Table Topics questions are meant to stimulate family and classroom discussion.
Use the questions below after reading,"A bridge to the future"
- If you build it, they will come. The Eastside transition from sleepy countryside to bustling
suburbia happened overnight following the opening of the Lake Washington Floating Bridge in 1940.
By 1942, deer-hunting, shipyards and strawberry festivals had disappeared from the lake's eastern shores.
How did the bridge and the rejection of industrialization change the direction of growth on the Eastside?
What are recent examples of dramatic growth and change in our area?
- When Seattle developed, neighborhoods grew in an orderly pattern on the trolley lines with
little in-between. When the Eastside boom began, automobiles made development possible anywhere.
How is space organized differently on east and west sides of the lake? If you were unfamiliar
with the Puget Sound area, how would you tell which cities developed before and after cars? Where do
you prefer to walk? To drive?
- Today, Bellevue, a town barely on the map in 1939, is the fourth largest city in the state.
What do you predict for the future of Bellevue and the Eastside? Will it grow larger and more influential
than Seattle? People in our region often state a definite preference for living east or west of Lake Washington. Do you have a preference and why? Are the differences between urban and suburban lifestyles as clearcut as they once were?
- Cars and the infrastructure they require, like roads and bridges, made suburbanization
possible. Now the great suburban movement begun in the '40s may be slowing because too many cars are
causing gridlock. Do you expect cities to grow if affordable suburbs become too inconvenient and too far from work?
- Lots of workers commute to Seattle by ferry from Bainbridge and Vashon Islands. If these communities
had access to a bridge, would the ferry system survive? There is talk of re-establishing ferry traffic
between Kirkland and central Seattle. Why would this idea resurface now? Is it realistic to think that
people would exchange bridge travel for ferry travel? What has changed to make it a consideration?
- In the mid '40s, Mercer Island waterfront had escalated to $100 per lineal foot and 2,800
cars were expected to cross the Floating Bridge. Today, the same waterfront goes for $14,000 per foot
and 110,000 cars travel a doubled-capacity bridge daily. Can you figure the percent of increase of both
these values? What are the reasons and the consequences of this kind of inflation, and where will it end?
- Seattle Times Publisher C.B. Blethen's prediction about the instability of the bridge
in bad weather came true much later in 1990, when a section of I-90 filled with water and sank.
Many of our great public engineering projects are taken for granted until they're disabled. What other
area bridges have had to be replaced in the last decade? Is the money spent on such projects justified?
Where does it come from?
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