Very few people can say they were around when the viaduct was constructed and then demolished.

Ken and Joan Jackson, who live near Yakima, were among the first to travel down the brand-new roadway the day it opened on April 4th, 1953.

“To me, it's a little sad,” Ken said of the viaduct’s end. “I know they had to do it, but all the memories I had of that bridge.”

At his home in Zillah, Ken has collected a museum’s worth of antiques, including vintage cars and car parts.

“When I was in high school, all my friends would buy booze and pop and cigarettes, and I’d buy antiques,” he said.

WATCH: One final drive along the viaduct

The collections help him reconnect with the past.

“Here’s the little Dodge that we drove across the viaduct,” he said, pointing to a black and white photo on the wall.

The image recalls the day Ken and Joan ushered in a new chapter in Seattle history.

“I remember all the cars lining up - getting ready to go - and they lined Ken and his brother’s cars up first,” Joan said.

Organizers of the opening day ceremonies wanted a parade of vintage vehicles, and Ken was part of an antique car club invited to join the procession. The Barclay Girls, a dance group, rode along while Joan and the other wives walked.

“I remember them flipping a coin to see who could ride with the girls, the can-can girls, they were darling,” Joan said.

“I was happy and excited because that bridge was beautiful,” Ken said. “When you went across it, you could see Puget Sound.”

Newspaper reports lavished praise on the first phase of the project.

“Years of planning and watching and waiting suddenly bloomed like a ten-bloom Easter lily,” the Seattle Times wrote in its coverage of the day.

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As traffic increased and decades passed, the Jacksons saw their city transform, from the soaring drive along Elliot Bay.

“I loved to be able to see the ferries going everywhere because that was my life as a young kid, and I loved to see the city, you could see a lot of the city from the viaduct, the old city,” Joan said.

Now, one of the few parts of Seattle they still recognize is going away.

For the Jacksons, it’s kind of surreal to have seen something so prominent rise and fall.

“It's a lot of change, a lot of change, for a city that you remember when you were young,” Joan said.

Join KING 5's Seattle Tunnel Traffic Facebook group to stay up-to-date on the latest Seattle tunnel and viaduct news and get tips to battle traffic during the three-week viaduct closure in January.