University District Stories

University District Stories

a project of HSTAA 208

Block 75 voice recording

Dublin Core


Block 75 voice recording


Voice recording of the block history


Oral history of the block 75


David Kook


David Kook

Sound Item Type Metadata


Before the 20th century, the area between 15th Ave NE and University Way NE and NE 55th St. and NE 56th St. was undeveloped and simply a piece of land owned by J.M. Littig, a director of an insurance and railroad company based in Baltimore, MD. The Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern railroads were built by 1887 and this began the development of the U District, which, at the time, was barely occupied. Unlike neighboring areas, developments for my block began in the early 20th century, with land being plotted at the start of the late 1890s to early 1900s. However, when construction began, it was finished quickly. By 1908, the block catches up to its neighbors and is integrated into the U-District. Still, most of the block becomes occupied with construction, and by 1913, the block looks similar to what it is today with 12 buildings residing in the area.
With the newly placed railroads, Washington quickly immersed itself into the commerce of the United States. According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States in 1910, from 1887 – 1901, Washington increased their domestic exports from around 1.8 million to 20 million dollars. During the late 19th and early 20th century, some of the main products that were highly valued in the U.S. were distilled spirits and fermented liquors, which Washington produced around 5000 and 390,000 barrels, respectively. Being the evergreen state, Washington was also the largest producer of timber in the US. However, as the state continued to expand and advance, the population began to increase more in urban areas rather than rural locations. This suggests some of the main occupations held by the people at that time were in manufacturing companies rather than agriculture. The Statistical Abstract of the United States in 1941 corroborates that claim with 177,000 male workers in the manufacturing and mechanical industries. The second highest employing industry was in lumber, but by the end of WWII, the lumber industry lost its footing in Washington. As a result, more workers transitioned into a manufacturing role. Females mainly worked in domestic and personal services, with around 39,000 in 1930. With the U District being sequestered from larger urban areas, the population at that time had to be self-sufficient. According to the Historic Seattle Preservation and Development Authority, locally owned truck farms and family industries were prevalent in the U District from 1890 – 1920, with the area being mainly comprised of working class families.
A key event that redesigned the purpose for the U District was the relocation of the University of Washington into the area in 1895. Before then, most of the buildings were used for family businesses. In my block, the buildings were a mix of business and housing. The oldest building built in 1904 is now solely occupied by a pizza restaurant. It wasn’t until the University of Washington relocated that the U District began focusing on providing residential spaces. The last development on my block was in the 1960s with the final housing unit being constructed.





David Kook, “Block 75 voice recording,” University District Stories, accessed July 4, 2022,