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Early experiments in garbage disposal included incineration and the dumping of waste from barges into Puget Sound. However, the most popular method of garbage disposal in Seattle during the first half of the twentieth century was an almost indiscriminate use of landfills.

By 1914 the Health Department reported that it was operating eleven sanitary fills, including dumps at Interbay, Salmon Bay, and Union Bay. Writing in 1915, Superintendent of Garbage, C. L. Murray, praised the efficiency of the filling method of disposal, claiming that Seattle was uniquely "fortunate, as there is an almost unlimited number of places within our city limits, which can be beautified by sanitary fills."

It was common practice for the Health Department to circumvent the objections of those living near the dumpsites by promising that the fill, when completed, would become a park. Former landfill sites that were developed as recreational facilities include the Green Lake field house, the Washington Park play field and the Columbia City play field (pictured here, center image).

By 1935, however, Chief Sanitary Inspector Allan T. Butler concluded that, "As time goes on, it is becoming more difficult to establish and maintain garbage fills, because of the many objections made by property owners in the vicinity of such fills. Within a short time it will be necessary for us to adopt some other means of garbage disposal," including incineration. In 1943 there were six landfills operating within city limits: the Interbay dump, University dump, Judkins Street dump, the Sixth Avenue South dump, the West Seattle dump, and the Genessee dump. Two of these sanitary fills (Interbay and University) also were designated as burning dumps, while a third site at Second Avenue South and Kenyon was used exclusively for burning.

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