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Seattle decades: the 1960s

Advancements from Boeing, the addition of the SuperSonics, and the World Fair made the 1960s quite the time to live in Seattle.

Westlake pedestrian mall 1965

The Westlake Park shopping area looks a little different now than it did in 1965.

Photo via Seattle Municipal Archives

Reflecting the changing times, the 1960s were a wild ride in Seattle. The city saw major innovations, protests, and the construction of a certain pointy landmark over those years.

Let’s dive into a little history, shall we?

Population: ~550,000 people
Mayors: Gordan Clinton (1956-1964), James d’Orma Braman (1964-1969), Floyd C. Miller (1969)

1960 — The City of Mercer Island is incorporated on July 5. It encompasses the entire island community, sans the business district, which votes to incorporate itself as the Town of Mercer Island. The two governments eventually merge in 1970.


About 5,600 tons of concrete were poured into the foundation for the Space Needle.

Photo courtesy of the Space Needle

1961 — The Space Needle breaks ground. Construction crews have one year and four days to build it before the beginning of the World’s Fair.

1962 — The World’s Fair opens in what’s now the Seattle Center, attracting 9,609,969 visitors and folks like Elvis Presley, Walt Disney, and Prince Phillip.

1963 — The first sit-in of the civil rights movement in Seattle happens on July 1 in the mayor’s office.

1964 — The Beatles play in Washington for the first time at the Seattle Center Coliseum — now the Climate Pledge Arena — on August 21.

1965 — Seattleite Joel Pritchard and his friends invent Pickleball on Bainbridge Island.

Seattle SuperSonics 1978

The Seattle SuperSonics rocked the Seattle Center from 1967 to 2008. This photo is from ~1978.

Photo via Seattle Municipal Archives

1966 — The NBA gives Seattle the franchise that would soon become the Seattle SuperSonics. Lenny Wilkens joins the team in 1968.

1967 — A Boeing 737 prototype, called the “Baby Boeing,” makes its maiden voyage.

1968 — On April 26, 2,000 citizens march from the King County Courthouse to the Seattle Center in protest of the Vietnam War.

1969 — Washington’s section of I-5 is totally completed. The Seattle-to-Everett portion was finished in 1965.

Did you enjoy this decades roundup? Check out our piece about Seattle in the 1910s.

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