April 9, 2012
The Seattle World’s Fair didn’t spring from the ground out of nowhere. There was an existing neighborhood with a mix of residential, commercial and institutional buildings. Many structures were demolished to make way for the fairgrounds and some were repurposed for the fair and then adaptively re-used again after the fair for Seattle Center. The Century 21 Exposition looked to the future while obliterating the past to clear the site to make new history in the form of a seminal event in Seattle’s development as a city. Fifty years later, we view the structures built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair as historic, several of which are designated Seattle Landmarks. Knute Berger’s Crosscut article, “Seattle Center: How the city bulldozed history to create change,” is a fascinating read on how a huge swath of the Queen Anne neighborhood was transformed into the fairgrounds and Seattle Center.
Here’s a view of two houses that were demolished that were typical of the residential structures in the neighborhood. They were adjacent to the Seattle Armory Building (built in 1939) which was repurposed as the Food Circus for the World’s Fair. We know it today as the Center House which houses a food court, offices and conference/meeting rooms. It’s also a Seattle Landmark.
Photo: View looking northwest of the south and partial east facades of the Seattle Armory Building and adjacent houses on Thomas Street. Houses were demolished to make way for the Monorail Terminal Building. Source: Seattle Public Library Century 21 Collection