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A ‘streamlined Eiffel Tower’ — the fourth Capitol Hill radio and TV tower that never was

(Image: CHS)

While we’re talking about potential new futures for the urban environment in Seattle’s core with visions of lidding I-5 and with the reminder of the Seattle Freeway Revolt that 50 years ago responded to that gulf by defeating plans for new expressways slicing through the city, here’s a tale of a defeated massive Capitol Hill project that — fortunately — never happened.

Today, three TV and radio towers jut hundreds of feet into the sky near 18th and E Madison. The structures are 594-feet, 637-feet, and 682-feet tall and about 1,000 feet above sea level at their tips.

But in 1990, the plan was for a “streamlined Eiffel Tower” to join the cluster and stand twice as tall:

Developer Pat O’Day’s plan calls for a streamlined Eiffel Tower to soar 1,000 feet above Capitol Hill. The $5 million tower, carrying antennas for a couple of TV stations and a dozen or so FM radio broadcasters, would reach 300 feet above the three existing Capitol Hill antenna towers.

The massive tower was initially approved by the city. But an appeal from neighborhood groups and chambers but the brakes on the proposal. The project would have “a devastating impact on the area” that was beginning to show signs of redevelopment, a representative for the Central Area Chamber of Commerce told the Seattle Times at the time.

To sweeten the deal, the developer agreed to include public benefits including planing trees for three blocks near the base of the proposed towner and a landscaping plan for a “parklike” setting that possibly would have included a fountain.

Neighborhood groups including the Capitol Hill Community Council and the Central Neighborhood Association, driven by concerns about the industrial nature a fourth tower would add and concerns about radiation and the environment, worked for years to oppose the project.

Today, there is no “Eiffel Tower” rising along E Madison. The corner near where the tower was planned is now home to the McKinney Manor low-income senior housing.

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