Seattle’s Regrading Mania

David B Williams book coverFrom the time that settlers first arrived in Seattle in 1851, they began redesigning the landscape.  There just seemed to be something about wanting to reconfigure the topography to suit civic purposes, which drove a near-mania for regrading.  It has been said that Seattle is the most engineered city in the world.  From the sluicing of Denny Hill to the digging of a ship canal, Seattle’s transformation has made its original form nearly unrecognizable.

In his new book, Too High and Too Steep, author David B. Williams has combined research, scientific background, and personal observations on how and why our city has been altered.  The book was introduced for the first time on September 9, 2015 at the University Bookstore, where the author told about his research and some of the amazing stories of Seattle’s regrading projects.  Mr. Williams’ blog page contains more regrading info links.  Here is a preview of the book with a video interview of the author.

About Wedgwood in Seattle History

Valarie is a volunteer writer of neighborhood history in Seattle.
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4 Responses to Seattle’s Regrading Mania

  1. hdemare says:

    The photo on the book’s cover looks surreal. The regrading project must have been almost unimaginable.

  2. That is an actual photo of one of the regrading areas, and that’s why the regrading can be described as a mania! The projects are one of the quirky characteristics of early Seattle.

  3. At his talk on September 9, author David B. Williams explained how the tall isolated mounds (in the cover photo) came to be. The property owner was out of town and didn’t sign his paperwork for the regrading area, until he came back! Several houses and even an apartment building were lowered onto pallets and repositioned approximately in place on their streets after regrading.

  4. hdemare says:

    Mr. Williams gave a great presentation at the U Book Store Wednesday evening. He has additional speaking engagements listed on his calendar at

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