What is most revealing about this street scene may be that stack of bricks on the left. The anonymous photographer stood his or her camera near where now stands the Pioneer Square Pergola and looked southeast to the clapboard businesses on the south side of Mill Street (Yesler Way). Second Ave. (Occidental Street) is on the left and the surviving alley between Occidental and First Avenue South is on the right.
The print is not dated, but based on the small clue of those bricks piled in the street, I think it was recorded in 1883. Construction began in 1883-84 on multi-story structures of brick, stone, and ornamental cast iron, replacing many of the false fronts on Front Street (First Ave.) and at Pioneer Place (then aka Yesler’s Corner) with elegant facades. The bricks piled in the street may be designated for the 1883 construction of the elaborately ornate Yesler-Leary Building at the northwest corner of Front and Mill Streets. Or they might be waiting on the equally ornate Occidental Hotel, which was raised in 1883-4 on what was then and is still the pie-shaped block between James St. and Yesler Way. At that time bricks sold for $16.00 to $18.00 a thousand in Seattle.
Most of these wooden structures were built in the 1870s and destroyed in the Great Fire of 1889. One exception is the box with the balcony, center-right. In 1865, when standing alone, this was home for Kellogg’s Drug Store at the sidewalk and E. M. Sammis’ photography studio upstairs. Sammis was the first professional picture-taker to set up a temporary studio in Seattle. A painted outline of the external but removed stairway to the Sammis studio is easily recognized on the building’s west façade at the alley. Most likely the carpenter G.W. Kimball, whose sign slightly overlaps with the faux stairway, had his shop south down the alley. The building’s two first floor tenants are named above the sidewalk. The Occidental Grocery sign hangs from the balcony railing and the Goodman Variety Store sign swings in the shadow of the balcony above the boarded sidewalk. These neighbors compliment more than compete.
The 1880 census counted 3,533 Seattle inhabitants, 55 fewer than Walla Walla, at the time the largest town in Washington Territory. In his Chronological History of Seattle, 1850 to 1897, Pioneer historian Thomas Prosch noted that three years after the federal census of 1880, in matters of wealth, additions, transfer of real estate and public works, “Seattle and King County unmistakably took the lead among Washington towns and counties . . . Though the figures seem small in the light of later days, they were then simply immense.” Seattle’s population at the close of 1883 was about 7,500.
Let’s begin with our spanking new feature – a video interview with Paul about this week’s column:
Anything to add, boys? YES! And in order or line with remarks on the above video (10-plus mins on a bench beneath the Pioneer Square – aka Pioneer Place – Pergola) Ron Edge and I will try to pack our EXTRAS with lots of past features from the oldest neighborhood. Surely many will be familiar to our readers, and perhaps others not so. The last link in line is mostly an exception to our Pioneer Place theme, but still it is current. We’ll not name, but it is down there at the bottom.
The easiest and so also, perhaps, the almost obvious subject here is Lake Union. The earliest panorama of the lake was recorded in 1882 by the since famous Californian Carleton Watkins while visiting Puget Sound as an itinerate photographer. He did his shooting from a platform that he built on the top of a nearly clear-cut Denny Hill.
The pan by A.J. McDonald printed on top dates from about ten years later. McDonald’s Seattle street address in the 1892-1893 Corbett City Directory was 514 9th Avenue, on the southwest corner of First Hill.
I struggled some in figuring out from what First Hill prospect McDonald took this wide view. My early intimation was that it was from near the intersection of Terry Avenue and Union Street, and this was eventually confirmed by comparing the panorama with the impressive 1891 Birdseye view of Seattle. All the homes standing in the foreground of McDonald’s subject are drawn, with considerable care given to their footprints and rooflines, into the Birdseye. I concluded that McDonald was indeed looking down a freshly graded Terry Avenue with Union Street near his back, if not at it, as was Jean Sherrard about a century and a quarter later.
