UW Husky Alumni Band: Saving George Benson Waterfront Streetcar

Subject: Special Request: Saving George Benson Waterfront Streetcar

Fellow HMBAA Members.

Many of the more senior members of HMBAA (Husky Marching band Alumni Association)) remember one of Seattle’s most beloved citizens, former longtime Councilman and active HMBAA member, the late George Benson. One of George’s proudest accomplishments was the very successful development and operation of the Waterfront Streetcar that bore his name.

While the Streetcar was indeed a tourist attraction, it was also a practical form of transportation for residents of Seattle. Since both visitors and locals were quite willing to pay more to ride the once-Melbourne Australia Streetcars than busses, the Streetcars’ farebox return was highest of any public transportation in the Puget Sound area. “George’s Streetcars” were by all measures economic, environmental, and aesthetic successes.

When the SAM took over the site of the Streetcar maintenance facility to build a sculpture park, it was assumed another maintenance facility (“car barn”) would be built and this delightful and practical part of Seattle’s waterfront would continue. But the replacement did not occur, the Streetcars have since been mothballed, and now the Seattle Establishment seems more than willing to sell them cheap.( I have no quarrel with SAM’s sculpture park; I strongly object to the needless ending of the Streetcar as collateral damage!)

In my judgment, this dishonors Mr. Benson’s memory  and is an act of thoughtless throwing away  a significant Seattle asset.

A “Save Our Streetcar” website offers supporters the opportunity to petition City and King County officials to undo the bad decision to cast aside Mr. Benson’s Streetcars. I would hope those of us who remember George Benson and also the “younger kids” in HMBAA would please spend the few minutes to honor the legacy of the Husky Band baritone horn player we all so liked and respected.

Our Alumni Band is, as we all know, a very popular institution. I see no conflict of interest for individual petitioners to mention our and George’s membership in HMBAA. I believe our identification  as  HMBAA members may be helpful.

Thanks for any and all support.

Lloyd H Flem (Trombone 59-61)


Posted in Letters