Join us for an evening of entertaining yet erudite edification at Seattle’s Town Hall, 7:30 PM, this coming Friday! Historical whimsy mixed with a whiff of sulfur and a touch of elysium.
Also, come early (or stay late) to explore the redecorated North Lobby, jam packed with Now and Then comparisons hot off the presses. Reception follows the (very) illustrated lecture.
(click to enlarge photos)
When the Marine Hospital opened in 1933 to eighty-four veteran patients, many moved from the Fed’s old hospital in Port Townsend, the new Art Deco high rise on the head of Beacon Hill looked much higher than its sixteen stories. And from its roof it also “felt” taller, as evidenced by this panorama that looks north over both the
Dearborn Cut (1909-1912) and the Jackson Street Regrade (1907-1909). This hospital observatory afforded this most revealing profile of First Hill. It made it actually look like a hill. Since the early 1960s the developing ditch of the Seattle Freeway, far left
in the “now,” made the western slopes of First Hill more apparent and gave the hill a western border. The slope of its eastern border, here far right, is occupied for the most part by the low-rise structures on the Seattle University campus, east of Broadway.
In 1940, the likely year for this “then,” the skyline of First Hill was scored with landmarks that are still standing, although by now most are hidden behind higher structures. These include more apartment buildings and the well-packed Swedish Medical Center campus, which is right-of-center in the “now.” The grandest exception is Harborview Hospital. In the circa 1940 photo its gleaming Art Deco tower stands out, left-of-center. In Jean’s colored “repeat,” Harborview, while half-hidden, still shows its true color, which is like a pale café-latte.
We know the photographer’s primary subject here. It is neither the First Hill horizon nor the man-made valley between First and Beacon Hills. Before the regrading began in 1907, the hills were two parts of the same ridge. Rather, the intended subject is the swath of
open lots and mostly doomed residences that run west to east (left to right) through the center of the subject. Within two years of this recording, a photographer from the Seattle Housing Authority visited the Marine Hospital again and recorded another panorama
with the same frame, but of the completed Yesler Terrace Public Housing. Nearly 700 housing units with their own front yards, new General Electric ranges, free utilities and low rents averaging about $17 a month replaced the former neighborhood of mostly modest Victorian residences..
There are two more panoramas photographed from the Marine Hospital by the Seattle Housing Authority. One shows the Yesler Terrace project completed (included here directly below), and the other, an early record of its construction (placed here directly below). Or dear reader come and see much of this on the big screen at Town Hall this coming Friday evening when Jean and I share illustrated stories on FIRST HILL & BEYOND. Again, this is next Friday evening, October 3. The Hall will also then “unveil” in its lobby our “now and then” exhibit of this and other First Hill subjects.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes. We will start with seventeen links to past features from this blog. As is our way, some we will have shown earlier in support of some subject or other. Ordinarily these links, of course, hold links within. And so on and on. For the most part they are relevant to the neighborhoods of the north end of Beacon Hill and the south end of First Hill, and the ridge/regrade that shares them. The first linked feature looks familiar because it repeats, far left, the Rininger Home at the northwest corner of Columbia and Summit, although at the time we submitted this feature to Pacific Northwest Magazine, now thirteen years ago, we knew nothing about its medical motives. We concentrated then on the Otis Hotel on the right. The next link is packed with relevance, built about a rare photo of a pioneer home near the future Deaborn Street on the slop leading up to the ridge that included both First and Beacon Hill before much of it was lowered with the combined cuttings of the Jackson Street Regrade and the Dearbort Cut. The third link uses the Sprague Hotel on Yesler Way to lead into a small survey of buildings in the Yesler Terrace neighborhood that were removed because of it. Some of them were surely worth saving and/or moving. Links sixteen and seventeen, the last two, give Jean and I an opportunity to first wish you a too early Seasons Greetings and second to promote the First Hill lecture we are giving at Town Hall this coming Friday Evening – early. It is cheap – $5 – and the title is FIRST HILL & BEYOND. (The title suggests more hills.)
Thanks again and again – seventeen times – to Ron Edge for finding and putting these “associates” up.
