Telling the story of a city through its digitized ephemera

Seattle has placed much of its municipal archives online, making for easy access to various chapters of the city's past. The archives can be accessed through their website or Flickr and with such a wide spectrum of civic material, one can't help but wish every city had an equivalent online collection.

We picked some representative pieces from the archives to show the city's evolution from planning for the growing presense of cars and commercial aviation, to slum clearance, subway propsals and gentrication (we highly recommend clicking the "full screen" option below for the best experience):

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A Soviet map of London, labeled in Russian.
    Maps

    The Soviet Military Secretly Mapped the Entire World

    These intricate, curious maps were supposed to be destroyed. The ones that remain reveal a fascinating portrait of how the U.S.S.R. monitored the world.

  2. A row of tractor trailers lined up at a truck stop.
    Transportation

    The Truckers Who Are Taking on Human Trafficking

    In Arkansas, the “knights of the road” are being trained to combat truck-stop prostitution.

  3. Maps

    Mapping Where Europe's Population Is Moving, Aging, and Finding Work

    Younger people are fleeing rural areas, migrating northward, and having fewer children. Here’s how that’s changing the region.

  4. An illustration of a front porch.
    Life

    America Rediscovers Its Love of the Front Porch

    In the 20th century, porches couldn’t compete with TV and air conditioning. Now this classic feature of American homes is staging a comeback as something more stylish and image-conscious than ever before.

  5. Life

    Is Minimalism for Black People?

    Black communities have long practiced core tenets of the lifestyle—yet are not well-represented amongst its most recognizable influencers.