Category Archives: Seattle Now and Then

Seattle Now & Then: The Wall Street Pier

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: A circa 1912 look at the Wall Street finger pier from the foot, not of Wall, but Battery Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: A circa 1912 look at the Wall Street finger pier from the foot, not of Wall, but Battery Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Galbraith and Bacon built their pier between Battery and Wall Streets. From this Battery side we see the Edgewater’s south façade.  From the Wall Street side one looks directly to the front of the Edgewater, and prior to the hotel, the Galbraith and Bacon pier shed. Consequently, the pier is named for Wall Street.
NOW: Galbraith and Bacon built their pier between Battery and Wall Streets. From this Battery side we see the Edgewater’s south façade. From the Wall Street side one looks directly to the front of the Edgewater, and prior to the hotel, the Galbraith and Bacon pier shed. Consequently, the pier is named for Wall Street.

The Galbraith Bacon dock, like most others built on the Seattle waterfront after 1900, was positioned at a slant off Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way) for two sensible reasons. First, such a dock allowed railroad spurs an easier angle for reaching the aprons to the sides of the wharves.   Second, at such a slant the end of a long dock was closer to shore and so did not require unnecessarily long piles to support it.

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Having dealt feed on the waterfront since 1891, James Galbraith was the ‘old timer’ in this partnership.  Cecil Bacon, a chemical engineer with some extra capital, arrived in Seattle in 1899.  Deep pockets helped Bacon persuade Galbraith to make a bigger business with him by adding building materials, like lime and concrete, to the established partner’s hay and feed.  In 1900, they were the first signature tenants in the Northern Pacific Railroad’s newly constructed finger pier No. 3 (now 54) at the foot of Madison Street.  The partners prospered and soon added to their enterprise this pier at the foot of Wall Street.

An early record of Pier 3 (54 since 1944) and its first tenant Galbraith and Bacon.  The photo was taken in 1900, some little while before the photographer, Aders Wilse, return to Norway and the call of his wife who left Seattle first for a visit back to the homeland and then decided to not return here.   Wilse then obeyed she who must be.  Soon he became a Norwegian national treasure, and the photographer to its King and Queen and all their little princes and princesses.
An early record of Pier 3 (54 since 1944) and its first tenant Galbraith and Bacon. The photo was taken in 1900, some little while before the photographer, Aders Wilse, return to Norway and the call of his wife who left Seattle first for a visit back to the homeland and then decided to stay.. Wilse then obeyed she who must be. In time  he became a Norwegian national treasure, and the photographer to its King and Queen and all their little princes and princesses.
The Northern Pacific Docks (mostly) between First Station No. 5 at the foot of Madison Street and Pier 6/57 near the foot of Union Street.
The Northern Pacific Docks (mostly) between Fire Station No. 5 at the foot of Madison Street and the Milwaukee Railroad’s Pier 6/57 near the foot of Union Street.

Although I like the featured photograph at the top for how it upsets our prepossession with the picturesque – I mean, of course, the askew yards on the sailing ship and its splotched starboard side – I neither know why the square-rigged Montcalm was tied to the Wall Street pier, nor which Montcalm it was.  Many ships bear the name, and probably all were named for Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, who until he was hit with an English musket ball in the Battle of Quebec, was New France’s Commander-in-Chief during its French and Indian War with the British in the 1750s.

Not the
Not the Montcalm, but another tall ship holding the same slip to the south of the Wall Street Pier.   Photo by Whitelsey.
The Galbraith and Bacon Wall Street Pier seen from the bluff.
The Galbraith and Bacon Wall Street Pier seen from the bluff.
Frank Shaw's record of the Wall Street Pier soon after it was cleared of the Galbraith & Bacon pier shed.  Feb. 26, 1961.
Frank Shaw’s record of the Wall Street Pier while being cleared of the Galbraith & Bacon pier shed. Feb. 26, 1961.
Shaw returned to take this snapshot of the completed Edgewater on a gray December 9, 1962.
Shaw returned to take this snapshot of the completed Edgewater on a gray December 9, 1962.

For some clue on the Montcalm’s condition I turned to Scott Rohrer, an old friend who is also celebrated hereabouts for his sailing and understanding of maritime history.  Scott tersely answered, “She’s steel and her crew is scaling and chipping her hull for primer and repainting after a long, apparently rough voyage.”

An early ideal Edgewater when it still had a chance of being named the Camelot.
An early ideal Edgewater when it still had a chance of being named the Camelot.
What became of Camelot, Lawton Gowey's - or perhaps Bob Bradley's - record of the Edgewater dated May 29, 1963.
What became of Camelot, Lawton Gowey’s – or perhaps Bob Bradley’s – record of the Edgewater dated May 29, 1963.
Either Jean or I recorded this repeat sometime in 2005, I think.
Either Jean or I recorded this repeat sometime in 2005, I think.

The Wall Street pier, about the size of a football field, was replaced in the early 1960s with what the waterfront long wanted: a big hotel.  First sketches of the Edgewater show it as the Camelot Inn.  The Edgewater is perhaps best known for the visiting Beatles, of whom the now common fish tale is told that they followed the instructions written on the waterfront side of the hotel and fished from their window.  We suspect that a trolling of the bottom might still catch some paint chips fallen a century ago from the worn sides of the Montcalm.

An early and passionate rendering of the  planned Edgewater - or Camelot.
An early and passionate rendering of the planned Edgewater – or Camelot.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Certainly, and beginning again with Ron Edge’s selection of links to other features we have had swimming in the Pacific in the past.  Ron has also put up the cover to our illustrated history of the waterfront.  I suspect that if it is clicked then several chapter choices will appear.  We remind the reader that this Waterfront History is always available in toto on this blog.  And was also propose again that when in doubt or squinting that readers should click twice and sometimes thrice.

THEN: Pier 70 when it was still Pier 14, ca. 1901, brand new but not yet "polished."  Courtesy, Lawton Gowey

THEN: Before this the first shovel of the last of Denny Hill was ceremonially dropped to the conveyor belt at Battery Street, an “initial bite of 30,000 cubic yards of material” was carved from the cliff along the east side of 5th Avenue to make room for both the steam shovel and several moveable belts that extended like fingers across the hill.  It was here that they met the elevated and fixed last leg of the conveyor system that ran west on Battery Street to the waterfront.  (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

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THE WATERFRONT FIRE OF 1910 – at the FOOT OF WALL STREET

Looking west down Wall Street thru the popular ruins.
Looking west down Wall Street thru the popular ruins.

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A clip from the March 23, 2003 Pacific Magazine
CLICK TO ENLARGE – A clip from the March 23, 2003 Pacific Magazine
The ruins looking northeast from the waterfront.
The ruins looking northeast from the waterfront.
The 1910 fire's remains seen west over First Avenue.
The 1910 fire’s remains seen west over First Avenue.

