Seattle Now & Then: The Times’ Automatic Football Player, circa 1925

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: From the Hotel Rainbow at the northwest corner of Steward Street and Fifth Avenue, a Times photographer records a crowd of Husky fans following their team on The Times Automatic Football Player during the team’s visit – most likely in 1925 – to Berkeley, California for a game with the league-leading Bears. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: The Times Building, far right, and the Times Square Garage, far left, survive, as does the landmark Medical Dental Building, right-of-center, and its contiguous neighbor to the south, the five floor northwest corner of what was built in 1916-1919 as the Frederick and Nelson Department Store.

With a longing for television, a medium they did not yet know, or a train ticket to California, the thousands of Husky fans squeezed here within the limits of Seattle’s Times Square, settled instead for the The Times Automatic Football Player.  Displayed to the masses from a hut attached to the northeast corner of the Times Building, the Player was a creation of this newspaper’s Sports Section.  It showed the vital statistics of a game on a gridiron – somehow. Variations of the player were also used for baseball, prizefights and elections.

This photo is dated 1927.  ;Note that construction on he Orpheum Theatre on the right is nearly completed.   The Automatic Football Player is holding to the Times building on the left.

On the far-right of this week’s featured Webster and Stevens Studio photograph (at the top), you can see a cross-section of the Player’s “projection booth” (we will call it) attached to the elegant terra-cotta tiles of The Times Building,  The year is either1923 or 1925. We are not yet sure.  Both the candidate games were with the California Bears, and played on the University of California’s Berkeley campus.  The Seattle Times for November 16, 1923 promised with a banner headline across the paper’s front page that witnessing the “big game reproduced play by play on the Times Automatic Football Player” would be “the next best thing to going to Berkeley.”

For the November 14, 1925 game with the Bears, The Times estimated that “an estimated 80,000 Seattle fans crowded to listen as the key plays were shouted from an upper window of the Seattle Times Building.”  With this report the newspaper also provided a photograph of “a young woman using a megaphone to describe the game to the Seattle fans.”  That doesn’t seem so “automatic.”  The detail of a panorama of Times Square under the crush of Husky fans seems similar enough to the pan featured here that we will now choose 1925 with something resembling confidence.   (Just now in media res our dancing diplomatic advisor Gavin MacDougal advises us, “Further evidence that today’s ‘then’ is from 1925, not 1923, would be in this column:  Nov. 20, 2010.   There the first line says that the Medical Dental Building (which dominates the “then”) was completed in 1925.)

Cliff Harrison, the Sports Page Editor, did not see the game from a newspaper window, but rather from the Bear’s stadium. When the Huskies won Harrison was more than excited.  He concluded his report, “Tears roll down my check, but I can’t help it.” In the next day Sunday Times Harrison rejoiced, “The Golden Bear is no longer the champion of the West, the uncrowned king of football.  On top of the world tonight sits a silver-tipped husky, the grandest of all dog kind, the symbol of a football leadership for the University of Washington, which today defeated California 7 to 0.”  The editor played with the purple part of the team’s colors.  “They are supreme in the West, great, big-hearted strong-muscled men of the Northwest, men who broke the heart of what was once the champion, men who knew no defeat, who knew no fear as a great hostile crowd booed them for deeds they never did.”  The Times recommended that it would soon be time for Eastern Teams – like Dartmouth and Harvard – to “BOW DOWN TO WASHINGTON.”

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?

THEN: While visiting Seattle for some promoting, silent film star Wallace Reid shares the sidewalk at 4th and Olive with a borrowed Stutz Bearcat. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Thanks to Pacific reader John Thomas for sharing this photograph recorded by his father in 1927. It looks north across Times Square to the almost completed Orpheum Theatre. Fifth Avenue is on the left, and Westlake on the right.

THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill. Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner. (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

THEN: This rare early record of the Fourth and Pike intersection was first found by Robert McDonald, both a state senator and history buff with a special interest in historical photography. He then donated this photograph - with the rest of his collection - to the Museum of History and Industry, whom we thank for its use. (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: Looking west on Pike Street from Fourth Avenue, the variety in the first block of this retail district includes the Rhodes Bros. Ten Cent Store, Mendenhall’s Kodaks, Fountain Pens and Photo Supplies, Remick’s Song and Gift Shop, the Lotus Confectionary, Fahey-Brockman’s Clothiers, where, one may “buy upstairs and save $10.00”. (Courtesy, MOHAI)

THEN: The row house at the southwest corner of 6th Avenue and Pine Street in its last months, ca. 1922-23. (Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Looking east on Pike Street from Fifth Avenue early in the twentieth century. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

5th-ave-car-barns-then-mr

THEN: We are not told but perhaps it is Dora and Otto Ranke and their four children posing with their home at 5th and Pike for the pioneer photographer Theo. E. Peiser ca. 1884. In the haze behind them looms Denny Hill. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: Thanks again and again to Lawton Gowey for another contribution to this feature, this ca. 1917 look into a fresh Denny Regrade and nearly new “office-factory” at 1921 Fifth Avenue. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey.)

Great railroad signs, theatre signs and ranks of neon were still the greatest contributors to night light at 4th and Westlake in 1949. (Photo by Robert Bradley compliment of Lawton and Jean Gowey)

THEN: With her or his back to the Medical-Dental Building an unidentified photographer took this look northeast through the intersection of 6th and Olive Way about five years after the Olive Way Garage first opened in 1925. (Courtesy, Mark Ambler)

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Events in Tukwila, Magnolia, Ballard, Renton, Bothell — plus: Paul on Channel 9 in 1982!

Paul and Jean present Dec. 3, 2018, at Ivar’s Salmon House.

Still looking for that perfect holiday gift for someone who loves Seattle?

Join us for one of Paul Dorpat‘s and Jean Sherrard‘s illustrated talks about their new book, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred!

Besides the big October 28 launch on Paul’s 80th birthday, 17 events have taken place, and five more are on tap this coming week:

… and Paul and Jean provide personal inscriptions.

Click here to see all nine remaining events through mid-December. The events are free, and you have the opportunity to purchase the book and have it personally inscribed by Paul and Jean.

The media

In recent weeks, the book has garnered great media attention from:

Alaska Beyond, the magazine of Alaska Airlines

Page 165 of the December 2018 edition of Alaska Beyond, the magazine of Alaska Airlines

To see all the print and broadcast media coverage of the book, click here.

And a bonus!

Thanks to the generosity of veteran Seattle cinematographer and editor Tom Speer, we can see a five-minute segment aired on KCTS-TV in 1982, the same year Paul embarked on his “Now and Then” column for The Seattle Times:

Here is a five-minute segment aired on KCTS-TV in 1982. It was unearthed by veteran cinematographer and editor Tom Speer. Thanks, Tom!

The blurbs

A total of 25 Seattle notables have weighed in on Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred. Here are two samples:

———

Knute Berger

Paul Dorpat’s and Jean Sherrard’s Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred is a brilliant, time-traveling, stereoscopic view of Seattle. It is no work of simple nostalgia — it contrasts past and present through historic images and deep research that put you in Seattle of old alongside Sherrard’s superb new photography rooted in the colorful present. It shows the city as a continuum, provides context and records change. It should thrill Seattle-loving NIMBYs and YIMBYs alike, no mean achievement!

Knute Berger, Seattle author, Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes on Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps and the Myth of Seattle Nice

———

Fran Bigelow

Paul and Jean have created a real treasure for all of us who love Seattle. Much more than a beautiful art book, this is a fascinating history of how Seattle has changed, and it arrives at the perfect moment when Seattleites are focused on that subject. This book entertains and answers questions, but it also makes us think about the future of our precious city.

Fran Bigelow,
Seattle chocolatier

———

For the rest of the blurbs, check out our blurbs page.