Another panorama (directly above), taken from Denny Hill looking east to First Hill a few months before McDonald made his, reveals something about the featured pan that is not easy to discover. In the pan at the top, Pike Street, at this point still more a widened path than a street, climbs left to right (west to east) between the three sizable homes center and left of center, and the still larger white home – probably an early tenement – on the right. (It is the “T-shaped home” noted in the caption above.) We found its address, 1101 Pike Street, with help from the 1904 Sanborn real estate map. Just out-of-frame to the right was George and Louise Ward’s home,
which was built in 1882 at the then ungraded southwest corner of Pike Street and Boren Avenue. Wonderfully, it survives nearby at the northwest corner of Denny Way and Belmont Avenue, moved there about thirty years ago by attorneys – and preservationists – David A. Leen and Bradford Moore. It is probably the second oldest structure in Seattle, after the Doc Maynard home in West Seattle.
The wide horizon of McDonald’s pan, above the north shore of Lake Union, extends from the then young mill town Fremont on the left, through Edgewater (a name rarely used today) to Latona (now part of Wallingford) on the far right. Brooklyn, the preferred name for the University District in the 1890s, is hidden behind Capitol Hill. Pine Street runs left to right through the center of the pan. It was the first graded street to reach Capitol Hill, and the 1891 Birdseye confirms it. Pike, however, was also soon extended to the Hill and became much the busier street with trolleys and commerce.
During his Seattle stay, McDonald recorded several other panoramas, including at least four from Queen Anne Hill, two from Denny Hill and two more from First Hill. I think it likely that by 1893 McDonald had returned to that other “city of hills,” San Francisco, where most of his surviving prints are found in scattered collections.
Anything to add, Paul and Ron? A few more past features clipped by Ron Edge and placed by Ron Too. I wrote the text for the pan, first clip below, for what occasion or publication I no longer remember. But one of the last points the text makes is a challenge to the reader to find in that pan the place where the future Roosevelt Theatre would be parked. And so we included as the second “web extra” a feature done a few years ago on that the modern Roosevelt. At the bottom of this group is a detail taken from the featured photo at top, which shows both the mansion and farm house of the Pontius Family in what is struggling to still be called the Cascade Neighborhood (if it can survive Amazopolis) after its grade school, which was a victim to the 1949 earthquake. It follows the last of the Edge grab-links, which is also about the Pontius farm house, and appeared here not so long ago – sometime this past summer.
THE PONTIUS HOMES as REVEALED by MCDONALD
The RETURN of the WARD HOME
ANOTHER EARLY 1890S LOOK TO LAKE UNION
TOMORROW we may proof read. But now off to Nighty-Bears. Shhhhh.
(Lantern slide Courtesy of Bob Monroe. “Nighty-Bears” courtesy of William “Bill” Burden”)
This waning clapboard row house with two corner towers, six bays, and twelve tenements (on the top two of its three floors) was built at the southwest corner of 6th and Pine sometime soon after the city’s great fire of 1889. It was similar to another row with towers and bays built at Third and Union (printed directly below), known since 1906 as the Post Office corner. Both were savvy responses to a
Seattle that was clearly booming north from its original center around Pioneer Square. Through its 30 years in operation, the Pine Street row house’s tenants represented a typical American mix of small businesses, including some clairvoyants and quacks.
Between March 1913 and May 1915, Times’ classifieds for “Spiritual Mediums” included Madame Frank, Mrs. Maywood, Prof. Quinlin, Mrs. Barnard, and Madame Delardo offering clairvoyant readings (of palms and-or cards) for typically 25 cents a session. The wide balcony that ran the length of the row above its storefronts might now seem to developers as a squandering of space, but was surely enjoyed by the upstairs tenants for many uses – spiritual included – we may imagine. (Immediately below we will print again – without cropping – the featured photo so that you may more easily follow the details named in the following paragraph.)
While the city designated five addresses here, from 525 at Sixth Avenue on the left to 515 at the alley on the right, there are more than five storefronts. Most likely our featured photo was one of the last portraits taken of that strip of shops, which begins on the left with the W.W. Pope & Co. and its selection of “sun-proof” paints, wall papers, picture framing and, noted with a sign taped to the plate glass, “we sell glass.” Continuing west along the sidewalk are shops for Hood River Apple Cider, Bowler Hat Co., a magazine and smoke shop counter open to the sidewalk, Knox Bros. Jewelers with the sidewalk clock, Lyon Optical Co., and a shoe repair store.
