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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on June 4 at 13:52 PM

Building the viaduct, 1952


posted by Seattle Municipal Archives

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Posted by Dan Savage | June 4, 2008 2:01 PM

May they once again be together in infrastructure heaven.

Posted by Dougsf | June 4, 2008 2:12 PM

"Now are you sure they said to only put the pilings 5ft into the ground?!"

Posted by Shane | June 4, 2008 2:13 PM

The pilings go to bedrock, Shane.

Posted by Fnarf | June 4, 2008 2:14 PM

Never mind the vacuoles from the construction waste, Fnarf. They don't exist, even if the soundings show they do ...

But you're right, the pilings are much longer than 5 feet.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 2:25 PM

Ah Fnarf once again you are full of it. Although WiS is correct that the footings do much deeper than 5' - they go to the till through the fill.

Borings and geophysical surveys indicate that approximately 1,300 to 3,500 feet of sediment overlie the bedrock in this area (Yount et al. 1985).

Posted by ouch | June 4, 2008 2:33 PM

Will, please go out and buy a clue.

Posted by Greg | June 4, 2008 2:34 PM

Dan says "Ugh."

I look at that photo and I can just imagine how it must have seemed like the gleaming future had arrived.

We never got our jet powered hovercars, though...and now we need something else.

What would look like our future now?

A park? A pile of rubble?

(Don't say "a monorail"--some dreams are too beautiful to make real.)

Posted by pgreyy | June 4, 2008 3:00 PM

we can restore the waterfront to its original condition: criss crossed with train tracks & covered in horse shit.

Posted by max solomon | June 4, 2008 3:09 PM

Thank you @6.

Glacial till - you want bedrock, don't look near the mudflats ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 3:19 PM

jeez that's 1952? With exception to the crane, you could have labeled it 1912 and i'd have believed it.

Posted by Bon Scott | June 4, 2008 3:32 PM

Will, mudflats have nothing to do with it.

Bedrock is only exposed at the surface in a few locations in the Seattle area: at Alki Point in West Seattle; in the Duwamish Valley near Boeing Field; in the southern portion of Rainier Valley; and at Seward Park in southeastern Seattle. These bedrock exposures all occur south of an east‐west line extending from the south end of Lake Sammamish on the east to Bremerton on the west. This line defines the northernmost part of the Seattle Fault Zone, as shown on Exhibit 4‐1, which consists of several sub‐parallel faults that converge at depth to a single master fault. North of the Seattle Fault, the bedrock is deeply buried by glacial and non‐glacial sediments.
Posted by ouch | June 4, 2008 3:46 PM

Do you think that maybe, JUST MAYBE, I wasn't being serious? Now you're all up in arms. I was expecting a chuckle, but it's turned into an argument about who knows more about bedrock and mudflats-which isn't fun for anyone involved. Wheres the love?

Posted by shane | June 4, 2008 4:28 PM

Personally, I think it was a good decision IN 1952 to place it where it was. No one ever bemoans the loss of industrial zoned land (See South Lake Union, SODO today), and thats all that was on the waterfront than anyway. It was and always has been easier to rip up some industrial and commercial buildings than to bulldoze a ton of residential like I-5 did and since I-5 wasn't built yet so there was no other fast throughfare through the city.

Posted by Brian in Seattle | June 4, 2008 4:54 PM

Someone should go back in time and learn how this city managed to build such a structure. Love or hate the viaduct as you will, but one has to admire a time in Seattle when real infrastructure projects actually came to life. I'd love to see a project of that scale happen again, hopefully with mass transit in mind.

Posted by jestr707 | June 4, 2008 4:54 PM

Keep these pictures coming. I think it's fascinating to see Seattle being built from the ground up.

Posted by elswinger | June 4, 2008 5:23 PM

My point being why we have vacuoles there and that much of what you n00bz think is land is actually mudflats covered over with layers of debris.

Including dead horses.

(god, how clueless you are)

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 5:30 PM

I have 3 words for Dan. Lake Shore Drive.

Geez, how could Chicago ever have been a considered a world-class city with a freeway on its waterfront?

Posted by Mr. X | June 4, 2008 5:50 PM

Tear it down!
Tear it down!
Tear it down!

For the love of God, tear that ugly thing the fuck DOWN before the next earthquake does it for us!! Free the Waterfront!!!

Posted by merry | June 4, 2008 6:17 PM

Will, once again you are stupid. Yes, I was wrong to say "bedrock". The word I meant was "hardpan". The viaduct is quite securely connected to hardpan 65 feet below the surface.

