Crosscut Reports

Crosscut Reports takes listeners deep into the stories that shape Washington state, drawing on the enterprising work being done by reporters in the Crosscut newsroom to tell the personal stories that help us better understand the real-life impacts behind the headlines. Hosted by Sara Bernard

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Episodes

Monday Aug 29, 2022

Newly discovered files shed light on the creation of the Seattle icon and the fight over who deserves the credit for its distinctive look. When the Space Needle rose quickly on the Seattle city skyline, the response was varied. Some loved it, some hated it. Some likened it to a flower blossoming, others said it resembled a mushroom cloud. The Cold War was on everyone’s mind. So was the future. The Needle was supposed to represent the Space Age, a bright future that looked to the stars. It was also supposed to represent the aspirations of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, also called the Century 21 Exposition, and reflect the forward-looking city itself. But in the fall of 1961, as the Needle tower neared completion and the citizenry warmed to it, controversy broke out, an all-out war of words between the architects — Victor Steinbrueck and his boss John “Jack” Graham, Jr. That there was a war is no secret — the conflict played out in the press at the time. But the dispute between these two groundbreaking architects goes deeper than previously understood. New files discovered in the dirt cellar of Steinbrueck's Eastlake home reveal that Graham sought censure of the man who provided the sketches that gave the Space Needle’s tower its unique shape. This and other revelations surrounding the Space Needle's creation that were found in those files are the subject of this, the first episode of this first season of Crosscut Reports. For photos from The Steinbrueck Files and an accompanying essay by editor-at-large Knute Berger, go here.   Stay tuned for more discoveries from The Steinbrueck Files. Episodes detailing Steinbrueck's role in preserving Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market will be released each Wednesday for the next two weeks.  --- Credits Host/Producer: Sara Bernard Reporter: Knute Berger Editorial assistance: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten --- If you would like to support Crosscut, go to crosscut.com/membership. In addition to supporting our events and our daily journalism, members receive complete access to the on-demand programming of Seattle’s PBS station, KCTS 9.

Tuesday Sep 06, 2022

In the ’60s, Seattle’s oldest neighbor was facing demolition. Newly discovered files show how Victor Steinbrueck helped stop the wrecking ball. In the mid-1960s, Seattle wasn’t known for historic preservation. Many believed that in a city so young and so forward-looking — that had progressed from log cabins to the Space Age in its 100 years — there was nothing historic worth saving. Indigenous history was largely ignored, obliterated or acknowledged in “totem poles” that did not reflect cultures of the region's Coast Salish tribes. Spurred by the federal government, cities across the country with more history were ripping up neighborhoods under the banner of "blight" and tearing down historic housing to make room for freeways. Seattle’s downtown business community was eager to join that trend. One person who was interested preservation was architect Victor Steinbrueck. He grew up in Seattle and taught at the University of Washington where he had attended architecture school. He valued bustling urban areas with character and he had an egalitarian point of view. That perspective is found in many of the half-century-old files that were recently discovered in Steinbrueck's former Eastlake home. Those files, which are the subject of this week’s episode of the Crosscut Reports podcast, also reveal in greater detail Steinbrueck’s fight against so-called urban renewal and the lengths he was willing to go to preserve the Seattle’s history. For photos from The Steinbrueck Files and an accompanying essay by editor-at-large Knute Berger, go here.   Stay tuned for the final episode of The Steinbrueck Files, detailing Steinbrueck's role in preserving Pike Place Market. It will be released next week.  --- Credits Host/Producer: Sara Bernard Reporter: Knute Berger Editorial assistance: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten --- If you would like to support Crosscut, go to crosscut.com/membership. In addition to supporting our events and our daily journalism, members receive complete access to the on-demand programming of Seattle’s PBS station, KCTS 9.

Tuesday Sep 13, 2022

New first-hand documents show how architect Victor Steinbrueck helped secure the future of the Pike Place Market while ushering in a new era of civic governance for Seattle. From the very beginning, the Pike Place Market was a hit. Opened in August 1907, it had been designed to efficiently deliver local products directly from farms to a growing city at reasonable prices. Within a couple years, hundreds of thousands of people were visiting each month. Copycat markets popped up to compete. The Market grew and flourished. It expanded. Vendors and private business cropped up in and around it. It was colorful, a community agora that served everyone, especially low-income waterfront and downtown dwellers. But after 60 years, it had become frowsy, challenged by supermarkets and a downtown in need of “revitalization.” Urban planners began to eye redevelopment — urban renewal. What had been a charming homegrown institution suddenly became “blight,” a threat to the upscaling central downtown, which itself was being challenged by the growth of suburban sprawl and shopping malls. The battle against that redevelopment is what architect and activist Victor Steinbrueck is most known for — as “the man who saved the Market.” It took the efforts of many, but Steinbrueck was uniquely able to make the case that the Market, and its urban context, should be protected. The story is well known, but newly discovered personal records of Steinbrueck’s provide a previously untold part of the story. The files, which are the subject of this week’s episode of Crosscut Reports, contain numerous first-hand documents which reveal strategies, arguments and changes in mood and tactic. For photos from The Steinbrueck Files and an accompanying essay by editor-at-large Knute Berger, go here. --- Credits Host/Producer: Sara Bernard Reporter: Knute Berger Editorial assistance: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten --- If you would like to support Crosscut, go to crosscut.com/membership. In addition to supporting our events and our daily journalism, members receive complete access to the on-demand programming of Seattle’s PBS station, KCTS 9.

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