1960 - 1969
The Sixties are marked by dramatic political and cultural change. As Americans grapple with war, the Civil Rights Movement, counterculture and more, rapid, non-stop building projects dominate life at the Port of Seattle. Two thirds of the money spent on projects since 1911 is spent between 1960 and 1970. Containerization revolutionizes cargo movements and the Port invests in the equipment and property upgrades necessary to use this new technology.
The Airport sprouts wings with new concourses added to accommodate the growing number of air travelers. In less than ten years, the Port - little known to many residents - becomes impossible to ignore. Giant container cranes tower over the waterfront and more and more Northwesterners take to the air from Sea-Tac Airport.
The nature of shipping changes with containerization, eliminating the number of workers needed to load and unload ships. The International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) members negotiate with the Pacific Maritime Association the terms of the “Mechanization and Modernization Agreement.” The agreement guarantees work for union members. Harry Bridges, then leader of the ILWU, smartly said, “We should accept mechanization and start making it work for us, not against us.”
King County voters decide to increase the size of the Port Commission from three to five members and reduce compensation from $3,000 to $1 per year.
A two-story, 688-foot-long Concourse A sprouts from the Main Terminal's south end.
Port re-establishes the Chicago trade development office, with an emphasis on utilizing an Overland Common Point (OCP). The OCP allows lower shipping rates for Asian imports en route to the Midwest and East Coast.
The Port turns 50 and celebrates with Miss Maritime during Maritime Week.
With the World’s Fair, Century 21, in Seattle, passenger traffic at Sea-Tac tops two million, a 400,000 leap from the previous year. Elvis Presley and the filming of “It Happened at the World’s Fair” was one of the many big draws. JFK is scheduled to speak at the closing ceremonies, but other pressing issues keep him from attending.
Shilshole Bay Marina is formally dedicated, marking the opening of the area’s finest recreational moorage facility with room for 1500 vessels.
U.S. troops arrive in Vietnam, increasing America’s involvement in the war. The years of fighting result in the deaths of 58,159 U.S. soldiers and millions of Vietnamese, and the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.
The Port of Seattle participates in European trade fairs for the first time. Seattle is the only U.S. port to participate in the Brussels International Trade Fair, which draws more than two million visitors. Paris, Genoa and Frankfurt are also on the trade development circuit.
Terminal 5, the Port’s first container terminal, is nearing completion, and Sea-Land chooses Seattle as its West Coast base and leases the facility.
Concourse B opens, offering space for eight jets and more international arrivals.
The Port adopts a policy of non-discrimination in hiring and employment.
Seattle inaugurates fully-containerized operations by Matson Navigation, Alaska Steamship and Sea-Land Service.
With a voter-approved $10M bond issue from 1960, the Port purchases the former Todd Shipyard Plant A on Harbor Island, and the piers formerly known as the Army Port of Embarkation at Terminal 37 (Piers 36, 37 and 39).
The Port marks its most successful year in maritime traffic to date, with the terminals handling nearly 2.5 million tons of foreign and domestic cargo.
“Port of Seattle Night,” a trade promotion program, communicates the value of Port of Seattle’s facilities and equipment, and is held in Alaska and throughout the State of Washington.
The Port introduces a $30M plan to develop Terminal 18 into a super container terminal.
Undersea Gardens, a 100-by-30-foot aquarium, is installed at Shilshole Bay Marina. It’s a popular place for tourists and school children, but its tenure is short-lived; it moves to Oregon a few years later.
SAS inaugurates "over the pole“ flights to Copenhagen, making Sea-Tac the only major U.S. airport almost equidistance by air between Tokyo and London.
Concourse C opens after a $685,000 expansion.
To support the troops passing through Sea-Tac, the Port builds a lounge for military members and their families, one of just a handful in the nation. It's operated 24/7 by the Travelers' Aid Society. Today that lounge is run by USO, and offers soldiers and sailors the same and many more comforts of home including meals, television, Internet access, books, and a needed place to rest.
Coal operations cease as the Port closes Pier 43 coal bunkers, a pier that was the site of coal shipments from before the inception of the Port in 1911.
Passengers can make their way to Alaska once again from Seattle, with the restoration of passenger service, via the Alaska Marine Highway System at Pier 30. This route is so successful, that the Port decides to build a terminal at Pier 48 for the run.
The Port signs a "Sister Port Agreement" with Japan's Port of Kobe.
The Commission receives the “Outstanding Citizen Award” from the Municipal League in recognition of “remarkable progress” achieved by the Port in the record-breaking years of 1964-1966.
Port introduces an employee development and training program, providing educational funding and monthly salaries for minority group members or those needing a little extra assistance breaking into the professional arena.
A $90-million expansion program begins. By the time it’s finished in 1973, it will include expanded air cargo facilities, a second runway, an underground transit system, improved vehicle access, and the Main Terminal will be two stories and connected via sky bridges to a multi-level parking garage.
Elliott Bay Fishing Pier opens at pier 57, providing more public access to the waterfront.This pier was remodeled in 1974 along with the historic Pier 58, Schawbacher Pier. The two piers are a major tourist attraction and feature the Waterfront Park, with public access and several shops and restaurants.
The Lower Duwamish Industrial Development District (LDIDD) starts taking shape as the first major construction project, Terminal 105, nears completion, and more land purchases are made.
On the campaign for presidency, Robert F. Kennedy makes a public appearance at the Airport. He is assassinated less than two months later.
A data processing department is added to the Port’s staff, overseeing the installation and implementation of a computer system. Seattle is the first major Port in the country to use computers to track cargo movements. This system was much bigger than today’s computers, but push the Port of Seattle into the digital age much sooner that other ports around the world.
The “Boeing Bust” idles more than 100,000 workers in the Puget Sound Region; unemployment reaches a high of 15% by 1971. Air travel slumps across the nation.
Compared to 1958, cargo tonnage increases 67%; trucking employment grows by 193%; customs brokers’ employment leaps 240%, and air passenger traffic goes from 1.6 million in 1959 to 4.8 million. Other indirect services - the adjunct businesses and companies the Port works with - also see a jump in profitability due to these successes, offering a diversification of revenue for the region. There is no denying the Port’s impact now.
Terminal 18 is complete, with two bright orange 33-ton container cranes, railroad tracks, and other equipment necessary for fully containerized operations. Japan Six Lines makes it their base for operations.
Seattle gets its first major league team, the Pilots, only to see them move to Milwaukee and become the Brewers the following year.
U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren walk on the moon.
Tyree Scott and members of the United Construction Workers Union stage a demonstration at the Airport, calling for racial equality in hiring of union members. Later litigation in U.S. vs. Ironworkers Local 86 et al, results in Judge William Lindberg mandating relief programs, training, membership and hiring quotas in unions.