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Terminal 5

Yes, We Have Some Bananas | Sea-Land Moves In | Bigger and Better | A Superfund Site  | The Cleanup Nets a Park | The Working Waterfront Today |

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Terminal 5 teems with activity: container ships arriving and departing, loading and unloading containers and double-stack railcars. With the latest $270 million modernization project completed, it’s no wonder it is a top site for generating jobs. But, like many of the Port’s properties, there’s history here.

Terminal 5 construction, 1961.

Terminal 5 construction, 1961

In 1954, the Port purchased a portion of the land where today’s Terminal 5 sits from Ames Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. The intent was to develop a modern marine terminal there, but that was a long time coming.

Yes, We Have Some Bananastop of page

Banana Terminals, 1949.

Banana Terminals, 1949. Courtesy Museum of History and Industry.

The Ames property also was the site of a banana terminal until the 1970s. In 1956 the Port bought more property from Mount Rainier Radio and Television Broadcasting Company and Bethlehem Pacific Coast Steel Company.

Aerial of Elliott Bay, 1962.

Aerial of Elliott Bay, 1962

Jutting into Elliott Bay between the West Seattle greenery on the left, and the more developed Harbor Island in the center of this photo, the area that will become Terminal 5 is yet to be developed. The property still houses shipbuilding and wood treatment facilities.

Salmon Terminals, 1966.

Salmon Terminals, 1966.

Salmon Terminals, a cooperative warehouse for canning salmon, was located on the property from 1966 to 1983. The previous location of the canning operation was the Port’s Piers 24 and 25, also referred to as Spokane Street and Hanford Street Terminals.

Terminal 5 and Salmon Terminals Warehouse, 1967.

Terminal 5 and Salmon Terminals Warehouse, 1967

Sea-Land Moves Intop of page

When Sea-Land was shopping for a West Coast base in 1964, the Port of Seattle jumped at the chance to move them in. Sea-Land was Malcom McLean’s company, the ex-trucker who shook up the shipping world by introducing cargo containerization.

By this time the Port had started construction on a marine terminal here, but could now customize it to Sea-Land’s requirements. Sea-Land signed the contract to make Seattle its West Coast base that year and the next year it was ready for operations. When Terminal 5 first opened in 1965, it took up just a small portion of land along the West Waterway.

Sea-Land at Terminal 5, 1970s.

Sea-Land at Terminal 5, 1970s

Bigger and Bettertop of page

Cargo business grew ten-fold and with it the need for bigger facilities. In 1969 the Port bought more land, north of the old Ames site from the Drummond Lighterage Co., which it developed to fit Sea-Land’s growing needs.

In 1982, Sea-Land moved to Tacoma, and the Port undertook a $20 million modernization project to attract new customers. By the project’s end that price tag rose to $50 million, but this was small change compared to the revenue the terminal would generate.

Terminal 5, 2007.

Terminal 5, 2007. Port of Seattle photo by Don Wilson.

In 1986, reshuffling of steamship lines on the waterfront resulted in Terminal 5 becoming the new home of American President Lines.

A Superfund Sitetop of page

Ames Shipbuilding and Dry Dock, 1917.

Ames Shipbuilding and Dry Dock, 1917. Courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.

The Port was in for an ugly surprise when it started expanding Terminal 5. Creosote deposits from the Wykoff Plant that treated wood pilings with creosote for more than 100 years, and from shipbuilding by Ames and Lockheed, would deem the land an EPA Superfund Site in 1983.

The Port had successfully completed environmental projects before — cleaning up the land it developed, building parks, creating access to the shoreline, and re-establishing native marine habitats, but nothing compared to this massive project.

Terminal 5 environmental cleanup, 1990s.

Terminal 5 environmental cleanup, 1990s. Port of Seattle photo by Don Wilson.

The Port disposed of almost 8,000 tons of highly contaminated soil on 90 acres of land at Terminal 5, and capped other less contaminated soils to prevent rainwater infiltration. The project was completed in 1997.

Learn more about the Port’s environmental efforts here.

The Cleanup Nets a Parktop of page

Jack Block Park, 2007.

Jack Block Park, 2007. Port of Seattle photo by Don Wilson.

The cleanup not only undid years of environmental damage, it also gave Seattle a new park and spectacular viewpoint. Jack Block Park was dedicated in 2001 and named for former Port Commissioner Jack Block, a Seattle native and longshoreman who served on the commission from 1974 to 2001. Visitors to the park get a bird’s eye view of the city’s skyline and Elliott Bay from the 45-foot observation tower.

Learn more about the Port’s Parks and Public Access areas.

Terminal 5, 2006.

Terminal 5, 2006. Port of Seattle photo by Don Wilson.

The Working Waterfront Todaytop of page

Today, Terminal 5 is home to APL’s Global Gateway North, with advanced on-dock intermodal rail facilities, the latest generation computerized terminal operations system, six container cranes and three containership berths.

Terminal 5, 2002.

Terminal 5, 2002. Port of Seattle photo by Don Wilson.

Maritime business activities pump $430 million in local purchases and $2.5 billion in business revenue into the local economy. A large chunk of this comes from the Port’s container Terminals 5, 18, 30 and 46. Seattle’s Seaport generates nearly 22,000 direct jobs and $1.6 billion in personal income.


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