Guide to SMA Resources for Council District 3

district map highlighting District 3 Listed here is a small selection of records in the Seattle Municipal Archives relating to neighborhoods in District 3, including Capitol Hill, Central Area, First Hill, Leschi, Madison Park, Montlake, and South Lake Union. Many more historical resources are available; please contact an archivist for assistance.

The current District 3 Councilmember is Kshama Sawant.

Early Records

Capitol Hill electric trolley at 15th and Aloha, 1903
Capitol Hill electric trolley at 15th and Aloha, 1903
Image 64767

The area covered by District 3 has been a part of the City of Seattle since the City was incorporated in 1869. In the following years, Seattle's boundaries gradually shifted as surrounding areas and towns were annexed to the City. Learn more at our online Annexed Cities exhibit.

The General Files collection contains City of Seattle records from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and document the activities of City officials and Seattle residents during a time of enormous growth and change. Topics include the aftermath of the Great Fire, the development of the water supply and sewer systems, grading and street improvements, housing, public health, and many other issues. General Files related to District 3 neighborhoods may be found here.

Parks and Recreation

Kids at Collins Playfield, circa 1940s
Kids at Collins Playfield, circa 1940s
Image 31368

Parks and public works projects in District 3 are well documented with Engineering and Parks records. The Olmsted planting plan for Volunteer Park, for example, can be found here. The Don Sherwood Parks History Collection includes records about Cal Anderson Park (formerly Lincoln Park), Judkins Park, Madison Park, Mount Baker Park, Homer Harris Park, and many others.

Parks Planning, Construction, and Maintenance Records contain information about construction and improvement projects for parks across the city, including Powell Barnett Park and Playground, Spruce Street Mini Park, T.T. Minor Play Area, Frink Park, and Firehouse Park.

The Published Documents collection holds reports on the arboretum from the 1960s to the 2000s that include master plans, environmental impact statements, and studies. SMA also holds photographs from the Madrona Dance Studio.

Infrastructure and Public Works

Leschi neighborhood study environmental analysis, 1962
Leschi neighborhood study map, 1962
Map 1965

Records from the Engineering Department, the Board of Public Works, and Seattle City Light document the growth and maintenance of city infrastructure. Planning and construction of roads, from small streets and alleys to major thoroughfares like Empire Way, Montlake Boulevard, and the Montlake Bridge, are documented in the Engineering Department's Miscellaneous Improvement Records.

Engineering Local Improvement District records span the years 1894-1985 and include bids, specifications, and correspondence documenting projects such as street and sidewalk paving, sanitary and storm sewer repairs and installation, and other work that benefits property within a defined improvement district. Work relating to the grading and paving of streets, including Montlake and McGilvra Boulevards and Madison and Cherry Streets, can be found here. Many of the projects carried out by City departments are documented with photographs and available in the Digital Collections. Projects include the Montlake Bridge, street widening and paving projects, and other projects in Montlake and Capitol Hill. Also included are projects on Mercer in South Lake Union, construction of the First Hill substation and the Dearborn Street Bridge, and more in First Hill.

Other records cover the development of Interstate 90, the R.H. Thomson Expressway, and the Bay Freeway. A photo album of the Lake Washington floating bridge construction includes many images that have been scanned and put online. Construction of the Lake Union Steam Plant in 1914 is documented in a City Light photo album, and also in City Light Plans and Drawings.

Maps of District 3 include zoning maps from 1923, 1947, 1961, and 1973, as well as early plat maps, maps for planning streets, building projects, and others.

Neighborhood Development and Community Services

20th and Jackson, 1961
20th and Jackson, 1961
Image 49532

Seattle's Model Cities program provided funding and support for numerous projects across the city, including those in District 3. SMA holds records documenting the work and development of Model Cities projects such as the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic and the Central Area Motivation Program's projects like the Black Academy of Music and Black Arts/West.

Urban renewal records reflect changes in the Central Area. Photographs in the Yesler-Atlantic Neighborhood Improvement Project Survey Photographs collection include black and white photographs of primarily residential buildings in the Atlantic and Leschi neighborhoods. Urban Renewal records record how the city used federal funds for a variety of projects, one of which was Yesler-Atlantic, dating from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s. A multimedia exhibit includes audio, textual, and photograph holdings on the Yesler-Atlantic T urban renewal project.

Records for the Capitol Hill Neighborhood Service Center, the Central Neighborhood Service Center, and the Central Area Neighborhood District Coordinator document neighborhood planning and city-community engagement at the neighborhood level from the 1970s through the 1990s. Included are citizen concerns relating to I-90 construction and Judkins Park. Department of Neighborhoods records relating to the reuse of the historic Colman School building are collected in the African American Museum Project Records.

Planning and development projects are documented in records such as the Pike/Pine Project Records, Central Area Special Projects Records, and the 12th Avenue Development Plan Records. Photographic surveys of architecture conducted by the Department of Community Development in the 1970s depict residences, businesses, and many other structures. The Central Area, Capitol HillLeschi, Madison Park, and Montlake are among the neighborhoods illustrated.

Neighborhood News, produced by the Seattle Channel for the Department of Neighborhoods, focused on different neighborhoods around the city. The episode on the East Sector, produced in 2002, is introduced by Mayor Nickels and former Mayor Rice and looks at improvements as a result of the neighborhood planning process. Upgrades to parks, pedestrian improvements, and streetscapes are featured throughout the Central Area, First Hill, and Capitol Hill.

Legislative History

SR 520 under construction, 1962
SR 520 under construction, 1962
Image 71032

City Council committee records and records from elected officials held by SMA are useful in researching intent behind proposed and passed city legislation. In addition, beginning in the late 1950s, SMA holds audio recordings of council and committee meetings, and some public hearings. The public hearings and committee meetings are a window into interaction between citizens and their local government. A few excerpts are included in the exhibit space Seattle Voices, such as this Redlining entry. Many, though not all, of these audio recordings are cataloged in the Digital Collections. If you don't find a meeting you're looking for, please ask an archivist for assistance.

Find more information and tips for searching the background to legislation in our Guide to Researching Legislative History.

Archived records from the office of District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant are in Record Group 4679-00.

Please see the Neighborhood Map used by the Office of the City Clerk that defines how all neighborhoods are indexed in records in the Seattle Municipal Archives.