Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Story of the Embarcadero

"A generation ago, people believed that they had to make a choice between our city's beauty and our city's needs.

This generation says: 'We won't buy that choice.'"

- The Honorable Art Agnos, Mayor of San Francisco, February 27, 1991

This interesting slideshow, put together by A21 Design, tells the story of the aerial Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco, which was torn down at the beginning of the 1990s (and not replaced with a new elevated structure):
From 1958 to 1992, the double-decked Embarcadero Freeway ran along San Francisco's waterfront, from Howard Street to Broadway. The following pages will give you an idea of how this monstrosity, now slowly being forgotten as the Embarcadero is now fully redeveloped, dominated the center of The City's waterfront.
What may surprise you is that the proposal to demolish the Embarcadero Freeway was a controversial idea and wasn't practical until the mayor at the time (Art Agnos) found the funds to pay for it through negotiation with state and federal officials.

Agnos lost his 1992 reelection campaign in part because of neighborhood anger over his successful efforts to remove the freeway. But years later, he is being honored for his vision and courage.

Last June the Port of San Francisco unveiled a monument to Mayor Agnos, noting "This pedestrian pier commemorates the achievement of Mayor Agnos in leaving our city better and stronger than he found it."

While the political dynamic is different up here, Mayor Nickels and the majority of the Seattle City Council should be proud of their opposition to a shortsighted new viaduct - and should not cave to pressure from Olympia.

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