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RAILROAD AVENUE LOOKING NORTH FROM WALL STREET

Merged from two negatives, Railroad Avenue looking north over Wall Street.
Merged from two negatives, Railroad Avenue looking north over Wall Street.
Jean has a colored version of this repeat, and I shall encourage him to find it and following his discovery also erase this caption for the prospect is obvious.
Jean has a colored version of this repeat, and I shall encourage him to find it and following his discovery also erase this caption for the prospect is obvious.
You should probably CLICK-TO-ENLARGE this insert.
You should probably CLICK-TO-ENLARGE this insert.

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QUIZ  – SELF-CONFIDENCE WILL BE REWARDED TO THE READER WHO CAN REVEAL FROM WHAT THE HISTORICAL PHOTO BELOW WAS RECORDED.

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Seattle Now & Then: The Hotel York

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Hotel York at the northwest corner of Pike Street and First Avenue supplied beds on the American Plan for travelers and rooms for traveling hucksters. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: The Hotel York at the northwest corner of Pike Street and First Avenue supplied beds on the American Plan for travelers and rooms for traveling hucksters. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: In 1912, eight years after the Hotel York was razed, the Corner Market Building took its place as part of the Pike Place Public Market.
NOW: In 1912, eight years after the Hotel York was razed, the Corner Market Building took its place as part of the Pike Place Public Market.

The building’s name, Palmer, is either chiseled or cast in stone above the front door.  This top-heavy brick pile began its relatively brief life in 1890, with the Ripley Hotel its main tenant.  The name of the hostelry was later changed to Hotel York, as we see it here.  The ever-helpful UW Press book, Shaping Seattle Architecture, names the Palmer’s architects, but not the Palmer’s owner.  Perhaps it was Alfred L. Palmer, who dealt in both real estate and law in the early 1890s, the year this ornate addition to the city’s landscape opened.

Three Hotels - of note - following the Great Fire of 1889, here in 1890.  First on top of Denny Hill the Denny Hotel (later renamed the Washington) is under construction.  Next, at the center of this detail from a pan taken from the King Street coal wharf stands the undecorated south and west facades of the Arlington Hotel, and its tower at the northeast corner of the building but at the southwest corner of First Ave. and University Street rises from it.  The tower was later removed.  Next, the Ripley Hotel under late construction at the far left.   Also note the dark coal wharf at the foot of Madison Street.  Its place is now part of Ivar's Pier 54 which for another 200-plus days will be remodeling as they rebuild the seawall at its front door.
Three Hotels – of note – following the Great Fire of 1889, here in 1890. First on top of Denny Hill the Denny Hotel (later renamed the Washington) is under construction. Next, at the center of this detail from a pan taken from the King Street coal wharf stands the undecorated south and west facades of the Arlington Hotel.  Look closely, its tower at the northeast corner of the building but at the southwest corner of First Ave. and University Street it under construction.. It was later removed.   The Arlington’s  foundation helped stop the northerly advance of the 1889 fire. Next, the Ripley Hotel under late construction at the far left – falling out of frame.  Also note the dark box-shaped coal wharf at the foot of Madison Street, below-center. Its place is now part of Ivar’s Pier 54, which for another 200-plus days will be busy with remodeling the Acres of Clams, while the seawall (1934-36) is being  rebuild  at its front door.
The Gilmore, aka Arlington, Hotel foundation work following the Great Fire of June  6, 1889, looking south-southwest from the Front Street (First Ave.) west sidewalk just south of University Street.  The foundation helped stop the fire's advance north up the waterfront.  (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
The Gilmore, aka Arlington, Hotel foundation work following the Great Fire of June 6, 1889, looking south-southwest from the Front Street (First Ave.) west sidewalk just south of University Street. As already noted, this foundation helped stop the fire’s advance north up the waterfront. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

Architects Arlen Towle and Frank Wilcox shared a brief partnership between 1889 and 1891.  Perhaps they can be numbered among those opportunist professionals who hurried here after the Seattle business district burned to the ground on June 6, 1889. On its move north, the Great Fire was stopped short of University Street by the inflammable foundation of the under construction Arlington Hotel (the Bay Building). Only two blocks to the north, at the northwest corner of Pike Street and Front (First) Avenue, Palmer also got its start in 1889

Looking south from the roof (or upper floor) of the Ripley/York hotel.
Looking south from the roof (or upper floor) of the Ripley/York hotel.  The Arlington Hotel and its tower at the southwest corner of First and University stands center-left.  The University Street ramp to the waterfront runs left-right thru the center of the scene, crossing over Western Avenue, right of-center.   Western Avenue runs on  towards Union Street at the lower-right corner.  The western wing of the Arthur and Mary Denny home at the southeast corner of First and Union is evident far-left.  The dark mass of the coal wharf at the foot of Madison can be found right-of-center, and the longer and larger King Street coal wharf reaches into Elliott Bay, upper-right.   Although the photograph is signed by Asahel Curtis, lower-right, he almost certainly did not record it, but rather copied it.  It memory serves – and let Ron Edge correct me – I think Soule took this and a left-side panel that doubles it to the east.

The Hotel York and much else is seen here, center-right,  from the Denny Hotel atop Denny Hill.
The Hotel York and much else is seen here, center-right, from the Denny Hotel atop Denny Hill.  The Arlington Hotel can also be found, but not the coal wharf at the foot of Madison.  It has been replaced with Pier No. 3 (later renumber 54 in 1944), to the far south end of the many Northern Pacific finger piers that were built on the waterfront north of Madison Street in the first years of the 20th Century.  So this is the Hotel York in its last years – or months. The Webster and Stevens early number 718 suggests that this was recorded in 1900 – or near it.  [Click to Enlarge – maybe twice]
The waterfront at the foot of Pike Street photographed from bay shows the Hotel York on the left horizon.
The waterfront at the foot of Pike Street photographed from bay shows the Hotel York on the left horizon. This view dates from the 1890s before the Northern Pacific piers were constructed north of Madison.  The Pike Street pier showing here was also soon replaced by the one that now nestles beside the waterfront aquarium.  The Schwabacher Wharf, to the right-of-center, was the largest dock on the waterfront following the 1889 fire and was swarmed during the post-fire construction.  It is also the dock where the gold rush steamer Portland docked with her “ton of gold” in 1897.   The block of hotels on First Avenue between University and Seneca Streets shows its unadorned western facade, far-right.  The Arlington anchors the block at its north end.  [Click to Enlarge]

Second only to the hotel, the Empire Laundry was another of the Palmer’s commercial tenants.  It is represented here by two horse-drawn delivery wagons and its sidewalk storefront, which is nestled between the entrance to the York Café at the corner and the door to the hotel, at far right.  Inside the hotel lobby one could request a room on the American Plan, which included meals, most likely at the York Cafe, for between $1.00 and $1.50 a day.  Many of the rooms – perhaps most – also provided what a classified ad for the York described as an “elegant view of the bay.”

