King County voters approve Port of Seattle expansion on November 8, 1960.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 1983

On November 8, 1960, King County votes to expand the Port of Seattle Commission from three to five members and approves a $10 million bond issue for Port development, including construction of revolutionary new cargo container facilities at Piers 46 and 28. Voters elect Gordon Newell and John Hayden to the expanded Port Commission.

Voters' endorsement of Port plans was particularly significant since the Commission had come under withering criticism, including a 1959 KING-TV News expose titled "Lost Cargo," for lagging cargo activity. Voters had previously rejected expansion of the Commission.

The Port's commitment to new containerization technology entailed major risks, since most of the world's cargo was still handled by conventional freighters. The gamble paid off as the Port's cargo tripled from 2.2 million tons in 1960 to 6.5 million tons in 1974. In 1998, the Port of Seattle handled 1.54 million TEU's (a TEU is a Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, the size of a small container) and ranked as the fifth most active container port in the United States.


Padraic Burke, The History of the Port of Seattle (Seattle: Port of Seattle, 1976); Port of Seattle, Port of Seattle 1998 Annual Report.

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