Friends of the Market president and UW architect Victor Steinbrueck, holding the placard asking, “Is Phyllis Lamphere a Friend of the Market?”, marches ahead of his conserving coterie past the front door of City Hall. This protest, one of several City Hall pickets staged by the Friends in February and March of 1971, was most likely performed on Thursday, March 18. Other signs keep to the message: “Urban Renewal Unfair to Pike Place Market” and “City Hall + Investment Syndicate = Urban Removal.” Fittingly, whether intended or not, the style of the signs’ calligraphy resembles the brushwork listing the prices of produce on the cards still regularly seen in the Market’s stalls .
On the first Saturday following this parade, its prime target, councilperson Phyllis Lamphere, protested in The Times that she was indeed “a friend of the (Pike Place) market” and then went on to suggest that, as The Times reporter put it, her “Renewal opponents may themselves be the real enemies of the public market, because without rehabilitation, ‘the market will be unable to meet conditions of Seattle’s (building) code.’” Other signs carried in front of City Hall those contesting days of 1971 advised, “Don’t subsidize luxury apartments,” “Removal is not Renewal,” and “The Pike Place Market is Seattle’s History.”
Post-Intelligencer photographer Tom Brownell took the protest photo at the top. We chose it because it also shows the Fourth Avenue façade of the City Hall (1961) that was by then widely understood to be modeled on the cheap after a Texas hotel. Among the prudent fears of the Friends was that the then expected millions from federal sources for urban renewal would be used to replace the funky charms of the Pike Place Market with modern hotel-motel reminders like City Hall. The federal funding was announced on May 15th, and the next day the Friends announced their plans to gather citizen signatures for a proposal to designate most the Market for preservation. Fifteen-thousand legal signatures were needed to get it on the November ballot. The disciplined campaigners gathered more than 25,000 in three weeks. The November 1971 election was won just as readily, with a landslide 76,369 yesses over 53,264 nos.
When the Friends of the Market was first formed in 1964, it was an arts movement intent on saving the Pike Place Public Market from “sterile progress.” Mark Tobey, one of Seattle’s best-known artists, was a member. Proceeds from his then new book, The World of the Market, benefited the Friends. When the picketing began in the winter of 1971, Tobey was quoted in The Times: “I hope (the market) will only be restored, and not improved through progressive planners.”
Anything to add, lads? Yes Jean a few links arranged by Ron and an excuse. This “Saturday-before” has been filled with other events and entertainments and so we (I) did not pull up more neighborhood links to past features that have not here-to-fore appeared in the blog. But Jean this excuse is righteous, for, as you know, the afternoon we spent in the SeaTac city hall delivering a lecture on the history of Highline and more was often enough delightful. Before passing on to Ron’s links, here is an feature that first appeared in The Times on March 6, 1983, about fourteen months after these weekly now-and-thens first appeared in Pacific.
THE FIRST BAPTIST FACING THE FATEFUL FOURTH AVE. REGRADE
If, for a moment, one squints the eyes and suspends disbelief, this little home on ‘The Ave’ may seem palatial, with guarding turrets, left and right, and a sunlit dome at the rear. Alas, as well arranged as they are for illusions, those accouterments belong to mills near the north shore of Portage Bay, which most likely are closed down. This is a scene from 1937, set in the unwanted languor of the Great Depression.
The subject is pulled from the Works Progress Administration’s photographic survey of every taxable structure in King County. With help only from these property record cards, city directories, and The Seattle Times archives, we can deduce that Clara and Ferdinand Krummel lived here in 1937 with their teenager Paul, and perhaps one or both of their daughters. Paul was among the 586 seniors graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1938, and the ceremony was nearby in the UW’s Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Four years more and the enlisted Paul would be completing a course in aviation mechanics in Texas. In the spring of 1944, the intentions of the eighteen-year-old Gertrude A Nerdig to marry the soldier were published by The Times.
