Seattle Municipal Archives Audio Samples

The Seattle City Council has been making audio recordings of its proceedings, including committee meetings and public hearings, since 1971. Before that, selected meetings were recorded on audio tape, including public hearings, community meetings and certain committee proceedings. This page offers samples of audio material from selected events. Note that these samples are not intended to be a full representation of what happened at any meeting. They are provided here to offer an idea of the range of viewpoints that might have been expressed and and an idea of the quality of the audio recordings.

Full digital copies of meeting recordings cataloged in the audio index are available for public use at the Seattle City Clerk's Office. Copies of these recordings are available from the Archives for a fee.

I-90 Hearing, January 27, 1970

When Interstate 5 was built as the north-south freeway through Seattle in the 1960s, 40,000 people were displaced. Citizen opposition to further freeway development defeated plans to build the R. H. Thomson Freeway (parallel to I-5 on the east); construction of the Bay Freeway (connecting I-5 to the waterfront) was indefinitely postponed.

In 1970, the Seattle City Council held a public hearing to get citizen advice on how to respond to a State Highway Department design and agreement for a ten-lane extension of Interstate 90 through Seattle's Central Area. An estimated 900 people attended the hearing in the Rainier Room at Seattle Center. The meeting was recorded on audio tape. Here are some voices from that hearing.

Councilmember Tim Hill, meeting introduction (excerpt)
0:30; .5 MB mp3 file. D 238 track 1
Robert Eyre, speaking about history of I-90 planning.
4:00; 3.9 MB mp3 file; D 238 tracks 8,9
Ed Banks, Central Area resident.
2:26; 2.3 MB mp3 file; D 238 tracks 9,10.
Tom Gayton, Mt. Baker area resident (excerpt)
2:30; 2.3 MB mp3 file; D 238 Track 10.
Pat Emerson, president, League of Women Voters (excerpt)
0:30; .5 MB mp3 file; D 238 track 11.
Carl McCray, Urban League
0:30; .5 MB mp3 file; D 238 track 12.
William Merry, Automobile Club of Washington (excerpt)
3:36; 3.4 MB mp3 file; D 239 track 3.
Unidentified speaker
0:17; .3 MB mp3 file; D 239 track 12.
Kathy Howlett, Black Panther Party (excerpt)
1:20; 1.3 MB mp3 file; D 239 track 13

Open Housing hearing, October 25, 1963

The Seattle Human Rights Commission drafted a strong ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin in rental or sales of housing. The proposal included strong criminal penalties for violators, and contained an "emergency clause" which meant that it would not be subject to immediate overturn by referendum if passed by the City Council.

The City Council met on October 25, 1963 to consider adopting the ordinance, and the meeting included opportunities for the public to speak on the issue. During the meeting, the Council watered down the ordinance by greatly reducing penalties for violating it, and amended the ordinance to remove the emergency clause. The Council failed to pass even this version, instead putting it up for voter approval on a March, 1964 ballot.

Candidates for Mayor and two City Council positions who campaigned against the open housing ordinance won handily in the March, 1964 election; the open housing ballot issue was defeated by a margin of 2 to 1.

Selected voices of speakers at public hearing on Open Housing Ordinance:

Rev John H. Adams, chairman of Central Area Committee for Civil Rights
1:08; 1.1 MB mp3 file; D 53 tracks 10,11
Tak Kubota, Japanese American Citizens League
2:52; 2.7 MB mp3 file; D 54 track 9
Rabbi Norman Hirsch (excerpt)
2:43; 2.5 MB mp3 file; D 54 track 11
Robert Gans, regional vice president of The Institute of Real Estate Management (excerpt)
1:09; 1.1 MB mp3 file; D 57 track 13, D 58 tracks 1,2
Nancy McGhee, homeowner
2:09; 2 MB mp3 file; D 57 track 11
Eileen Meacham, property owner (excerpt)
2:22; 2.2 MB mp3 file; D 55 tracks 11,12
Rev. Thomas W. Miller, Calvary Bible Presbyterian Church, with questions from City Councilmember Wing Luke (excerpt)
2:41; 2.5 MB mp3 file; D 58 tracks 10,11
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