Seattle Now & Then: Submarine Launch

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The new sub H-3 takes her inaugural baptism at the Seattle Construction and Dry Dock Company’s ways on Independence Day, 1913. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)
THEN: The new sub H-3 takes her inaugural baptism at the Seattle Construction and Dry Dock Company’s ways on Independence Day, 1913. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)
Submarine-launch-NOW-mr
NOW: Here, Jean Sherrard describes the stimulating path he took to record his repeat. “On an overcast Saturday I turned off of First Avenue South, heading west toward the docks. Nothing remains of Alaskan Way, plowed under in preparation for the big tunnel dig, so I followed unmarked access roads and wound up in a parking lot separated from the docks by a barbed wire fence and a security hutch. I explained to the guard on duty that I was taking a repeat of a submarine launch from almost exactly a hundred years ago. Unimpressed, she informed me that I needed to apply for permission from her superiors, but they wouldn’t be available until Monday at nine A.M. I asked her for their names and contact information, and when she turned back to her desk, I shot my photo.”

At 5 o-clock on the afternoon of July 4, 1913, Miss Helen McEwan, the daughter of a proud and watching VIP, christened the bow of the H-3, then the Navy’s “new under water fighting machine.”  The Times sensitive reporter saw it “slide gracefully into the waters of Elliot Bay.”

In the next day’s Times a hopeful editor added, “May the new vessel sink as successfully as she floats!”  And the H-3 did both sink and swim but not always in order. For instance, in Dec. 1916 with three other navy vessels examining coastwise harbors, the H-3 – in a fog – ran on a sand spit at Humboldt Bay in Northern California.  A year earlier in Southern California waters while “forging ahead” of another navy flotilla this time heading up the coast from San Diego for an Independence Day celebration in San Francisco, the H-3 ran on the rocks at Point Sur.  First saved by a high tide and then patched at the navy year in Vallejo, on leaving the navy yard the sub managed to first graze the cruiser Cleveland and then run afoul of a dike at the Vallejo lighthouse.  In 1930 the H-3 was, perhaps, mercifully decommissioned.

Two more vessels half hide here behind the H-3. Built in Ballard in 1902, the four-mast schooner Willis A Holden is held for overhaul in one of the Seattle Construction and Drydock Company’s three floating dry-docks after a punishing 63-day sail north from Iquique Chile.

Half hidden behind the flags on the sub and with its stern nearly touching the schooner, we may glimpse the sporty steam tug, the Tempest.   Perhaps she waits to nudge the submarine if needed. As described in the McCurdy Maritime History of the Pacific Northwest, the tug’s productive last years in warmer waters were a gift of the Great Depression and a bottle of spirits.  With the 65-foot-long tug in debt and under guard, its captain “provided a bottle for the Tempest’s watchman.”  Then slipping the tug “quietly from her moorings and out to sea” she was seen “heading south down the coast under a full head of steam.”  The Tempest reached San Blas, Mexico safely and ended her days as a shrimp trawler.”

Reviewing the these maritime stories, Ron Edge, who provided the historical photograph, is of the opinion that the lives of vessels may sometimes be of greater interest than our own.  In the “now” caption, Jean Sherrard describes the contemporary task required to record his repeat.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?

Acting under the inhibitions of the little time left now before “nighty-bears” I will plop into the feature a few related features, and then with what is left add an addendum later in the week.

First the two tips that Ron Edge sent us on what he figured was the target for your “now” or “repeat” of the 1913 sub shot.  One is an early 20th Century Sanborn real estate map and the other a detail pulled from a recent Google-earth shot from space.  In both instances Ron has circled the environs with a red circle.

x Sub-site-sanborn-map-fm-Ron-WEB

x Sub-site-Ron-using-Google-WEB2

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NEXT, and in order, we will illustrate a few activities that have held the waterfront at or near the Sub’s launch site, and starting with a subject that looks east ca. 1885 to the ridge that before the Jackson Street Regrade (1907-09) and the Dearborn Cut (1909-1912) ran between First and Beacon Hills.  The closest railroad trestles crossing the tideflats are constructions of the 1880s.  The The knoll above the red arrow  near the horizon right-of-center was removed in the early part of 20th Century for fill for the laying of tracks free of worm-endangered wooden trestles like those showing here.  Dearborn Street crossed the knoll.

