Get Out of the Way – New Bridge Opening!

December 18, 1962

In Seattle, the Ship Canal Bridge carrying Interstate 5 over Portage Bay between the city’s Capitol Hill and University District communities was opened. The bridge was named after the Lake Washington Ship Canal and serves as one of the crossings for that waterway. At the time of its opening, the giant double-deck steel truss bridge – measuring 4,429 feet (1,350 meters) in length – was the largest structure of its kind in the northwestern United States. 

The official debut of the bridge turned out to be a comedy of errors. Mrs. Effie Aldrich, a local resident who had been invited to participate in the dedication festivities, inadvertently shortened that formality when she used the ceremonial scissors to cut the ribbon at the bridge’s entrance ahead of schedule. As soon as she did that, a multitude of spectators rushed to their automobiles to start driving across the bridge. Mrs. Aldrich, along with Washington Governor Albert Rosellini (who managed to hand out copies of his prepared remarks prior to the premature ribbon-cutting) and Seattle Mayor Gordon S. Clinton, had to quickly get out of the way of the incoming traffic. “Quick Snip – Look Out!” proclaimed a headline in the next day’s edition of the Washington-based Daily Chronicle newspaper.

For more information on the Ship Canal Bridge, please check out

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