Two years later, in 1946, The Times printed a short obituary for Ferdinand, the then 76-year-old father, describing him as a German immigrant and a retired baker. In the 1930 Polk City Directory the Krummels were living in Ballard and proprietors of the American Girl Bakery at 5431 Ballard Avenue. Most likely the Krummel’s closing of their bakery and move to this modest home in the University District had something to do with both the Great Depression and their age.
The WPA card describes this bungalow as built on a footprint of 875 square feet and divided into five rooms. The card has University Way made of bricks, and the neighborhood’s “use” as “residential-industrial,” as this photo’s melding of mill and domicile is a clear witness. Like almost everywhere then, the neighborhood’s “status” is listed as “static.” This stasis was disrupted in the 1960s when the UW began buying up much of the “lower district.”
The tidy accommodations of the home at the top were built in 1915 (or so claims the tax card), but demolished in 1962 or 1963, and so did not reach their golden anniversary. Paul Krummel, however, kept on until March 3, 2014. In his obituary in The Times, one of his grandchildren describes him as “a loving husband who was often seen holding his wife’s hand.” Another adds that he “loved to dance and had a great sense of humor.”
THE KRUMMEL’S NEIGHBORS IN THE 3700 BLOCK IN 1937
I have to comment, Paul, it’s rare to capture you in one of these photos, but there you are in this week’s ‘Now’ whistling your happy tune! Anything to add? Yes Jean, beginning with a question in return. Can you name the tune? Otherwise, as is our way, Ron Edge starts our response with several CLICKABLE links to other features from the past that treat on “The Ave,” and all of them have subjects within them that elaborate on your and my long-lived interest in, to repeat, both “Town and Gown” north of Portage Bay (and extending south of the bay to include the now razed Red Robin Tavern.) At the bottom, if time allows before our climb to “Night-Bears” (The copyright is guarded with pillows.) we will include more on The Ave.
Most likely the first “now and then” treatment this charming pioneer home received was in these pages seventy years ago on Sunday, November 10, 1944. The author, Margaret Pitcairn Strachan, chose the Charles and Mary Terry home as the fifteenth weekly subject of her yearlong series on “Early Day Mansions.” Strachan’s fifty-two well-packed and illustrated essays must be counted as one our richest resources for understanding Seattle’s history. In 1944 many of the mansions built by the community’s nabobs were still standing, and sometimes the original families were still living in them and willing to talk with the reporter. (We will attach the Strachan feature below. Click TWICE to enlarge for reading.)
In the Strachan feature the Terry home faced Third Avenue near its northeast corner with James Street. We can learn something about the family’s history – especially about Charles – from the journalist’s reveries that came upon her as she stepped into the “now” after opening the door to a café near the northeast corner of Third Avenue and James Street. She writes, “The Columbian Café is probably the place which is on the exact spot where the house stood. Sitting at the maroon-colored counter, facing the huge mirror which runs the length of the room and reflects the booths in the background, I listened to the clatter coming from the kitchen and watched the waitresses in their spotless white dresses, as they hurried back and forth over the red tile floor, serving busy Seattle citizens who were unaware that this spot was once the home of the man who named Alki Point, owned its first store, was the instigator of the University of Washington, foresaw a great future for this ‘town of Seattle’ and drafted its first ordinances.” (Next, we have attached an earlier photo of the Terry home before it was pivoted off of Third Avenue to face James Street. Below the home we have added a snap of the 3rd Avenue front door to the Public Safety Building, and below that two photo that include the Columbian Cafe that Strachan visited for her research and/or edification or nutrition. The two cafe photos are public works subjects and have their own captions with dates.)
By purchases and trades with pioneers Carson Boren and Doc David Maynard, the Terrys owned most of the business district and were the wealthiest couple in town. On the sweet side of their pioneer life, they opened Seattle’s first bakery in 1864, the year they also built this jolly home, the “ornament of the town.” In 1867 the couple ran a large advertisement in the Pacific Coast Directory, which read, in part, “C. C. TERRY, Seattle, W.T. wholesale and retail dealer in Groceries, Provisions, Cigars, etc., manufacturer of crackers and cakes of all kinds. Unlimited supply of Ship Bread constantly on hand at San Francisco prices.” Tragically, Charles died of tuberculosis, a mere thirty-nine years old, in 1867. On the day of his death his third daughter was born.
