History of the Land

A notable South End location that has a long and varied history, the site has spanned all eras of the Puget Sound story. From the origins of the Duwamish people and related Coast Salish groups from time immemorial, to the immigrant farming communities led by Japanese Americans and Filipino Americans that called the area home in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, onto the famous racetrack that produced the location’s moniker and operated from 1933 through 1992, the Providence Swedish Performance Center & Clubhouse site represents all the eras of Puget Sound history. Most recently, aerospace giant Boeing operated the campus as its global headquarters for roughly three decades, concluding its stewardship of the property last year.

For thousands of years, the site of the Providence Swedish Performance Center & Clubhouse has been home to the Duwamish, or “the people of the inside,” along with related Coast Salish peoples, whose rich culture was grounded in a sustainable relationship with the abundant natural resources located within the valley. This included village and seasonal sites on the Black, Cedar and Green Rivers, which all merged into the Duwamish and ultimately Puget Sound. Though the courses of these rivers would be changed by human engineering in modern times, the waterways are a key piece of the area’s identity, originally centered upon Duwamish social structures and cultural exchange.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the arable lands near today’s campus attracted many settlers, and the area became home to a growing population of Japanese, Filipino, European and other immigrant communities. This trend continued throughout the boom of the Industrial Revolution at the beginning of the twentieth century, and in 1902 the Seattle-Tacoma Interurban Railway was built through the Duwamish Valley south toward Tacoma’s Commencement Bay, leading to increased settlement surrounding Longacres and laying the groundwork for mid-century urbanization.

The Longacres racetrack was a direct result of this expansion, built upon former pasture lands in 1932 during the Great Depression. Operating until the early 1990s, the track was known for its Longacres Mile handicap and majestic views of Tahoma (Mount Rainier). Longacres served as the home of thoroughbred horse racing in Western Washington and, at the time of its closing, was the longest continually operated track on the West Coast. Boeing then purchased the property, which served as the aviation leader’s headquarters for its Commercial Airplanes division from 1995 through 2021.

Sounders FC’s development of a portion of the 150-acre campus provides a new steward for the land, led by another deeply rooted cultural institution of the Pacific Northwest in the Sounders.

“We recognize that we cannot undo the harm and trauma historically endured by those who have called this place home. Sounders FC’s mission is to create moments, enrich lives and unify through soccer. Through our shared values and social justice commitments we plan to share a story of placemaking at the Sounders FC Center at Longacres and acknowledge the complexity of the history of our new home. In our stewardship we are unequivocal in our commitment to include all people." - Sounders FC Chief Operating Officer Maya Mendoza-Exstrom

Since Time Immemorial

Home of the Duwamish and related Coast Salish groups, who navigated, traded, fished, farmed and foraged along the Cedar, Black, Green, and Duwamish rivers and camped along the shores of what is now Lake Washington.

19th Century

  • In 1853: Joseph Foster was the first permanent Euro-American settler near today’s Longacres site; he made his home on the banks of the Duwamish River which is now part of Fort Dent Park (site of Starfire Sports)
  • In 1857: Muckleshoot Indian Reservation was established, and its members, drawn from the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup tribes, came to be known as Muckleshoot, rather than by their historic names.
  • In the 1860s: The general region around Longacres grew into an agricultural center and trading point, with increased Euro-American population.
  • Late 19th century: Japanese truck farmers settled in the area near Longacres, many working initially as seasonal laborers employed on area farms for a dollar a day in the summer and 80 cents a day in winter.
Black River
Black River Fishing
Black River

Birth of Longacres:

  • In 1933: As transportation and access increased in the region from Seattle and Tacoma, one consequence was the conversion of farmland into the Longacres racetrack. Built on former pasture lands farmed by dairyman James Nelsen, Seattle businessman Joe Gottstein opened Longacres racetrack in 1933.
  • During World War II: The track was requisitioned by the US Army, which housed soldiers on its infield. Profits from the track were poor during its first decade but picked up after the war and continued to be big business through the late 20th century.
  • In 1990: With the increased commercial value of accessible open space in the region, Longacres owners sold the racetrack and surrounding structures to The Boeing Company.
  • In 1992: Longacres track closed for good and the site was transformed into a suburban office park housing Boeing’s Corporate Headquarters.

For further information:

The history of this place is still being discovered, and new voices are adding fresh insights and important perspectives. Visit this page as we will update and share further information as it becomes available. Please contact us at communityfc@soundersfc.com with questions or stories to share.

Photo Credit (in order of appearance):

MOHAI, Anders Beer Wilse Photographs, 1988.33.238

MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, 1986.5.52952.23, Photo by Tom Barlet

MOHAI, Anders Beer Wilse Photographs, 1988.33.286


MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, PI28082

MOHAI, PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, 1983.10.17928

MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, 1986.5.5318.3

MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, PI23495

MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, 1986.5.5318.2

MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection PI23511

MOHAI, Michael Meglemre Collection, 1991.1.144.1

MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, PI23523