Judging from the few city directories that I have here with me in this Wallingford basement, Thomas C. Hirsch - and not the York Hotel Cafe - controlled the corner door here in 1901.  Hirsch, however, was not there in1903 (another of my directories).
Judging from the few city directories that I have here with me in this Wallingford basement, Thomas C. Hirsch – and not the York Hotel Cafe – controlled the corner door here in 1901. Hirsch, however, was not there in1903 (another of my directories).
From a June 21, 1906 advertisement run in the Seattle Times.  Dr. Sander's Electric Belt promised potency for men in want of it, similar to
From a June 21, 1906 advertisement run in the Seattle Times. Dr. Sander’s Electric Belt promised potency for men in want of it, similar to the array of therapies and tools prescribed and used by some of the therapists who used the Hotel  York for their consultations.

Judging from the ads, the York’s most sensational renters were health providers who promoted either magnetic healing or massage or both, as with the Chicagoan Miss LaRoy’s “magnetic scientific massage.” Most persistent were Professors Gill and Brunn.  For several weeks in 1902, they provided a growing list of therapies, including osteo-manipulation, vibration, hypnotism, vital magnetism, a “new light cure,” and psychology for “bad habits.”  Elsewhere in the hotel, Miss Mooreland, like Miss LaRoy, also from Chicago, provided sponge baths and massage, “a specialty.”  The “well-known trance medium,” Mme. Pederson, shared “the secrets of your life” and advised “how to keep out of the pathway of despair.”

The hydrotherapy available at the Eureka Baths on terretorial Seattle's Commercial Street, was advertized here in 1877.   Seattle's Dr. Weed practiced hydrotherapy and was also a Mayor here.  Interbay Pioneer Henry Smith also practiced it.  And honestly don't you find a hot bath sometimes therapeutic?
The hydrotherapy available at the Eureka Baths on territorial Seattle’s Commercial Street, was advertized here in 1877.  Seattle’s Dr. Weed practiced hydrotherapy and was also our Mayor. Interbay Pioneer Henry Smith also practiced it. And honestly don’t you find that a hot bath sometimes seems to “cause thorough action of the different organs” in your body?  (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

There was no cure, however, for the sudden tremors that came over, but, more importantly, under the adolescent hotel.  In 1903 the Great Northern railroad began tunneling beneath the city, and from the tunnel’s north portal near Virginia Street, the boring soon shook the York’s foundations.  The Hotel York was razed in November 1904, a few days after the cutting and digging from the tunnel’s two ends met at the center.

The north portal to the tunnel near the foot of Virgnia Street.  The Hotel York's northern facade appears - for the moment - at the upper-left corner.
The north portal to the tunnel near the foot of Virgnia Street. The Hotel York’s northern facade appears – for the moment – at the upper-left corner.
The footprint of the abandoned Hotel York appears lower-right in this detail from the 1904-5 Sanborn Real Estate Map.  The stairs to the waterfront show bottom-right and upper right a few footprints of the sheds and shacks that held to the bluff.
The footprint of the abandoned Hotel York appears lower-right in this detail from the 1904-5 Sanborn Real Estate Map. It is “vacant and dilapidated to be removed.”  The stairs to the waterfront show bottom-right and upper right a few footprints of the sheds and shacks that held to the bluff.
Top to Bottom:   Sheds on the waterfront and above it on the bluff near the foot of Lenora Street.   -   Water cannons carving the cliff for construction of the tunnels north portal near the foot of Virginia Street, 1903.  - Looking down the tracks from Railroad Avenue to the tunnel construction at the North Portal.
Top to Bottom:
Sheds on the waterfront and above it on the bluff near the foot of Lenora Street. – Water cannons carving the cliff for construction of the tunnels north portal near the foot of Virginia Street, 1903. – Looking down the spur of narrow construction tracks from Railroad Avenue to the tunnel construction at the North Portal.  The Hotel York and its mural for Owl Cigars can be found – easily., but for how long?

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Surely Jean.  Here are a dozen – or so – links fastened by Ron Edge.  There will be some repeats between them, but such, we know, is the exercise of learning.

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Lawton Cowey's recording of the Corner Market Building on Oct. 25, 1974, and so before its restoration.
Lawton Cowey’s recording of the Corner Market Building on Oct. 25, 1974, and so before its restoration.
As he was often inclined to do, Lawton returned to record the Corner Market Building after its restoration, here on April 21, 1976, about half-a-life ago for some.
As he was often inclined to do, Lawton returned to record the Corner Market Building after its restoration, here on April 21, 1976, about half-a-life ago for some.
Through out community's history, it's story has been adopted by businesses to help promote their products and/or services.  Here in 1947 is one of Metro Fed. Savings "Seattle Facts."  This one remembers the meeting of the railroad tunnel and the hotel.
Through out community’s history, it’s story has been adopted by businesses to help promote their products and/or services. Here in 1947 is one of Metro Fed. Savings “Seattle Facts.” This one remembers the confrontation of the railroad tunnel and the hotel.

 

Seattle Now & Then: The Summit Avenue Hospital

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN:  This detail from the prolific local photographer Asahel Curtis’s photograph of the Smith/Rininger home at the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue dates from the early twentieth century when motorcars, rolling or parked, were still very rare on the streets of Seattle, including these on First Hill.  (Courtesy, Historic Seattle)
THEN: This detail from the prolific local photographer Asahel Curtis’s photograph of the Smith/Rininger home at the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue dates from the early twentieth century when motorcars, rolling or parked, were still very rare on the streets of Seattle, including these on First Hill. (Courtesy, Historic Seattle)
NOW: Five Swedish Hospital nurses, from the twelfth floor oncology ward, gathered here in the hospital’s lobby for Jean Sherrard’s repeat.
NOW: Five Swedish Hospital nurses, from the twelfth floor oncology ward, gathered here in the hospital’s lobby for Jean Sherrard’s repeat.

In Jean Sherrard’s “now,” five nurses from Swedish Hospital’s oncology ward stand at or close to what was once the southeast corner of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue.  This was also the prospect for Asahel Curtis’s “then,” recorded early in the twentieth century when this First Hill neighborhood was still known for its stately homes, big incomes and good manners.

With about 110 years between them, both Sherrard and Curtis are sighting to the northwest, and both their photographs are only the center thirds of wide panoramas.  Sherrard’s shows Swedish Hospital’s lobby during a renovation.  Curtis’s pan at its full width is merged from three negatives.  It reaches from the northeast corner of Columbia and Summit, on the right, to far west down Columbia, on the left.  (The full pans of both now hang in the lobby of Town Hall, the former Fourth Church of Christian Science, another First Hill institution on the southwest corner of Eighth Avenue and Seneca Street.)

Asahel Curtis' original
Asahel Curtis’ original
Sherrard's repeat
Sherrard’s repeat

The big home, centered here at the northwest corner of the intersection, was built for the Seattle banker-industrialist, Charles J. Smith. He in turn sold it to the doctor-surgeon Edmund Rininger in 1905, about the time Curtis visited the corner, perhaps at Rininger’s request.  With his wife Nellie and daughter Olive, Rininger moved into the house next door on Columbia, in order to set about building his Summit Avenue Hospital at the corner.

