Seattle Now & Then: The Amelia Apartments at 17th and Yesler

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Yesler Way’s corner with 17th Avenue is about three blocks west and 30 feet short of Yesler Way’s summit on Second Hill.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey.)
THEN: Yesler Way’s corner with 17th Avenue is about three blocks west and 30 feet short of Yesler Way’s summit on Second Hill. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey.)
NOW: Most likely the Amelia was razed in 1979, the last year the apartment’s owners were taxed for it.
NOW: Most likely the Amelia was razed in 1979, the last year the apartment’s owners were taxed for it.

These Amelia Apartments – 16 of them – were, it seems, first noted in a Seattle Times classified ad on Sept. 4, 1910.  The agent, John Davis and Co., was one of the super real estate dealers of the time with 61 apartment buildings, “in all parts of the city.  Davis advised, “simply step into our office and tell us what kind of a place you want.  We will endeavor to meet your every requirement.”  Seven days later on the 10th the agent admitted his first renters here into 104 17th Ave. East.

The Amelia was conveniently built beside the Yesler Way Cable Line, with its musically clanking cars reaching the corner every 3 minutes during busy hours. The Amelia offered 3 and 4 bedroom apartments; large, light rooms; modern conveniences; linoleum bathroom and kitchen floors, gas ranges, large closets, cupboards and coolers.”  Agent Davis declared it “very desirable.”  In 1912, depending on size, the rent ran between twenty and twenty-seven dollars a month.  By 1914 the Amelia’s Apt No. 4 was used by a practitioner offering “woman-to-woman” consultations about a “dependable remedy for every married woman” that the personal “women’s ad” left unexplained.  (Was it proven techniques on how to be rid of one’s husband?)

Until their internment during the Second World War, this was a neighborhood where Japanese Americans integrated with Seattle’s Jewish community and a miscellany of many others.  Here on the corner is Beckerman’s Delicatessen, also a Jewish center where, for instance, in the spring of 1926 one could pick up tickets for the famous singing cantors Mordecia Hershman and Zavil Zwartin appearing in concert at the Masonic Temple at Harvard and Pine.  Across Yesler Way and out of frame to the far right was the synagogue for the Bikur Cholum Congregation, now home for the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.

Although I confess that the subject seems earlier to me, perhaps this scene dates from 1926, the year that the Jewish labor organization named the Workmen’s Circle, gathered with workers from throughout the city for a Labor Day Monday afternoon of music, speeches, dancing and games at Renton’s Pioneer Park.  Most of this is promoted across the banner that stretches here over Yesler Way.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul? Yes and staying close to Yesler Way.   We will go as far up the hills, First and Second, as we can before surrendering to those patient nighty bears.  We will be following the route of the old Indian Path to Lake Washington, which the first settlers were please to find and follow in their exploration of the ups and downs behind their waterfront claims.   I do not mean to include any additional features, unless I am surprised by one.  Just pictures with short captions.  But as prelude –  readers who remember last Sunday’s coverage of the new book LOST SEATTLE by Rob Ketcherside, will find below these additions something put up earlier today: The longest caption in the history of this blog and written by that First Hill picker-scholar Stephen Edwin Lundgren.   Stephen gave most of an afternoon to giving a decent caption to the historical photo featured last week – the one on the cover of Lost Seattle – and he has dated it sensitively and, I’m convinced, properly too.