Sometime between the 1878 birdseye view drawing of Seattle and the 1883 Sanborn real estate map, the Terry home was pivoted 90-degrees counter-clockwise to face James Street. At the same time the house was moved one lot east of its corner with Second Avenue, which is where we see it in the featured photo at the top. The home’s second footprint holds on in the 1904 Sanborn but not in 1908. It was demolished in 1907.
Anything to add, boys? Ron Edge begins by putting down a few links – often to the neighborhood. We’ll conclude with the oft-used couples portrait of Charles and Mary, and another full-page feature on their home by Lucille McDonald, once-upon-a-time, The Seattle Times principle reporter on regional heritage. Finally we will drop in a hide-and-seek in which the reader is encouraged to find the Terry home.
By the authority of Northwest motorcycle historian and enthusiast Tom Samuelsen – standing by his Suzuki dirt bike in the now – the cyclist in the older photograph, wrapped in leather under a billed hat, is none other than Joe Williamson, one of the founders and first president of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
Tom, a fisherman, is also a lover of maritime history, but it as a motorcyclist that his name may be familiar. Tom is one of the founders of the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling, and currently the curator of the museum’s thousands of motorcycle-related photographs, ephemera and gear. With the help of others in the nonprofit, he has organized and mounted many exhibits, including “Fastest Corner in the Northwest,” at the Museum of History and Industry in 2002. More than once I have asked for, and received, Tom’s help in historic motorcycle matters.
It was not, however, Tom Samuelsen who first shared this photograph with Jean and me. Rather, it was Marie McCaffrey, the executive director of our state’s on-line encyclopedia, Historylink. The photo appears on page forty-two of The Bartell Story (Historylink’s most recent book of now more than a dozen titles since its debut in the spring of 1998), in which local author Phil Dougherty and the Historylink staff recount Bartell’s “125 Years of Service” in 140 pages between hardcovers.
On the awning above Williamson and his circa 1929 Indian Scout motorcycle, the “Seattle’s OWN Drug Stores” sign is especially true here on Pike Street. In addition to this Bartell No. 14 in the Seaboard Building at Fourth Avenue, in the 1929 Polk City Directory, the drug store chain had three more stores nearby on Pike: No. 3 at First Avenue, No. 9 at Second Avenue, and No. 7 at Fifth Avenue. Bartell Drugs, to read from the book’s protective dust jacket, is “The oldest family-owned drugstore chain in the country.” It is celebrating its 125th birthday with the issuance of the Historylink book.
When Joe Williamson first showed this featured (at the top) photograph to Tom Samuelsen, he explained that he used his Indian Scout to deliver prescriptions for Bartell, and that they paid very well, good enough to help support his love of photography. Tom claims that Joe could “charm your sox off.” I first met Joe in the early 1980s and was similarly taken by his generous ways. Born in 1909, Joe died in 1994, age eighty-four.
Let me mention what a gas it was taking Tom Samuelsen’s picture at Westlake. We couldn’t quite get to the exact prospect of the original photo because of existing street sculpture, but we got close. In the following shot, Tom waves goodbye headed east on Pike.
Anything to add, boys? Sure Jean. Ron is putting up five, I think, links. The first one begins with the American Hotel on the east side of Westlake Avenue and looks back (to the south) at Westlake’s origins at Pike Street. Again, there may be some repetition between them, but again and again we remember my Mother Eda Garena Christiansen Dorpat’s advice, “Boys (she had four sons) repetition is the mother of all learning.” Jean did you know that the first feature we put up was about the aftermath of a parade through this five-star intersection, and we have returned often with looks in most directions through it. We’ll attach that first feature from January 17, 1982 at the bottom of all this. And Jean did you also know that the last feature that touched on this corner was featured hear a mere months ago, on Dec. 6, 2014. Ron did not offer a link to it. We figured you could just scroll down to get to it. Please do.
