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Two types of aerial photographs are found in the photograph collections of the King County Archives:

1. Photographs taken systematically as part of an aerial mapping project, usually for tax assessment purposes.

aerial
Section 33, Township 21, Range 5 (south King County), 1936.
The King County Archives holds photographic prints from aerial survey projects in 1936 and 1961 (partial). These photographs are arranged by section-township-range coordinates. Each photograph shows one section of land.  Many of the 1930's photographs can be accessed online through the Road Service Division's Map Vault Database.


Don't miss the Archives' online exhibit about production of the 1936 Land Use Survey, which features images, documents, and streaming film clips from the King County Assessor's Office.

 

2. Photographs taken incidentally as part of a county project or program.

eastgate
Eastgate Park and surrounding area, Bellevue, early 1970s.
Aerial photographs have been taken for projects such as:
  • Land acquisition for park or trail development
  • Farmland preservation
  • Road or street construction or improvement

Using keywords such as road and street names, park names, or other identifiers, you may be able to find an aerial photograph of the object of your research if it was or is:

  • Near a county structure, project, or facility
  • In unincorporated King County
  • On or near county-owned land


King County Archives series containing aerial photographs

The below table lists series that are known to contain aerial photographs.

Dates Geographic Area Description Access Series Number (links to series record) Series Name Record Group (Agency Name)
1931 Boeing Field 1 photo Archives research room by appointment. 49 Miscellaneous photograph collection King County
1936- 1937 King County outside Seattle city limits as of 1936 (see Seattle Municipal Archives Annexation history (external link)) 1936 aerial survey conducted as part of WPA Land Use Survey project. (Related: Archives exhibit featuring film footage documenting the survey project: Films of King County Assessor Roy B. Misener.) Indexed by Section-Township-Range; images online through Department of Transportation, Roads Services Division Map Vault. 1042, 1043, 1532 Aerial photographs: 1936 survey Assessor
circa 1938-1973 Cedar River, Green River, Kimball Creek, Patterson Creek, Raging River, Snoqualmie River, Andover Industrial and Commercial Site Mounted black-and-white prints, some of which are aerial views of sites of flooding and flood control facilities. Archives research room by appointment, digital copies available. For additional aerial photos of flooding see also department's site Historical Flood Photos. 1883 Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Water and Land Resources Division Flooding and flood control project photographs
circa 1940-1949 City of Shoreline, 15th Avenue NE and NE 150th Street Single aerial photograph of former naval hospital site, which in 1947 became the location of the Firland Sanitorum for treatment of tubercolis patients (1947-1973). Image online in Archives collection database record 275 (item 274.27.23) Photograph files Public Health
1947-1991 State Flood Control Zone District Aerial photographs are present in some permit files for individual properties. Archives research room by appointment. 630 Permits Department of Transportation, Roads Services Division
1950-1988 Sites throughout King County Photographs of department projects, include aerials. Images are indexed in Archives collection database, access photos Archives research room by appointment. 415 Photograph files Department of Transportation / Community Relations
1950-2013 Current and former landfill and transfer station sites throughout King County. Aerial photos of County operated landfills and transfer stations. Series includes 8" x 8" photographic prints and oversized mounted prints. Archives research room by appointment. 441 Photograph files Public Works, Solid Waste Division / Department of Natural Resources and Parks Solid Waste Division
1955-1987 South Park Bridge, Duwamish River area Aerials included in Box 15. Archives research room by appointment. 474 Bridge files (photographs) Road Engineer
1958, 1959, 1960, 1964, 1968 King County Aerial photographs and maps used for residential appraisal. Indexed by flight path, access in archives research room by appointment. 922 Aerial photographs Department of Assessments / Residential Appraisal
1960-1989 King County Color aerial photographs. Archives research room by appointment. 629 Administrative working files Department of Transportation / Roads Services Division
circa 1960-2000 King County wastewater facilities, roads and streets, City of Seattle. Photographs of METRO projects, property, and facilities; City of Seattle aerial photographs used in program promotion. Archives research room by appointment. A07-056 Photographs Department of Transportation
circa 1960-2002 Unincorporated King County Many aerials of roads, rivers, county properties and structures. Videos also include aerial footage. Indexed by subject in Archives online collection database. Access photos in Archives research room by appointment. Some images online in Archives collection database. 400 Photograph and moving image files Department of Transportation / Road Services Division
1961 Ranges 2E-6E, Townships 20-23, 25, 26 Aerial photostatic prints from Assessor survey. Section list in series file. Archives research room by appointment. 425 Aerial photostat maps Assessor