Another detail pulled from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map.
Another detail pulled from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map.  The intersection of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue is center-lower-right, or between the blocks 120, 131, 132 and 101.  The Otis Hotel is at the northeast corner and the Rininger’s home west across Summit at its northwest corner with Columbia.  Madison Street crosses through the upper-left corner.
The Rininger home at the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Summit Ave. appears here
The Rininger home at the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Summit Ave. appears here right-of-center with its sun-lighted west facade.  Across Summit is the Otis Hotel.  A nearly new Providence Hospital is on the right horizon and the twin towers of Second Hill’s Immaculate Conception mark the center-horizon, directly above the Otis..  The photograph was taken from an upper floor of an apartment house at the northeast corner of Marion Street and Terry Avenue.

The surgeon’s plans were fatally upset on July 25, 1912,å when, while driving home from a house call in Kent, the forty-two year old Rininger, alone in his motorcar, collided with a Puget Sound Electric Railway train.  With the death of her husband, Nellie Rininger sold the nearly completed hospital to the Swedish Hospital Association in the spring of 1913.  As part of this fateful transfer, Nellie Rininger also gifted her late husband’s large medical library and his then new x-ray machine to Swedish Hospital.

A clipping from The Seattle Times for Feb. 16, 1913.
A clipping from The Seattle Times for Feb. 16, 1913. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Both the china and linen monogramed SAH for Rininger’s Summit Avenue Hospital came with the sale.  No doubt for reasons of economy the Swedish Hospital Association (SHA) decided to use both in spite of the reordering of the letters.

With help from the Seattle Public Library, clipped from the THE SEATTLE TIMES, April 15, 1968.
With help from the Seattle Public Library, clipped from the THE SEATTLE TIMES, April 15, 1968.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Yes Jean and again with help from Rod Edge.   First, several links below, and all include features that relate to the neighborhood and sometimes just beyond it.  Some will be found twice, perhaps even thrice.  The most relevant feaure is probably the last one about the General Hospital.  It first appeared here not so long ago.   Also featured here is my “mea culpa” (I am guilty) confession concerning my flubs with the  the Anderson mansion, and my humble correction.

THEN:

THEN: First Hill’s distinguished Old Colony Apartments at 615 Boren Avenue, 1910.

THEN: Both the grading on Belmont Avenue and the homes beside it are new in this “gift” to Capitol Hill taken from the family album of  Major John Millis. (Courtesy of the Major’s grandchild Walter Millis and his son, a Seattle musician, Robert Millis.)

THEN:The front end damage to the white Shepherd Ambulance on the right is mostly hidden behind the black silhouette of either officer Murphy or Lindberg, both of whom answered the call of this morning crash on Feb. 18, 1955.

THEN: This Seattle Housing Authority photograph was recorded from the top of the Marine Hospital (now Pacific Tower) on the north head of Beacon Hill. It looks north to First Hill during the Authority’s clearing of its southern slope for the building of the Yesler Terrace Public Housing.   (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Looking northwest to Seattle General Hospital at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Marion Street, circa 1909. (Courtesy of Michael Maslan)

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SOME OTHER HOSPITALS ON THE HILL

GRACE HOSPITAL on Summit Avenue between Union and Pike Streets.  Seattle's Protestant hospital could not compete with the Catholic's Providence, and it closed to be replaced with Summit School, below.
GRACE HOSPITAL on Summit Avenue between Union and Pike Streets. Seattle’s Protestant hospital could not compete with the Catholic’s Providence, and it closed to be replaced with Summit School, below.

Grace - Summit

A new Harborview from above.
A new Harborview from above.
Virginia Mason
Virginia Mason
Before their was a Virginia Mason Hospital there was photographer Imogen Cunningham's home and studio.
Before their was a Virginia Mason Hospital there was photographer Imogen Cunningham’s home and studio.  (You can find this feature FULL-SIZED in the history books button, at the top.   It is the 111th feature included in SEATTLE NOW THEN Vol. One. 
A 1950 aerial with Marion Street climbing First Hill far right.  That makes the next thruway up the hill Columbia Street.  New the upper-left corner it reaches the early Swedish Hospital in 1950 on the Rininger corner with Summit Ave.  Sixth Avenue runs along the bottom of the subject, between James Street on the right and Marion.  A little more than a decade later the blocks between Sixth and Seventh were cleared for the Seattle Freeway, as it was then called.  (Courtesy, Ron Edge)
A 1950 aerial with Marion Street climbing First Hill far left. That makes Columbia Street the next thruway up the hill Columbia. Near the upper-left corner it reaches the early Swedish Hospital campus  in 1950 on the Rininger corner with Summit Ave. Sixth Avenue runs along the bottom of the subject, between James Street on the right and Marion. A little more than a decade later the blocks between Sixth and Seventh were cleared for the Seattle Freeway, as it was then called. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)  CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE

BACK TO THE CORNER

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Jumping nurses
Jumping nurses

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: Comet becomes Star

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Faced, in part, with brick veneer and stucco, and opened in 191l, the Comet Apartments at 170 11th Avenue have made it nicely through their first century.  (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
THEN: Faced, in part, with brick veneer and stucco, and opened in 191l, the Comet Apartments at 170 11th Avenue have made it nicely through their first century. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Missing only a few architectural bands that once wrapped its sides, the now Star Apartments have gained a landscape that caresses the daylight basement windows.
NOW: Missing only a few architectural bands that once wrapped its sides, the now Star Apartments have gained a landscape that caresses the daylight basement windows.

By the estimable authority of Diana James, the Comet Apartments, this Sunday’s subject at the First Hill corner of Spruce Street and 11th Avenue, is a solid example of a building form she calls “Seattle-Centric.”  In “Shared Walls,” her book history of our city’s apartment houses, James explains, “Driving or walking through Seattle neighborhoods that have concentrations of apartment buildings, one is struck by the repetition of a particular form, best described as rectangular or square in shape and featuring at least one bay on either side of a centrally located and recessed opening at each floor above the entrance.  Variations on this theme exist in every Seattle neighborhood.”

The Comet Apartments are found above the center of this detail pulled - again - from the 1912 Baist Map. (Courtesy, again, Ron Edge)
The Comet Apartments are found above the center of this detail pulled – again – from the 1912 Baist Map. (Courtesy, again, Ron Edge)  CLICK TO ENLARGE – PLEASE.

By another authority, King County tax records, organized in the late 1930s by the depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Comet (its original name) was built in 1910 with twenty-eight apartments. Seven of these were fit with four rooms, and the rest with three.  West and Wheeler, the Comet’s real estate agent, described it in The Seattle Times “Apt Unclassified” listings for March 4, 1912, as “an unusually attractive building.”  We still agree.

