Southcenter more than 50 years ago

  • Tuesday, January 15, 2019 11:29am
  • Opinion

The three men pictured in the photograph in July 1968 had worked for more than a decade on the project which developed a cow pasture into what is now known as Westfield Southcenter Mall. Charles Baker was mayor of Tukwila from 1947 to 1962 and worked at City Hall (now known as the Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center) for many evenings on the shopping center project which included negotiations with the state of Washington on the proposed Interstate 5 freeway to allow easy access for potential shoppers.

John Strander served as mayor from 1962 to 1967 and was also past chairman of the Tukwila Planning Commission during the development phases. Stan Minkler as mayor from 1968 to 1971 was in office for the grand opening of the Southcenter Mall, filled with more than 100 stores.

The Tukwila Historical Society archives also hold many newspaper articles that provide insight into the monumental job these men faced including a court battle with the Port of Seattle and the proposed expansion/annexation plans by the city of Renton. Both of these entities had their eye on the future development of this fertile farmland.

In honor of these forward thinking men, we have streets which are driven on daily by thousands of people and it is likely that most are not aware of the reason these streets are named Baker Boulevard, Minkler Boulevard and Strander Boulevard. If you are interested in seeing some of our before and after photos and learning more about Tukwila’s history, please visit the Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center which is currently open limited hours or by appointment with Acting Director Louise Jones-Brown. You can contact the center at 206-244-HIST or by email at

Note: This article was originally published in May 2012.

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