[1961]-1965 Ranges 3E-5E Diazotypes. Archives research room by appointment. 1649 (no online record at this time) Aerial photographs Department of Development and Environmental Services / Land Services Division
1962-1966 Sammamish River Park Reproductions of aerial photographs included in applications for federal funding to purchase land for parks. Archives research room by appointment. 1720 Reproductions of aerial photographs County Commissioners
1962-1968 Green River and Snoqualmie River areas Aerial films of search-and-rescue operations. Archives research room by appointment. 420 Films Department of Public Safety / Seattle-King County Office of Civil Defense
1987 (series dates 1965-1987) Kent Highlands Series includes aerial photographs document County property acquisition in 1987. Archives research room by appointment. 411 Miscellaneous program files Department of Executive Administration / Real Property Division
circa 1969-2000 Bellevue, Bothell, Burien, Duwamish area, Eastside area, Federal Way, Kent, north King County, Lake Sammamish, Lake Washington, Medina, Northgate area, Renton and the Cedar River, south Federal Way and Tukwila, Seattle neighborhoods Aerial photographs of County facilities and operations include surrounding areas. Archives research room by appointment. 1629 Photograph files Office of Information Resource Management - Printing and Graphic Arts
circa 1970-1979 Burien, Highline, Kenmore, Pacific Highway South, Shoreline, Soos Creek area Aerials documenting streets, highways, surrounding neighborhoods. Indexed by street in Archives online collection database. Archives research room by appointment. 426 Aerial photographs Public Works
1970-1998 Unincorporated King County Series includes aerial images of property being considered by King County for parks acquisition for Forward Thrust. Photographs are indexed by subject in Archives online collection database. Access photographs in Archives research room by appointment. 467 Photograph files Park System
1972-1975 Marine, lake and stream shorelines, beaches and adjacent land areas. Reproductions of aerial photographs as part of larger body of records. Archives research room by appointment. 1634 (no online record at this time) Shoreline inventories Department of Community & Economic Development / Land Use Management
1972-1999 Downtown Seattle and south of downtown (SODO area) Aerial photos of Kingdome. Photographs indexed by subject in Archives online collection database. Access photographs in Archives research room by appointment. 1608 Photographs Stadium Administration
1972-2008 Green Valley (Yakima Valley) and Boulder Park (Douglas County) biosolids application sites Aerial recordings (VHS and Umatic video format). Archives research room by appointment. 1819 Biosolids Management Program records Department of Natural Resources and Parks / Wastewater Treatment Division
circa 1977-1990 King County park sites Aerial photographs of County parks properties, black and white, printed on mylar. Indexed by park name in Archives online collection database. Access photographs in Archives research room by appointment. 900 Photograph files Department of Natural Resources and Parks / Parks Division
circa 1980-1989 Snoqualmie Valley Photostatic copies of aerial photographs. Archives research room by appointment. 974 Subject files, Snoqualmie Valley Community Plan County Council
1980-1990 King County wetlands Original aeral photographs marked with topographical contour lines and other data. Archives research room by appointment. 1426 (no online record at this time) Project file: King County Wetlands Inventory Department of Parks, Planning and Resources: Environmental Division
1981 (series dates circa 1970-1983) Upper Snoqualmie River valley, Snoqualmie area, North Bend Slide show from 1981 contains both ground and aerial photographs. A related sound cassette accompanies the photographs. Indexed by street in Archives online collection database. Archives research room by appointment. 421 Photograph files: color slide presentations, SEPA section Department of Parks Planning and Resources/ Environmental Division
1984 (series dates 1977-1986) King County Aerial photographs, compiled by the County Executive's Office, of property being considered for acquisition by the Farmland Preservation Program. Archives research room by appointment. 1407 Subject files County Executive: Randy Revelle
1986-1989 Puget Sound shoreline, Issaquah, and Cedar River area Black and white 9" x 9" photographic prints from aerial survey. Scanned images of photographs for Issaquah and Cedar River flights are available on Archives online collection database. Flight lines maps available. Aerial photos from Puget Sound shoreline flight may be accessed at Archives research room by appointment. 1774 Aerial photographs Department of Natural Resources / Water and Land Resources Division

Additional resources

The following aerial surveys are available through the Department of Transportation Map and Records Center's Map Vault

1936 King County Assessor Aerial Survey (this survey is also listed above)
1942 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Survey
1959 King County Assessor Aerial Survey
Aerial photographs of King County are also available from other King County departments, other public agencies, and private sources. To learn more, please visit the County's guide to: Natural resources reference maps.


A few more resources are listed below:

TTY Relay 711

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 9 am-4 pm

Please note the Archives is closed Wednesdays.