Description: This is Part 13 of 19 of an interview with Eddie Carlson. This interview was conducted by various interviewers in January and March of 1985. This part of the interview was conducted by Evans Wyckoff at the Westin Hotel on March 14, 1985.
Edward "Eddie" Carlson (1911 – 1990), was an American hotel and airline executive, and Seattle civic leader. Born in Tacoma, and raised in Tacoma and Seattle, Carlson attended Lincoln High School and the University of Washington, and served in the US Navy during World War II. In 1946, Carlson began working for Western (later Westin) Hotels, Inc., becoming president in 1960, and Chief Executive Officer of United Airlines and its holding company U.A.L in 1970, bringing United back from near-bankruptcy back within two years. Carlson retired from U.A.L. in 1983.
In 1955, Carlson was appointed by Governor Arthur Langlie to head a commission studying the feasibility of a Seattle World’s Fair. The fair, named the Century 21 Exposition, was funded in 1957, and Carlson made president of the Century 21 Exposition Inc., charged with planning and promoting the fair. Carlson’s napkin sketch of a tower with a revolving restaurant, inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, was the origin of the Exposition’s most enduring icon, the Space Needle. Though Carlson had to resign his official position with the fair in 1960 due to his considerable responsibilities at Western Hotels, he continued to be connected to the fair.
Among his many honors, Carlson was presented with the annual Seattle-King County Board of Realtors First Citizen award in 1966; the Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus award from University of Washington in 1970; and the Seattle-King County Municipal League Outstanding Citizen award, also in 1970. In 1982, Carlson was appointed by the governor to the University of Washington Board of Regents.
After his retirement, Carlson remained tirelessly active in Seattle community affairs., serving on the board of several organizations. After his death, the Carlson family founded the Carlson Leadership and Public Service Center at the University of Washington, a place where students could engage in public service and learn to make meaningful contributions to the community.
This interview is part of the Donald Schmechel Oral History Collection. Don Schmechel, who was a member of the Seattle Public Library Foundation board, began this project with Seattle Public Library in 1984, with the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) brought on board as a partner in early 1985. Schmechel himself worked to raise the funding for the project, and volunteered his time to manage the project, and to conduct interviews along with a crew of volunteers. Originally titled the Videotaping Historic Figures (VHF) Program, the project interviewed 91 people, and MOHAI holds the interviews for 32 of these individuals.The interviews conducted with these Seattle civic, business and cultural leaders in 1985 are valuable first-hand accounts that provide insight into developments taking place in the mid-twentieth century.
Digitization of this videotape material has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.
Transcribed from handwritten notes on videotape case. Due to trimming of video leader, time stamps are approximate:
00:25 International deals in general
02:30 Get Wells paid for what you do
03:00 Reward managers and equity position
05:20 Olympic Hotel to Four Seasons; Lease renewal - no bid; renew Westin on Ben Franklin
07:00 We made no money on Olympic
08:00 A successful deal has to be good for both
08:15 Four Seasons efforts commendable
09:00 University Board of Regents
10:00 Increase faculty salary
11:55 Corporate cancer - have people who argue
13:30 N.E.T.M.A. open communications
14:40 Make no little plans
15:30 Confidence, effort, luck, aggressive
16:15 Small size no problem
17:25 Politics? Run for governor in 60s
This oral history recording may be used for research only. For other uses, please contact the Museum of History & Industry at email@example.com.