The Comet/Star depression-era tax card. (Courtesy, Washington State Archive, Bellevue Community College Branch)
The Comet/Star depression-era tax card. (Courtesy, Washington State Archive, Bellevue Community College Branch)

The Comet’s 1912 classified packed a terse list of its qualities, including “large light rooms,” “very reasonable rates (twenty to thirty dollars),” and the unnamed but “usually up-to-date apt. house conveniences.”  The Comet was also in a “paved district” that was conveniently in “walking distance.”  Surely these First Hill apartments were within a reasonable stroll of nearly every necessity. Pacific Grade School was three blocks north on 11th at Jefferson Street, and professional baseball, a mere two blocks away at the Seattle Athletic Field. (see below)  If walking was not wanted, the Comet was surrounded by common carriers, including the trollies on Broadway and 12th Avenues and the cable cars on James Street and Yesler Way.  For the mostly downhill three-quarters of a mile trip to Pioneer Square, a brisk step might get there almost as quickly as a ride on the famously rattling cable cars.

Near it last day, a Yesler Way Cable Car approaches Seventh Avenue on Yesler Way, now the eastern border of the 1-5 Freeway.  The photograph was taken by a trolley and cable enthusiast in 1940.  (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
Near it last day, a Yesler Way Cable Car approaches Seventh Avenue on Yesler Way, now the eastern border of the 1-5 Freeway. The photograph was taken by a trolley and cable enthusiast in 1940. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

On November 21, 1938, the Comet – by then the Star, the name that stuck – was enrolled on the year’s list of victims of the nearly sixty apartments and homes visited in the night by the then best-known – as yet unnamed and uncaught – person in Seattle: a firebug.  Of the four apartments – three on First Hill – ignited “by a pyromaniac” that early morning, the city’s fire Chief William Fitzgerald described the Star’s as “the most successful.”  It was set in a dumb-waiter shaft, did $2,000 damage and “routed 100 persons from their beds at 3:30 in the morning.”  Addressing the city – especially the residents of First Hill – the fire chief asked for “intelligent assistance” rather than “mass hysteria.”  The fire chief may have also had Police Chief William Sears in mind, who earlier had let it out that he “feared a catastrophe if the firebug is not apprehended.”

(The fire bugs – two of them during the Great Depression – left an impressive paper trail in the local press.  An industrious historian might consider telling this story while using the very handy and almost omnipresent tax photos of the victims, of which very few were burned to the ground.)

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul? Rob? Diana?   Sure Jean.  Rob has pulled a number of past blog features that “approach” this week’s subject on the southeast corner of First Hill.  Again, because these links are often packed with other features they may also approach other corners or even hills.    At the bottom we will add the Pacific Mag. clipping with the story about Dugdale Park (the first one) aka the Yesler Athletic Field at 12th and Yesler.   These feature local baseball historian Dan Eskenazi and are used with his courtesy and with the repeat your Nikon Jean.   Turning now to you dear reader, please explore these links.  The first one features the pie-shaped Sprague Hotel in the original flat-iron block nestled between Spruce and Yesler,  and then reformed as part of Yesler Terrace.   You may wish to also key-word “Yesler Terrace” in the search box above. As you know Jean, Diana does not have a key to this inner sanctum, only to hearts and minds, your’s and mine.,

THEN: The Sprague Hotel at 706 Yesler Way was one of many large structures –hotels, apartments and duplexes, built on First Hill to accommodate the housing needs of the city’s manic years of grown between its Great Fire in 1889 and the First World War. Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey

THEN: Harborview Hospital takes the horizon in this 1940 recording. That year, a hospital report noted that "the backwash of the depression" had overwhelmed the hospital's outpatient service for "the country's indigents who must return periodically for treatment." Built in 1931 to treat 100 cases a day, in 1939 the hospital "tries bravely to accommodate 700 to 800 visits a day."

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THEN: First Hill’s distinguished Old Colony Apartments at 615 Boren Avenue, 1910.

THEN:

THEN: The Perry Apartments is nearly new in “postcard artist” M. L. Oakes look at them south on Boren to where it intersects with Madison Street. (Courtesy John Cooper)

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Yesler Athletic Field, 12th and Yesler.
Yesler Athletic Field, 12th and Yesler. (Courtesy, David Eskenazi)

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David Eskenazi on the roof.
David Eskenazi on the roof.

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MEANWHILE AND NEARBY – MORE BILLBOARD PORTRAITS FROM THE FOSTER-KLEISER COLLECTION

Looking south on 12th Avenue to the corner of Alder Street, on March 14, 1940.
Looking south on 12th Avenue to the corner of Alder Street, on March 14, 1940.
Twelfth Avenue looking south towards Main Street,
Twelfth Avenue looking south towards Main Street, Nov. 31, 1936
Twelfth Ave. looking north thru Fir Street corner,
Twelfth Ave. looking north thru Fir Street corner, 1939.
Jackson Street looking west towards 12th Avenue - if I have "read" this correctly.
Jackson Street looking west towards 12th Avenue – if I have “read” this correctly.

Seattle Now & Then: On the Waterfront

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The driver, lower left, leads his team towards First Avenue up a planked incline on Madison Street.  (Courtesy MOHAI)
THEN: The driver, lower left, leads his team towards First Avenue up a planked incline on Madison Street. (Courtesy MOHAI)
NOW: Looking west towards the waterfront on Madison Street through its intersection with Western Avenue.
NOW: Looking west towards the waterfront on Madison Street through its intersection with Western Avenue.

I’ll venture that this look across Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way) and Elliott Bay as far as West Seattle’s dim Duwamish Head, far-left, was photographed some few weeks after the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, burned everything on the waterfront south of University Street.  The fire was ignited by a volatile mix of upset boiling glue and carpenter’s shavings scattered on the floor of Margaret Pontius’s frame building at the southwest corner of Front (First Avenue) and Madison Streets, about a block behind the position the unnamed photographer took to record this rare scene of the waterfront’s revival.

This post-1889 fire claims to show its ruins at the foot of Madison Street.  (Courtesy Michael Maslan)
This post-1889 fire claims to show its ruins at the foot of Madison Street. (Courtesy Michael Maslan)

Before the “providential fire” this part of the waterfront was covered with the Commercial Mill and its yard. Built in the mid-1880s on its own wide pier off the foot of Madison Street, this specialist in sash, doors, and blinds was nearly surrounded by stacks of lumber, great contributors to the conflagration.  On the night of the ’89 fire, when seen from the safety of First Hill, burning boards from the lumberyard carried high above the business district put on a rare fireworks show.

Photographed by Morford from Yesler's Wharf in late 1887 or 1888.  Madison Street lumber-bound wharf is on the far right, Denny Hill behind the tall ship.
Photographed by Morford from Yesler’s Wharf in late 1887 or 1888. Madison Street lumber-bound wharf is on the far right, Denny Hill behind the tall ship.

