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Seattle's Central Association unveils Westlake Center plans on December 3, 1968.
HistoryLink.org Essay 1586
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On December 3, 1968, the Central Association (now the Downtown Seattle Association) unveils its plan for Westlake Park in downtown Seattle. The proposal, which quickly becomes mired in controversy, envisions redeveloping one block between 4th and 5th avenues and between Olive and Pine streets as commercial and
retail space, and the closing of Pine Street to vehicular traffic.
The proposal was controversial until the project formally opened on October 20, 1988, after two years of construction. Opponents, led by University of Washington architecture professor and preservationist Victor Steinbrueck (1911-1985), wanted more open space and in 1979 they sued to stop construction. In 1981, the Washington State Supreme Court found the project to be an unconstitutional blend of public and private projects. In 1984, Steinbrueck and other opponents dropped their second lawsuit when the developers agreed to include an open plaza along Pine Street.
When opened, Westlake Center housed some 80 retailers and it spurred further redevelopment of that area of downtown Seattle.
Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 263; The Seattle Times, October 16, 1988, pp. D-1, D-4, D-5; Ibid., March 26, 1990, pp. B-5, B-6.
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