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The state of Washington at the end of the 20th century


Judge George Boldt
Judge George Boldt

After World War II, Washington, like many parts of the United States, experienced a suburban boom. Cities such as Bellevue and Richland, which were rural communities before the war, were transformed into urban areas. In 1962 Seattle hosted a world’s fair called Century 21. This civic event gave Seattle national attention and left the city with a famous landmark, the Space Needle.

In the 1960s emphasis was on improving opportunities for minorities—urban blacks, Mexican Americans in the Wenatchee, Yakima, and Puget Sound areas, and Native Americans living outside of reservations. Considerable integration was achieved in housing and in employment. Environmental preservation and improvement also engaged people’s attention in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1968 two national wilderness areas were established in the northern Cascades—Glacier Peak Wilderness and Pasayten Wilderness. A ten-year effort financed by Seattle and Bellevue residents made Lake Washington pure enough for swimming and fish preservation.

The state adopted waste disposal regulations that appeared to be stringent enough to protect nonpolluted air and water and to improve contaminated air and water. Washington’s growing environmental consciousness was reflected in Spokane’s 1974 world’s fair, called “Progress without Pollution.” The fair resulted in an urban renewal project, which transformed an unsightly 1,538-hectare (3,800-acre) area of warehouses and railroad tracks into an urban park in the center of downtown Spokane.

As a result of Washington’s conservation efforts, the government attempted to prevent the Puyallup peoples from fishing in the Puyallup River. The issue came to a head when 27 Native American groups brought a lawsuit to federal court, claiming that an 1855 treaty, granting Native Americans special fishing rights, had been violated.

In 1974 Judge George Boldt decided in favor of the Native Americans and guaranteed them half of the fish caught off reservations. Many commercial fishing crews opposed the ruling and made an appeal. Finally in 1979 the case was heard and upheld before the Supreme Court of the United States.

In the early 1970s Washington state, and especially the Seattle-Everett area, experienced a severe economic recession as a result of cutbacks in federal spending for aerospace equipment. Shipping activities connected with the building and operation of the Alaskan oil pipeline, as well as significant increases in commercial aircraft sales, contributed to the state’s economic recovery in the late 1970s. "Washington" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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