THE MARINE HOSPITAL
The Feature above was pulled from Pacific Magazine for Nov. 13, 1994. Perhaps the older of you dear readers will share some sympathy with me when I confess that those twenty years went by far too fast. “It doesn’t seem possible” that I took the “now” for this – printed directly below – so long ago. I can still smell the pine cones and feel the breeze off the Bay.
(click to enlarge photos)
Most of the surviving photographs of the short-lived (five years) Occidental Hotel record it from the front, where its narrow western façade looked back across the busy Pioneer Place, or Square. This view from the rear looks northwest across the intersection of Second Avenue and Mill Street (Yesler Way) in 1887, while the nearly final touches on the hotel’s new addition are being applied.
The original 1884 structure is to the left of scaffolding (in the photo at the top), rising here from the sidewalk beside Mill Street. Portland architect Donald MacKay shaped the building to fit this rare, for Seattle, flatiron-shaped block. At the top, and wrapping around the 1887 addition, is architect Otto Kleemer’s (also from
Portland) well-wrought mansard roof with its many windows. If I have counted correctly, there are seventeen of them. Frankly, the imposing ornamentation of this Second Empire architecture makes me ache for Paris. Or one might settle for a Francophile menu with choices written in French, as they were for customers of the hotel’s restaurant.
The Occidental’s dining room was located in an attached house, accessible from the street or from within the hotel. It is standing in the shadows behind the sun-lit power pole at the far right (of the featured photo at the top), on the southwest corner of Second Avenue and James Street. Historian Ron Edge, a frequent aid to this feature, recently found a printed copy of the 1887 Thanksgiving Day Menu for the Occidental. We’ve attached it here above. Included among its savory choices are Bellie of Salmon a la Hollandaise, Fillet de Boeuf a la Trianon, Petits Pois Francais. And for dessert the choices included Glace a la Vanilla, Tartelette Framboise and Lady fingers.
The booming of Seattle in the 1880s made both the building and enlargement of John Collins’ hotel nearly inevitable. Collins was an energetic Irishman who first arrived here in 1865. With these 1887 additions, the Occidental was rated, at least by locals, as “the largest and best equipped house north of San Francisco.” The hostelry’s
success was interrupted but not stopped, by the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. When the ruins of twisted cast iron, charred bricks, ash paneling and black walnut furniture were still smoldering, Collins started clearing the site preparing for a new hotel. He was then heard to famously enjoin, “Within a year we will have a city here that will surpass by far the town we had before the fire.”
Rushed to completion after the fire, the new Occidental filled the entire triangular block. With the prosperity of the gold rush beginning in 1897, Collins changed its name to the Seattle Hotel. And it was as the Seattle that this hotel was razed in 1961 for the parking garage that we have carpingly learned to refer to as “The Sinking Ship.” The maritime metaphor is more obvious from the garage’s other (west) end.
Anything to add, Paul? Agreed upon Jean. First Ron Edge with help from MOHAI Librarian Carolyn Marr, has melded together, directly below, a two-part panorama of Seattle from Elliott Bay in 1887 – or close to it. Central School at 6th Avenue and Madison Street stands out at the subject’s center on the horizon of what we may call First Hill’s false summit. The Hill’s highest elevation is several blocks behind the school and far to the right near James Street and Broadway. We may “remind” readers here that you and I are doing a lecture we have named “First Hill and Beyond” at Town Hall on the Friday evening of Oct. 3. We included the “beyond” in the title so that we could show some other hills as well. Perhaps your hill, dear reader. The sum of this summons is cheap – a mere $5. And everyone gets to also enjoy the unveiling of our “now and then” exhibit in the lobby. Jean, what will they see in the Town Hall exhibit?
Jean: (polishing his fingernails on the lapel of his smoking jacket) Wonders, Paul, they will see wonders! We two have spent much of the summer assembling and repeating quintessential images of First Hill, chosen with care and consideration. One major panoramic view has never before been seen in its entirety – what’s more, its “now” is a marvel as well. Come join us for an evening of fun and games, dear readers, and, of course, some historical exploration and detective work.
