Seattle, Past to Present
- PUBLISHED: December 2019
- SUBJECT LISTING: Pacific Northwest / History
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 336 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 47 b&w illus., 2 maps
- ISBN: 9780295746371
Roger Sale’s Seattle, Past to Present has become a beloved reflection of Seattle’s history and its possible futures as imagined in 1976, when the book was first published. Drawing on demographic analysis, residential surveys, portraiture, and personal observation and reflection, Sale provides his take on what was most important in each of Seattle’s main periods, from the city’s founding, when settlers built a city great enough that the railroads eventually had to come; down to the post-Boeing Seattle of the 1970s, when the city was coming to terms with itself based on lessons from its past.
Along the way, Sale touches on the economic diversity of late nineteenth-century Seattle that allowed it to grow; describes the major achievements of the first boom years in parks, boulevards, and neighborhoods of quiet elegance; and draws portraits of people like Vernon Parrington, Nellie Cornish, and Mark Tobey, who came to Seattle and flourished. The result is a powerful assessment of Seattle’s vitality, the result of old-timers and newcomers mixing both in harmony and in antagonism.
With a new introduction by Seattle journalist Knute Berger, this edition invites today's readers to revisit Sale’s time capsule of Seattle—and perhaps learn something unexpected about this ever-changing city.
Authors & Contributors
Roger Sale (1932–2017) came to Seattle in 1962 to teach at the University of Washington, where he was a literature professor for nearly forty years. A prolific writer for publications such as the New York Review of Books and Seattle Weekly, Sale was the author of thirteen books, including Modern Heroism: Essays on D. H. Lawrence, William Empson, and J. R. R. Tolkien; Fairy Tales and After; On Writing; and Seeing Seattle. Host of Mossback’s Northwest on KCTS9, Knute Berger is an award-winning columnist for Crosscut and Seattle magazine and author of two books: Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes on Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice and Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle.
This is among the best interpretive histories of a major American city.- Los Angeles Times Book Review
For native or newcomer, this is the best book about Seattle ever written.- Pacific Search
This book is an exhilarating critique of Seattle’s birth, growth, sickness, health, promise, and fulfillment. Any serious student of Seattle or of recent urban history will now read Roger Sale, and with good reason.- Pacific Northwest Quarterly
One of the best histories of Seattle.- Seattle Magazine
The University of Washington Press chose Berger to write a new introduction to its reissue of Roger Sale’s classic history-meditation on our city, 1976’s Seattle, Past to Present. The book was a labor of love by Sale, a professor of literature at UW, an East Coast native who came west to teach and never left. When it first came out, the book was widely read and discussed, and it’s been consulted by the curious and perplexed ever since.- Seattle Times
Seattle, Past to Present is a landmark to one man’s curiosity and his drive to understand place, full of useful insights that are needed in the present moment.-