• Builder remembers good times and tragedy as viaduct becomes part of 'Vanishing Seattle'

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    After World War 2, a booming Seattle had a traffic problem. The Alaskan Way Viaduct was created to solve it. Now 85 years old, Warren Peterson helped to build it.

    He was the just 18 years old when he joined the project in 1952. KIRO 7 obtained rare color film, showing the construction.

    “You had to drive the piling down, then put another, the casing and then drive it down and then you put the rebar in there. It wasn’t no snap your finger type deal,” Peterson.

    The viaduct was built because street level traffic was interfering with getting cargo on and off the ships docked on the waterfront.

    Cynthia Brothers curates the Vanishing Seattle webpage and Instagram.

    She says the viaduct's demise is another symbol of Seattle's emergence from its working-class roots.

    “It's kind of gritty, grimy, it's looking a little busted and broken down but I don't know, there's just something endearing and attractive about that to me, personally. In that brutalism I think there is beauty.”

    “Oh, well,” said Peterson. “Nothing lasts forever. But I had good years on the viaduct when I worked on it because I worked with good people.”


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