Given its generous prospect, we might have expected that Seattle’s earliest photographers would have made many climbs up Beacon Hill for recording panoramas of the city. If I have counted correctly, there were a mere half-dozen pans taken from the hill before the city’s Great Fire of 1889. Carlton Watkins, the itinerant California photographer best known for his early records of the Yosemite Valley, shot the earliest one in 1882. We featured it in this column a century later on October 3, 1982.
By comparison, local recorder George Moore made his first pan of the city aiming south from Denny Hill in 1872. That was thirteen years after E.A. Clark, almost certainly the city’s first resident with a camera, recorded the city’s first extant photograph, a daguerreotype of Sarah and Henry Yesler’s home at the northeast corner of James Street and Front Street (First Avenue).
This week we return to Beacon Hill’s desirable prospect with Theo E. Peiser’s 1884-85 pan of the city and its tideflats. Peiser’s pan shows four rail-supporting trestles heading across Plummer’s Bay to the Beacon Hill shoreline. The parallel quays on the left were new in 1884, and the space between them was soon filled with oversized warehouses. This was Puget Sound’s most prosperous trans-shipment harbor, “where rails meets sails.” This is Seattle, the “Seaport of Success,” and the booming beginning of its now 137 years as Washington State’s principal metropolis.
Seattle historian Kurt E. Armbruster is the most helpful unraveler of the sometimes snarl of Seattle’s railroading history. The Washington State University Press recently reprinted his book “Orphan Road”. We highly recommend it to PacificNW readers who especially want to research the “rails meet sails” part of our pioneer history. Our readers might also wish to consult my “Illustrated History of the Seattle Waterfront,” available for free use on our blog dorpatsherrardlomont, in which I often quote from Armbruster’s book.
Penned across the bottom-right corner of this week’s featured photo, is its location: Second and Spring Streets. The caption is easily confirmed by both landmarks and signs. For instance, the street name, ”Second,” is nailed to the power pole on the left. This view looks east up Spring Street from Second Avenue. (We have also posted below Jean’s “now” the flip-side of the featured subject,) which is kept in the Museum of History and Industry’s collection of historical photographs.)
Most historical photographs taken in the central business district record the relatively long avenues that run north and south along the western slope of First Hill. The streets climbing the hill are wonderfully revealed from Elliott Bay but not up close. With Seattle streets, pioneer photographers gave some interest to Mill Street (Yesler Way), Madison Street, and Pike Street. The others were given less regard.
The featured photograph’s look up and through the regrade upheaval on Spring Street includes small parts of structures that in their time were proudly considered landmarks. Also unsparingly revealed here, upper-right, is one big landmark: the Lincoln Hotel, Covered with white bricks and stone, it stood for twenty years at the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Madison Street. Opened in 1900, its inaugural name, the Knickenbacher, was later dropped for
reasons not explained in the boasting advertisements and press releases that described it as “Seattle’s first apartment hotel.” For the generally upscale tenants it came with a lavish pleasure garden on the roof. For its last tenants the Lincoln left with tragedy: a sudden fire that killed four including a father and daughter who jumped together from their sixth floor apartment to the alley.
We will use the hotel to find parts to three more landmarks. First Seattle’s central library, the largest of the Seattle libraries built with a Andrew Carnegie endowment. We can find most of its roofline, but not much else, to the left of the Lincoln. Like today’s library it faces west from the east side of Fourth Avenue, between Madison and Spring Street. The Carnegie library was dedicated on December 19, 1906, where that public guardian of the vox populi still stands two plants later. Its northwest corner shines near the center of Jean’s repeat.
The cross rising here (in the featured photo) seemingly from the roof of the library, topped Providence Hospital, another pioneer landmark. The construction began in 1882 on the east side of Fifth Avenue. Fifty-seven years later the site was fitted with the surviving Federal Court House.