The small warehouse in the featured photo at the top, right-of-center, was built by and/or for F.A. Buck for his business, California Wines, which he advertised with banners both at the roof crest of the shed and facing the city.  It seems that the shed was also being lengthened on its bay side.  Railroad Avenue is also being extended further into the bay.  This work-in-progress can be seen between the vintner’s shed and the Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad’s boxcar No. 572.  Far left, a pile driver reaches nearly as high as the two-mast vessel anchored, probably at low tide, behind the vintner’s warehouse.  This ‘parallel parking’ was not what the city council envisioned following the fire.  The city expected and eventually got finger piers that extended into the bay, where visiting vessels were tied in the slips between them.

Railroad Ave. ca. 1903 showing the then new long finger piers north of Madison Street.  The shorter piers to the south (left) of Madison were built after the Great Fire of 1889.  They would be either moved further into the bay on new pilings are replace with longer piers like the Grand Trunk Dock and Colman Dock.
Railroad Ave. ca. 1903 showing the then new long finger piers north of Madison Street. The shorter piers to the south (left) of Madison were built after the Great Fire of 1889. They would sooner ( or later) be either moved further into the bay on new pilings are replaced with longer piers like the Grand Trunk Dock and Colman Dock.

In the featured photo, the bales of hay stacked both beyond the horses, left-of-center, and at the scene’s lower-right corner, have come to the waterfront either over water, often aboard steamers from Skagit valley farms or over the rails of the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, which had, only recently in 1888, reached both the agriculture hinterlands of King County and the Seattle Coal and Iron Company’s Issaquah coal mine.

The D.H. Gilman engine on the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad line - perhaps in Gilman, later named Issaquah.
The D.H. Gilman engine on the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad line – perhaps in Gilman, later named Issaquah.

The smaller shed in the right foreground of the features photo at the top is outfitted as the waterfront office for the coal company, which in May of 1888 sent from Yesler Wharf, probably to California, its first load of coal aboard the ship Margaret.  Within two years the Seattle Coal and Iron Company’s growth, disrupted the wine-sellers quarters.  The long shed was removed to allow construction of an elevator and overpass for moving Issaquah coal from the SLSER coal cars above and over Railroad Avenue to the company’s new bunkers that extended into Elliott Bay.  The coal bunkers stood over what is now the dining area of Ivar’s Acres of Clams on Pier 54.

This detail, pulled from the 1893 Sanborn real estate map, shows the coal bunkers on the left and the trestle (for the coal) over Railroad Avenue and to the coal facilities between Railroad Avenue and Western Ave.  The next photo below looks up Madison from that trestle in 1890 or 1891.
This detail, pulled from the 1893 Sanborn real estate map, shows the coal bunkers on the left and the trestle (for the coal) over Railroad Avenue and to the coal facilities between Railroad Avenue and Western Ave. The next photo below looks up Madison from that trestle in 1890 or 1891.  (I’ve forgotten for this “fog of blog”  moment.)
The Northern Pacific photographer F.J.Haynes look east up Madison Street from the coal trestle that passed over Railroad Avenue to the coal pier at the foot of Madison.   (Courtesy, Tacoma Public Library)
The Northern Pacific photographer F.J.Haynes look east up Madison Street from the coal trestle that passed over Railroad Avenue to the coal pier at the foot of Madison. (Courtesy, Tacoma Public Library)
Looking north on the waterfront with the dark timbers of the Madison Street coal bunkers showing right-of-center, ca. 1898.
Looking north on the waterfront with the dark timbers of the Madison Street coal bunkers showing right-of-center, ca. 1898.
F. J. Haynes look at the waterfront from a vessel on Elliott Bay.  Madison Street is just left of the bright navy vessel at the center.  On the horizon above it is Central School at the southeast corner of 6th and Madison.  Is it brand new.  And so it the King County Court House on the horizon, far right.  (Courtesy Tacoma Pubic Library)
F. J. Haynes ca. 1891 look at the waterfront from a vessel on Elliott Bay. Madison Street is just left of the bright navy vessel at the center. On the horizon above it is Central School at the southeast corner of 6th and Madison. Is it brand new, and so it the King County Court House on the horizon, far right. (Courtesy Tacoma Pubic Library)
Another 1890s look down on Railroad Avenue north from the Madison Street coal trestle.  The several afternoon shadows of the short pier sheds along the waterfront then appear on the right.
Another 1890s look down on Railroad Avenue south from the Madison Street coal trestle. The several afternoon shadows of the short pier sheds along the waterfront then appear on the right.
Another early post-fire Haynes view of the waterfront, this one most likely from the Madison Street coal wharf.  The competing King Street coal wharf and bunkers reaches into the bay at the scene's center.   Yesler's post-fire wharf is marked left-of-center.  (Courtesy, Tacoma Public Library)
Another early post-fire Haynes view of the waterfront, this one most likely from the Madison Street coal wharf. The competing King Street coal wharf and bunkers reaches into the bay at the scene’s center. Yesler’s post-fire wharf is marked left-of-center. (Courtesy, Tacoma Public Library)

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  For sure Jean.  Of the five waterfront links that Ron Edge has attached, the first one especially is filled with Madison Street relevance – and more.   That is there are many other features embedded for the reader to release merely by clicking on it (and the others).  And may they also remember to click on the images to enlarge them for studying details.  That’s why we scan them big for the blog.

THEN: The S. S. Suveric makes a rare visit to Seattle in 1911.  (Historical photo courtesy of Jim Westall)

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One of Muybridge's early motion studies, and not a Seattle subject necessarily.
One of Muybridge’s early motion studies, and not a Seattle subject necessarily.  Like all else, CLICK to ENLARGE

Seattle Now & Then: Leary Way

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: With his or her back to the original Ballard business district, an unnamed photographer looks southeast on Leary Way, most likely in 1936.
THEN: With his or her back to the original Ballard business district, an unnamed photographer looks southeast on Leary Way, most likely in 1936.

NOW: On September 17th last Jean Sherrard took this “repeat” with the 2 Bit Saloon on the far left. It was the last day and night for the tavern, which timed its finale with that month’s Backfire Motorcycle Night in Ballard.

NOW: On September 17th last Jean Sherrard took this “repeat” with the 2 Bit Saloon on the far left. It was the last day and night for the tavern, which timed its finale with that month’s Backfire Motorcycle Night in Ballard.

We had two “thens” to choose from, and here follows the alternative.

The alternative also looks southeast on Leary Way to its first curves of three on its way to Fremont.
The alternative also looks southeast on Leary Way to its first curve of three on its way to Fremont.

This week we look south-southeast into a somewhat befuddling Ballard intersection where Leary Way, before curving to the east and ultimately heading for Fremont, meets 17th Avenue. N.W. and N.W. 48th Street. The photographer of this picture was working for the Foster and Kleiser billboard company, whose negatives we have used before, and will surely many times to come, the fates willing. So the intended subjects were the big signs on the far side of the curving Leary Way.

