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February 6, 2019

On Feb. 20, MOHAI explores ‘Seattles that might have been'

Image from PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, MOHAI [enlarge]
Universal Elevated Railway Co. proposed building monorails in Seattle 100 years ago.

The Museum of History & Industry will hold a free program on ”The Seattles that Might Have Been” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at 860 Terry Ave N. in Seattle.

The event announcement says Seattle voters have rejected multiple visions of Seattle, and these decisions shape the way people navigate and inhabit the city today.

From Virgil Bogues' 1911 plan for mass transit to the 1995 Seattle Commons proposal, there have been countless visions of possible futures — from the prosaic to the fantastical.

As early as 1910, inventors and businessmen believed a monorail would solve Seattle's downtown traffic problems. The Universal Elevated Railway Co. tried to convince the city to build monorails along Fourth and Westlake avenues, but the city decided to develop a ground-level trolley system instead. This image shows one artist's idea of what the monorails might look like, superimposed on a photograph of an intersection. The image was made about 1920 for Universal Elevated. About 50 years later, a monorail was built to carry people from downtown to the Seattle World's Fair.

The speaker is Eric Scigliano, a former science writer at the University of Washington, who has written for publications that include Harper's, National Geographic, The New York Times, The Seattle Times and Crosscut.

The program is part of the History Cafe series.



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