THE FIRST NOW AND THEN FEATURE- FROM JAN. 17, 1982
[Note: the “103” in the title at the top of the above text refers to its position in the book from which it was scanned, Seattle Now and Then, Volume One.]
Otto Theodore Frasch was one of boomtown Seattle’s most energetic postcard photographers in the early twentieth-century, when the public interest in sending and collecting postcards with “real” photographs on them was especially popular. Local collectors generally cherish postcards with the “O.T. Frasch Seattle” credit and caption.
In this look east on Yesler Way, where it still crosses above Fourth Avenue, Frasch also printed the names of three of Seattle’s primary civic buildings on postcard No. 173. First, left-of-center, is the triangular-shaped City Hall, the photographer’s primary subject. It was the brick replacement for the comically named Katzenjammer frame city hall, nearby at Third and Yesler, located in what is now City Hall Park. Earlier than No. 173, Frasch had made another postcard that included both municipal buildings on Yesler Way. Its number, nineteen, is early for the Seattle-based photographer.
Otto and Mary Frasch came here from Minnesota in 1906. Elsie, their first daughter, was born on the way. A charming picture of the three is included on the Otto Frasch website otfrasch.com, which is web-mastered by Elsie’s great-grandson, David Chapman. More than 500 images of Frasch’s Seattle and surrounds are featured, including the coverage of Luna Park (the family lived nearby on West Seattle’s Maryland Avenue), the Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exposition in 1909, the city’s Golden Potlatch parades from 1911 to 1913, and the 1908 visit of the Great White Fleet, all of which are worth a visit to the site. With Otto Frasch’s magnum opus of more than 1000 ascribed numbers, webmaster Chapman’s shepherding of the site continues with new discoveries.
This “real photo postcard” No. 173 (the featured photo at the top) most likely dates from 1908. Although barely visible in this printing, a monumental “welcome” sign for the Fleet stands high on First Hill to the left of the King County Court House dome, which resembles a wedding cake. City Light is the third landmark noted in the caption. With its own rooftop sign and two ornate towers, the citizen-owned utility stands above the northwest corner of Seventh Avenue and Yesler Way. From Frasch’s prospect they escape the horizon behind a screen of power poles beyond, and to the right of City Hall.
Otto Frasch did not include in his caption the private Grand Union Hotel, on the far right of the featured photograph on top. Opened in the fall of 1902, it survived for eighty-one years. The May 15, 1983, issue of this newspaper includes a photograph of the hotel’s destruction under the caption, “Going Going Gone.” The Grand Union “came down without a whimper, ending years of anxiety by the city over the lack of stability in the turn-of-the-century building.”
Hey Paul, where’s the beef?
Jean we will answer your beef question at the bottom (the last) of the LINKS LIST that Ron Edge is putting up of subjects that are, again, mostly relevant to this week’s feature. We encourage readers to start clicking and keep at it as long as they can – at least until they reach the beef. Here we also note that our beloved mentor Richard Berner is having his 95th birthday this December 31, aka New Years Eve. May we remind readers that we have on the front page of this blog Berner’s first of three books that make up his trilogy of Seattle in the first 50 years of the 20th Century. It is included in the books button. Appropriately, at least for his birthday, that takes Vol. 1 up to 1920, the year that Rich was born – on its last day. We have also pulled the little biography we wrote about Rich a few years back and copy it to the bottom of whatever else we come up with before climbing the stairs early this morning to again join the bears. If my copy attempts fail, you will find that vital Richard (his vita) on this blog with a key word search. Good luck to all of us.
(click to enlarge photos)
We are pleased now to introduce Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence to Restoration, the first of Richard C. Berner’s three books named together Seattle in the 20th Century. When the details, stories, and insights are explored with a close reading, Berner’s accomplishment is by far our widest opening into Seattle’s twentieth century, the first half of it, from the 1900 to 1950. Those fifty years were also the second half of Seattle’s first hundred years, if we begin our counting with the footsteps of mid-western farmers settling here in the early 1850s.