Returning to Knox Bros., we learn the year of the row’s demise with research help from local historians Ron Edge and Rob Ketcherside. On March 13, 1923, the jewelers ran the above classified in this newspaper that reads, “THE building comes down. Great reductions in wrist watches from $12.75 to $2.25 . . . 519 Pine St., opposite Fredericks.” Like every business in this neighborhood, the Knox Bros. knew that their readers would have no trouble finding them since the grand department store, Frederick and Nelson, had made its move to Pine Street in 1918. In March, 1924, a year after their announced sale, we learn from an article in the Times about a Ketchikan fire that “The Knox Brothers, former Seattle Jewelers, who came here to open a new store, reported six trunks of jewelry burned in the hotel.”
Directly behind the row house on Pine Street, Grunbaum Bros. Furniture Co. ceremonially opened its lavish new quarters in the Decatur Building on June 2, 1922, with twos days of music and tours but no sales. The company continued to prosper with its policy of “easy terms,” signed at the top of the building’s north façade. Within a few months the sign would be lost behind the row’s replacement, the Shafer Building. It and the Decatur are among Seattle’s many surviving terra-cotta clad landmarks from the 1920s.
Anything to add, guys? More links to the neighborhood around Pine Street – more than 20 of them. And near the bottom we will insert the 1909 AYP parade photo taken at the corner of 5th and Pine. By then it may have also shown in the links attached to the features above it. Remembering, again and again, repetition is the mother of both itself and memory. Another repeater below is the feature about the Lutherans moving from their pioneer northeast corner of 4th and Pine to a new neighborhood. And so on and on Jean.
CLIPPINGS, MOSTLY, FROM PAST FEATURES, FOLLOW
[DOUBLE CLICK THESE TO READ THEM – at least on my mac it takes two clicks.]
BELOW: TWO VIEWS OF THE SHAFER’S CROWN FROM THE ROOF OF FREDERICK AND NELSON.
Lecture: Keep Clam and Carry On: The Ivar Haglund Story Thursday, September 24, 2015 7:00 p.m.
$5 suggested donation
Join us as historian Paul Dorpat tells the story of businessman, folksinger, showman and unique character who over a highly successful career as restaurateur and entertainer became a Puget Sound legend. Paul Dorpat has been writing the Now & Then column for Pacific NW magazine for more than three decades.
At its core, this two-story box shows off some of the architectural style covered with the term Italianate, and surely this humble Italian could look quite spiffy with some fresh paint, perhaps of several colors in the ‘painted lady’ way. The low-pitch hip roof extends with wide eaves supported by large brackets. The windows are longish, and the bay that climbs nearly the entire front façade is, appropriate to the style, rectangular.
This photograph includes within its borders two captions. The short one, “43,” is either stapled to the side of the impressively thick power pole standing right-of-center, or it is supported by its own narrow pole temporarily stuck into the unkempt parking strip. The longer caption, written directly on the original negative, records some clerical necessities for this Seattle Housing Authority property. For our interests, most important are the date, the eighth of January, 1940, and the address, 723 Yesler. Except this is not
Yesler Way. Rather, this is E. Washington Street, the part of it that is now either directly under the outer northbound lane of Interstate-5, or in the grass lawn that borders it, one block south of Yesler Way. Whichever, its surrounds will for the next few months look much like the flattened neighborhood that Jean Sherrard recorded south across Yesler Way.
Jean’s and my eleventh hour one-block correction (at our desks) was first abetted by the photograph’s third “caption,” the house number attached to the top of the dark front door: 717. A clue also canters from the foreground of this 1940 snapshot. There are no trolley tracks in the street. Cable cars first started climbing Mill Street, as Yesler Way was then named, in 1888. They made their final ascent here (or rather there) on Friday, August 9, 1940, six months and one day after the photographer for or from the Seattle Housing Authority made this record of 717 Washington Street, as well as many other doomed residences in the neighborhood. All, including some on Yesler Way, were tagged for destruction. We know the name neither of the prolific photographer nor of the confused scribe. Possibly they were one and the same.