How to order

Eager to place your order? It’s easy. Just visit our “How to order” page. You can even specify how you want Paul and Jean to personalize your copy. Mailed orders will reach mailboxes in about a week, in time for holiday gift giving.

As Jean looks on, Paul signs a book for Nancy Guppy of The Seattle Channel’s “Art Zone.”

Thanks!

Big thanks to everyone who has helped make this book a successful tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns for nearly 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

A Rogue’s Christmas, 2018

Please join Paul and me for our 12th annual gathering of the rogues! Also in the mix are Kurt Beattie, Julie Briskman, Bill Radke, and our house band Pineola!

A slight change up this year: we’re asking our audience for stories of mishap, mayhem, and mistletoe mischief. Please submit your holiday tales of woe – 500 words or less – for consideration. If selected, it will be performed live at the show by Bill Radke or Julie Briskman, and later be aired on the KUOW ‘Speaker’s Forum’ Christmas edition! Submit your stories to holidaydisasters@townhallseattle.org.

A Rogue’s Christmas 2018

Seattle Now & Then: Northgate Mall, 1950

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking north on Northgate’s “Miracle Mile” in 1950 the year the Mall first opened. Courtesy: Museum of History and Industry
NOW: The open avenue between Northgate’s first retailers was partially covered with “skyshields” in 1962, and fully enclosed in the 1970s.

Perhaps the date, May 16, 1950, scribbled on the unsigned note accompanying this early portrait of Northgate’s “Miracle Mile”, may be slightly off.  The view looks north from the center of Seattle’s first shopping mall during its, it seems. late work-in-progress.  On the far left a temporary footprint map of the center is propped up to face east across the center’s ‘Main Street’ to the Bon Marche, largest and most polished of the malls structures.   Built for three million dollars, the Bon was the new shopping center’s ‘anchor’ retailer. Most of the Mall’s lesser, but still large, parts kept to Quonsets, one of World War 2’s architectural preferences. Pre-fabricated Quonsets that could be easily assembled as pre-fabricated huts or expanded to the size of warehouses like the future Nordstrom Shoes, here on the left.  Northgate’s superlative Bon was never a Quonset.

Historylink, Washington State’s non-profit webpage encyclopedia of our state’s history, has the retail magnet opening on April 21, nearly a month before the photograph’s date claim.  “Designed by John Graham Jr., Northgate was the country’s first regional shopping center to be defined as a mall.”  The opening was shown on KING TV, then on the air for less than a year.  A Cadillac was given as a prize.  Some of the stores startled their shoppers with electric-eye doors.  A Christmas tree of world’s record size – it was claimed –  was raised above this Bon-fronting part of the mall.  It’s 212 feet were featured in Life Magazine.  The tree was captured with both day and night recordings for the Ellis studio’s state-wide distribution of “real photo” postcards. Ellis’s other Northgate Christmas card was captioned “World Largest Santa Claus – North Gate Shopping Center – Seattle Washington.” This Santa’s glorification does not seem to have been so truthful as that of the tree. Ron Edge, a frequent aid to this feature’s repeating, remembers, “Kids are still probably having nightmares from Northgate’s oversized Santa. With its menacing eyes it looked like a maniac.”

The Seattle Times for February 22, 1948 first reported that the “curtain of secrecy which has enveloped the mammoth project was pulled aside” revealing “the biggest suburban development of its type in the U.S.”   The term “mall” was most often used for the north-and-south center-line of the development.  In the early 1980s when I first began delivering freshly published now-then books to Seattle bookstores, I was thrilled to learn that running below the mall – the north-south center line of the by then lavish development – was an austere tunnel designed for speedy deliveries to Northgate’s many retailers, which then still included both chain and independent book stores.