Click to enlarge. Click it twice.
Now following the grand panorama Ron has also put up a few links, which again feature features that hang about the neighborhood of Pioneer Square – with exceptions and, as we are wont to do, also with some repeats.
Since it is once more “nighty-bears” time, I will return with some more relevant parts in the early afternoon.
THINGS ADDED – SUNDAY AFTERNOON
Before Collins began building his landmark with the mansard roof in 1884, he bought out his partners in the original Occidental Hotel that held to the same site but not the same shape. The then still open space between James and Mill Streets (left and right, below) was often used for public meetings, sports and celebration. The best documented of these was the 1881 memorial service for President Garfield.
ANOTHER EDGE CLIPPING from 1878 (not 1887) and the MAP IT ANTICIPATES
8 LOOKS No. on OCCIDENTAL towards the OCCIDENTAL BLOCK
NORTH on FRONT from the top of the OCCIDENTAL, ca. 1884
RETURN TO THE RUINS
(click to enlarge photos)
The primary subject here is left-of-center, the four-story high sign for Alt Heidelberg Lager Beer painted on the south wall of the Ace Hotel, squeezed between Third Avenue South, seen here, and the Second Avenue Extension. The original negative for this subject is dated April 19, 1934, one year and twelve days after legal 3.2 beer (percentage of alcohol) began flowing from bottle to glass in twelve states, including Washington.
In the scramble among breweries to win the taste of newly liberated drinkers, Blatz Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, began shipping trainloads of its Alt Heidelberg into the hinterlands. Ornamented with a Gothic type style, the label spoke of the German brewing traditions (including facial scars from student duels). The Milwaukee marketers sometimes used the German “Alt” in place of the English “Old” to emphasize the venerable quality of its brew. However, with the lifting of prohibition, Heidelberg, like every other beer, was rushed through brewing with such speed that it was bottled nearly “green.”
The original 5×7 inch negative for this subject (at the top) is one of several hundred photographs made in the 1930s, mostly of billboards and a few murals like this one, that were installed by roadside billboard barons Foster and Kleiser. (Here follows four others from the neighborhood, the last of which looks across the Second Avenue Extension and west along Main Street on July 8, 1929, when the Extension was nearly new.)
Almost certainly the company photographer drove to the featured scene in the Straight 8 model 1930 Dodge (if I have pegged it right) that seems to be bearing down on him or her, but which is actually parked driverless in the southbound lane of Third Avenue, a few feet south of Main Street.
Above the Dodge and three blocks to the north, Third Avenue almost reaches the City County building, right-of-center, before turning left to follow the city’s grid through the central business district north of Yesler Way. North was the preferred direction for businesses to build and/or move even before the pioneer Frye family chose to stay in this most historic district and construct its namesake hotel on the south side of Yesler Way at Third Avenue in 1909. The big block letters of its neon signs top the scene.
Minutes before the photographer snapped this (the top) shot on an unseasonably warm spring day – it reached 79 degrees – the Young Men’s Republican Club met for lunch in the Frye. That evening the Paramount Theatre opened a mixed fare of film and six vaudeville acts. The Hollywood star Frederic March was featured on the screen in “Death Takes a Holiday,” which was followed by “Beauty, Boneless and Brainless,” an on-stage acrobatic performance. Also that Thursday, The Seattle Times printed under the header “Romance on Rocks,” some scandalous news about the daughter of the local celebrity Presbyterian preacher, the Rev. Mark Matthews. Gwladys, her name, who was then living in San Francisco and teaching French, had filed for divorce.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean and again with Ron Edge’s help. Here or below we have found five links with more features on the neighborhood’s heritage – for the most part. We have among these additions what may be a first: a feature that includes among its own extras the primary or lead photo for this week’s feature. Inevitably some weekend we will put up a feature that includes a feature that like this one includes a repeat of the lead photo of that Sunday’s first feature but then more, a link within it that repeats the same photograph for a third time. For this we offer no apology in advance, remembering mother’s advice – again and again – that “repetition is the mother of all learning.” How many times did she advise, “Don’t leave your wet bathing suit on the bus.”