With some help from the what remains of the Third Avenue Theatre at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Madison Street, we have pulled circa dates of late 1906 or early 1907 for the featured photograph. The barn-like rear of the theatre partially hides the west façade of the Lincoln Hotel. The regrade’s deep cuts at Third and Madison left the theatre’s front door stranded high above the new grade. Russel and Drew, the theatre’s managers explained in a caption to another photo of the threatened theatre that “The work (of razing the theatre) will be started at once, and in a few days a vacant lot will greet the eye where once stood one of the most popular and successful playhouses in all the West.”
This week PacificNW readers are asked to figure on their own the date of this Georgetown street scene, perhaps from the motorcars that are parked on it. Whatever the year, and I’m speculating ca. 1920, the spread of businesses in the three contiguous business blocks snugly grouped here on the west side of 12th Avenue South, south of Vale Street (on the far right) is downright inviting.
Starting at the sidewalk on the left, at the corner with S. Harney Street, are “Roma Imported,” mostly hiding behind the open delivery van, and a market of fresh produce sharing the first floor of the smallest of the three two-story buildings grouped here. One can imagine vegetables in the boxes shining through the plate glass window. Most likely there are a few rented apartments upstairs.
The bigger building at the center is “The Hamilton.” It is prominently and appropriately signed in relief with more bricks carefully set on its all-brick façade. We have learned from John Bennett, one of Georgetown’s contemporary freeholders, that it is actually a concrete box covered on the street side with a layer of decorative brick. More than a century of rains have seeped between the box and its covering, staining some of the latter. The construction date, 1907, has been artfully split to either side of the hotel’s name.
The structure’s three sidewalk shops are, left-to-right, first a shoe repair, neighbor next to the Working Man’s Store, which features both clothes and shoes. (Perhaps one could purchase both new and used shoes here, although we will note that this glass negative was recorded by the Webster and Stevens Photography Studio years before the Great Depression when used shoes were in greater demand.) The third of the merchants busy at the sidewalk is the White Front Restaurant. It is neatly signed on the window.
The Seattle Times for January 3, 1908, reports that “The Georgetown post office and the Georgetown pharmacy have been moved into new quarters in The Hamilton Building, a brick structure.” These are nearly the building’s first tenants for the Hamilton was then barely a year old. Also in 1908, The Hamilton welcomed as a tenant John Mueller, the manager of Georgetown’s new and huge Rainier Brewery. Mueller opened an office in The Hamilton for his mayoral campaign, which he easily won. The Times explained that George Brown, his opponent, “is not making an active fight.”
Marcus and Martha Hamilton and their family lived behind their namesake hotel and hall. They owned the block. Marcus served many mostly uncontroversial years as a King County Commissioner. When the first five floors of the City-County Building at 4th and Jefferson were dedicated on May 4, 1916, Marcus was the keynote speaker along with Hi Gill, Seattle’s exceedingly controversial mayor.
With its big room and high ceiling on the second floor, Hamilton Hall served a wealth of patrons for campaign rallies, dances, secret society meetings and such and such. Its rooftop sign radiates like the sunrises it faced over Beacon Hill between 1903, the year of its construction, and 1972, the year of its tear-down.
Anything to add, lads? Sure Jean, sometimes we aim to please. Other times we need to sneeze. It is one still step after another. Keep on trucking. Tragedy/Comedy. Here’s more from the neighborhood widely conceived
I first read Kit Bakke’s ‘Protest on Trial’ as a work-in-progress. The book’s publisher, Washington State University Press, shared a copy of the manuscript with me for comment, and as I read through it I increasingly responded with recommendations. This week’s edited excerpt of the book’s brilliant late chapter on courtroom mayhem should, I hope, inspire many PacificNW readers to read it all.
Doyal Gudgel Sr. snapped the two “more” historical photographs printed here in 1970 at the front door of the Federal Court House, directly across Fifth Avenue from the Seattle Public Library. The oldest one, with the phalanx of helmeted Seattle police guarding the courthouse’s broken front door, was photographed on Feb. 17, 1970. That was TDA or “The Day After”, a one Winter day of protest. (Again, I’m confident that readers will be enlivened to learn more about the TDA and the many political shenanigans surrounding it by reading the book.) Besides smashing the front door, angrier TDA protesters also threw paint, and some of it can be seen in long drippings above the front door.