Steers-on-Orphan-Road-wharf-Dearborn-ca84-Web

MORITZ THOMSEN’S CENTENNIAL MILL

CENTENNIAL MILL
CENTENNIAL MILL

[Click TWICE to enlarge for reading]

Centennial-Left---WEB2

Centennial-Mill-right---WEB2

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MORAN’S SHIPYARD

Looking east - again - through some of the Moran Bros. Shipyard, the ridge between First and Beacon Hill's can spied, with a developing neighborhoon on the horizon, far right.  The date is ca. 1903.  The image comes from Hal Will.  He would know.  But Hal passed away about 5 years ago - by now.
Looking east – again – through some of the Moran Bros. Shipyard, the ridge between First and Beacon Hill’s can be spied.  Far right is a developing Beacon Hill neighborhood. The date is ca. 1903. The image comes from Hal Will. He would know the date. But Hal passed away about 5 years ago – by now.  The picture is used courtesy of Hal.
Looking north along the outer water edge of the Moran shipyard, ca. 1903.  The Denny aka Washington Hotel on the summit of Denny Hill holds the horizon, far right. Again, courtesy of Hal Will.
Looking north along the outer water edge of the Moran shipyard, ca. 1903. The Denny aka Washington Hotel on the summit of Denny Hill holds the horizon, far left.  The ships showing here are named in Moran’s own caption, bottom-right. Again, used courtesy of Hal Will.
Robert Moran at his desk.  Courtesy: Hal Will
Robert Moran at his desk. Courtesy: Hal Will
A Moran Shipyard lockout of labor in 1903.
A Moran Shipyard lockout of labor in 1903 with the one-time Seattle mayor standing beside his sign.
Two of Robert Moran and his shipyard's most valiant efforts: the construction of 12 Yukon River Steamers in 1898 for the gold rush and the 1904 launching of the Battleship Nebraska.
Two of Robert Moran and his shipyard’s most valiant efforts: the construction of 12 Yukon River Steamers in 1898 for the gold rush and the 1904 launching of the Battleship Nebraska for the post-Spanish-American War mobilization – which continues.

 

The Skinner and Eddie shipyard used the old Moran yard site during World War One to construct a volume of ships that Moran could only imagine.  Following the war came first the waterfront strike - seen here - which turned into Seattle's celebrate General Strike of 1919: a momentary thrill for local labor.
The Skinner and Eddie shipyard used the old Moran yard site during World War One to construct a volume of ships that Moran could have only imagined. Following the war the waterfront strike – seen here – soon turned into Seattle’s celebrate General Strike of 1919: a momentary thrill for local labor.

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HOOVERVILLE IGNITION

This is most likely the most oft-published panorama of Seattle's own Hooverville, photographed here from the roof of the B.F. Goodrich Rubber Company building at the southwest corner of what were then Connecticut Street and Railroad Avenue and are today Royal Brougham and East Marginal Ways.  Here we see a little more than half of the 500 shanties that live-in sociologist Donald Francis Roy described as "scattered over the terrain in insane disorder . . . in this labyrinth the investigator wandered for days, pacing off length and widths and distances fomr this to that and achieve, after a great sacrifice of leather, a fairly accurate map.
This is most likely the most oft-published panorama of Seattle’s own Hooverville on the abandoned and cleared site of the Skinner and Eddy shipyard.  It was photographed here from the roof of the B.F. Goodrich Rubber Company building at the southwest corner of what were then Connecticut Street and Railroad Avenue and are today Royal Brougham and East Marginal Ways.  The year is mid-depression: mid-1930s. Here we see a little more than half of the 500 shanties that live-in sociologist Donald Francis Roy described as “scattered over the terrain in insane disorder . . . in this labyrinth the investigator wandered for days, pacing off length and widths and distances from this to that and achieved, after a great sacrifice of leather, a fairly accurate map.
For comparison another look at Hooverville from the roof of the rubber products company.  This one is date June 10, 1937. (Courtesy Municipal Archive)
For comparison another look at Hooverville from the roof of the rubber products company. This one is dated June 10, 1937. (Courtesy Municipal Archive)
Hooverville spied in the distance from First Hill.
Hooverville spied in the distance from First Hill.  The Goodrich Rubber building can be found almost touched by the top of the Great North Union Depot tower.
A  resident in on the earlier home built on the Hooverville site.  This one dates from October 27, 1931.  The day's newspapers were a clean cover for a home with no easy way to wash-up.
A resident in one of the earlier homes built on the Hooverville site. This one dates from October 27, 1931. On any day newspapers were a clean cover for a home with no easy way to wash-up surfaces.  In cold weather several newspapers were also used as blankets. (Now visit your own bedroom and give thanks for the blankets and other bedding you find there. There but for the . . .)

Hooverville--fire--8_24_22_img0358A

HOOVERVILLE BURN – 1940

(First appeared in Pacific,  Feb. 23, 1997)

            First in the fall of 1940 at “Hooverville” and other shack communities spread along the beaches and tideflats of Elliott Bay were a squatter’s Armageddon.  The residents got a posted warning.  The mostly single men who lived in these well-packed, rent-free communities were told the day of the coming conflagration, so there was time for a few to arrange for the shacks to be carefully trucked away to other sites not market for wartime manufacturing.

HOOVERVILL FIRE Poverty Hooverville - Hooverville - WEB

            This was very different from the old Hooverville ritual of farewell – a kind of potlatch.  When a resident found a job (a rare event), he was expected to ceremoniously give his house, bed and stove to others still out of work.  In 1939 this gift-giving became a commonplace; the war in Europe had begun to create jobs here, and among the residents of Hooverville were many skill hands.

