Skyrocketing Real Estate

Thirty years ago in Seattle Weekly.

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This is one of a series looking back at Seattle Weekly's first year.

30th Anniversary

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The cover of the second-ever issue of theWeekly (as it was then) depicted a young couple seated on the weedy steps of a hovel (sign: "SOLD! For $79,500!") disconsolately perusing the real-estate pages for something affordable. The couple wasn't real (it was Empty Space Theatre actors Kathy Lichter and Rex McDowell), but the real-estate boom was, in a TinyTown kind of way. Pictured in the story about skyrocketing house prices were lucky winners like Dr. and Mrs. Paul Fredlund, who snapped up a 1971 Ellsworth Storey–designed house in Madrona (built for $36,000) for $76,000.

Our second story was Worth Hedrick's profile of mountain climber Willi Unsoeld, then 49 and missing nine of his toes from gangrene he suffered on a 1963 expedition to Everest. Despite a climbing career dotted with disasters, Unsoeld always needed just one more. At that time, he was planning an outing to 25,600-foot Nanda Devi in eastern Himalaya. The expedition cost him his 22-year-old daughter, who died of an embolism at high altitude and whose body still remains on the mountain she was named for. Unsoeld himself died three years later, suffocated in an avalanche on Mount Rainier.

Puget Sound was suffering from killer whale fever, with the Sound's bluffs and shores dotted with cheering and hooting observers as Sea World International clumsily worked to trap some then-abundant orcas for training and exhibition at theme parks. It didn't help that one of the "scientists" involved in the chase casually remarked to our reporter that "if we're going to learn anything about the most important aspects, their breeding biology for example, we're going to have to take a few of these babies apart." The antis soon came to include then–state Attorney General Slade Gorton, who took part in a swift and successful campaign to keep the whalers out of the Sound in future.

In the back of the book, UW English professor Roger Sale delivered the first of his long-running columns on those perennial hairbreadth Harries, the Seattle SuperSonics. Salient quotes: "The Sonics played sixteen quarters of basketball this past week, and only in the first of these did they play first-rate ball. . . . But over the weekend the team reverted and they were somewhat lucky to win one out of three. . . . The team is just not playing as well as it should." Crochet that on your sampler and put it over the fireplace.

Culturally, the big news was the local opening of All the President's Men. (In those days, Seattle rarely got to see first-run films their first or even third week of release.) The Native American photographs of Edward. S. Curtis, not yet mall-gallery fare, were on show at the Seattle Art Museum (there was only one then, in Volunteer Park). And Milton Katims made his last bow as music director of the Seattle Symphony at Seattle Center's Opera House with a matinee program of Rossini, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff.

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