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Old Seattle: Fascinating Historical Photos Show What Seattle Looked Like In 1930s

In the 1930s, the population of Seattle was around 350,000 and the economy of the city was largely dependent on harvesting its trees and fish and Eastern Washington wheat and shipping them off to distant places.

Like most cities, Seattle was hit hard by the stock-market crash in 1929. By late 1931, wages had fallen 35 percent and as many as 20,000 were out of work. Seattle issued 2,538 permits for housing construction in 1930, but only 361 in 1932 Retail sales were off by 17 percent, construction down by 70 percent. The official unemployment rate was 7 percent. Shipping and shipbuilding ground to a halt. Forty Northwest lumber mills closed. Hundreds of men lived in a shantytown known as “Hooverville,” a few blocks south of Pioneer Square, where the unemployed picked their own mayor, enforced their own rules, and tweaked the establishment.

Things began to change as the government launched several developments and special aid programs across the country in the late-1930s. Here below are some stunning historical photos that show what Seattle looked like in the 1930s.

#1 8th and Olive, Seattle, 1932

8th and Olive, Seattle, 1932

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#2 General View of Seattle, circa 1930.

General View of Seattle, circa 1930.

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#3 A hall of Boeing Airplane Company in Seattl with big three-motor transport aeroplanes, 1931.

A hall of Boeing Airplane Company in Seattl with big three-motor transport aeroplanes, 1931.

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#4 Neon sign and parked cars along 4th Avenue Seattle, 1934.

Neon sign and parked cars along 4th Avenue Seattle, 1934.

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#5 View from hilltop looking towards water of Seattle, 1939.

View from hilltop looking towards water of Seattle, 1939.

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#6 View of Seattle, 1939.

View of Seattle, 1939.

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#7 Man sweeping the lumberyard of Seattle, 1939.

Man sweeping the lumberyard of Seattle, 1939.

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#8 West Point Lighthouse, Seattle, 1938

West Point Lighthouse, Seattle, 1938

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#9 Chief Seattle statue at Fifth and Denny, 1936

Chief Seattle statue at Fifth and Denny, 1936

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#10 Lenora Street viaduct, Seattle, 1931

Lenora Street viaduct, Seattle, 1931

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#11 Alaskan Way, 1939

Alaskan Way, 1939

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#12 Lifeguard class at Green Lake, Seattle, 1936

Lifeguard class at Green Lake, Seattle, 1936

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#13 Alaskan Way, Seattle, 1939

Alaskan Way, Seattle, 1939

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#14 Third Avenue looking north from Cherry Street, 1930

Third Avenue looking north from Cherry Street, 1930

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#15 Unloading in the Harbour of Seattle, in the State of Washington, circa 1930.

Unloading in the Harbour of Seattle, in the State of Washington, circa 1930.

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#16 Lake Washington, Seattle 1934

Lake Washington, Seattle 1934

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#17 Bill Maddock tracks fish for sale on a blackboard at the Seattle Fish Exchange.

Bill Maddock tracks fish for sale on a blackboard at the Seattle Fish Exchange.

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#18 Three people standing with a giant Douglas fir log converted to a structure and mounted on a truck, ‘Barker Lumber & Fuel Co., Seattle, 1930s.

Three people standing with a giant Douglas fir log converted to a structure and mounted on a truck, ‘Barker Lumber & Fuel Co., Seattle, 1930s.

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#19 Passengers boarding a Boeing 247 at Boeing Field in Seattle in the early 1930’s.

Passengers boarding a Boeing 247 at Boeing Field in Seattle in the early 1930's.

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#20 Thousands Greet Roosevelt in Seattle, 1932.

Thousands Greet Roosevelt in Seattle, 1932.

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#21 Unemployed Crowd protesting in Front Of the King County Courthouse at Seattle, 1933.

Unemployed Crowd protesting in Front Of the King County Courthouse at Seattle, 1933.

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#22 Mrs Roosevelt with his Daughter, her Son in Law and his Grand Children in Seattle, May 1937.

Mrs Roosevelt with his Daughter, her Son in Law and his Grand Children in Seattle, May 1937.

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#23 Sick’s Seattle Stadium, 1938.

Sick's Seattle Stadium, 1938.

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#24 Looking up Pike Street from First Avenue, 1930

Looking up Pike Street from First Avenue, 1930

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#25 Bell Street viaduct under construction, 1931

Bell Street viaduct under construction, 1931

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#26 Broadway and John St., Seattle, 1934

Broadway and John St., Seattle, 1934

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#27 Broadway Market, Harrison and Broadway, 1937

Broadway Market, Harrison and Broadway, 1937

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#28 Broadway Safeway, Broadway at Mercer, 1937

Broadway Safeway, Broadway at Mercer, 1937

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#29 Fourth Avenue, 1937

Fourth Avenue, 1937

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#30 Safety island at Westlake and Olive, 1938

Safety island at Westlake and Olive, 1938

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#31 Second and Pike, 1934

Second and Pike, 1934

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#32 Second Ave. south from Union St., Seattle, 1930

Second Ave. south from Union St., Seattle, 1930

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#33 Second Avenue decorated for Potlatch celebration, 1934

Second Avenue decorated for Potlatch celebration, 1934

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#34 The Seattle Harbour in Washington, circa 1930.

The Seattle Harbour in Washington, circa 1930.

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#35 The United States Coast Guard cutter “Northland” broadcasts CBS Radio messages from on board, in Seattle harbor, 1930s.

The United States Coast Guard cutter "Northland" broadcasts CBS Radio messages from on board, in Seattle harbor, 1930s.

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#36 Coastguard radio officials aboard the “Northland”, 1934.

Coastguard radio officials aboard the "Northland", 1934.

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#37 Vehicles parking in front of the Seattle Cedar Lumber Manufacturing Company, Salmon Bay, Seattle,1939

Vehicles parking in front of the Seattle Cedar Lumber Manufacturing Company, Salmon Bay, Seattle,1939

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#38 Hooverville, a section of Seattle, 1934.

Hooverville, a section of Seattle, 1934.

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#39

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#40

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#41 3rd and Pike, Seattle, 1936

3rd and Pike, Seattle, 1936

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#42 Hardware store display items confiscated for alcohol still during the Prohibition era, Seattle, 1930s.

Hardware store display items confiscated for alcohol still during the Prohibition era, Seattle, 1930s.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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