From its start in 1950 Northgate showed an often wild popularity that stuffed its surrounding parking lots with thousands of visitors. It was a retail flood that would soon pain the established shops in the University District, Northgate’s competing retail neighborhood to the south.   Northgate’s many remodels created a covered and heated expanse of attractions. Besides the shoppers its comforts were used by seniors for winter walks, and exploring groups of teenagers practicing consumer – and human – development.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, shoppers?

THEN: Before it became a city park, Licton Springs was run as a health spa. The distant home, left-of-center, at the northeast corner of N. 97th Street and Densmore Avenue N., survives in Jean Sherrard’s repeat. It can be found on the left above the Y in the Licton Springs Park pathway. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

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Events! Saturday on Mercer Island, Monday at Ivar’s Salmon House, Wednesday at Wooden Boats, Thursday at MOHAI

Jean cracks up at an observation by Paul on Nov. 25, 2018, at a book event at the Fremont Library, sponsored by the Fremont and Queen Anne historical societies

… And the events just keep on coming!

Join us for one of Paul Dorpat‘s and Jean Sherrard‘s illustrated talks about their new book, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred!

So far, besides the big October 28 launch on Paul’s 80th birthday, 13 events have taken place, and five more are on tap this coming week:

Paul points out an audience member who attended the 1968 Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair, which Paul organized, during a book event on Nov. 27, 2018, at Horizon House. Jean (standing) and Clay Eals, the book’s editor, look on.

Click here to see all nine remaining events through mid-December. The events are free, and you have the opportunity to purchase the book and have it personally inscribed by Paul and Jean.

The media

In recent weeks, the book has garnered great media attention from:

Westside Seattle, “Seattle Time Travelers” column by Jean Godden

The launch of Seattle Now & Then, a new film by Berangere Lomont

KOMO-TV, “Eric’s Heroes,” with Eric Johnson

The Seattle Channel “Art Zone” with Nancy Guppy

Nancy Guppy of Art Zone on The Seattle Channel interviews Paul and Jean.

To see all the print and broadcast media coverage of the book, click here.

The blurbs

A total of 25 Seattle notables have weighed in on Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred. Here are two samples:

Marcellus Turner

Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard have published a selection of the best of their “Now and Then” columns from The Seattle Times written over several decades. These columns reveal, explore and share Seattle local history by paralleling vintage photographs from previous years with photographs and commentary on these same spaces and places today. In so doing, Dorpat and Sherrard are able to focus on recurring issues and complex ideas that have shaped our city. Their creation of a People’s History of the region has made our past and how we look at the present and design the future much more accessible to scholars, historians and people interested in Seattle “Now and Then.”

Marcellus Turner, Seattle city librarian

———

Lane Morgan

The best thing about writing Seattle: A Pictorial History with my dad back in 1982 was meeting Paul Dorpat. He and Murray were kindred spirits, delighting in the oddities and ironies of the city’s past and present and, in their overlapping ways, telling its story. Paul is a treasure, and this book is a fitting sampling and tribute to his work.

Lane Morgan, Seattle author, Greetings from Washington,
co-author, Seattle: A Pictorial History,
editor, The Northwest Experience anthologies

———

For the rest of the blurbs, check out our blurbs page.

How to order

Eager to place your order? It’s easy. Just visit our “How to order” page. You can even specify how you want Paul and Jean to personalize your copy. Orders will be mailed starting next Monday and will reach mailboxes about a week later, well in time for holiday gift giving.

As Jean looks on, Paul signs a book for Nancy Guppy of The Seattle Channel’s “Art Zone.”

Thanks!

Big thanks to everyone who has helped make this book a successful tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns for nearly 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

Seattle Now & Then: Occidental Avenue, ca 1920

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: From mid-block between Washington Street and Yesler Way, looking north on Occidental Avenue to the south façade of the Seattle Hotel. Courtesy, The Museum of History and Industry
NOW: Jean Sherrard and I have embraced this opportunity to also feature Parisian photographer Berangere Lomont in the contemporary repeat. I have known “BB” since the 1970s when she first visited Seattle. Jean used Berangere’s contributions both inside and on the back cover or our new book, Seattle Now and Then, The Historic Hundred. Many thanks to and for BB.

