The Rejection of Capitol Hill's First Subway System

A little over 108 years ago, on August 24, 1911, civil engineer Virgil G. Bogue submitted his Plan of Seattle to the Municipal Plans Commission (MPC). The Bogue Plan, as it became to be known, outlined an ambitious design that would have connected Capitol Hill to Downtown and West Seattle through under and above-ground transit in addition to building an elaborate civic center across from Denny Way, near present-day Seattle Center. Following submission to the Municipal Plans Commission, the MPC presented the report to then Seattle mayor George W. Dilling and the City Council on September 7, 1911.

Thanks to the amazing online archives that exist today, a full digitized of the original Bogue Plan can be accessed here on the Internet Archive.

Who was Virgil Bogue?

Virgil Bogue had built himself quite the reputation in city planning before tackling the difficult landscape of Seattle. His resume included the Oroyo, North Pacific, Union Pacific, and Western Pacific railways, as well as the discovery of Stampede Pass in the Cascades. Bogue was an accomplished engineer that never let nature get in his way. This determination continued in his final years when he took on the challenge of shaping Seattle's design and commerce, five years before his death in 1916.

In spite of his great accomplishments and persistence, Bogue’s vision for Seattle was not that different from other famous visionaries who had contributed to Seattle's design – these visions are now tales as old in time. In 1908, architect Warren Gould had proposed a civic center to be built east of Downtown and chief engineer of the Denny Regrade, Reginald H. Thomson, noted in 1909 upon moving to Capitol Hill: "The ever-increasing traffic around the north end of First Hill over Pike and Pine Streets clearly points to a time when travel will be seriously congested, and this, with no opportunity for opening up additional streets with as favorable grades, justifies the belief that a tunnel route for teams will become an economic necessity in the comparatively near future." Clearly Bogue had important visions to fulfill when it came to bringing the potential of Seattle's infrastructure to life, and he was looking forward to the challenge even at the ripe age of 65. The Seattle Times in September 1910 introduced him and his ambitions as follows:

"Virgil G. Bogue, who is not unknown locally, will draw the