Chief Seattle Thelma Dewitty Thomas Foley Carrie Chapman Catt Anna Louise Strong Mark Tobey Helene Madison Home
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7099 essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

People's History Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Alaskan Way Viaduct: Interview with Dan Evans Essay 10040 : Printer-Friendly Format

This is an interview with Governor Daniel J. Evans (b. 1925) concerning Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct. The interview was conducted in January 2012 by Dominic Black. 

The Interview

I'm Daniel J. Evans and I worked as a structural engineer -- junior structural engineer -- on the design of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and then of course watched with great interest much later on as governor of the State of Washington when we built a whole series of freeway systems, which did connect with, but in many cases kind of overwhelmed, the original Alaskan Way Viaduct.

DB: How did you first come to be involved in the project?

Well when I graduated from the University of Washington shortly after World War II of course we were ... I had had a graduate degree in structural engineering and was looking for an engineering job and was hired immediately by the City of Seattle -- by the engineering department -- but within six or seven months I was asked to join a special design team which had been created to actually do the design work on the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

DB: Was that an exciting thing to be asked to take part in?

Oh sure, it was much more interesting and exciting than doing tedious design work on street intersections in Seattle and that sort of thing so ... this was a big project. It was by far the biggest project attempted in the Seattle area up to that time, really, and to be part of the design team, even as a junior member, was pretty exciting.

All of the plans were drawn -- you know -- by hand -- they were technical drawings that we would be involved with. Alongside of that of course we were doing calculations on pieces and parts of the structure. The general design, of course, was laid out by the senior member of the team, and when it got down to us we were working on the pieces and parts of the structure that were necessary. And it was ... it was really kind of fun to do calculations and translate those calculations into concrete and steel requirements for columns and for the connections between the columns and the flat plates that turned into the roadways. And then to go out and actually watch early construction and see what was done with your drawings and careful calculations when they were put together by a bunch of laborers out in the field -- so it was fascinating in all of those respects.

DB: What's your view of the viaduct now then?

Well, I think the Viaduct for 50 years has served a very useful purpose. It was -- remember it was a transitional kind of structure. When it was built it was built to bypass downtown because there was no other way to get from north to south or vice versa except by city streets. This was the first attempt to bypass. Well since then of course I-5 has come about so there's a much easier way, for most of the day at least, for people to get through Seattle, but traffic of course in those intervening years has built as rapidly as the new structures have been built.

DB: How will you feel when the Viaduct comes down?

Well, mixed feelings. I sometimes wonder why we aren't capable of building structures as lasting as the Romans and the Greeks built 2,000 years ago, some of which are still standing. Some of the Roman aqueducts I think are marvelous pieces of engineering built that long ago. We don't seem to build things that last that long and I don't know whether that's a good idea or a bad idea but that's the way it is, and ... I'll be sorry to see it go because it's a piece of what I did and what I helped accomplish. By the same token I have a very strong belief that Seattle, as a city which I love -- I've lived here my whole life and intend to continue -- that we deserve to redo that waterfront and to make it into what it really could be, which is a spectacular front door to Seattle.

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Roads & Rails |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

People's Histories include memoirs, reminiscences, contemporary accounts, reprints of older historical accounts, commentary on and interpretation of current and historical events, and expressions of personal opinion, many of which have been submitted by our visitors. These essays have not been verified by and do not necessarily represent its views.

We also present here HistoryLink Elementary, essays for beginning readers based on existing HistoryLink content, as well as award-winning essays about local history from regional or state History Day competitions that were written by students from Washington middle and high schools.

This essay made possible by:
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)
Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs

Governor Dan Evans reflects on the time he was a young structural engineer working on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Interview by Dominic Black, Seattle, January 22, 2012

Daniel J. Evans (b. 1925), ca. 1999
Courtesy Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs

Viaduct and downtown seen from Waterfront Park, Seattle, 1970s

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM) is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email

Untitled Document