A final clue for our correction is a gift from the turreted home on the far left (of the featured photo at the top), which I recognized from another photograph (the one just above). It stood one block north of Main Street near the northeast corner of 8th Avenue. It too was razed for Yesler Terrace, the first public housing developed in Washington State, and the first federally funded low-income housing built in the U.S. that was racially integrated. The first 150 of the old houses started coming down in the fall of 1940. One year later the first 200 families were moving in, 58 of these families into the two-room flats that rented for $9.75 a month. The Seattle Times of November 7, 1941, noted that the rent would stay the same as long as “papa doesn’t get too big a raise.” The annual income limit for such affordable smaller quarters was $525.
Before I ask my eternal question, I’m going to add some snaps I took last week of the bus station demolition. How many of us climbed aboard a greyhound bus at 9th and Stewart, headed for distant places?
Anything to add, boys?My oh my how my heart is skipping like a youngster boarding the bus. How many cheap adventures, beginning in my teens, started off from this corner. Here Jean and Ron is a not so old interior from the 1970s.
Yup, and again with help from Ron Edge and all his links we’ll put up some relevant past features. Here’s also our bi-weekly reminder. There will be some repeats of these repeats. That is, a peculiarly or especially relevant feature may well appear linked to several features. Here we again appeal to mom – my mom, Ida Gerina Christiansen-Dorpat – and her homily. “Paul, remember that the mother of instruction is repeitition” (She may have said “all learning” rather an instruction.) I don’t remember, which is evidence that I did not follow her advice well enough to remember the wording, although I have often kept to the spirit.
WE CLOSE WITH A QUIZ – WHERE IS THIS? I do not remember, Although I stopped my car to snap it, the negatives to either side of this one do not help place it – sometime in the 70’s, it seems. I think it nifty.
This look west on NE 40th Street is not as sharp as desired, especially to reveal what the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map marks simply as the “wall” that separates the upper and lower grades of 40th in its atypical four block run between Latona and 7th Avenues NE. I’ll add great – the ‘Great Wall’ – the Great Wall of Latona. (Still this is sharper than two others of the “Wallingford Wall” lifted directly from the municipal archive, and attached below this first paragraph.) Except that “The Great Wall of Wallingford” is both appropriate and euphonic. About a century separates the historical photograph from Jean Sherrard’s repeat. Most likely the featured view, like the two immediately below, was also recorded on May 12, 1921.
The earliest photo evidence I’ve seen of this ‘great wall’ is included in a 180-degree panorama that was recorded from a tethered balloon high above the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (AYP), Seattle’s first world’s fair. The pan extends from Lake Washington’s Union Bay through all of Portage Bay and into the Latona and Wallingford neighborhoods. In the pan, the dark stained retaining wall on 40th that we use in our ‘then,’ appears to be whitewashed. It gleamed when new. The wall’s construction was part of the city’s both ambitious and anxious effort to prepare the “north end” of town for the upcoming Exposition.
During the summer of 1909 an estimated four million people crossed the Latona Bridge: most of the visitors rode the trolleys, which reached the Exposition through this intersection. Moving the multitudes from the bridge to the AYP held on the grounds of the University of Washington, the trolleys followed a new route that began with a one block run on 6th Avenue north from the bridge. The new tracks were aimed directly at the great timber wall and the Latona Knoll above it. Just before reaching the lower half of NE 40th Street, the cars first passed under the then new Northern Pacific railroad trestle and then made a right-turn east for the fairgrounds.
While the lower and upper halves of the NE 40th Street grade separation are glimpsed, respectively, to the left and right of the couple walking in front Jean Sherrard’s camera, (in his repeat for the featured photo at the top) the trestle and the trail are hidden behind the landscape and signs on the left. (A later – and yet early – “repeat” or return to the corner by a public works photographer is printed directly below. A steep grade has replaced the Wallingford Wall and the upper or northern part of 40th Street has been moved farther north with some new structures on it’s north side.)
