1850s: City founders David Denny and Thomas Mercer claim land near the south end of Lake Union.

1880s: South Lake Union annexed to Seattle. Sawmills spring up, and the neighborhood becomes one of the city's first industrial and transportation centers.

1911: World-renowned planner and engineer Virgil Bogue proposes plans that include a train station and a broad, tree-lined boulevard from downtown to Lake Union. Voters reject it the next year.

1960s: More than seven blocks of homes are razed to build Interstate 5, which cuts South Lake Union off from Capitol Hill.

1969: Plans are revealed for an elevated freeway that would connect Highway 99 and Seattle Center to I-5. City buys property along Mercer Street for the project, but voters reject it three years later. Mercer becomes a one-way route to the freeway.

1985: Mayor Charles Royer and City Council propose a $100 million plan to fix the "Mercer Mess," develop a waterfront park and turn South Lake Union into a research- and-development center for computers, software and biotechnology.

1989: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center buys 10 acres for its new campus.

1991: Seattle Times columnist John Hinterberger proposes a park stretching from downtown to Lake Union and dubs it Seattle Commons. A group led by businessman Joel Horn begins a campaign for a 61-acre park, winning support of many city leaders. A group of small-business owners and low-income-housing advocates fights the plan.

April 1992: City Council approves sale of former Lake Union Steam Plant, which becomes home to biotechnology company ZymoGenetics.

October 1992: Commons campaign announces anonymous $20 million loan to buy land in or near the proposed park.

December 1992: Commons committee releases a draft of its plan, expected to cost $312 million and take 20 years to complete.

November 1995: Voters reject a $111 million tax levy to build a park. A smaller Commons plan is proposed to go to voters the next year.

May 1996: Voters reject a $50 million tax levy. Property bought for the park, 11.5 acres, is turned over to Allen to repay $21 million he loaned for the project. Construction begins on REI's flagship store and a Marriott hotel.

June 1997: Allen completes purchase of the block at 2200 Westlake Ave. for $1.6 million.

1998: Allen spends $6.2 million to buy property along Mercer and Westlake and Ninth avenues.

July 1999: Allen buys former Washington Natural Gas property for $10 million, the largest of 13 deals totaling $44 million that year. Vulcan starts first biotech project, a remodel of the 1922 Rosen Building for the University of Washington's Cell Therapy Initiative.

June 2000: Allen buys Chandlers Cove for $18 million, the largest of a dozen deals totaling $62.5 million that year.

2001: Allen buys the former Washington Natural Gas headquarters for $25 million in January and several parcels from the city for $20.2 million in June.

2002: Vulcan announces plans for several biotech projects, including a new headquarters for the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, a biotech development at 428 Westlake, and a research building for Rosetta Inpharmatics. UW talks about leasing the Blue Flame Building for research space.

January 2003: Mayor Greg Nickels proposes a streetcar line connecting downtown with South Lake Union.

Source: the Seattle Times library and