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Henry Yesler
Henry Yesler
Yesler's Wharf during the Big Snow of 1880 (the very biggest ever) with damaged sheds and a West Seattle horizon. (Courtesy, Greg Lang)
Yesler’s Wharf during the Big Snow of 1880 (hereabouts, the very biggest ever) with damaged sheds and a West Seattle horizon. Photo by Peterson & Bros.  (Courtesy, Greg Lang)
Yesler Wharf ruins from the Great 1889 fire.  Scene looks east from the end of the dock to Pioneer Square and the stately ruins on Front Street (aka First Ave.)
Yesler Wharf ruins from the Great 1889 fire. Scene looks east from the end of the dock to Pioneer Square and the stately brick ruins on Front Street (aka First Ave.)
A repeat of the ruins - of sorts.
A repeat.
This look north across the water end of Yesler Whard was share with me long ago by Lucy Campbell Coe, who also shared with me her vivid recollections of the 1889 fire.
This look north across the water end of Yesler Wharf was shared with me long ago by Lucy Campbell Coe, who also shared her vivid recollections of the 1889 fire. Yesler’s small post-fire pier shed is on the right.  The unidentified vessel’s black stack hides the work progressing on the Denny Hotel at the top of Denny Hill.  The tall firs far left are Seattle’s second park, Kinnear Park on Queen Anne Hill.
Extending the Northern Pacific's "Alaska Piers Nos. 1 and 2" early in the 20th century. They covered the site of the original Yesler Wharf at the waterfront foot of Yesler Way.
The Northern Pacific’s “Alaska Piers Nos. 1 and 2″ (right and left) early in the 20th century. They covered the site of the original Yesler Wharf at the waterfront foot of Yesler Way.
Seattle's second biggest snow - after the 1880 one shown above - fell early in 1916.
Seattle’s second biggest snow – after the 1880 one shown above – fell early in 1916.  Woodrow’s postcard looks east on Yesler Way from Railroad Avenue.
Nine years later.
Nine years later.
Yesler way and the Smith Tower with its tiles gleaming as advertised - or remembered.  The photo was taken by either Robert Bradley or Horace Sykes.  Their collections came to me mixed.  The date is from some day before April Fools Day 1953, with the subject being one of several taken during a walk of the new Yesler Viaduct, before it was opened to traffic.
Yesler way and the Smith Tower with its tiles gleaming as advertised – or remembered. The photo was taken by either Robert Bradley or Horace Sykes. Their collections came to me mixed. The date is from some Spring afternoon before April Fools Day 1953, with the subject being one of several taken during a walk of the new Yesler Viaduct, before it was opened to traffic.
An earl(ier) scene from the Seafair parade.  (Courtesy, Greater Seattle)
An early scene from the Seafair. (Courtesy, Greater Seattle)
Looking west on Mill Street (Yesler Way) from Second Ave.  The Occidental Hotel is on the right and beyond it, Yesler's Mill.
Looking west on Mill Street (Yesler Way) from Second Ave. The Occidental Hotel is on the right and beyond it, Yesler’s Mill with the smokestack.
The Olympic Block, southeast corner First S. and Yesler Way, standing but on its last legs. (Courtesy Seattle Public Library)
The Olympic Block, southeast corner First S. and Yesler Way, standing – but on its last legs. (Courtesy Seattle Public Library)
After the 1980s collapse.
After the 1980s collapse.  First South is on the right.
At the other end of the block, the southwest corner of Yesler Way and Occidental Ave., the affected Korn Building beneath which Underground Seattle tours excite tourists with tales of toilets and the Great Fire.
At the other end of the block, the southwest corner of Yesler Way and Occidental Ave., the affected Korn Building beneath which Underground Seattle tours still excite tourists with tales of toilets and the Great Fire.
A public works photo of a  recently installed Concrete Safety Island on Yesler east of Third.  (Courtesy Seattle City Archive)
A 1925 public works photo of a then recently installed Concrete Safety Island on Yesler east of Third. (Courtesy Seattle City Archive)

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A fresh cable
A fresh cable

5.-B.-Yesler-Cable-loading-at-Occidental--Last-ride-maybe-WEB

First published in Pacific  May 2, 1993
First published in Pacific May 2, 1993
The fated Car 22
The fated Car 22

5. Cable_car_on_Yesler_Way_at_3rd_Avenue_in_1940

5. YESLER-CABLE-last-day-lk-west.-WEB

Late on some latter day.
Late on some latter day.
City Hall (Public Safety Bldg., City Hospital, etc.) when nearly new in 1908/9.  Restored in the 1970s at the 400 Yesler Building.
City Hall (Public Safety Bldg., City Hospital, etc.) when nearly new in 1908/9. Restored in the 1970s as the 400 Yesler Building.
The abandoned old Public Safety Building, here on May 24, 1970, photographed by Lawton Gowey.  I have fond memories of this wreck with its broken windows. Inside the floors were used for covered parking.
The abandoned old Public Safety Building, here on May 24, 1970, photographed by Lawton Gowey. I have fond memories of this wreck with its broken windows. Inside the lower floors were used for covered parking and, if memory serves, some minor car repair.

 

Looking west down Yesler from the east end of City Hall ca. 1912.  The Frye Hotel, on the left, is hear nearly new.
Looking west down Yesler from the east end of City Hall ca. 1912. The Frye Hotel, on the left, is nearly new and the most imposing structure on Yesler.  Soon – with its dedication in 1914 – the Smith Tower would take those bragging rights.
On February 7, 1977 Lawton Gowey returned to the 400 Yesler Building to record the beginning of its restoration.
On February 7, 1977 Lawton Gowey returned to the 400 Yesler Building to record the beginning of its restoration.

