Knute Berger

Mossback's Northwest

Host Knute Berger mines the Pacific Northwest's historical and cultural nuggets. Learn hidden backstories behind the region's most interesting treasures and discover why they're still relevant today.

When Being Poor in Seattle Was a Criminal Offense

In 1872, Seattle council passed Ordinance 32 that outlined punishment for vagrants — the idle, dissolute, immoral, profligate, or the unemployed — by specifying that they could be put to work. Many offenses earned a sentence on the chain gang: Swearing, drunkenness, illegal gambling, patronizing prostitutes. But for many, the only offense was being poor.