This snap in the billboard survey looks thru the same Leary curve but from the southeast end of it.  So it looks northwest on Leary.  The date, March 13, 1939 is recorded, bottom-left.  [A personal reflection to share: born in the fall of 1938, it was then barely babbling when this shots was recorded, and here and now nearly 76 years later, I blabber on and on.
This snap in the billboard survey looks thru the same Leary curve but from the southeast end of it. So it looks northwest on Leary. The date, March 13, 1939 is recorded, bottom-left . [Unless you are not dyslexic, then it is properly bottom-right. Another  personal reflection to share: born in the fall of 1938, I was then barely babbling when this shot was recorded, and now nearly 76 years later, I blabber on and on.

On the left of the featured photo at the top, between the Mobilgas flying horse (named Pegasus by the ancient Greeks) and the OK Texaco service station, 17th Avenue N.W. heads north.  In the early 1890s, 17th was the eastern border for Gilman Park, an early name for Ballard.  In 1936, the likely date of the photo, this intersection was obviously devoted to filling stations, billboards and power poles. The pavement, laid in 1930, is fairly fresh.  Unlike the many brick

A Seattle Times clipping from April 17, 1930.
A Seattle Times clipping from April 17, 1930.
An look northwest on the mostly brick Ballard Avenue during the 1916 Big Snow.
A look northwest on the mostly brick Ballard Avenue during the 1916 Big Snow.   Note the snow-capped city hall tower beyond the snow-bound trolley.  The bank building on the right also had a tower, and it was from that prospect that the next photo below was recorded on a 4th the July ca. 1910.   The clipping of that feature follow as well.
I have for this moment - a long lapsing one - misplaced the "now" negative for this "then."
I have for this moment – a long lapsing one – misplaced the “now” negative for this “then.”  But here is the text scanned from  a Times clip.
First appeared in Pacific Magazine April 5, 1992.
First appeared in Pacific Magazine April 5, 1992.

landmarks on Ballard Avenue, one block to the west, the buildings along Leary Way were mostly one- and two-story commercial clapboards and manufacturing sheds, like the one behind the billboards at the scene’s center, again, in the featured photo on top.  (Here we will insert three billboard photos taken on Leary Way in the three block run between N. W. Dock Place and Market Street.  (They do not all look in the same direction.)

This is captioned around the billboard, left-of-center, which sits "82 feet west of Ione Place.
This is captioned in reference to the billboard, left-of-center, which sits “82 feet west of Ione Place.
Leary way looking northwest to the billboards at Dock Place.  In the distance, across Market Street stands the Bagdad Theatre.
Leary way looking northwest to the billboards at Dock Place. In the distance, across Market Street stands the Bagdad Theatre.
The Bagdad then and during a recent Ballard Stret Fair.
The Bagdad then and during a recent Ballard Stret Fair.
Looking northwest on Leary Way to its intersection with Ione Place.  The caption makes not of its billboard subject as "100 feet west of Ione."
Looking northwest on Leary Way to its intersection with Ione Place. The caption makes note of its billboard subject as “100 feet west of Ione.” The captions “P-1″ and “R126″ are references we have not as yet cracked – nor tried to.

Leary Way was named for Seattle capitalist John Leary, who was the first president of the West Coast Improvement Company (WCIC), which through the 1890s shaped Ballard into the “Shingle Capitol of the World.”  Writing in 1900, pioneer Seattle historian Thomas Prosch called it the “most successful” real estate enterprise connected to Seattle.  The town was named for Capt. William Rankin Ballard, who with Leary was one of the WCIC’s principal developers. Ballard explained that in the first three months of the township venture he made 300 percent profit on the property that he had earlier “won” as a booby price in a “heads or tails” gamble with a friend.  Ballard did not live in Ballard, but recounted this from his First Hill mansion.

Not Ballard's home on First Hill, but Leary's on Capitol Hill, now home for Episcopalians.   (photo by Robert Bradley in 1969)
Not Ballard’s home on First Hill, but Leary’s on Capitol Hill, now home for Episcopalians. (1969 photo by Robert Bradley.)
The Yesler Leary Building at the northwest corner of Mill Street (Yesler Way) and Front Street (First Avenue.)  Leary's partnership in the 1884 construction of this Victorian showpiece is a sign of his local power at the time.
The Yesler Leary Building at the northwest corner of Mill Street (Yesler Way) and Front Street (First Avenue.) Leary’s partnership with Henry Yesler in the 1884 construction of this Victorian showpiece is a sign of his Seattle status then.
Scanned from Bagley's History of Seattle, Vol. 2
Scanned from Clarence  Bagley’s History of Seattle, Vol. 2

Behind the photographer of the featured photo at the top, the first Ballard street grid, a triangle of about a dozen blocks south of Market Street and west of 17th Avenue N.W., is aligned to the nearby Salmon Bay shoreline.  Otherwise, this rapidly growing, confident and, beginning in 1890, incorporated suburb followed the American practice – often written as law – of laying streets in conformity to the compass.

The grid of eastern Ballard - or Freelard aka Ballmonst - reveals with this April 25, 1947 aerial, courtesy of Ron Edge.  Upper right is Leary Way's last or most southeasterly section before turning (at the top) east into Fremont "proper."
The grid of eastern Ballard – or Freelard aka Ballmont – revealed from on high in this April 25, 1947 aerial, courtesy of Ron Edge. Upper right is Leary Way’s last or most southeasterly section before turning (at the top) east into Fremont “proper” on 36th Street.
The last (or first) curve on Leary where from this prospect 39th Street it turns east into Fremont.
That last (or first) curve on Leary where from this prospect near 39th Street it turns east into Fremont on 36th Street..
Queen Anne Hill neighborhood just west of Seattle Pacific College, seen across the ship canal and from a Fremont prospect near 39th Street and 2nd Ave. N.W.    nd
Queen Anne Hill neighborhood just west of Seattle Pacific College, seen across the ship canal and from a Fremont prospect near 39th Street and 2nd Ave. N.W. and so also above the curve where Leary merges with 36th Street.  nd

On Leary Way, another disruption of the greater Ballard grid follows soon after Leary passes east under the north approach to the Ballard Bridge. (The bridge’s trusses appear at the far-right.) At 11th Avenue N.W., Leary Way turns to the southeast cutting the shortest

Looking northwest to the Leary Way curve between N.W. 47th Street and 11th Ave. N.W..  Again, the photograph's own caption is preoccupied with its billboard.
Looking northwest to the Leary Way curve between N.W. 47th Street and 11th Ave. N.W.. Again, the photograph’s own caption is preoccupied with its billboard.

possible route to Fremont through a somewhat treeless neighborhood of grid-conforming streets, snuggly lined with well-tended workers’ homes.  There are cherished alternative names for this neighborhood just east of Ballard or just west of Fremont.   It is sometimes called Ballmont, and other times, Freelard.  Of course, both are good-natured popular names meant to calm anxieties along a border between neighbors.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Pro forma, Jean.  First a few links pulled by Ron Edge from past features followed by a stand-alone but not forlorn feature from the neighborhood: its Carnegie Library.   By this time some of the Edge Links will surely have been employed in this blog before, repetitions (we repeat) we are proud of and play like musical motifs in different contexts or on different staffs.  Remembering my mom – again again – “Repetition is the mother of all learning.”  Thank’s mom.