STATION No. TEN
A 2-story headquarters for the Seattle Fire Department was constructed at the northwest corner of Third Avenue S. and Main Street in 1903, and so in line with today’s featured photo, had the station and its corner survived the 1928/29 extension of Second Avenue. The cutting was done in order to give Second a straight line to the train stations, which were most important then. In order below are three photographs of the fire station. The first is the earliest, before a top floor was added in 1912 – the third floor that can be found in both of the remaining photos of this trio. For the second record, a municipal photographer stands very near the prospect taken in 1934 by the Foster and Kleiser photographer. We date it from about 1911. The last of the three shows the fire station during the early preparations for the slicing work of the Extension as it cut through the neighborhood south of Yesler Way. Many of the diminished buildings were saved – in part. Not, however, the fire station.
A NIGHTY-BEARS APOLOGY
Some users of this blog may have noticed that on going to bed, aka Nighty-Bears, I make promises that I do not keep in the morning. This is not because I get up at noon. Rather I do not return to conclude the feature – as I certainly intended when blowing out the candle – because I am always distracted by other duties, ordinarily joyful ones like getting our next feature off to the Times. However, I will qualify. Tomorrow after a late breakfast I hope to add a few more photos that are relevant to this feature, but failing that I’ll bring them (and the other abused codas) up with an addendum later on. I do like addendums so, in part because it makes my high school Latin seem almost worth it. Until then, Nighty Bears.
RETURN TO CONTINUE SUNDAY AFTERNOON
SECOND AVENUE EXTENSION 1928-29
FORTSON SQUARE AKA PIGEON SQUARE
The feature below was scanned from “Seattle Now and Then, Vol. 2,” which is long out of print. It first appeared in Pacific on Sept. 23, 1984. The book printing include the “before and after” views – above – of the Second Ave. Extension with some explanation on the second page of the feature. (Click to Enlarge)
A soft-focus recording of a moment in the neighborhood – or near it up Main Street near 8th Avenue, and so in what is now Yesler Terrace. There is some focus in this snapshot but it is given to the distant landmarks like City Light’s station at 7th and Yesler – its ornate towers appear to the left of the right arm of the girl on top – and the crown of the King County Courthouse tower seen just left of the power pole, far right. Don’t miss the dog.
(click to enlarge photos)
This look west on Wallingford’s N. 34th Street was copied from an album of snapshots taken in 1906 and 1907. Most are of the Seattle Gas Company’s many early-century sites, including the building then of its new factory on the north shore of Lake Union, since 1975 our Gas Works Park. For this cityscape the unnamed photographer, almost certainly employed by the company, left its construction site beside the lake for a short climb north up what real estate agents sometimes referred to as the Wallingford Ridge, but more often the Wallingford district.
On the featured – at the top – snapshot’s border (here cut away), a helping hand has dated the subject April 27, 1907. North 34th Street was then called Ewing Street, and the photographer stands a few yards east of its intersection with Densmore Avenue. The neighborhood in the foreground is a roughed-up construction zone, as were most of the additions then north of the lake. The mill town Fremont was an exception. The mill opened in 1888, and so was almost old in 1907. Using the trolley tracks on the left as a pointer, Fremont’s smoking lumber mill is seen across the northwest corner of Lake Union.
Edgewater, a name rarely used or even remembered today, was Fremont’s suburb to the east. Far right – in the feature photo at the top – the distant structures seen climbing Phinney Ridge to the left and right of the outhouse and behind the blossoming fruit trees, are a blend of Edgewater and Fremont residences. At the beginning of 1907 most locals would have considered this intersection also part of Edgewater, although, because of the rails on the left, not for long.
By February trollies to and from downtown Seattle were swaying on these tracks and along this rutted road. Less than two blocks behind the photographer the tracks turned north up Wallingford Avenue, and thereafter nearly every agent who sold lots between Edgewater and the University District made a point of noting the conveniences offered by the Wallingford Car Line. It was for that gently climbing and, for the passengers, effortless trip up the spine of Wallingford Ridge that the neighborhood took its name. John Wallingford, the namesake developer, former city councilman, and Green Lake resident, was rarely remembered.
