After calls for help and hours of research on line and off, this subject still puzzles me. The prospect is easy enough to describe, and I soon will. Rather it is the subject: seven women sitting on handsome horses who have been trained to stay balanced on those odd pedestals. Who are they – the women and the horses? That the riders are dressed up in the style of the time – ca. 1910 – we can corroborate by comparing them to the tiny pedestrians, far left, walking west beside Republican Street. They are draped the same.
This prospect can be figured within a half-block. Looking east, Capitol Hill is on the horizon, and the three-story structure above the posing line of equestriennes is the Roslyn Hotel at the southeast corner of Republican and Fifth Avenue. A Roslyn classified first appeared in The Times for Feb. 3, 1909, promising “elegant furnished rooms, electric lights, steam heat, hot and cold water in every room, absolutely the best in Seattle: rates $3 to $5 dollars per week; only 50 cents extra for two persons in the same room.”
The hotel’s sign is centered along its rooftop cornice, just above rider number two – from the left – one of the three riders in white and mounted on dark horses. A friend, the writer-collector Stephan Lundgren, first alerted me to the “gray scale rhythm” of this tableau. It alternates women in white on dark mounts with women in black on white ones (in black and white photography). Lundgren concludes, “That’s not random, those are costumes.” The novelist is pleased that the one dappled steed, third from the left, syncopates the otherwise regular rhythm of the line.
The pedestrians, far left, in the featured photograph at the top, are almost certainly either headed for a circus or leaving one. But which circus and when? Two experts (and past subjects of this feature) might have helped, but both died years ago. Michael Sporrer knew circus history hereabouts in great detail, and it was the historian Mike Cirelli who first shared this photograph with me. At that time, without much study, Cirelli knew where it was but not yet, very well, who or what it was.
After studying the Seattle Times for the years 1909 thru 1913 – I used The Seattle Public Library’s access to the newspaper’s archive – I conclude that in those years there were three “big top” circuses that set up their train loads of animals, performers, canvas, and feed. The biggest, Barnum and Bailey, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” performed on this site in 1910, 1912 and 1914. The other two were the Sells-Floto Circus, last here in 1913 for its fourteenth annual Seattle engagement, and the Norris and Rowe Circus, which last performed on these grounds in 1909.
Although the smallest of the three, Norris and Rowe came on two trains to these “old circus grounds at Fourth Ave. and Republican Street” with “herds of elephants, camels, and llamas, two rings and an elevated stage, one four-mile hippodrome track, acres of tents and seats for all.” In 1909 the trains also transported 600 persons and 500 ponies and horses, including, perhaps, these fourteen.
Anything to add, Paul? We love to answer “yes” Jean. Ron’s links to other relevant features will go up first. Since we did that Golden Anniversary reporting on Seattle Center in 2012 we are well stocked with features from ground-sixty-two, but will only feature two of the twenty-plus “Fair and Festival” offerings from 2012. One could key-word the others. We have included here four other features that relate – two of them about circuses.
[A Prompt Reminder: The next SIX photographs are LINKS TO DISCOVERIES, if you TAP THEM.]
If you are inclined to write a history of Seattle then you must include the three bodies hanging here between two of Henry and Sara Yesler’s maples on the early afternoon of January 18, 1882. The trees were planted in 1859; and they appear first as saplings in the earliest extant photo of Seattle, which was recorded that year. By 1882, the shade trees were stout enough to lynch James Sullivan and William Howard from a stanchion prepared for them between two of the Maples.
As ordered by the judge, the accused couple expected to be returned to jail when their preliminary trail in Yesler’s Hall at First Ave. and Cherry Street was completed. Instead the vigilantes in attendance covered Territorial Supreme Court Judge Roger Sherman Green with a hood, bound the guards, and dragged like the devil the doomed couple up the alley to James Street. There the leafless maples suddenly exposed their terrifying landscape to Sullivan and Howard. Soon after being violently pulled from court – in a few pounding heart beats – these two prime suspects of the daylight killing the day before of a young clerk named George B. Reynolds, were lifeless and their swinging corpses played with.
In a few minutes more, the by now hungry mob pulled from jail a third suspect, a “loafer” named Benjamin Paynes, who was accused of shooting a popular policeman named David Sires weeks before. For a while the hanging bodies of the three were raised and lowered over and over and in time to the mob’s chanting, “Heave Ho! Heave Ho!” Children who had climbed the trees to cut pieces of rope from the cooling bodies tied them to their suspenders or, for the girls, to the pigtails of their braided hair. It was, we are told, for “show and tell” in school.