 

Looking south on 5t Avenue from its Yesler Way overpass circa 1950, long before the Kingdome and SODO.
Looking south on 5th Avenue from its Yesler Way overpass circa 1950, long before the Kingdome and SODO.
SEATTLE CITY LIGHT'S Yesler Way substation on the north side of the street at 7th Avenue.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
SEATTLE CITY LIGHT’S Yesler Way substation on the north side of Yesler at 7th Avenue. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
Climbing First Hill (Here AKA Profanity Hill and Yesler Hill) near the City Light Sub-station.
Climbing First Hill (Here AKA Profanity Hill and Yesler Hill) beside the City Light Sub-Station.
With the cables open for repair running on the right up Yesler Way, this classic reveals a line-up of civic landmarks beginning with the King County Courthouse on the horizon of "Profanity Hill."  The sprawling clapboards at the subject's center is the still celebrated Katzenjammer Kastle, City Hall following the Great Fire of 1889 for nearly 10 years.  City Light's transfer station can also be found, and closes to the photographer if Bohemian Beer, a brand I'm familiar with in that Herman Keys, my painting instructor and friend in Spokane, married into the family and thereby operated a salon for a circle of friends in the Bohemian Manse with its upper class footprint firmly planted in Spokane's oldest distinguished neighborhood, the Brown's Addition west of the business district.
With the cables open for repair running on the right up Yesler Way, this classic reveals a line-up of civic landmarks beginning with the King County Courthouse on the horizon of “Profanity Hill.” The sprawling clapboard at the subject’s center is the still celebrated Katzenjammer Kastle – Seattle’s City Hall following the Great Fire of 1889 and staying for for nearly 20 years. City Light’s transfer station can also be found, and closes to the photographer is Bohemian Beer, a brand I’m familiar with. Herman Keys, my painting instructor and friend in Spokane, married into the family and thereby operated a salon for a circle of friends in the Bohemian Manse with its upper class footprint firmly planted in Spokane’s oldest distinguished neighborhood, the Brown’s Addition west of the business district.
The flatiron Sprague Hotel - mostly hidden here behind another cable car - fit the block bordered by Yesler, Spruce and 8th Ave.
The flatiron Sprague Hotel – mostly hidden here behind another cable car – fit the block bordered by Yesler, Spruce and 8th Ave.
Another of the Sprague Hotel - one that appeared here with a feature within the last year - or nearly.  The reader could find it if so desired through the blog's own keyword search service.  For the clear eye and big monitor the Sprague Hotel can also be spied in the panorama two subjects above.  It mostly hides behind the City Light Sub-Station.
Another of the Sprague Hotel – one that appeared here with a feature within the last year – or nearly. The reader could find it if so desired through the blog’s own key-word search service. For the clear eye and big monitor the Sprague Hotel can also be found in the panorama, two subjects above, where it mostly hides behind the City Light Sub-Station.

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While we did not make it to 17th Avenue and the Amelia – or beyond it – we will return later today* with a few more looks to the sides of Yesler Way.  But now we will take the steps – two flights – to the last reading of the day followed by the comforts of nighty bears, so comforting for these colder nights.

* While we surely did not “return later today with a few more looks to the sides of Yesler Way,” we will now begin to watch for and collect them and add them at some future date (perhaps a Sunday).   

LOST SEATTLE – An ADDENDUM from Stephen Edwin Lundgren!

Alaska-Bldg-Roof-view-to-West-THEN-mrWEB

Here’s another fine contribution from our Stephen.  [Click twice to enlarge and so the better to follow Stephen’s points.]  He must have given most of an afternoon to polish my “1904” date – a fleet speculation – for the Curtis photo that Rob Ketcherside (or his editors) chose for the cover of his new and first book “LOST SEATTLE.”   Thanks again to Rob for a fine addition to the local canon and thanks to Stephen too for his admonishments.  [Somewhere I have a portrait of Stephen, which I’ll add later.  The rest is Stephen’s.]

Rob – CONGRATULATIONS!   Hardcover,  no less and in color.   Far better than Arcadia . Good show!

Checked it out at University Bookstore who reported that it’s been flying off the shelf today. Sales!  And Publicity by Paul. Very good.

My, my, nostalgia. My wife and I took in the Music Hall shows a couple times, Julie Thompson and her first Svengali, Jack McGovern, including at his other venue, the now China Harbor. So much else, I can remember it well. Thanks for not mentioning my Dad in the Kalakala story.

The Yesler Hill and the Courthouse story are very good and accurate. You are hereby adjudged an honorary Profanity Hill expert now. The hanging may proceed. Sez Judge McCann, who was the police court judge. Next case!

You even knew about the secret 1928 City Council ordinance to level the entire hill. Pretty damn obscure. I bet Richard Conlin voted for that. Before he voted to create Goat Hill. Pity he was replaced by a Wobbly.