It seems (at least) that in the second Gudgel snapshot (at the top) the running paint survives as a smear above the same door on April 17, 1970 when it was time for another organized protest. (Read the book, OK?) As a “stringer” providing both still shots like these and 16mm film for media clients and law enforcement investigations, Gudgel responded to opportunities he first discovered on the police radio reports he listened to while tending his store, Burien Radio and Television.
The photographer most likely arrived somewhat late for the April recording at the Courthouse. The day started with a protest march in morning rain, while here the afternoon sun casts long afternoon shadows. To these eyes Gudgel’s April recording resembles a designed tableau. The man on the far left seems to be drawn, at least in profile, from a central casting for tough investigators.
The sunlit April photograph is aiming at one of the Seattle Seven: Jeffrey Alan Dowd, who at 20-years-old carried a mop of curly hair above a still cherubic face. Now decades later Dowd, living in Southern California, is better known as “The Dude” an eccentric pop creation from Hollywood. Here the pre-dude Dowd is cradled by admirers of his political courage, some of them showing fists and one of them slim arms reaching, it seems, in reverence.
Anything to add, troublemakers? Yes Jean we will stir a few more column inches below with more features.
Pioneer photographs of any Seattle street other than Mill Street (Yesler Way), Commercial Street (First Ave. S.), and Front Street (First Ave. north of Mill Street) are rare. Here are two exceptions. Both are on Second Avenue and both were recorded from the same prospect – within inches of one another.
In the 1880s pioneer photographers Theodore E. Peiser and David Judkins set up studios a block apart on the west side of Second Avenue. They were competitors and almost certainly did not plan this propinquity. Peiser’s studio was on the second lot south of Marion Street and Judkins’ on the southwest corner with Columbia Street. The two professionals photographed parades of different sorts near their studios on Second Avenue, and only about six weeks apart.
I am long familiar with Peiser’s May 13, 1886 record of parading members of the secret society Knights of Pythias pausing for his professional snap. As a pioneer classic it has appeared often in publications and exhibits. We used it for its own “now and then” in PacificNW on January 17, 1999. (see above) Judkin’s photo, (2nd from the top) however, I had never seen before last week. I was thrilled.
The alert Ron Edge discovered it while helping the Museum of History and Industry scan some of its oldest prints. The print of Judkins’ line-up of primary school children – about 200 of them on the east side of Second Avenue filling the block between Columbia and Marion Streets, and more – is dated June 23, 1886.
Handwriting on the back makes a claim for Emma Blocksom. It is her “school picture” and Emma is probably one of the posing 200 or so. The Blocksoms are listed once in the 1886 city directory, below, living on Washington Street. The promising family lead stops there. (And for us, now, as well.)
Seattle opened Central School in 1883 four blocks up First Hill from here. Central School was big enough to handle as many scholars, and more, as those lined up. Perhaps this late June day is the last before summer vacation for these students, and taking one school picture is certainly more efficient than several. (In 1886 Seattle’s population of school-age citizens between four and twenty-one years old was 2,591.)
What is not explained for either of these pros is how did they lift or carry their heavy cameras so high above the boardwalk? Here I am again thankful for help from Ron Edge. In the MOHAI collection off older prints, Ron found an 1887 panoramic look from Denny Hill that includes an unobstructed sighting down Second Avenue. While it is soft on focus, it still shows many of the landmarks included here. Most importantly, the leafy tree near the northwest corner of Second and Columbia, on the left in both of the featured photos, is standing in the panorama, a welcomed help for our ‘hide-and-seek’ after the photographer’s prospect. About a third-of-a-block south of Columbia Street a two-story residence stands at the curb and over the sidewalk that uniquely runs below it. The residence, we suspect, was constructed before Second Avenue was developed from a path into a street. Most likely both photographers were invited by this neighbor to shoot their parades from the this second floor veranda.
