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Edwards, Myrtle (1894-1969)

HistoryLink.org Essay 664 : Printer-Friendly Format

Myrtle Edwards served on the Seattle City Council from 1955 to 1969. In the 1964 election, 122,249 people voted for her, the most votes a councilmember had ever received up to that time. In March 1969, she became president of the council. She carried out her work in public life within the League of Women Voters, the Greater Seattle Council of Churches, the Municipal League, and Seattle Beautiful, Inc., which promoted public parks, boulevard plantings, and programs that enhanced neighborhood beautification. On August 18, 1969, she died from injuries sustained the day before in an automobile accident. A stunned city mourned her death, and Myrtle Edwards Park, along Elliott Bay, was named in her honor.

A Background in Music

Before moving to Seattle, Edwards studied music at the University of Illinois, the American College of Music, and Illinois College of Music, which awarded her a Bachelors degree. In 1918, she married Harlan H. Edwards. The couple lived in Illinois and California before moving to Seattle during World War II. They had two children.

In Seattle, Mrs. Edwards became actively involved in public life. She studied political science and public administration at the University of Washington, where she earned a second Bachelors degree. Prior to her appointment to the City Council, she served as president of both the Seattle and the Washington State League of Women Voters and was a member of the executive board of the Greater Seattle Council of Churches. She was also active in the Municipal League, the American Association of University Women, Business and Professional Women, the Boy Scouts, and the Camp Fire Girls.

For a Beautiful City

An avid bird watcher, Edwards was a member of the Audubon Society. In 1964, Seattle Beautiful, Inc. named her Citizen of the Year. She was a driving force in the organization, which promoted public parks, boulevard plantings, and programs that enhanced neighborhood beautification.

The City proposed naming today's Gasworks Park in Edwards' honor, but her family objected to the preservation of the old coal gas refinery. Instead, her name was given to the pleasant park that stretches along Elliott Bay north of Pier 70. Joggers, beachcombers, picnickers, and sunbathers can escape the bustle of downtown within minutes. Awaiting them is an expansive park that offers intimate connections with marine life on Elliott Bay and stunning views of water, ships, and the distant Olympic Mountains.

Mildred Tanner Andrews, Woman’s Place: A Guide to Seattle and King County History (Seattle: Gemil Press, 1994), 170; The Seattle Times, August 19, 1969, p. 12.

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Seattle Councilwoman Myrtle Edwards (1894-1969)
Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives

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