The importance of this arterial to the Expo grounds was accompanied during its construction by a flood of anxious speculations about the likelihood of its not getting done in time for the Expo’s June 1, 1909 opening day. The local press maintained its critical eye with skeptical reports. For instance, less than two months before the AYP’S opening The Seattle Times for April 11, reported, “The exposition management was promised a year and a half ago that Sixth Ave. NE would be pushed under the Northern Pacific tracks and Fortieth would be graded and paved six months before the AYPE opened . . . Even now the tunnel under the railroad tracks is incomplete; grading teams are working both on Sixth Avenue and Fortieth Street and there is not a great prospect that the street will be opened for general traffic by June 1.”
In spite of the anxious doubts expressed by the press, the improved trolley service was ready for the June 1 opening of the AYP, although on this stretch it had required eleventh-hour-help of a chain gang from the city jail. The Times complimented the prisoners for their “able assistance.” By mid-July the Seattle City Council was sufficiently aglow with the fair’s success and the early evening light shows that outlined the many grand – if temporary – Beaux-Arts buildings, that they found an additional $300 to extent the string of carnival lights along NE 40th Street and so through this intersection.
POSTSCRIPT: The post-expo grandeur of this promenade from the Latona Bridge to the U.W. campus and Brooklyn and 14th Avenue (University Way) the “main streets” of Brooklyn (the University District), was short-lived. Neighborhood anxiety – especially among the businesses – came with the building of the Lake Washington Ship Canal in 1911. The bridge at Latona would clearly need to be enlarged for the canal, but if the pioneer bridge was moved as well, then the Latona community, the first addition developed near the northeast corner of Lake Union, would surely also lose its commercial influence, although not yet the sole abiding significance of its primary school. (That threat came much later with the school’s conversion to the John Sanford School, which it was carefully explained was renovated and enlarged on the “Latona Campus” in the 1990s.) On June 7, 1908, a year before the AYP, The Times noted that both the road on 24th Ave. N.E. over “the portage,” and a proposed bridge via 10th Ave. N.E., might replace the bridge at Latona. Both of the proposed bridges crossed the canal at higher elevations and so allowed for more vessels to pass below them without the bridges needing to open. And so it was. The bridge on 10th took the place of the bridge at Latona in 1919, although as late the 1922 the new bridge was sometimes identified as the Latona Bridge. The Montlake bascule over the canal followed in 1925, largely on the hustle of Husky promotions to make it easier for citizens to reach sporting events on campus.
Anything to add, lads? Lots of Edge Links Jean, directly below.
True to the Seattle Public Works Department’s archival practices, the negative for this Alki Point subject is both numbered and dated. It is not of the revered Point itself, to the west and behind the photographer, but rather of the forested ridge to the east. The photographer looks toward a horizon of view lots, but even now much of this landscape has not been developed beyond the row of sizeable homes in the scene’s mid-ground. Such is the gift and “natural monument “ of Schmitz Park.
The park is named for Emma and Ferdinand Schmitz who gave this old growth slope with its own stream to the city. The couple rejected the proposal that the city purchase the land for fear that their “green cathedral” might be parceled up and sold. Today, the Seattle Park and Recreation Department describes the Schmitz gift as protecting the only old growth stand surviving in the city. Most likely the city’s arborist – and the naturalists among the park’s neighbors – can identify some of those trees on the horizon.