Although there were several photographers in town, none of them took the opportunity to record – or expose – a lynching. Who would want such a photograph? Judging from the local popularity of these killings of accused killers, probably plenty. A few weeks following the stringing, Henry Yesler was quoted in Harpers Weekly, “That was the first fruit them trees ever bore, but it was the finest.” It was Seattle’s first really bad nation-wide publicity.
In Andrew William Piper’s cartoon of the event, the easily identified Henry stands in the foreground busy with his favorite pastime: whittling wood. The cartoonist Piper was a popular confectioner who loved dancing and singing with his wife and eleven children. He was also a practical joker and the first socialist elected to the Seattle City Council. We don’t know if Piper also joined the local chorus of acclaim for the hangings. Judge Green more than objected. Once free of his hood, he rushed to the lynching and tried to cut the ropes, but failed.
On the far right of his cartoon, the cartoonist-confectionaire Piper has included the sign of the Chronicle, a newspaper located in the alley behind the Yesler back yard. It was up this alley that the victims were rushed to their lynching. Printed next is a transcript from an 1883 issue of the Chronicle, which describes a resplendent new saloon in the basement of the new Yesler-Leary Building at the northwest corner of Front (First Ave.) and Yesler Way and so also at the foot of James Street.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes Jean, and most of it, again, links to past features related to the place and/or the subject. Most of extras – if one takes the opportunity to click and read – will be the several links that Ron Edge will be soon putting up directly below this exposition. Then, after the links, we will probably continue on with a few more features – if we can find them tomorrow (Saturday) night when we get to them. We should add that we do not encourage lynching of any sort, or for that matter capital punishment. It is all cruel, pathetic and even useless. Yes – or No! – we do not agree with the wood whittler Henry Yeslers. We have imprisoned within quote marks our title “finest fruit” borrowed from him.
The original print of this “real photo postcard” is bordered with the scribbled message that I have cropped away: “Remember me to any old class mates you happen to see.” The postcard shows another message as well, one that is most helpful, while still mildly mutilating the postcard’s face. It appears in the gray sky between the two homes. Although barely readable, you may decipher “Brooklyn Ave” written there. The postcard also shows a dimly drawn line leading to the street number 4703, nailed to the top of the front porch.
This then is 4703 Brooklyn Avenue in the University District, an identification I corroborated with a photograph of the same house attached to its assessor’s “tax card,” held in the Puget Sound Branch of the Washington State Archives in Bellevue. The tax records have the classic box built in 1902, a year in which the neighborhood was still as likely called Brooklyn as the University District. Brooklyn was the name given to it in 1890 by super-developer James Moore. He chose the name because his addition “looked across the water” to Seattle proper like the New York borough of the same name that looks across the East River to Manhattan. Brooklyn Avenue, its intended main street, was the first one graded in the addition, and it was at this intersection that Moore constructed a water tower.
The owners of this classic box were Amos and Alice Winsor. In his 1947 obituary (above) Amos is credited with having lived in the district for forty-four years and “built many of the early buildings on the University of Washington Campus, including Science (renamed Parrington) Hall.” Included among the Winsor family’s many celebrations held in their home was their daughter Olivia Rachel’s marriage to a Brooklyn neighbor, Vilas Richard Rathbun, on April 16,
1913. They were, The Times reported, “Surrounded by about fifty relatives and intimate friends.” The ceremony was conducted by Horace Mason, the progressive pastor of University Congregational Church. From both the congregation’s and the addition’s beginnings in 1890, the Congregationalists were effective at promoting the Brooklyn Community Club, the principal campaigner for neighborhood improvements.
In the “now” photograph, the by now half-century old plant of Carson Cleaners replaced the Winsor home in 1962. Bob Carson tells how his parents, Roy and Doris, were persuaded by the corner’s new owner, Helen Rickert, of Helen Rickert Gown Shop on the “Ave”, to open a cleaners at the corner. Richert was a fan, consistently pleased with how the Carsons handled her gowns and dresses in the cleaners Lake City shop. The Carsons agreed to the move and brought their modern corner sign with them. Bob half apologizes for the condition of the now also half-century old sign and reader board. “It needs to be repainted, but our lease is up in December and I’m retiring.” For Bob we add both our “congratulations” and a “whoopee.”
Anything to add, Paul? Surely Jean, with Ron’s help we have three links added that are well-appointed with University District features, although most of them stick to “The Ave.” or University Way, AKA, thru its now 124 years, as 14th Avenue and Columbus Street. But then Brooklyn was first named Broadway.