Now as for the cover harbor photograph – Where’d you find it? Corbis? Hah. They don’t create anything.

what makes somebody think it for 1904 as date for this partial panorama? I don’t think so.

Since you didn’t ask. And didn’t state that in the book, fortunately.

I am more inclined to 1905, even more likely mid1906, having tentatively identified some of the ships in the harbor or at wharf and found what are perhaps contemporary photographs of the Moran Bros Co shipyard – all three “anonymous,” one a AYPE era colorized postcard, and two of them sourced to Joe Williamson, who collected earlier photographers’ works (My bet is Asahel Curtis for all of these aerial views, esp the colorized verson, although Frank Nowell is a possibility, as he was known to climb rooftops and courthouse towers at the time )

One of the white curving prowed steam schooners is very surely the revenue cutter Grant (three masts and tall steamer stack, it was a coaler, to the right), moored as was usual at one of the harbor buoys.  It spent a lot of time at these in the final years up to its surplus sale in late 1906, its iron hulled geriatric engines condition usually keeping it within Puget Sound. The other white hull is another 19th century federal revenue steam cutter,  I have several suspects that were active here at the time. It shows up at the launch of the Nebraska.

The 4 stack torpedo boat destroyer is most likely the USS Perry (Bainbridge class) which also spent a fair amount of time in Puget Sound waters 1904/1905, as part of the Pacific torpedo boat fleets guarding us from errant Russian and/or Japanese fleets. Or British.   I was hoping it was the USS Decatur but that was elsewhere in the SE Asian fleet at the time.

Paul would remember a similar torpedo boat destroyer in a harbor, included in one of the works of nostalgic art donated to the MOFA last month. Probably the Decatur “opening up” the Japanese ports.

On the very far left within the coal smoke is either the USS Nebraska being fitted out after its October 1904 launch, before its late 1906/7 delivery to the US Navy OR another battle cruiser which was also moored at this dock, the armoured cruiser USS New York (3 stacker). I’ve seen a Times photo of this cruiser but missed noting the publication date, as if one can trust the Blethen press as being accurate.  As noted above, there are three existing photographs of that ship from somewhat aerial perspective, one including the full-length postcard of the SS Orizaba et al, and two others  which show the stern and bow of same, and including the 3 stack warship etc. It very much resembles your harbor shot edge.  See attached montage.

However, here’s  the curveball, or sinker (more appropriately).  The 1889 launched tropical steamer SS Orizaba, single raked stack, two masts, is said to have first arrived in Seattle June 1, 1906 after its purchase by the Northwestern Steamship Co for the Alaska trade and then made her first trip to Nome, arriving June 25 and returning with $750,000 of gold. On Aug 7 1906 her name was changed to the SS Northwestern.  At some point c1909 its cabins were expanded, enclosed/rebuilt (Alaska is not the Caribbean!), it was transferred to Alaska Steam and it continued its storied if notorious Alaskan career for three decades as the most often sunk,  beached, refloated, and eventually in 1942, bombed West Coast/Alaskan ship. What survived is still in Dutch Harbor.

So I’d go with summer of 1906 – the Nebraska was still at the Moran yards, the destroyer Perry still hanging around, and the cutter Grant often moored in the harbor. The Hanford building on the corner of First and Cherry wasn’t finished until sometime later in 1906, so that is the outside of the timeframe.

Ironic aside: if indeed the Orizaba and the New York were at the same shipyard in 1906, they both died 35 some years later in the Pacific War (New York scuttled in Manila Bay December 1941, the Orizaba/Northwestern in Dutch Harbor May 1942), and both remain where they lay. The iron hulled mechanically failing Grant sank in a storm up in northern Canadian waters in 1910 after being converted to a fish freighter, and the torpedo boat Perry was eventually scrapped after WWI.

Collegially, as I get back to my own work

Stephen Edwin Lundgren

such as revisting Gorden Newell’s work, with Lost Ships of the Pacific Northwest

Orizaba/Northwestern’s career :   Alaska at War, 1941-1945: The Forgotten War Remembered

Side note: The Grant ended its career with two involvements with the salvation of survivors and later resurrection of the victims of the doomed steamer Valencia off the British Columbia coast. But that’s another story, mine.

Can’t help you with the street clocks. I don’t wear a watch anymore.

Does anybody really know what time it is? or really care?

Paul: bottom line, I say photo is June 1906 not 1904. Sez me and Ace Curtis. He sez send him two bucks for the publication fee. Payable to his account at Dexter Horton downtown. And who the hell is Mr. Corbis? I still got the plate somewhere in the root cellar unless it ended up on the greenhouse roof.