Don't believe me? How about Tom Madden, the state's chief viaduct engineer?

Oh, and please stop with the l33tspeak -- you don't understand it and you use it wrong, which would seem to make YOU the "n00b".

Posted by Fnarf | June 4, 2008 6:28 PM

Tell you what, Fnarf, you drive your car on there during a Richter 9 earthquake ... and then tell me it's "bedrock".

I'll throw flowers on your coffin during your funeral ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 7:07 PM

jestr707 @ 15: Yes, and to think the area was building I-5 and put on the World's Fair (and built the monorail!) in ten years after this photo...

and Will, c'mon. I didn't read anywhere in Fnarf's comments that just because the pilings of 99 go down to the hardpan that it's quake proof....

Posted by J. Whorfin | June 4, 2008 8:02 PM

Will, your reading comprehension skills are lower than Seattle Crime Blogger's. It's not bedrock, it's HARDPAN, and Tom Madden -- look! An actual source! -- has forgotten more about engineering in the last five minutes than you will ever know as long as you live. Admit it: once again, you have nothing, no citations, no vocabulary (vacuoles, huh), no point of view, no understanding.

In a 9 earthquake it won't matter because every building in the region will collapse; that's 100 times as powerful as the one that hit the Bay Area in '89 or Northridge in '94.

You never cease to amaze.

Posted by Fnarf | June 4, 2008 8:22 PM

Will, the scary earthquake is not some M9 bogeyman, it's a M6.7 shaker rupturing up to the ground surface along the Seattle Fault zone. Experts predict more than 1600 dead, 24,000 injured, 29,000 buildings condemned, and over $33 billion in total damage and losses. That's the shit that should be keeping you up at night.

Also, the safest place to be in such an earthquake would be on top of one of those hills where the hard glacial till comes practically right up to the surface and where there aren't big buildings to drop broken glass on you. Keep that in mind.

Posted by Greg | June 4, 2008 10:48 PM

Could someone explain to me why a 6.9 earthquake here would kill 1,600 people while a 6.7 earthquake in SF only managed to kill 67? Frankly, I think the experts are full of shit and on a par with the health experts who expect casualties in the hundreds of millions (if not one billion) in a bird flu pandemic.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 4, 2008 10:56 PM

The safest place to be in a massive earthquake would be in a 100 story residential tower, on a hillside, surrounded by greenspace... right?

Posted by Donolectic | June 4, 2008 11:26 PM

Keshmeshi @ 25: Could someone explain to me why a 6.9 earthquake here would kill 1,600 people while a 6.7 earthquake in SF only managed to kill 67?

Location, location, location. The Loma Prieta earthquake's epicenter was south of SF...the Seattle fault scenario Greg mentions would be pretty much right underneath I-90 and very shallow.

Posted by J. Whorfin | June 4, 2008 11:51 PM


The depth of the quake does affect the amount of surface movement. The Nisqually Quake was a deep one (and was centered pretty far south of Seattle), and a quake of the same magnitude on the shallower Seattle Fault would likely be noticeably worse if it were of similar length (a 45 second quake is a pretty long one, from what I've read).

That said, I do think there's sometimes a certain hype factor at work in trying to overstate earthquake dangers (AWV haters, I'm looking at you), but we could indeed conceivably get an earthquake in our lifetimes along the lines of the 1964 Alaska event - and while I acknowledge modern skyscrapers are pretty well designed for earthquakes, what happens if there's a 9 point subduction quake and the street level drops 20 feet in the middle of the block occupied by the Columbia Tower? Or if/when gas and water lines break and fires break out citywide in all kinds of buildings?

Hell, the City took 5 days or more to get power back after the last windstorm.

Of course, that could all happen tomorrow, or it could happen in 500 years or more.

More likely is another 6.5-6.8 event some time about 15-20 years out, given that those quakes occur on a pretty regular basis. If you look at recent history, quakes of that size can kill a lot of people even in modern cities given the right/wrong circumstances.

It's not worth living in a state of perpetual fear over, but it's nothing to sneeze at, either.

Posted by Mr. X | June 5, 2008 12:10 AM

@25: The fault zone is practically in the middle of the city and, like I said, could potentially rupture all the way up to the ground surface. This is an extremely dangerous combination. The Kobe earthquake is probably the most similar.

Oh, and it's not necessarily just the shaking and collapsing buildings that would kill people, it's the fires afterwards.

Posted by Greg | June 5, 2008 10:33 AM

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