Volume one was first published in 1991 by Charles Press, and the publisher – “Rich” Berner himself – made a modest list of its contents on the back cover. We will repeat it. “Politics of Seattle’s urbanization: dynamics of reform, public ownership movement, turbulent industrial relations, effects of wartime hysteria upon newfound civil liberties – all responding to the huge influx of aspiring recruits to the middle class & organized labor as they confronted the established elite. Includes outlines of the economy, cultural scene, public education, population characteristics & ethnic history.”
For this “printing” we have added many captioned illustrations, some of them copied from news reports of the events Berner examines, and we have almost always succeeded in placing each next to the text it illustrates. On-line illustrated editions of Volume 2: Seattle 1921-1940, From Boom to Bust and Volume 3: Seattle Transformed, World War 2 to Cold War will follow – but not at the moment.The collecting of illustrations and putting them in revealing order with the narratives for Volume 2 and 3 is still a work in progress.Readers who want to “skip ahead” of our illustrated presentations of Berner’s three books here on dorpatsherrardlomont can find the complete set of his history as originally published in local libraries or through interlibrary loans.
How Rich Berner managed it is a charmed story. He undertook what developed into his magnus opus after retiring in 1984 from his position as founder and head of the University of Washington Archives and Manuscripts Division. Between the division’s origin in 1958 and his retirement Rich not only built the collection but also studied it. Berner worked closely with Bob Burke, the U.W. History professor most associated with the study of regional history who first recommended Berner, a University of California, Berkeley graduate in history and library science, for the U.W. position. Together, the resourceful professor and the nurturing archivist shepherded scores of students in their use of the archive. Rich Berner is the first to acknowledge that he also learned from the students as they explored and measured the collection for dissertations and other publications. By now their collected publications can be imagined as its own “shelf” of Northwest History.
Rich Berner showed himself also a good explicator of his profession. His influential book, Archival Theory and Practice in the United States: A Historical Analysis was published by the University of Washington Press in 1983 and was awarded the Waldo Gifford Leland Prize by the Society of American Archivists. Composing this historical study on top of establishing and nourishing the University’s Archive and Manuscripts Division may be fairly considered a life’s achievement, but, with his 1984 retirement Berner continue to work in the archive at writing his three-volume history. He published Volume Three in 1999, and so, continuing the charm of this entire production, he completed Seattle in the 20th Century before the century (and millennium) was over.
(Lest we imagine this scholar chained to his archive we know that with his wife Thelma, a professor of Physiology and Biophysics in the U.W. Medical School and the first woman appointed Associate Dean of the UW graduate school, this famously zestful couple managed to often take to the hills and mountains.)
Rich was born in Seattle in 1920- the last year explored in this his first volume.His father worked on the docks as a machinist, and for a time was “blacklisted” by employers because of his union advocacy.During the depression, while Rich was attending classes at Garfield High School, his mother ran a waterfront café on the Grand Trunk Pacific’s pier at the foot of Madison Street.
During the war Rich served with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.Following it with help from the GI Bill he matriculated at Cal-Berkeley with degrees in both history and library science.It was also in Berkeley that he first met Robert Burke, then Director of the Manuscript Collection of the Bancroft Library. Rich worked part time there.
For Seattle, as for any city of size, there is a “canon” of publications that are necessary reading for anyone wanting to get a grip on local history. The first half of the Seattle Canon may be said to begin with Pioneer Arthur Denny’s Pioneer Reminiscences of 1888. The pioneer canon receives its own magnus opus with the combined works – multi-volume histories of Seattle and King County – of Clarence Bagley, himself a pioneer. That Berner was already attending Seattle’s T.T. Minor grade school in 1926 when Bagley was still three years away from publishing his History of King County is evidence of the “Boomtown” included in the title of this Berner’s first of three books on Seattle history.
With rare exceptions the books included in this first part of the Seattle Canon were published by their subjects, like Denny’s still revealing Reminiscences, or under the direction and/or support of their subjects, like Bagley’s still helpful volumes.They are generally “picturesque histories” written to make their subjects seem more appealing than they often were.The stock of motives for “doing heritage” are there generally supportive or positive, showing concern for the community, admiration for its builders, the chance to tell good stories, and often also the desire to learn about one’s forebears although primarily those truths that are not upsetting.Not surprisingly, and again with rare exceptions, these booster-historians and their heritage consumers were members of a minority of citizens defined by their wealth, race and even religion.It would be a surprise to find any poor socialists, animists or even affluent Catholics among them.
