Transport yourself to the Seattle of old with these aerial shots that date as far back as 1894.

Looking north towards the Space Needle, ca. 1962

Aerial1 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

Construction of the iconic Space Needle took only 400 days to complete. The builders didn’t reach their goal of completing the skyscraper in under a year, but its speedy building process still earned it the nickname “the 400 Day Wonder.”

Looking north towards the Space Needle and Memorial Stadium, ca. 1962

Aerial2 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

The Space Needle measures 605 feet from the ground all the way to the very top of its aircraft warning beacon. The tall, slender structure sways about an inch for every 10 mph of wind.

Looking north towards Kingdome and Lake Union, ca. 1977

Aerial3 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

The old King County Stadium, or “Kingdome,” is seen in the foreground of this picture. The building was imploded in 2000 due to sketchy structural problems, which included reports of falling ceiling tiles.

Looking northwest over the Space Needle, date unknown

Aerial4 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

If you’re afraid of heights, you probably wouldn’t appreciate eating dinner at the Space Needle’s revolving restaurant 500 feet above ground. Nor would you take a liking to the observation deck at 520 feet, which takes 848 steps to reach from the basement.

Looking north towards the south approach of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, ca. 1952

Aerial5 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

In the 1920s, Seattle saw an influx of trains, trucks and wagons, which were used to carry cargo to and from ships in the harbor. To solve the problem of heavy congestion, the city built the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which was completed in 1953.

Looking east over the University of Washington campus, ca. 1953

Aerial6 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

The University of Washington campus can be spotted in the background of this photo. The school was established in 1861 with only three departments: literature, science and music. Today the college offers over 440 degree options, has three campuses and 280 programs.

Looking east from Jackson Street and 2nd Avenue, ca. 1900

Aerial7 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

During the Great Depression and prohibition era of the 1930s, the jazz scene was flourishing on Jackson Street. The many underground night clubs that lined the streetscape made it a hot spot for a new sound that helped residents through those tough times.

Looking southeast over Elliott Bay, ca. 1956

Aerial9 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

When pioneers first came to Seattle in the mid-19th century, they began referring to their small settlement as New York Alki. Later, they moved across Elliott Bay and settled in what would later become the Pioneer Square district, named for its proximity to the water. The settlers dubbed this new site Seattle after one of their friends, a native American tribe leader.

Looking east towards Harborview Hospital, ca. 1949

Aerial10 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

When the Harborview Medical Center was established in 1877 it held only six beds in a two-story building in South Seattle. In 1931 it moved to its present location overlooking Puget Sound, and today has 413 inpatient beds.

Looking northwest from 2nd Avenue and Yesler Way, ca. 1949

Aerial11 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

Initially dubbed Mill Street, Yesler Way was created to accommodate Henry Yesler’s sawmill on Elliott Bay. Yesler, an entrepreneur from Maryland, was one of Seattle’s founding fathers, employing nearly all of the male settlers and many Native Americans in the area with his mill during the second half of the 19th century.

Looking south over the Space Needle towards Mount Rainier, ca. 1969

Aerial12 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

Mount Rainier, the peak in the distance of this photo, is the highest summit in the Cascade Range and an active volcano, although it hasn’t erupted for a good 121 years.

Looking southeast at Yesler Way and Jefferson Street, ca. 1894

Aerial13 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

In a span of 40 years between 1870 and 1910, Seattle’s population grew from just 1,107 to a whopping 237,194. Other significant developments of the time include the ferry service that launched in 1888, the electric trolley line service that began in 1889 and Washington’s induction into the US as the 42nd state in 1889.

Looking southeast from the Northern Life Tower, ca. 1949

Aerial8 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

During the 1920s, the Art Deco style of architecture represented hope for the future and a renewed faith in the wonders of technology. One of the first Seattle buildings designed in this manner was the Northern Life Tower. The 27-story structure was completed in 1927 at a cost of $1.5 million, marking a progressive shift in the city’s growing skyline.

Looking southeast over Elliott Bay, ca. 1950

Aerial14 Photo: The Seattle Public Library

While this photo might suggest that Elliott Bay is calm, serene and ideal for swimming, in reality, deadly predators lurk beneath the water’s surface. Puget Sound is home to the bluntnose sixgill, the third largest shark in the world, which can reach up to 15 feet long.

Looking west towards 400 Yesler Way, ca. 1920

Aerial15 Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr

The city of Seattle purchased the plot of land at 400 Yesler Way (the distinctive, flat-iron building in the centre of this photo) in the 1880s. The edifice served as a municipal building from 1909 to 1916 and later as a public safety building, which consisted of an emergency hospital, a municipal courthouse and a jail.

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