Hooverville-Packing-Up-1940-WEB

            Squatters’ shacks had been common in Seattle since at least the economic Panic of 1893.  Miles of waterfront were dappled with minimal houses constructed mostly of whatever building materials the tides or junk heaps of nearby industries offered.  For the most part, these free-landers were not bothered by officials or their more conventional neighbors.  Swelling during the 1930s to communities of more than 1,000 residents, these self-policing enclaves were an obvious and creative solution to some of the worst effects of the Great Depression.

hooverville fire -SquatersHooverville-fire-WEB

            Hooverville was the biggest of them all.  It sprawled along the waterfront west of East Marginal Way, roughly between Dearborn Street and Royal Brougham Way.  The scene of prodigious shipbuilding during World War 1, the site had been increasingly neglected and then abandoned after the war.  In 1997 when this feature was first published these acres were crowed with Port of Seattle containers.  Since then the size of this service has diminished.  Among the visions of what might become of this container field are residential uses: condos – perhaps stacked something like containers beside the bay and near to downtown.   

The south central waterfront viewed south from the Smith Tower on July 5, 1962.  The preps for the Port's container field are underway near the foot of Dearborn Street.  The photo was captures by Robert Schneider and is used compliments of him.
The south central waterfront viewed south from the Smith Tower on July 5, 1962. The preps for the Port’s container field are underway near the foot of Dearborn Street. The photo was captures by Robert Schneider and is used compliments of him.
Lawton Gowey record of  much of the same south-central watefront and also from the Smith Tower. The date is April 15, 1976 and the container field is progressing. Harbor Island is at the center across the east waterway of the Duwamish.
Lawton Gowey record of much of the same south-central waterfront and also from the Smith Tower. The date is April 15, 1976 and the container field is progressing. With more cranes and containers, Harbor Island is at the scene’s center across the east waterway of the Duwamish.
Lawton Gowey - again - looks south from the Exchange Building to the developed container field with cranes south of Pier 48.
Lawton Gowey – again – looks south from the Exchange Building to the developed container field with cranes south of Pier 48.

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SUBMARINES IN NEED OF HELP

Berangere and Jean, perhaps one of another of our readers will give us some help in identifying the submarines below.  They were plucked from our archive.

A sub in Elliott Bay dated from ca. 1910 - because it is part of a collection that generally dates from then.  The photographer was not revealed.
A sub in Elliott Bay dated from ca. 1910.  The year was tentatively chosen because the subject is part of a collection that generally dates from then. The photographer was not revealed.
Robert Shaw's mid-1970 look over a unidentified sub to the American Can Co building at the north end of the Central Waterfront.
Robert Shaw’s mid-1970 look over a unidentified sub to the American Can Co building at the north end of the Central Waterfront.
Two subs on the south waterfront near Harbor Island. One of them is the BASS.
Two subs on the south waterfront near Harbor Island. One of them is the BASS.
The gregarious BASS again with a different companion.
The gregarious BASS again, this time to the left and with a different companion.
The caption from an unidentified source reads, "Sub Carp and ferry in Elliott Bay 1945."
The caption from an unidentified source reads, “Sub Carp and ferry in Elliott Bay 1945.”
NOT SUBS!  but their chasers at port in Everett.
NOT SUBS but their chasers at port in Everett.

sub at Armory-w-Sub-WEB

Naval sub No. 268, above, lying along the water end of the Naval Armory at the south end of Lake Union. The Armory, you know, was recently converted into a new home for  the Museum of History and Industry.  In the mid-1960s I lived for a time in one of the homes in the rows of house boats that held to the shore.  My architect friend Bob lived at the far (western) end of one row of those floating homes along Fairview Ave. and at the very southern end of the house boat community.  His then was the last (most westerly) floating home on the last (most southerly) dock which was still more than half a mile northwest of the armory.   One morning he was awakened by a sturdy bump at his bedroom window.  Sitting up in bed Bob discovered the cause.  The submarine normally tied to the end of the armory had broken loose in that night’s storm and drifted across the lake in the dark in order to, it seemed, firmly but gently nudge Bob awake.  Bob said that it was “startling but not upsetting.”  So Bob went back to sleep expecting that once the navy determined that its missing submarine was not resting on the bottom would easily find it in the morning at his bedroom window, waiting there for a tow back to the armory.

+++++++

We will ad more subs, this time with rhymes, later in the week.

2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Submarine Launch”

  1. One of my prized possessions is the 1962 Port of Seattle Facilities Handbook. In it they describe Piers 44 and 46 as the construction site of a “super terminal,” including “two gigantic storage sheds.” As far as they knew at the time, they were still building for serving loose cargo ships. There is no mention of containers anywhere in the book.

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