THEN: A Seattle Street and Sewer Department photographer recorded this scene in front of the nearly new City-County Building in 1918.  The view looks west from 4th Avenue along a Jefferson Street vacated in this block except for the municipal trolley tracks.  (Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: Looking east from the roof of the still standing testing lab, the Lock’s Administration Building (from which this photograph was borrowed) appears on the left, and the district engineer’s home, the Cavanaugh House (still standing) on the center horizon. (Photo courtesy Army Corps of Engineers at Chittenden Locks)

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THEN: Captioned Salmon Bay, 1887, this is most likely very near the eastern end of the bay where it was fed by Ross Creek, the Lake Union outlet. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan Vintage Posters and Photographs)

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First appeared in Pacific, June 12, 1994.
First appeared in Pacific, June 12, 1994.

Seattle Now & Then: Third Avenue Regrade

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking north from Columbia Street over the construction pit for the Central Building.  On the left is a rough section of the Third Avenue Regrade in the spring of 1907.  (Courtesy, MOHAI)
THEN: Looking north from Columbia Street over the construction pit for the Central Building. On the left is a rough section of the Third Avenue Regrade in the spring of 1907. (Courtesy, MOHAI)
NOW: Jean Sherrard moved a few yards east up Columbia Street from the unnamed historical photographer’s prospect in order to look north down the typical sixteen-foot wide central business district alley.
NOW: Jean Sherrard moved a few yards east up Columbia Street from the unnamed historical photographer’s prospect in order to look north down the typical sixteen-foot wide central business district alley.

Drivers and riders who continue to be confused and/or delayed by the city’s “Mercer Mess” south of Lake Union may find some consolation by reflecting on the Central Business District’s public works schedule a century ago.  This look north from Columbia Street, mid-block between Third and Fourth Avenues, is dated April 15, 1907.  At the far left, Third Avenue, at its intersection with Marion Street, has been cut (lowered) about fifteen feet.  All traffic on Third, Columbia, and Marion has, of course, been cut off as well.

Third Ave. Regrade 1906, looking north over Marion Street.  The Third Ave. Theatre, its tower half-decapitated, stands on the far side of the Madison Street Cable Railway trestle.  The upper-right corner shows the west facade of the Lincoln Hotel at the northwest corner of 4th Ave. and Madison Street.
Third Ave. Regrade 1906, looking north over Marion Street. The Third Ave. Theatre, its tower half-decapitated, stands on the far side of the Madison Street Cable Railway trestle. The upper-right corner shows the west facade of the Lincoln Hotel at the northwest corner of 4th Ave. and Madison Street.

Still, pedestrians could transcend the upheaval on Third by crossing the temporary, if spindly, viaduct, left-of-center. It passes high above the mess to reach a pre-regrade sidewalk that survives below the south façade of the Second Empire-styled Stacy Mansion, with both tower and roof-top pergola.  This grand residence was, however,

The Stacy Mansion at the northeast corner of 3rd Ave. and Marion Street, circa 1890.
The Stacy Mansion at the northeast corner of 3rd Ave. and Marion Street, circa 1890.
The Third Ave. regrade with the Marion Street pedestrian trestle on the left, the Stacy mansion, left of center, and the Standler Hotel, right of center.  Foundation work for the Central Building has yet to begin.  Note the Third Ave. Theatre with its full top, far-left.
The Third Ave. regrade with the Marion Street pedestrian trestle on the left, the Stacy mansion, left of center, and the Standler Hotel, right of center. Foundation work for the Central Building has yet to begin. Note the Third Ave. Theatre with its full top, far-left.

hardly a home.  It was built in 1885 by Elizabeth and Martin Van Buren Stacy, an often-warring couple who did not move in until 1887.  Following the migration up First Hill of Seattle’s most affluent families, the land-rich Stacys soon built another mansion at the northeast corner of Madison Street and Boren Avenue.  Martin, however, hardly moved. Preferring the acquisitive culture of the business district to the high society on the Hill, he lived mostly in hotels and clubs.

The steam shovel on the left seems to be cutting into bluff for the Trust company's Central Building.  This look south on Third Ave. was taken from the pedestrian overpass on Marion, seen twice above.
The steam shovel on the left seems to be cutting into bluff for the Trust company’s Central Building. This look south on Third Ave. was taken from the pedestrian overpass on Marion, seen three times above.

The Stacy mansion, sitting at the center of the featured photograph, at the top, might be considered the intended subject.  It is not.  Rather, it’s the private work of cutting and hauling for the Trustee Company’s Central Building excavation site.  In the pit a steam shovel feeds a circle of horse teams waiting their turns and pulling high-centered dump-wagons. Far right, in the alley, the company’s sign stands above its construction office.

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A half year earlier in The Seattle Sunday Times of October 7, 1906, the Trustee Company shared its intentions with a full-page advertisement.  The Central Building promised to be “the most impressive and commodious office building in the Pacific Northwest.  Including the offices in the tower section, this building is to be twenty stories in height.”

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With its tower centered high above Third Avenue, hand-colored postcards of the completed Central Building are still common and can be readily acquired, often cheaply, in stores selling historical ephemeraParts of the Central’s first four floors show to the left of the alley in Jean Sherrard’s repeat at the top.  The completed Central continues with four stories more to its full height of eight floors, and not twenty.  While not so grand as the Trustee Company had planned, the Central is still a cherished survivor of what through the first third of the twentieth century was Seattle’s affection for elegantly clad terra-cotta buildings.

A detail from the 1908 Baist real estate map compliments of Historic Seattle and Ron Edge. (Ron scanned the complete map.)  Columbia Street runs along the bottom, while Third Avenue runs bottom-to-top left-of-center.
A detail from the 1908 Baist real estate map compliments of Historic Seattle and Ron Edge. (Ron scanned the complete map.) Columbia Street runs along the bottom, while Third Avenue runs bottom-to-top left-of-center.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul? Ron? Jean?  Well . . . Ron Edge has put up five apts links directly below.   There is lots more on the neighborhood, some of it seen from the waterfront.   For instance, the first link below looks south on Third Avenue from near Spring Street and so through Madison Street and beyond to the Marion Street intersection, where right-of-center the Gothic Revival First Methodist Church stands with its spire at what would soon be the northwest corner of the Central Building at the southeast corner of Marion and Third.    But now we confess that we are almost broken down.  This computer or the program for running the blog is gummed.   We will  return tomorrow to find, we hope, that it has recovered some speed.   Meanwhile please explore the links below.

THEN: The city's regrading forces reached Sixth Avenue and Marion Street in 1914. A municipal photographer recorded this view on June 24. Soon after, the two structures left high here were lowered to the street. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

THEN: Looking north from Seneca Street on Third Avenue during its regrade in 1906.  (Photo by Lewis Whittelsey, Courtesy of Lawton Gowey)