Unraveling The Past, Present And Future Of SLU, Seattle

With our toes dangling in the water, and seaplanes flying overhead, KUOW’s The Record comes to you live from the Center for Wooden Boats on South Lake Union.

Today, we immerse ourselves in the neighborhood, speaking with residents, business owners and workers to discover what’s behind one of Seattle’s fastest growing neighborhoods.

Aerial of South Lake Union, circa 1962, while Interstate 5 was still under construction.
Aerial of South Lake Union, circa 1962, while Interstate 5 was still under construction.
Credit Flickr Photo/Seattle Munincipal Archives (CC-BY-NC-ND)

A Working Neighborhood

First, we ask people on the SLU streets where the heart of this neighborhood is.

To aid our quest, host Ross Reynolds enlists the help of University of Washington historian Margaret O’Mara to tell us how the neighborhood began.

And resident Curt Archambault takes Reynolds and Marcie Sillman to his balcony where he sees what South Lake Union looks like on any given day – morning, noon and night.

The Promise Of Infrastructure That Never Came

Ross continues the conversation with O’Mara, who explains why South Lake Union didn’t develop with the rest of Seattle in the 20th century.

Sillman also gets the recipe for a good neighborhood from Hilary Franz, executive director of Futurewise.

Does South Lake Union have all the ingredients? We talk with the people who live and work here about what they feel the neighborhood needs.

The old Troy Laundry is being converted into the Troy Block - but the facade is being preserved.
The old Troy Laundry is being converted into the Troy Block - but the facade is being preserved.
Credit KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

South Lake Union: The Future

Reynolds and Sillman sit down with three people with a stake in South Lake Union for a roundtable on the future of the neighborhood.

  • Resident Candi Wilvang lives with her partner and two kids in the part of the neighborhood some people call “Cascade.”
  • Mike Mackley runs the restaurant Serious Pie and faces the Mercer mess nearly every single day.
  • Chris DeVore, general partner at Founder’s Co-Op, funds tech startups in Seattle, including several in South Lake Union.