Part Two of the Seattle Canon may be said to have popularly begun with Skid Road, historian-journalist Murray Morgan’s charming and yet still raking history of Seattle. Published in 1951, the year of Seattle’s centennial, it is still in print, and has never been out of it. Richard Berner has dedicated Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence to Restoration to Morgan.The post-war canon is often corrective of the sins of the pioneers.The works of Morgan and many others, certainly including Berner, are not generally clothed in the pious harmonies of their predecessors, the ordinarily stress-free narratives expected of those who were writing under the “pioneer code.”
In our opinion Rich Berner’s three-volume Seattle in the 20th Century is the greatest single achievement of our Seattle Canon – “part two.”It has the scope and details required.It is profoundly instructive and filled with the characters and turns of fate that any storyteller might admire and wisely exploit.Within Berner’s three books are the wonders of what they did, the touchstones of their devotions and deceptions, their courage and hypocrisy, meanness and compassion.Certainly, it has been our pleasure to help illustrate this the first volume and to also continue on now with volumes two and three.
Through the late 1880s this east side of First Avenue – its was still called Front Street then — was distinguished by George Frye’s Opera House (1884-85). This grand pioneer landmark filled the southern half of the block until June 6, 1889, when Seattle’s Great Fire reduced it to ashes. While these were still cooling, Frye hired John Nestor, an Irish-born architect who had designed his Opera House, to prepare drawings for the Stevens Hotel, which we see here also at the south end of the block, which is the northeast corner of First Avenue and Marion Street.
Next door to the north, the Palace Hotel, with 125 guest rooms, opened on the Fourteenth of April, 1903. The owners announced that it was “Artistically decorated and comfortably furnished, and equipped with every modern convenience.” They listed “elevators, electric lights, call bells and rooms with baths.” The owners boasted that their hotel had the “finest commercial sample rooms in the city, which makes it an ideal hotel for commercial travelers.” In the spring of 1905, the most northerly of the hotel’s three storefronts was taken by Burt and Packard’s “Korrect Shape” shoe store. For $3.50 one could purchase a pair of what the partnering cobblers advertised as “the only patent leather shoe that’s warranted.” Also that year, the New German Bakery moved in next door beneath the Star Theatre, which had recently changed its name from Alcazar to Star.
On February 21, 1905, The Seattle Times printed “Vaudeville at the Star,” a wonderfully revealing review of the Star’s opening. “Vaudeville as given at the 10-cent theatre may not be high art, but it is certainly popular art . . . The performance started exactly at the appointed time, but long before that a squad of policeman had to make passage ways through the crowd of people on Madison Street.”
The hour-and-a-half performance consisted of nine acts, and The Times named them all. “Claude Rampf led off with some juggling on the slack wire. Richard Burton followed with illustrated songs. Third came the Margesons in a comedy sketch, a little boy proving a clever dancer. Fourth were the dwarfs, Washer Brothers, who boxed four rounds. They were followed by Daisy Vernon, who sang in Japanese costume, followed by Handsen and Draw, a comedy sketch team, followed by Wilson and Wilson, consisting of a baritone singer and a negro comedian, and then by the lead liner, Mme Ziska, the fire dancer. The performance concluded with several sets of moving pictures.”
Until it went dark in 1967, the venue at the southeast corner of First and Madison had many names. In addition to the Alcazar and the Star, it had been called the State Ritz, the Gaiety, the Oak, the State, the Olympic, the Tivoli, and in its last incarnation as a home for burlesque and sometimes experimental films, the Rivoli.
Anything to add, Paul? Yup and again with help from Ron Edge who has attached the links below for readers’ ready clicking. The four chosen are, for the most part, from the neighborhood. Following those we will put up three or four other relevant features and conclude with a small array of other state landmarks or “icons” (and how I dislike using that by now tired term, but I’m in a hurry) including James Stevens, the wit who revived and put to good order the Paul Bunyan tales. We like him so much, we have put Stevens next above, on top of Ron’s links.