Anything to add, Paul?
I like your title for this Jean, “Wallingford Rising.” And I hope to now rise to your request and find some more photos, clips or features lying about. First, Ron Edge will put up three (only) links, which will however include within them other links, and most of these will have something to do with the neighborhood widely cast to include Wallingford and Fremont with the Edgewater valley (or slump) between them. Here’s Ron links. Click to open. Again, I hope to find more – beginning my search now at 7:35 pm Saturday the Sixth.
It is time once again to climb the stairs to Nighty Bears, which we always do also thinking of the world traveler Bill Burden, our California friend who first shared this chummy name for going to bed and who has recently moved to a country home beside the “gold rush river” of 1849, the American River. Nighty Bears to William too. For the record, tomorrow we intend to return with an illustrated feature on the Gasworks, another neighbor.
(click to enlarge photos)
Here (at the top) is print number 12,920, preserved in the library of the Museum of History and Industry’s collection of historical photographs. Like many of the archive’s early prints, this factory scene is mounted with a generous border to protect it from ‘dog ears’ and other indignities. On the border of the stiff board, with the identifying number, is printed the caption: “Exterior view of Seattle Steel Company shortly after it began operation in 1905.”
The rising smoke and steam of the featured photo on top confirm that the superheated work of transforming the industrial scraps, piled here on the south side of the factory, into useable steel is underway. Much of it was rolled and stretched into bars used to strengthen concrete, like that used in Seattle’s first skyscraper, the then but one-year-old Alaska Building, which stands, both elegant and sturdy, at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and James Street.
William Pigott, the factory’s founder, was variously described as a “devout Catholic” and “patriarchal capitalist.” As soon as Pigott announced his factory plans in 1903, the small neighborhood on the west side of Pigeon Point began to boom with mill workers moving into new but modest homes. Pigott first named it Humphrey after a town where he had earlier lived and worked with steel, but he soon changed the name to Youngstown, after another patriarchal company town with rolling mills in Ohio. Youngstown resisted
incorporation into its much larger neighbor to the west, West Seattle. When Seattle did annex it in 1907, the unincorporated company town came along, most likely for the better sewerage and water. By then Youngstown supported four saloons and a public school, the latter built by the mill. The community also kept its eye on the frequently flooding Longfellow Creek that flowed and too often overflowed through it into Young’s Cove.
Drawn “from plans only,” a captioned footprint of the factory was printed in the1904 Kroll Seattle real estate map. The map names, left to right, the Stock House, the Heating House (with the smokestacks), the Rolling Mill, and running east-to-west, several attached wings named collectively the Run-out Building and Warehouse. Beyond these the Kroll map notes, “Tide flats, being filled in.” These Young’s Cove tidelands between Pigeon Point, on the east, and West Seattle, on the west, would be reclaimed and covered by the expanding factory. Longfellow Creek is now carried to Elliott Bay via a culvert beneath the fill.
Many years ago I first featured Seattle Steel in the Pacific Northwest Magazine. Here’s a clip of it from the Sunday Times.
Pacific Northwest readers may recall the Pacific Magazine’s recent May 25th cover story on this factory. See it online at http://bit.ly/1y2SKBF. Or click on the next image below.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean, and some of it is inserted above your request – or will be – illustrating this week’s text itself. As for LINKS there is but one this week, and it reaches back merely a few weeks to the feature SPOKANE STREET from WEST SEATTLE. Ron Edge will put it up next. If explored, this single link will lead the dedicated reader to many more features – more than twenty of them – that relate to the neighborhood widely considered.
I found the prints below while doing research for a legal case years ago. It had to do with responsibilities following damage from the flooding of the Longfellow Creek across Andover Street and into the industrial park, lighted like the inferno and spreading harrowing noises, now run by Nucor Steel Seattle. The prints were all part of an exhibit, which, I figure, was shown at MOHAI, for it is, after all, a museum for both history and industry.