King County Neighborhoods: Photographs, Maps and Textual Records
Information about King County neighborhoods can be found in several types of records: photographs; maps, plans and other graphical material; and textual records (reports, studies, statistics, and correspondence).
Ground photographs visually document a subject from the same level as the subject.
Please contact the King County Archives for more information about, or regarding access to, the following photographs.
Department of Transportation photograph and moving image files, 1900-2002.
Commercial and residential neighborhoods near county public works projects, particularly street and road construction and maintenance, can be found by keyword, road or street name, or intersection Much less frequently, photographs of individual properties are indexed by homeowner name or property address.
Road Engineer bridge files (photographs), 1904-1988.
Images of houses and other structures located near county bridges may be found using section-township-range coordinates or by keyword.
Seattle-King County Department of Public Health photograph files, 1909-1970.
Residential and commercial neighborhoods, mostly in Seattle, that were the subject of health concerns can be identified by keyword. Images of Depression-era "Hooverville" shacks are present in these files.
Assessor's Property Record Cards, 1937-1972
Property Record Cards were created by the King County Assessor's Office to record information necessary to assess property taxes. This series of records was created beginning in 1937, when the Assessor's Office contracted with the Work Projects Administration (WPA) to create a baseline survey of all the property in King County, and was kept current through 1972. The Property Record Cards provide a cumulative history describing each parcel of real property in King County, including legal description of property, building use, number of rooms, some construction details, and, for improved property, at least one photograph. Additional photographs were taken if extensive changes were made to the exterior of the building. The cards also show the assessed value of the property for the period ca. 1937 to 1972.
Property record cards are accessed by tax parcel number or brief legal description (subdivision, block and lot). Tax parcel numbers can be obtained through Parcel Viewer by calling the King County Assessor's office at 206/296-7300.
These photographs are housed at the Puget Sound [state] Regional Archives (external link) in Bellevue.
Office of Information Resource Management - Printing and Graphic Arts photograph files, c. 1962-2000.
Commercial and residential neighborhoods -- in King County, its municipalities, and in Seattle-- adjacent to watercourses, wastewater collection and treatment facilities, and transit routes and facilities can appear in photographs in this collection. They are most easily accessed by a subject term.
For questions, or to access these photographs, please contact us.
Maps and plans
Maps, plans, and other graphical material can give researchers an overall picture of the development of the built environment at a specific location. Records held by the King County Archives often contain maps and plans which show the locations of homes, businesses, farms, and other properties. Sometimes the properties are identified by owner name, but more often they are unidentified.
Please contact the Archives for more information about the following records:
Auditor- General Land Office field notes, 1856-1913.
Survey notes and related maps in these volumes describe the natural and built environment along section lines as they were surveyed. The information in the volumes is organized by section-township-range coordinates.
Department of Executive Administration - Real Property Division franchise files, 1898-1988.
These records document individual utility and transportation franchises issued by King County between 1898 and 1988 to private companies (railroad, streetcar, gas, electric power, water, and cable television companies); water and sewer districts; Maps accompany most text records and may be either annotated copies of commercial or plat maps, or original maps created by the applicant. The most helpful way to access these records is by subject term or by utility taxing district number.
Assessor timber cruise records, 1907-1967.
These records are organized by section-township-range coordinates. Within each volume, section maps, intended to show stands of taxable timber, may also show home sites and describe property improvements. (An example of a timber cruise map.)
Road establishment books, 1912-1936.
These books are atlases of King County roads. Maps show existing county road rights of way, former roads, actual roads constructed, road names and numbers, and date of road establishment.
County Engineer - state highway plans, 1925-1933.
After 1900, Washington counties worked increasingly with the state Highway Department to maintain roads built with state monies. The Highway Department sent reference copies of its highway plans to the counties. These plans are for State Highway #1 (Pacific Highway, through Auburn, Kent, Des Moines, Seattle, and via North Trunk Highway to the Snohomish County line) and State Highway #2 (Sunset Highway, over Snoqualmie Pass).
In addition to construction details, the plans provide information about the land on either side of the right-of-way: property owner's names, location of structures such as barns and sheds, wetlands, pastures, cultivated fields, etc. Maps on each page have been indexed by section-township-range coordinates.
Engineering Land Survey description cards, 1936-1941.
Cards often include a hand-drawn sketch of the area surrounding the survey marker or section/quarter-section corner. The sketches, when present, vary widely in degree of detail. They may show houses (some with owner names); commercial structures (some with business names); churches; roads (paved, gravel, dirt, brick, etc.); old trails; logging roads; bridges; watercourses; rail lines; garbage dumps; electrical power lines; vegetation; agricultural crops; burnt or logged-off land; etc.
County Engineer - state highway plats, 1959-1972.
This series consists of King County's reference copies of Washington State Highway Department plat maps. The maps show the extent of rights-of- way for state highway projects. Large-scale maps of the right-of-way for the Seattle Freeway (Interstate 5) show the location of structures removed during freeway construction. No additional information about the buildings is present.
Planning Department land use maps, 1959-1972.
This series consists of large scale neighborhood maps (many based on Kroll maps) showing the nature of built structures or land utilization during the time period. They are arranged by section-township-range coordinates. (An example of a land use map.)
For additional information about any of the above records, please contact the Archives
Please contact Archives staff for more information about the following records of mid-twentieth century land use planning in different areas of King County:
Planning Commission Comprehensive Plan studies, 1951-1954.
In 1949 the Planning Commission began to undertake studies to update the county's first (1939) comprehensive plan. The revisions comprised 14 sections corresponding generally to county school districts: Auburn, Bellevue, Bothell, Enumclaw-Plateau, Federal Way, Highline-South Central, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Renton, Shoreline, Snoqualmie Valley, and Vashon Island. Each study included sections on physical, human and economic geography; and assessments of schools, traffic, shopping and industrial areas, parks and recreation, and utilities. Between 1955 and 1958 the studies were further revised, and a generalized comprehensive plan based on them was filed in August 1958. Records are arranged by community name.
Planning Commission activities in the 1950s included preparation of individual topical reports and studies related to various growth and development issues in King County: school growth, economic development, business expansion, land use, sewage and pollution, etc. These studies were often undertaken jointly with other groups: school districts, the University of Washington, and the Puget Sound Regional Planning Conference.
This series contains survey data, summary statistics, correspondence and reports relating to county-wide planning for schools, fire districts, and general community development. Includes summary neighborhood analysis data for county communities. Access is by keyword.
King County Document Collection
This collection is comprised of individual reports and studies by King County agencies. Types of material in this collection may include include neighborhood plans, analyses, environmental impact studies and regional community plans. Access is by keyword.
For further information about any of the above records, contact the Archives.