Seattle Now & Then: 'Lost Seattle'

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Between the now lost tower of the Pioneer Building, seen in part far left, and the Seattle Electric Steam Plant tower on the right, are arranged on First and Railroad Avenues the elaborate buzz of business beside and near Seattle’s Pioneer Square ca. 1904.
THEN: Between the now lost tower of the Pioneer Building, seen in part far left, and the Seattle Electric Steam Plant tower on the right, are arranged on First and Railroad Avenues the elaborate buzz of business beside and near Seattle’s Pioneer Square ca. 1904.
NOW: Both views were recorded from the roof of the Alaska Building at the southeast corner of First Ave. and Cherry Street. In the about 109 intervening years most of the Seattle waterfront here of long finger piers has been flattened and fitted with cranes for containers and more room for the ferries.
NOW: Both views were recorded from the roof of the Alaska Building at the southeast corner of First Ave. and Cherry Street. In the about 109 intervening years most of the Seattle waterfront here of long finger piers has been flattened and fitted with cranes for containers and more room for the ferries.

On the recent afternoon of one of our inconstant autumnal days Jean Sherrard joined author Rob Ketcherside on the roof of the Alaska Building to repeat the ca. 1904 subject that Ketcherside has placed on the front cover of his first book, the new “Lost Seattle.”

What by now is lost here?  Besides West Seattle, most of which is hidden behind a deep cloud bank, Jean’s look west from the top of Seattle’s first skyscraper (1904) is missing most of the long wall of brick structures that in the decade following the city’s “great fire” of 1889 were squeezed along the east side of First Avenue to both sides of Cherry Street.  Surely many Pacific readers will remember when these ornate red brick beauties were replaced with the big buff parking garage, showing here on the right.

It could make you nostalgic, and those pining feelings are surely what the many titles included in the London publisher, Pavilion’s series on lost cities (Including New York, Chicago, San Francisco and many others) is, in part, counting on.  And it works.  Ketcherside has chosen his subjects well for this polished hard back, and orders them by decades, beginning with the effects of that “great fire” in 1889.

The new book’s subjects are a mix of local classics and the author’s favorites.  For instance, Ketcherside’s sidewalk display of Seattle’s old street (aka Jeweler’s) clocks is a refined pleasure and, again, not a little nostalgic.  (Surely many Pacific readers could be of some help with the author’s continuing research on the subject of these “pedestal clockworks.”  Readers with pictures of street clocks and/or stories to share may contact him at roket@gwu.edu.)

Besides working full time managing programs and programmers for a computer services company, and raising a family, Rob has taken an active roll in the local heritage community.  For instance, he is an appointed member of the Mayor’s Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.  Happily for us and himself, Rob Ketcherside continues his research and writing.  Let’s support him and go out and find his Lost Seattle.

WEB EXTRAS

Rob Ketcherside atop the Alaska building
Rob Ketcherside atop the Alaska building

Anything to add, Paul?  Certainly Jean, and as has become our custom we begin with Ron Edge’s help with links (pictures to tap) that will take our readers to a few other relevant features from the neighborhood.