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Happy 70th birthday, Cal Anderson

(Image: Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives)

Cal Anderson, the man Capitol Hill’s central park is named for, would have turned 70 today.

Anderson died of AIDS-related complications at the age of 47 in 1995. Anderson lives on in Washington history as the state’s first openly gay legislator:

Anderson was a Democratic activist and an aide to Seattle City Council Member George Benson and to Mayor Charles Royer. He was a decorated combat veteran of the U.S. Army in Vietnam and called himself, “a Democrat who happens to be gay” (The Seattle Times). In the legislature Anderson backed gay rights legislation and battled initiatives that would discriminate against gays. He also worked for campaign finance reform, easier voter registration, and open access to government documents.

In April 2003, the $12.1 million Cal Anderson Park, previously a weed-covered mess of a sports field, a reservoir, and a tiny green space, was dedicated in his honor.

This year, the search has begun for artists to complete a Seattle Memorial Pathway to honor the fight against HIV/AIDS and connect the park with a new plaza to be constructed above Capitol Hill Station.

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Chris Lemoine
Chris Lemoine
2 years ago

This is a lovely, romantic image of the park. Sometimes it does feel like that walking through it, at other times it’s a great neighborhood gathering place, and at other times again you find mostly broken and hurting people there. I hope the community ownership becomes stronger with the planned Memorial Pathway and people moving into residences around the light rail station.