When classes first began Sept. 4, 1895, on the University of Washington’s new Interlaken campus, the students were greeted by the school bell, carried from the old campus to the new, but hanging in the Denny Hall belfry. Denny Hall is out-of-frame up the paved path that runs through the columns to the right. The bell soon became annoyingly familiar after sunrise when the bell ringer took, it seemed, cruel pleasures in waking not only students but also the citizens of Brooklyn. (Brooklyn was the University District’s first popular name.) If the weather were right, the bell could be heard in Renton.
The twenty-foot tall hand-carved columns were examples of the Greek Ionic order. Inevitably, perhaps, they also became iconic, and for some the University’s most representative symbol. Each weighing about one-thousand pounds, they were originally grouped along the façade of the school’s first structure on the original 1861 campus, near what is long since the northeast corner of Seneca
Street and Fourth Avenue. When the classic quartet was detached and moved to the new campus, student preservation activists continued to hope that the entire building would follow them to be reunited in time for the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. It was not to be. Instead, selected remains of the University’s first home were carved into commemorative canes. The four surviving columns were consigned to this position in the then still future Quad. They were named, “Loyalty”, “Industry”, “Faith”, and “Efficiency.” Neither Jean nor I know which is which.
In 1915 the school’s Board of Regents embraced architect Carl F. Gould’s “Revised General Plan of the University of Washington,” which included the Quad and prescribed that the architectural style to be used in its several buildings should be Collegiate Gothic. Commerce Hall, the brick and tile example on the right of the featured photo at the top, was completed in 1917. Work on Philosophy Hall, on the left, was delayed by the material needs of the First World War, and completed late in the fall of 1920. By 1972 the names of both halls were changed to Savery, in honor of William Savery, the head of the University’s Department of Philosophy for more than forty years.
With the completion of Commerce and Philosophy Halls, the quartet of columns was moved in 1921 to the Sylvan Theatre, which had been prepared for them. The Seattle Times noted that “It was the first time that the traditional pillars have been tampered with without some sort of ceremony.” Since then the “ancient pillars” have witnessed a good share of pomp and circumstance during school’s graduation exercises.
As per your request, Paul, I’ll toss in a few just for fun: They make us better Jean.
Four weeks ago, Jean Sherrard stood at what is known as the front door to the Pike Place Market, the intersection of First Avenue and Pike Street. Hoisting a pole that extended as tall as the base of the market’s clock, he pointed his heavy Nikon eastward, up the center of Pike Street. From a similar perch about 88 years earlier, a Webster and Stevens Studio photographer also looked east on Pike and recorded this week’s “then.” We are dating this photo as circa 1931, based not on the automotive license plates, which are hard to read, but rather the five-story construction under way for the J.C. Penney department store at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street, here right-of-center and still without windows.
Later branded as JCPenney but known by one and all as Penney’s, the store opened Thursday, Aug. 13, 1931. In contrast to the uncertainties and outright failures of the Great Depression, Penney’s placed an advertisement in this daily five days later claiming that a “staggering” and “conservative” estimate of 125,000 had visited since the store’s opening. Some were “curious,” others “skeptical,” but many left with “arms loaded, satisfied that regardless of business conditions, people will buy when prices are right.”
Ten years later, Seattle traded financial troubles for the anxieties and orders of World War II. By then, the Hahn family had been associated with the intersection of First and Pike for more than 60 years. Robert Ernest Hahn, a German immigrant from Saxony, arrived in Seattle in the late 1860s and soon purchased the southeast corner when First Avenue (then named Front Street) and Pike Street were mere paths. Their neighbors included Seattle pioneers Arthur and Mary Denny and the lesser-known C. B. Shattuck.
