June 23, 1967: Last Exit on Brooklyn

Countercultural Seattle Remembers

Last Exit on Brooklyn Last Exit on Brooklyn circa 1990. Photo credit: Moss Willow (www.mosswillow.com)

As the summer of 1967 commenced, Seattle’s counterculture was only beginning to emerge from the shadow of San Francisco’s. Our leading alternative newspaper, Helix, had been established to great acclaim a few months before. All Seattle then needed was a suitable public gathering place for its quickly growing population of “fringies.” On the date in focus here, that special place arrived in earnest with the opening of the Last Exit on Brooklyn, the now-legendary University District coffeehouse.

Located at 3930 Brooklyn Avenue Northeast near the University of Washington campus, the Last Exit was established by Irv Cisski, an entrepreneur, chess enthusiast, and former co-owner of the Eigerwand, another fringie-friendly Seattle coffeehouse that had closed several months before. Cisski wanted to recreate the Eigerwand’s bohemian atmosphere in a new, larger venue. The building Cisski chose was a…

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