Mar 7, 2024 - History

This week in history: Denny Regrade plan voted down

Two large hills surrounding a home are shown in an older sepia toned black and white photo with "The Remains of Denny Hill" written on the bottom left corner of the photo.
Denny Hill, near downtown Seattle, was regraded using sluicing methods, and the fill was used for developing the city's harbor. Circa 1910s. Photo: Michael Maslan/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

The first week or so of March was a busy one in Seattle history. Here are a few highlights from HistoryLink, an encyclopedia of state history.

March 5, 1912: Seattle residents downvoted Virgil Bogue's comprehensive plan, backed by the Municipal League, to create an ornate city center on the newly flattened Denny Regrade.

  • The eight-year-long regrade, designed to level the city's steep hills so that horse-drawn wagons could travel the streets more expeditiously, ran from Second to Fifth Avenue and from Pike to Cedar Street.
  • The plan would have grouped civic buildings in Belltown and connected them with wide boulevards to Elliott Bay and Lake Union and eventually to Kirkland via a tunnel beneath Lake Washington.

March 2, 1899: Congress approved the creation of Mount Rainier National Park, over 369 square miles of land overshadowed by an active volcano over 14,000 feet high.

  • More than a century later, the park attracts close to 2 million visitors annually.

March 2, 1853: President Millard Fillmore established Washington Territory, carving it out of the massive Oregon Territory.

  • When Oregon gained statehood in 1859, Washington Territory was expanded to include present-day Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming.
  • These boundaries were readjusted in 1863, when Idaho Territory was created and Washington's current state lines were established.

March 1, 1910: The Wellington avalanche, the largest avalanche disaster in U.S. history, occurred not far from Stevens Pass when a peal of thunder dislodged a snow shelf, killing 96 and sweeping trains and carriages down the mountain.


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