high bridge didn’t open all at once. Following the ramming of the low-level bridge by the freighter Chavez on June 11, 1978, construction on the bridge began in 1980. Eastbound lanes opened to the public on Nov. 10, 1983, and westbound lanes opened on July 14, 1984.)

Print
The original design for the 1984 “Bridging the Gap” T-shirt, augmented by a 30th-anniversary banner. (Design by David Kelliher)

 

The 30th anniversary events began June 12, 2014 and are detailed below:

Rob Shiras, owner of IT Headquarters, shows off his "Bridging the Gap" T-shirt, inscribed by the artist Dave Kelliher with the question "Where you were you when the ship hit the span?"
Rob Shiras, owner of IT Headquarters, shows off his “Bridging the Gap” T-shirt, inscribed by the artist Dave Kelliher with the question “Where you were you when the ship hit the span?”

Ongoing

On sale is a 30th anniversary “Bridging the Gap” T-shirt, based on the original design and manufactured at Seattle Logo Pro (owned by David Groves) in the Junction. In addition, Hotwire has created and packaged a unique new “Bridge Blend” coffee.

Both the T-shirts and the “Bridge Blend” coffee are on sale for $20. A portion of proceeds from sale of the T-shirts and coffee will go to our historical society.

The T-shirts are on sale at West5 Lounge in the Junction as well as at our “Birthplace of Seattle” Log House Museum. The “Bridge Blend” coffee is on sale at Hotwire.

 

Thursday, June 12, through Monday, July 14, 2014

Bob Carney, exhibit volunteer, and Sarah Baylinson, museum manager, hang the "Bridging the Gap" photo exhibit at Hotwire.
Bob Carney, exhibit volunteer, and Sarah Baylinson, museum manager, hang the “Bridging the Gap” photo exhibit at Hotwire.

An exhibit of photos telling the story of the West Seattle Bridge and earlier bridges across the Duwamish River opened during West Seattle Art Walk on Thursday evening, June 12, at Hotwire Online Coffeehouse, 4410 California Ave. S.W. It continued through Monday, July 14, 2014.

The exhibit featured 19 photographs spanning nearly a century. The two dominant images were”now and then” aerials of the bridge corridor looking north and taken in the mid-1970s and in May 2014. (The latter was contributed by Long Bach Nguyen.)

Curator of the exhibit was Sarah Baylinson, museum manager, assisted by longtime exhibit volunteer Bob Carney.

Dick Sherman (left), ad representative for Robinson Newspapers, has his "Bridging the Gap" T-shirt inscribed by artist David Kelliher during the June 12, 2014, debut of the shirts at Hotwire Online Coffeehouse.
Dick Sherman (left), ad representative for Robinson Newspapers, has his “Bridging the Gap” T-shirt inscribed by artist David Kelliher during the June 12, 2014, debut of the shirts at Hotwire Online Coffeehouse.

On hand for the kickoff was graphic artist David Kelliher, a former West Seattleite who created the design for Robinson Newspapers in 1984. He signed T-shirts and spoke about how he came up with the shirt’s fanciful design.

 

Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Hotwire Online Coffeehouse-hosted booth was of West Seattle Summerfest, in the West Seattle Junction.

Staffed by “Bridging the Gap” T-shirt-wearing Southwest Seattle Historical Society volunteers, the booth featured interactive art in which more than 100 children colored themselves atop the West Seattle Bridge. “Bridging the Gap” T-shirts and “Bridge Blend” coffee beans were on sale at the booth as well.

In addition, during Summerfest we collaborated with the Washington State History Museum to celebrate the state’s 125th birthday. The Olympic marmot mascot Seymour History was present, and visitors could enter a drawing to win Seymour and other prizes.

Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014

What more fitting end to a summer celebration of West Seattle’s most prominent and significant icon than to see a popular movie that was partially filmed in West Seattle?

Of course, we’re talking about the 30th anniversary of the West Seattle Bridge, as well as the classic film “Sleepless in Seattle”! It was romance beneath the stars.

About 150 people joined us Saturday evening, Aug. 2, 2014, for a free showing of the 1993 PG romantic comedy as part of the West Seattle Outdoor Movies series in the courtyard of Hotwire Online Coffeehouse, 4410 California Ave. S.W..

Before the film, musical entertainment was provided by Stay Tuned, which specializes in vintage movie and TV themes. Proceeds from the sale of refreshments and raffle items went to our historical society.

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