Shattuck managed the Seattle Coal and Transportation Company that from 1871 to 1878 moved coal from their mine at Newcastle by a route that required both barges on the lakes and trains including one that crossed back-and-forth through this intersection from the company’s bunkers and wharf at the foot of Pike Street to their wharf at the south end of Lake Union. We imagine that Hahn chose not to get soiled by working for his neighbor. Instead, he thrived as a painter and interior decorator, continuing to buy property and, with his wife, Amelia, raise a family of five children including Ernie who gained some local celebrity as a sportsman. A Salmon Derby trophy was named for him.
By the time of Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889, the Hahn corner was a popular summer retreat from the heat with a beer garden, which real-estate maps indicate was approached from Pike Street. In 1909, the Hahns completed what survives as First and Pike’s southeast corner post, the three-story brick Hahn Building, also long known as the Elliott Hotel and seen above in our “now” as the Green Tortoise Hostel. The recent proposal that it be razed for a high-rise is rousing the market’s many friends to protect this “humble hundred-year old guardian structure” from the wages of plastic and glass.
Anything to add, lads? Another mix from the neighborhood considered, which also reveals our love for it.
This week I wish to lead with Jean Sherrard’s “now.” It is a noon-hour streetscape graced by a morning downpour. The clean puddle on Yesler Way reflects the dappled clouds that fringe the 40-plus story Smith Tower, which is mirrored in this small flood nearly as brilliantly as the landmark’s terra-cotta tiles shine in the noon-hour sky. Sunlight escaping across Yesler Way from the alley between First Avenue and Occidental Street draws a warm path through the scene’s center.
The featured “then” at the top we have picked to ponder with Jean’s now is not “on spot.” Rather, it was recorded a half-block west on Yesler Way. I chose this “then” for a list of reasons, including repeat photography. At the photograph’s center stand two of the landmarks that Seattle rapidly raised in 1883-84, early boom years for the growing town that in 1881 first took the prize for numbered citizens in Washington Territory. This developing strip of Victorian landmarks on Mill Street (Yesler Way) continues south from this intersection on Commercial Street (First Ave. S.) and especially north on Front Street (First Ave.) (If you wish to explore the blog dorpatsherrardlomont you will find many opportunities to keyword-explore all with the help of past now-and-then features and books compiled from them.)
This look into Pioneer Square, or Pioneer Place as it was first named, shows the photographer W.F. Boyd’s stamp on its flip side. Boyd arrived in Seattle not long before he recorded this view. Beside his centered stamp there are additional messages written by other hands on the back, including “Photo taken day before fire,” meaning the Great Fire of June 6 1889. But it cannot be. Instead we have chosen to date this circa 1887, largely on a lead from Ron Edge, who pointed out the work-in-progress extending the Occidental Hotel (with the flagpole and mansard roof) to fill the entire flatiron block bordered by Mill Street, James Street and Second Avenue.
Another grand construction stands center-left: the Yesler-Leary Building, with its showplace tower topped by a weather vane, at the northwest corner of Front and Mill Streets. One of our “other reasons” for picking this “then” on Mill Street is the brick building in the shadows on the scene’s far right. We ask readers smarter than we to name this three-story pre-fire landmark. [Soon after we made this request, Ron Edge, a frequent contributor to this blog, came forward – or up – with the answer. Continue on for both his correct identification and his evidence.]
While I have never seen any face-on photograph of this south side of Mill Street, west of First Ave., it does appear in a Seattle1884 birdseye map and in that year’s Sanborn map as well. But neither of these early sources give it a name or address. Perhaps it is the Villard House*, listed in the 1884 city directory at 15 Mill Street and “near the Steamboat Wharf,” aka Yesler’s Wharf. C.S. Plough, the proprietor, dauntlessly advertised it with a mondo boast, “The Villard is the best and cheapest hotel in the city.”
RON EDGE’S 11TH HOUR DISCOVERY: NOPE – NOT THE VILLARD HOUSE, BUT RATHER THE SCHWABACHER BUILDING.
JEAN ASKS – ANYTHING TO ADD LADS.
Anything to add, lads? Beyond what is revealed just above, Ron Edge’s 11th hour identification of the three-story brick building on the far of the week’s feature, we have more of our weekly same, which is more past feature’s from the neighborhood.