With a little study we might name many of the surviving features in this “now and then.” For instance, surely many of those elegant homes beyond the playfield climbing the ridge towards Schmitz Park survive. I stay stumped, however, on naming the elevated prospect from where this subject was recorded. The likeliest choices were a public works bucket truck, or a truck-mounted ladder, or the by then 21-year old Alki Bathhouse (1911), which was directly across Alki Avenue. (Note the attached photos of the bathhouse below and the 1936 aerial too.) And what may we make of the pole that breaks through the bottom border of the featured scene? Seattle City Archivist Scott Cline found that this negative, No. 11058, is surrounded by a white-gloved handful of others. All are dated May 24, 1932, and all are labeled simply ‘Schmitz Park.” Quoting Cline, “Most are shots of what I presume is the old bridge on Admiral Way that crossed over the Schmitz Park Boulevard where it first entered the park’s ravine.” (Note first the 1936 aerial in which the new bridge on Admiral Way is under construction, and then the Bath House photos that may help you figure if a photographer from its roof could have managed the shot at the top of this feature.)
ALKI BATH HOUSE INTERLUDE
On the left of the featured photo at the top stands the rustic post and lintel gatespanning 59th Ave. S.W.. The Alki Park tennis court is seen behind it. (We did a now-then feature on this gate two years ago or three. We’ll attached it below among the “Edge Links.”) The monumental gate was raised by the Schmitz family to mark the near-beach beginning of Schmitz Park Boulevard.” From this corner showing on the left, the boulevard extended to the Park proper between two rows of evenly-spaced street trees, until it was closed to traffic in 1949 after Alki Primary School took possession of the block-long part that ran in line with Stevens Street at the north end of the school and between it and the play field. The worn arch was condemned in 1953.
Albert and Ernest Conklin lived in the nearby home to the right of the arch. (It has been marked “19” in red on the accompanying diptych that compares the featured photo with a detail borrowed from Google Earth.) Beginning in 1906 the Conklins were active in West Seattle community affairs for many years. Ernest died at home in 1924, but Alberta lived on and is reported in The Seattle Times for Jan 24, 1942 as a member of “one of the busiest groups aiding the Red Cross.” It was composed of clubwomen in the Alki Point district who “sew and knit Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30 until 4 o’clock and receive first-aid instruction Fridays from 1 until 3 o’clock in the Alki School portable. Interest in first-aid instruction has increased so greatly that additional classes for women and men are now being held Wednesday evenings in the Alki Fieldhouse. To break the tension of the day’s work, speakers discuss timely subjects, such as gardening and cookery. Travelogues also have added to the entertainment. Through Mrs. Alberta Conklin who had lived in the district for many years, the group has donated 100 knitted squares for afghans and $10 for the Red Cross war chest.”
The subject’s date, May 24, 1932, suggests another admittedly speculative “why” for the timing of this shot and what may have been its pie in the sky hopes. On this Tuesday the navy’s grandest dirigible, the Akron, at that time the largest airship in the world, made a non-stop round-trip tour from California to Puget Sound. It entered Seattle over this ridge in the late morning. That afternoon it was top-of-the-front-page news in this newspaper: “AKRON SOARS OVER CITY.” The Times explained, “So huge is the bulk of the Akron
that it cast a vast shadow on the streets as it passed. The sky was ideal for watchers. White fleecy clouds kept the sky from being too brilliant. Due to favorable winds she was more than an hour ahead of schedule.” Flying over the city’s business district, the Akron was greeted by a mighty noise of sirens and a great honking of horns. Here on Alki Point we don’t see the cigar-shaped airship, but we do note some of the fleecy clouds, and the shadows put this picture-taking in the morning.
(Off topic from Jean) As you know, Paul, in July I took a group of 18 students from Hillside Student Community School on a tour of London, Paris, and environs. This is my fifth trip with students over the past 15 years; and when we visit Versailles, it has become a school tradition to jump in the air in front of the palace. Here follows this year’s photo:
Anything to add, fellahs? Yes Jean but first this. Why not put up your other Versailles Jumps, aka “Hillside at Versailles!”? Also, how do they do that without power tools?
Turning to Alki. Ron Edge will put up, again and again, several past features that relate to this week’s “repeat.” And we’ll stuff into the main text some of the research materials – clips and pics – that went into writing it. And we will place here a unique 1890 pencil sketch of Alki Beach and Point drawn from Duwamish Head. The last of Edge’s contributions will be familiar: last week’s feature, which was also, some of you may remember, an Alki Point subject. So first, here’s Ron.