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Seattle decades: the 1970s

The 1970s was a wild time to live in Seattle. The decade gave us the Mariners, the Seahawks, the Kingdome, Bumbershoot, WSDOT, and more. Let’s rewind to 50 years ago.

A crowd of people looking very in-line for 1970s fashion watch a performance at Bumbershoot in 1974. A baby in the front row looks a little unnerved (in a funny way). Another person with an afro and a full denim outfit lounges comfortably in the front.

There’s no arguing that this photo was taken in the 70s. Here, a crowd seems entranced by a 1974 Bumbershoot performance.

Photo via Seattle Municipal Archives

Following in step with the rest of the United States, the 1970s brought a major cultural reset that gave us well-loved Seattle treasures like the Seahawks, the Mariners, Bumbershoot, the Kingdome, and more.

Let’s take a look at life 50 years ago.

Population (King County): ~1,156,633 people
Mayors: Wesley C. Uhlman (1969-1977), Charles Royer (1978-1986)

1970 — The Navy deactivated Sand Point Naval Air Station, leaving it open to eventually become our park. Jimi Hendrix played his last show in Seattle before his death on TKTKTK.

1971 — The real first Starbucks store opened at 2000 Western Ave. Bumbershoot made its debut on August 13. Voters made the choice to preserve Pike Place Market.

A rendering of a proposed plan for the Waterfront Park area shows some hexagonal pier constructions that never made it to fruition. The general geometrical style of the buildings generally represents a very 1970s architectural style.

This rendering shows what the Seattle Waterfront near the aquarium almost looked like.

Rendering via Seattle Municipal Archives

1972 — Seattle City Council voted to build the Seattle Aquarium on the waterfront. King County voters approved creation of King County Metro Transit. Officials broke ground on the construction of the Kingdome.

1973 — The South Seattle Islamic Center was founded and the Seattle Samoan Center opened at Centro de la Raza.


Three years before Gas Works Park opened in 1974, it looked like this. Talk about a glow-up.

Photo via Seattle Municipal Archives

1974 — Gas Works Parks opened on Lake Union’s northern shore. Seattle’s LGBTQ+ community celebrated its first Pride week. The NFL selected Seattle for a new franchise, making way for our beloved Seahawks.

1975 — Seattle approved Sand Point as the site for NOAA’s new Western headquarters. Bill Gates and Paul Allen launched the biz that would later grow into Microsoft.

1976 — Seattle, King County, and the State of Washington suspended a lawsuit against the American League, paving the way for the Mariners to form. The Kingdome opened and hosted its first sporting event.

1977 — The Seattle Mariners played their first game against the California Angels. The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center opened. The Seattle Aquarium, Warren G. Magnuson Park (formerly Sand Point), and the Washington State Dept. of Transportation (WSDOT) debut.

1978 — The original 12.1-mile section of the Burke-Gilman opened. Walla Walla produced its first successful premium wine, beginning Washington’s reputation for the product.

1979 — The SuperSonics won their first and only NBA championship. Ferry services between Port Townsend and Edmonds returned after 40 years.