We might have begun this little photo essay with a portrait of the namesake, Washington Territory’s first governor, Isaac Stevens, but chose instead a landmark on Stevens Pass (named for the Gov), the Wayside Chapel. Lawton Gowey, again, took this slide. We do not know if the chapel has survived the wages of sin and elements.
ABOVE, Pickett’s record of the Stevens Pass summit with Cowboy Mountain on the horizon, and BELOW, Jean Sherrard’s repeat, which appeared first in our book WASHINGTON THEN AND NOW.
ABOVE and BELOW: Stevens School in Wenatchee. In the “now” the school has been replaced by a federal building. (This too appears in WASHINGTON THEN and NOW)
On Alki Point, we’ve been told, across Stevens Street from what is now the Log Cabin Museum, a fitted tent for summer recreations at the beach, and now a street of modest homes.
I think it likely that this candid photo of a lone pedestrian on a bright sidewalk was snapped to show off the new streetlights. Recorded by a municipal photographer, the view looks north on First Avenue from its southeast corner with Virginia Street. The city’s first ornamental light standards, of City Light’s own design, were introduced in 1909-10, and on Seattle’s busiest streets featured five-ball clusters like these. Here the elegance of the new lights is interrupted by the somewhat comedic counterpoint of older and much taller power poles – all in the name of progress.
This neighborhood was sometimes named North Seattle on early maps, but more popularly it was also called Belltown, for the family that first claimed and developed it. Like many of the first settlers, William and Sarah Ann Bell kept two homes, one in the platted village that was growing to the sides of Pioneer Square and Henry Yesler’s sawmill, and the other on their claim, in order to “prove” it. (Virginia Street was named for their long-lived third daughter, Mary Virginia,1847-1931).
Seattle’s first major public work was the 1876 regrading of Front Street (First Avenue) between Pioneer Square and Pike Street. Soon after it continued with an improved path over the western side of Denny Hill, meant to help the Bells develop their claim. In 1884, First Avenue was lowered and improved north of Pike Street with a cut that allowed the community’s then new horse-drawn street railway to continue north to Belltown and beyond, as far as the lower Queen Anne Neighborhood. Then in 1898-99, this cut was deepened to the grade we see here, leaving a cliff along the east side of First Avenue.
In 1903 the earnest (and long) razing of Denny Hill began by moving that cliff to the east side of Second Avenue. By 1911 the regrading reached the east side of Fifth Avenue with another cliff, and there it rested for seventeen years.
While construction of the brick Hotel Ridpath, center-right in the featured subject at the top, waited for the cliff to be pushed east to Second Avenue, the ornate clapboard Troy Hotel across the street, far left, was built soon after the 1898-99 regrade. The Troy survived into at least the late 1940s. The Ridpath, long since renamed the Preston, I remember almost like yesterday.
In the featured photograph from about 1910, First Avenue’s Belltown blocks were mostly given to hotels and shops and a few vacant lots. Some of the latter were fitted with elaborate billboards, like the one on the right, which is stacked with exotic murals promoting popular habits, like vaudeville, cigarettes and chewing gum.
WEB EXTRAS (featuring story and song!)
Paul, I know you and Ron have much to add. Please do so, but let me interject a touch of Public Relations for our annual Town Hall program ‘A Rogue’s Christmas‘.
As you well know, this Sunday at 2 PM, you and I, Marianne Owen and Randy Hoffmeyer, will be reading stories and poems from E.B. White, Nabokov, Ken Kesey, and much more, including original music by Pineola, for this event – the eighth we’ve presented in collaboration with ACT Theatre. Join us for an antidotal and deliciously subversive holiday treat!
I’ll be there Jean. Remember you are picking me up. Here, repeating our by now weekly path, are a few relevant past features pulled and placed by Ron Edge. Ron might also come to the Rogue’s show. He took his then 96-year old mother last year.