The Space Needle put Seattle on the cover of LIFE. "But when the world's fair was over we weren't ready for 1970, let alone Century 21," says Jim Ellis, the most visionary civic activist in King County history.
A Forward Thrust campaign button. John Hughes Collection
In 1958, Ellis mobilized a volunteer task force to rescue Lake Washington from the run-off of suburban sprawl. His second act was Forward Thrust, a bond issue to save the city from becoming a gridlocked "Pugetopolis." On Feb. 13, 1968, voters authorized $40 million for a multipurpose stadium and $118 million for parks and recreation. The major casualty was rapid transit. Former U.S. senator Slade Gorton calls it "the stupidest 'no' vote the people of Seattle ever cast. But that doesn't diminish the remarkable things Jim has done for his city in his 97 years."
Ellis went on to launch a campaign for farmlands preservation, championed the Washington State Convention & Trade Center and spearheaded the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.Read more about Jim Ellis
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Above: Al Pratt's opinion page cartoon for The Seattle Times features a neat visual pun: The voters are thrusting "old-fashioned Seattle" over a cliff.