Document 26: Bogue Plan

Civic Plans Investigation Committee, The Bogue Plan Question (Seattle: R. L. Davis, 1912), Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries.

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The Bogue Plan Question

Charter of Seattle, Amended, Article XXV., Sec. 8.
That if a majority of the voters voting thereon shall favor the adoption of said City Plan so reported, it shall be adopted and shall be the plan to be followed by all city officials in the growth, evolution and development of said City of Seattle, until modified, or amended at some subsequent election.


Origins of the Civic Plans Investigation Committee
When the Bogue Civic Pan was completed a number of Seattle citizens began to investigate it. They soon became convinced that the plan is impracticable in many ways, and would prove injurious.

As its advocates failed to give information regarding the plan's cost and effect, a special committee of investigators was named to make a detailed study. . . . Conforming with the wish of those who brought the committee into existence, the result of the investigation is here submitted to the people of Seattle. . . .

Partial Cost
Of Bogue Plan in one-sixth of city's area, covering Civic Center and parts of 10 Highways. . . .

Land and Improvements Construction Cost Total Cost . . . .
$13,558,753 $10,046,000 $23,604,753

These estimates cover the cost of the Bogue Plan in one-sixth of the city's area only. These figures do not include cost of property damage, new buildings and other improvements. . . . The total cost to complete the plan (using present valuations of the land to be taken) will be well over $100,000,000. . . .

Consideration of the Bogue Plan naturally resolves itself into four questions:

(1) Is its adoption advisable, in view of the iron-clad provision of the City Charter (Section 8, Civic Plans Commission amendment? See cover.

(2) Is the plan necessary?

(3) What will it cost?

(4) What will be the results of its operation? . . .

As the committee sees it, the danger to Seattle lies in adopting the plan as inflexible. If it is not formally adopted, its desirable features may be followed by the city.

Is the Bogue Plan Necessary
If the plan is adopted, and if in any one locality changes are desired, the entire city must consent. . . .


The main objects of the Bogue Plan are to give Seattle, (a) 300 miles of additional highways; (b) a revised and extended park system; (c) a detailed plan for waterfront development.

(a) Seattle already has a much higher percentage of street surface to total area than any other great city in the world . . . except Washington, D.C. . . .

(b) Under the present Olmsted Plan of barks and boulevards, Seattle is taking full advantage of her natural setting. The city is becoming one of the most beautiful on the continent. Is our present park development not satisfactory, and will our park board be unable to master the problems in park development as they come up?


(c ) The detailed plan of waterfront improvement, developed by Mr. Bogue, is entirely unnecessary, because the city does not now control its waterfront. The Port of Seattle, created by the city and county jointly, has jurisdiction over all the harbor area--Sound, bays and lakes.

The people of Seattle are considering the greatest waterfront terminal plan ever presented to a city on the Pacific Coast. Many believe that action on this shipping terminal project is of vastly more importance to Seattle than any or all of the Bogue Civic Plan of improvement. They regard this as a crucial moment in Seattle's history. In addition, the Port Commission of Seattle is laying important questions before the public.

Adoption of the Bogue Plan will aid neither the terminal project nor the Port improvement design. Instead, it will spread confusion, saddle the city with a needless burden and divert public attention from more important considerations.

Admittedly Seattle's one great need is for harbor improvement. If the city is to hold its own in the competition for maritime business it cannot be idle. Therefore, if Seattle has any money to spend for improvements that money should be spent upon the harbor area for docks and improved cargo-handling facilities.

Other cities of the coast are not figuring on extensive beautifying plans ahead of harbor improvements, for they see the possibilities of the Panama Canal and are getting ready for its opening.

What Will the Bogue Plan Cost?
The cost of the plan is the most vital feature from the viewpoint of the taxpayer. Bond issues can be made to apply to only a limited part of it. . . .

There will also be the destruction of the old street improvements; regrades that will change the face of the city; street improvements, water, lights and sewers for all the highways and cross streets affected by the plan and damages to other property. . . .

Seattle has already spent more than any other city of its size in the world for regrades. These have proved so great a burden that their cost will be felt for a great while to come. Yet the fact that the price of the Bogue Plan completed will be more than five times as much as the cost of all our previous regrades should make the property owner think seriously before he votes to assume this load. Seattle's achievements in the way of regrades have been the wonder of the country. Would it not be wise to await the absorption of this burden before assuming one vastly larger?

What Will Be the Result of the Bogue Plan?
If adopted, the entire plan must be folowed [sic] out virtually to the letter as shown by legal opinions contained in this pamphlet. Property owners whose ground is to be taken for Civic Center purposes, highways, boulevards, parks or other uses, can begin legal proceedings and possibly force the city to condemn. It is the opinion of authorities that if no bonds are voted to meet the primary expense of the property involved, the property owners will have grounds for damage.


Attorneys say, and advocates of the plan admit that the details of the plan are absolutely binding upon the city. Mr. Bogue alters existing grades to such a degree that Seattle may count as lost a goodly part of the tremendous amount already spent in regrades and street improvements.


Establishment of the Civic Center on the Site of the old Denny Hill will require that Denny Hill be partly filled in again to bring the Civic Center to a commanding eminence. It will be necessary to raise the Civic Center area somewhere between fourteen and thirty feet above its present regraded level. This is the scheme of the plan as stated in the general report and explained by R. H. Thomson. About $150,000 worth of new street improvements in the Civic Center area will be lost.

Westlake Boulevard and Dexter Avenue along Lake Union; streets whose creation and improvement have cost immense sums of money, are abandoned in the Bogue Plan and superseded by Central Avenue at new elevations, and a new Westlake Ave., which is to be located in what is now 40 feet of water in Lake Union. The southern end of Lake Union is given over to a complex system of railway and water terminals. . . .

Example of Effect of Plan, Showing Status of Civic Center and Lake Union District
The Civic Center, as proposed by Mr. Bogue, appropriates the greater part of fourteen blocks in the regraded Denny Hill district. Olympic Mall and Central Avenue as far as John Street take parts of ten more blocks. Students of city development point out that the placing of the Civic Center in this position will prove as much of a barrier to the northward expansion of business as did Denny Hill, which was recently removed at a cost of several millions of dollars.

Refilling of the Civic Center area to a depth variously estimated from fourteen to thirty feet will be required, according to the advocates of the Bogue Plan. Sacrifice of all the present street improvements would of course result. . . .


Considered as an entirety this projected scheme of new streets and grades from the proposed Central Station along the East Queen Anne Hill slope can only mean one ultimate result, viz.: a tremendous regrade of the entire east lobe or ridge of Queen Anne Hill from the gulch along the general line of Nob Hill Avenue, eastward and northward down grades varying from 12% to 20% . . .

It is evident that this sort of scientific demolition committed along the east slope of Queen Anne Hill at these varying elevations, following the cut already made along the lake shore of Westlake Avenue, would produce a mile and a half of chaos, and make East Queen Anne Hill a scene of slides, fitted only for a great regrade into Lake Union. R. H. Thomson admits that the Civic Center and railway plans require the damaging cuts which have been described and will necessitate a regrade of East Queen Anne slope and an extensive fill into Lake Union along its entire west side and south end.

As an incident of this revolutionary treatment proposed for Lake Union, the Bogue Plans [sic] effect the abandonment and obliteration of the present Westlake thoroughfare along Lake Union. It becomes part of the railway trackage locations provided for, and the taxpayers will have the privilege of building a new and wider Westlake Avenue, several hundred feet to the eastward, in forty feet depth of water in Lake Union. . . .

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest