Here we stand – about a century ago – with an unidentified photographer recording five U.S. Postal Service teams and their drivers. The year is about 1905, six years after the Post Office moved from its previous headquarters on Columbia Street here to the Arlington Hotel. Larger quarters were needed, in part for sorting mail.
On the left (of the top photo) is the hotel’s north façade extending west from the corner of University Street and First Avenue. Above the sidewalk on First, the hotel reached four ornate brick stories high with a distinguished conical tower at the corner, not seen here. To the rear there were three more stories reaching about forty feet down to Post Alley. First named the Gilmore Block, after its owner David Gilmore, for most of its eighty-four years this sturdy red brick pile was called the Arlington, but wound up as the Bay Building, and it was as the Bay that it was razed in 1974.
By beginning the construction of his hotel before the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, Gilman performed a considerable, if unwitting, service. The south foundation of the structure was formidable enough to stop the fire from reaching University Street. Off shore, a chain of volunteer fire fighters, passing buckets of water pulled from Elliot Bay, stopped the fire’s northerly advance as well along the off-shore quays and trestles built of pilings for warehouses and railroad tracks.
Free mail delivery started in Seattle on September 11, 1887, with four carriers. Remembering that booming Seattle’s population increased in a mere thirty years from 3,533 in 1880 to the 237,194 counted by the federal census in 1910, we may imagine that this quintet of carriers and their teams were a very small minority of what was needed to deliver the mail in 1905. Behind the posing carriers, University Street descends on a timber trestle above both Post Alley and Western Avenue to Railroad Avenue (Alaska Way). Most likely some of the mail was rolled along the trestle both to and from “Mosquito Fleet” steamers for waterways distribution.
After the post office moved three blocks to the new Federal Building at Third Avenue and Union Street in 1908, First Avenue between University and Seneca Streets continued as a block of hospitality with seven hotels.
Anything to add, Paul? A few variations from the neighborhood, Jean, beginning with a look south on First Avenue through University Street.
FIRST AVENUE SOUTH THRU UNIVERSITY STREET
WHERE THE UNIVERSITY STREET RAMP REACHED RAILROAD AVENUE
[NOTE: The NOW describe directly above has not been found, or rather a good print or the negative for it stays hidden.]
WESTERN AVENUE LOOKING SOUTH FROM THE UNIVERSITY STREET VIADUCT
[ANOTHER NOTE: The "Contemporary photo noted in the paragraph directly above may have joined the other "now" subject missing above it. ]
Here – if Ron Edge reads his mail on awakening Sunday Morning – we may find a link for the story feature we published here on the Buzby’s Waterfront Mill, which was nearby at the foot of Seneca Street. After the story of Buzby and his pioneer flour, we follow Jean and his students off to Snoqualmie Falls for another now-then. After a few more digressions, the linked feature returns to the “hole,” above, for more of Frank Shaw’s photos of it. This may all transpire soon for Ron arises about the time I join the other bears here for another long winter’s sleep.
An exhibition at Musée Rodin puts currently in perspective two artists whose comparison seems a priori surprising : the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1919), of course, and the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) , famous for his sultry nude photos but also flowers and portraits. The exhibition illustrates their shared passion for the representation of the human body. Rodin was already using photography. He requested a photographic campaign of his statue of Balzac in moonlight from the American photographer Edward Steichen in order to respond to criticism (” make the world understand my Balzac”). Mapplethorpe was, for his part, very inspired by sculptures, including those of Michelangelo, and described his pictures as being “like sculptures, as forms that take up a space”. The exhibition at the Musée Rodin reveals the correspondence between two artists who, beyond appearances, are inspired by an ideal of classical beauty .
Une exposition au Musée Rodin met actuellement en perspective deux artistes dont le rapprochement semble a priori surprenant: le sculpteur Auguste Rodin (1840-1919), bien sûr, et le photographe américain Mapplethorpe (1946-1989), célèbre pour ses photos sulfureuses de nu, mais aussi de fleurs et de portraits. L’exposition permet d’illustrer leur passion commune pour la représentation du corps humain. Rodin utilisait déjà la photographie. Il avait ainsi commandé une campagne photographique de sa statue de Balzac au clair de lune au photographe américain Edward Steichen afin, pour répondre aux critiques, de « faire comprendre au monde mon Balzac ». Mapplethorpe fut, de son côté, très inspiré par les sculptures, notamment celles de Michel-Ange et décrivait ses photos « comme des sculptures, comme des formes qui occupent un espace ». L’exposition du Musée Rodin permet ainsi d’admirer cette correspondance entre deux artistes qui, au-delà des apparences, s’inspirent d’un idéal de beauté classique.
The Hôtel Biron built in 18th century became the Rodin Museum in 1916. Rodin who had been renting the hotel since 1908 to use as a studio, gave all of his oeuvres and collections to the French state, on the condition that he could reside there all his life , after which Rodin’s collections would remain there, eventually to become today’s Musée Rodin .
Standing alone on a Denny Regrade lot, a reinforced concrete shoebox with a 30×109 footprint and a red brick veneer, stands at 1921 Fifth Avenue. In the 1880s a pioneer wagon road leading to Queen Anne Hill passed by here. That was long before the regrade, but with half-closed eyes we may imagine the wagon crossing this sloping northeastern corner of Denny Hill very near the roofline of this sturdy box, or a few feet above the Monorail seen in Jean’s “now.”
All the signs in the second floor windows are for political publications, including the Washington Democrat, whose name is also on the front door. But by 1918 all had moved away, including the Democrats. The likely date here is 1917, or two years after 1915, the year tax records say this box was built. Peeking over the roof is a clue. It is a late construction scene for the terracotta tile-adorned Securities Building, described on line by its owner Clise Properties as completed in 1917. The Clise Investment Company was one of the building’s first occupants.
Besides the publishers, the early user history of the building included a furniture dealer handy with hardwood billiard tables and fumed-oak davenports. In 1928 the place was remodeled for the auto-renter Aero-U-Drive-Inc, with a wide door cut at the sidewalk to move cars in and out of the long garage inside. Upstairs on the second floor was the Colony Club, one of the many speak-easies that the State Liquor Control Board announced in the spring of 1934 that it would soon padlock. John Dore, Seattle’s brilliant and sometimes bellicose mayor, gave the prohibition police no help, announcing to the press, “We have matters of greater importance and dearer consequence to consider than closing up speakeasies.” Hizzoner was thinking of that year’s waterfront strike.
The surviving 1949 remodel with glass bricks was for a new business, Singer Sewing Machine. After the sewing, Uptown Music sold guitars and rented school band instruments in the 1970s. In 1980 the glass-adorned box was rented for the Reagan-Bush Washington State Headquarters. The Republican Party was replaced with partying. Two music clubs paid the rent, the Weather Wall and Ispy. In 2008 the latter was promoted as an “Urban Comedy Jazz Café.” And so it figures that next year the little – for the neighborhood – shoebox may, if it likes, trumpet its centennial.
Anything to add, Paul? Yup Jean, Ron is going to post a few past features that relate to this neighborhood with relevant subjects – many of them on 5th Ave. – and a few irrelevant subjects mixed in.
The Capitol Hill neighborhood landmark, the Littlefield Apartments at the corner of 19th Avenue East and East John Street was timed as 58 years-old in a Times story about its 1968 sale to Arthur Kneifel. For his $120,000 Kneifel got a classic brick apartment house with twenty-eight units. Less than a year later, Kneifel got his cash back and $38,000 more when he sold the Littlefield to B. A. Nuetzmann.
Through the Littlefield’s early years of enticing renters, its classifieds in The Times used many of the stock descriptions for such a distinguished residence. When West and Wheeler, one of the real estate gorillas of the time, announced in 1916 that “this pleasantly located, new brick veneer building has just been placed in our charge,” the unfurnished two-and three-room apartments rented for $18 to $27.50 a month. And in 1916 it was possible to see some light because of the neighborhood’s turn-of-the-century clear-cutting. One could then still rent a Littlefield unit with a “view of Lake Washington,” a gift from the sawyers.
Through the 1920s, West and Wheeler described this property as “quiet and homelike,” “beautifully furnished,” in “perfect condition,” “modern,” and “reasonable” to rent. In the mid-20s the realtors promoted “overstuffed furniture” with coil springs in the apartment’s furnished flats. In late 1931 a modern and “completely refinished” 3-room front corner apartment was offered for $37 a month. It was a depression-time bargain – for the still employed.
The Littlefield’s more steadfast residents aged with it, and increasingly following World War Two. their names started appearing in The Times death notices. For instance, on May 6, 1947, the Times noted that Mrs. Laura Price, 86 years old and a member of First Baptist Church, had died. Four years later Littlefield residents Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Leighton celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
The Littlefield, of course, had its run of managers. Perhaps the most unlucky among them was Robert Milender. Twice in 1972 – in June and in July – visitors on the pretense of wanting to rent a unit, instead robbed and pummeled Milender in the manager’s, his own, apartment.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes Jean with your help and a link to our feature on Capitol Hill’s Gable Apartments, which includes several additions – of its own – that will resonate with the Littlefield Apts. as well.
Here is an opportunity for readers to enjoy our deeply human urge to play hide and seek. What is often made of bricks and tiles in the “then” panorama may still be discovered beside or behind the grand expanse of glass rising so high in the “now.” You may wish to start with the Smith Tower. Only a slice of that 1914 landmark can be found far down Second Avenue on the right. Both views, of course, were photographed from the Space Needle. The historical photographer exposed his or her Kodachrome slide in 1962 when the Space Needle was new. Jean Sherrard recorded his digital repeat late last February, on a perfect day for photography when that winter light with its soft shadows is so forgiving and revealing.
In the upper-right corner of Jean’s repeat, a crisp Mt. Rainier reflects the afternoon sun so that the name, “The Mountain that was God,” seems most appropriate. When Seattle and Tacoma were still arguing whether it should be named Mt. Rainier or Mt. Tacoma, this sublime substitute was used, in part, to transcend the promotional rancor bouncing back and forth between the two cities.
For the more ancient among us, the 1962 panorama may reflect The Seattle Times now long-passed columnist Emmett Watson’s campaign for a “Lesser Seattle.” Watson, with the help of rain and this modest skyline, hoped to discourage Californians from visiting, or worse, staying in Seattle. This was the Central Business District before major leagues, digital commerce, grunge, and acres of tinted glass curtains. Seek and you may still find the Seattle Tower (1928), the Medical Dental Building (1925), and the Roosevelt Hotel (1929), but not the nearly new Horizon House (1961) on First Hill, here hidden behind many newer towers.
Anything to add, Paul? Assuredly Jean – and with your help: your’s and Ron’s. First Ron’s. Directly below are three links to landmarks that can still be found in our cityscape, and appear – in part – from the Space Needle. Next, we will put up some examples of pans from favored Seattle prospects. This will not be a surprise to you, because you have recorded repeats for most of them, and when you arise on Sunday morning – after breakfast – you may, we hope, pair these distinguish Seattle examples of panoramas with your own contemporary repeats. As time allows this evening, following those “classic” now-thens, I’ll put up some other wide-angle shots from hither and thither, reaching as far as your family’s favored summer destination: LaPush on the Washington Coast.
A FEW of SEATTLE’S HISTORICAL PROSPECTS Repeated by Jean Sherrard
(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT from the New Washington Hotel
GREEN LAKE, LOOKING WEST to Phinney Ridge & the Olympics
FROM WEST SEATTLE
FROM PIONEER SQUARE HISTORIC DISTRICT
ABOVE THE ROOF OF TOWN HALL
From The KING STREET COAL WHARF
PETERSON & BROS. Pan From YESLER WHARF, 1878
THE 1909 ALASKA YUKON PACIFIC EXPOSITION ACROSS PORTAGE BAY
Thanks to an american friend who was dreaming to visit Giverny, so we drove yesterday to this heaven at 80 kms West from Paris.
It was the third day of opening of the site, when the garden awakes at spring time.
The painter Monet settled there in 1883 with his family, where he stayed for 43 years in this marvelous pink house with green shutters. He created his garden like an œuvre, which was an endless source of inspiration.
At the first glance in the garden, I found the spirit of the painter, with this harmony of monochrome flowers placed by touchs, the volumes of the trees, in a magnificent composition and felt the joy of being in an immence impressionist painting…
Merci à mon amie américaine qui rêvait d’aller à Giverny. Alors nous sommes parties en voiture vers ce paradis à 80 km à l’ouest de Paris. C’était le troisième jour d’ouverture du site, au moment où le jardin s’éveille au printemps.
Le peintre Monet s’y installa en 1883 avec sa famille et habita dans cette magnifique maison rose aux volets verts pendant 43 ans. Il créa son jardin comme une œuvre et celui-ci se révéla une source inépuisable d’inspiration.
Au premier regard, je retrouvai l’esprit du peintre, avec cette harmonie de fleurs couleurs monochromes disposées par touches, les volumes des massifs et des arbres dans une magnifique composition et ressentis la joie d’être dans une immense peinture impressionniste…
When Monet stayed in Holland, he painted fiels of tulips, made extraordinary huge vivid colors plates, and juxtaposed them in wide flat spaces. We can imagine his emotion in Skagit County…
Quand Monet séjourna en Hollande, il peignit des champs de tulipes, réalisa d’extraordinaires et gigantesques planches aux couleurs vives, et les juxtaposa dans des espaces immenses et plats. Nous pouvons imaginer son emotion a Skagit County…