Unseen History
2:16 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

A Walk Through Seattle's LGBT History

Today on KUOW Presents, we hear an episode of 99% Invisible about maps. Here's the premise: for every city, there's an infinite number of possible maps that tell an infinite number of stories.

The coalescence of yesterday's Supreme Court decision overturning DOMA and Seattle's Pride parade this weekend inspired University of Washington map specialist Matthew Parsons to describe for us a historical map showing LGBT-friendly establishments in Seattle from the 1950s to the 2000s. The map shows that, prior to the 1970s, Seattle's LGBT culture was centered not on Capitol Hill, but in Pioneer Square.

One colorful bar from Seattle's past was called The Garden of Allah (1946-1956), at 1299 First Avenue. Seattle's first gay-owned gay bar, it was frequented by men and women and featured female impersonators and vaudeville entertainment. The photos in the slideshow above give a glimpse of that scene.

The Double Header at 407 Second Ave S (1934-present) is listed as the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the country. From online reviews, it's unclear its current patrons recognize it as anything more than a sports bar.

The Casino at 172 S Washington St (1930-1946) was nicknamed "Madame Peabody's Dancing Academy for Young Ladies" and was one of the few places on the West Coast where same-sex dancing was allowed.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, June 27:

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