[CLICK & DISCOVER]
NOW THEN & MAYBE
NOW it has come to what we sometimes affectionately call Nighty-Bears, the wee-morning hour when we climb the stairs to what this night after a few hot days will be an warm bed. I am eager to retire, somewhat drained by a pursuit this afternoon of a few more sides for this week’s subject, the broad way of Brooklyn Ave. THEN after a late breakfast I’ll return and put up the “other sides” we, again, have prepared but for now not plopped because we are pooped. Nighty-Bears then, but with something entirely different at the temporary bottom: an unidentified “painted lady.” She is for me an exciting intimation of all the joyful work that is expected ahead while shaping MOFA: the Museum of Forsaken Art. And this place, below, if not forsaken is, at least, forgotten. I do not remember where or when I recorded it’s rhythms and tenderly abused symmetry, but almost certainly not on Brooklyn, not even MAYBE.
BROOKLYN AVE. CONTINUES after breakfast, SUNDAY JULY 13, 2014, 12:45 PM
The longest pile in this Columbia City wood yard extended about 430 feet, stretching east of 32nd Ave. South, along the south side of Alaska Street. The photograph’s caption, bottom-left, dates it Sept. 26, 1934. We may say that this wood was paid for by the charisma of the nearly new president. Franklin Delanor Roosevelt’s popularity was nearly spiritual, and under FDR’s command and the cooperation of a new congress, it was often possible to fund both relief and public works projects. Most of the federal money was managed by states. Here it was the Washington Emergency Relief Administration – the W.E.R.A.- that stacked these cords of fuel.
Many relief efforts in the 1930s were started by concerned citizens. In King County the self-help and bartering group that named itself the Unemployed Citizens League (UCL) was especially effective. After the Crash of late 1929, unemployment snowballed through the cold months and then kept rolling hot and cold for years to come. The League responded. By New Years Day, 1932, the UCL’s swelling membership had harvested eight railroad carloads of surplus potatoes, pears, and apples in Eastern Washington, borrowed fishing boats to catch and preserve 120,000 barrels of fish, and cut over 10,000 cords of firewood.
By 1931 unemployment reached 25 percent. While government at most levels still did little, the UCL opened 18 commissaries throughout King County to distribute fuel and food to those wanting in the “Republic of the Penniless.” When all was quickly consumed in a great display of public necessity and community activism, the new federals in the “other Washington” started spreading fat-cat wealth – funded by taxes – among the down-and-out with FDR’s “New Deal” of relief and public works agencies, known by their “alphabet soup” names, such as PWA, WPA, CCC and ERA.
As the 1934 photograph’s own caption at the top of this feature explains, this was government wood headed for “delivery to (the) needy.” Jean and I figure that these four trucks are briefly posing before heading out to comfort families. And we too were comforted that Hawthorne School at 4100 39th Ave. S. appears on the right horizon. It showed us that the unnamed W.E.R.A. photographer was pointing east-northeast. We already knew that she or he was on the previously vacant southeast corner of 32nd Ave. South and South Alaska Street, for all the other corners were stocked with houses. We expect and hope that in some state archive there is a receipt that reveals that the lots on this block were temporarily loaned to W.E.R.A. for processing their cheering wood in a spirit of free assistance. The loan was a brief one. A 1936 aerial shows the block cleared of everything, including anything resembling lumber.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean, with the Edge Advantage* we have four links pictured below, and each includes within features that are themselves linked to those Great Depression times and/or to the Beacon Hill neighborhood. Of course, there will be within each a greater variety than that as well. We’ll introduce one with its featured name and a list – if there is one – of the most relevant contents that you will find there.
HUCK FIN IN SODO (is how the clever Times editor named it.) Also within are features on the first pan of Seattle from Beacon Hill, Moore’s 1871/2 first pan of Seattle from Denny Hill, Piners Point and Plummers Bay as seen in the 1880s from Beacon Hill, and a feature with a fine example of Carpenter Gothic ornaments on a Beacon Hill residence.
BEACON HILL TRAFFIC, which first appeared in The Times on June 15, 2013.
Up in the morning, GOVERNOR MARTIN’S STARVATION CAMP, Appeared first in The Times on Feb. 18, 2012. This link also features another on Yesler’s Mansion, two more on City Hall Park, and “Hooverville Burning.”
NINTH AVE. & YESLER, from May 9, 2012, Pacific
HORSE MEAT IN THE PIKE PLACE PUBLIC MARKET, first appeared in Pacific on Feb. 28, 2010.
Some WOOD CUTTING & RED SCARE CLIPPINGS from The Seattle Times