There’s some arterial tension in this “then.”  Is the open and yet covered pick-up van on Occidental Avenue pausing with a full stop or advancing toward Yesler Way?  Is the driver trying to encourage the clutter of pedestrians to “move it” onto the Seattle Tacoma Interurban cars parked at their Seattle terminus?

LOOKING south thru the same block on Occidental between Yesler Way (behind the photographer) and Washington Street.

This is nearly the center of Seattle’s skid road district.  It was a manly neighborhood and here in the fetured photo at the top it seems that it is all men who are boarding the parked common carriers about to head for Tacoma or some suburban stop on the way.

A Skid Road labor protest on Octobert 6, 1930. The view looks northwest thru the intersection of Wasington Streete and Occidental Avenue.
Later – “Sixty’s” demo in Occidental Park.

Skid Road was originally named for the greased logs that were laid to shoot timber off First Hill to Seattle’s waterfront mills. There survives remarkably – or distressingly – little pioneer evidence on where Seattle’s first skid road was constructed.  A convivial scholars’ debate endures between those choosing Washington Street and the more popular Mill Street, aka Yesler Way.  Whichever, the sliding log delivery most likely came close to crossing over this part of Occidental, a popular name for European immigrants who immigrated west to America from somewhere between Moscow and

Hand-colored and in repose, here’s an early catch of Occidental – from the late 70s or so – looking north from near King Street.

Galway. Originating at Yesler Way, Occidental Street ran south into the then not yet reclaimed tidelands beyond King Street. By the time this busy street scene was shot, the neighborhood was long free of its slippery salmon oil and log deliveries.  (Again, we confess to not knowing the date for the featured snapshot from the circa 1920s,)

Members of the Communist Party demonstrate for a Six-Hour Day. The view looks northwest from Occidental.

Many Asian merchants serviced the Skid Road district.  Seattle’s first Chinatown was just around the corner, east on Washington Street.  There were loan shops, barbers, oyster bars, and plenty of bar-bars where a free lunch might come with whatever drink one ordered – usually beer – and many of them.  Here professional bar bands competed for audio space and “keep the faith” souls with parading ensembles of Salvation Army brass players and drummers.  Adding to the percussion, the corner to the left rear (southwest) of the photographer was Seattle’s “Hyde Park” platform for protest, polemics and the occasional police riot.

Besides the Interurban cars, this cityscape is limited to two pioneer landmarks. The one that obviously survived on the right side of Jean Sherrard’s repeat, is the Interurban Building, the 1892 creation of the English-born architect John Parkinson who arrived fortuitously in Seattle six months before its Great Fire of June 6, 1889.  This red brick and sandstone Romanesque landmark was built for the Seattle National Bank, but after the Interurban’s completion from Tacoma to Seattle in 1901-02 it became the ticket office and waiting room for the Puget Sound Interurban Railway.

The Seattle Hotel facing south on Occidental from the north side of Yesler Way on February 7, 1961, recorded by Lawton Gowey. (Whom we hope to ever remember and thank.) 
Gowey returns on February 20, 1967.

The wide façade facing south to Occidental Ave. from across Yesler Way is, of course, the still-mourned Seattle Hotel.  Like Parkinson’s bank it too was built soon after the city’s great fire of 1889. Seventy years later it was lost to the modern urges that preluded the Seattle Century 21 World’s Fair.  By comparison the strikingly puny “Sinking Ship Garage”, that replaced, it survives.

Lawton returns again on November 14, 1972,

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, mes amis?   Weee

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GOOD MORNING to RON EDGE

 

Previous features of interest:

THEN: Seen here in 1887 through the intersection of Second Avenue and Yesler Way, the Occidental Hotel was then easily the most distinguished in Seattle.  (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: The Lebanon aka Jesse George building at Occidental and Main opened with the Occidental Hotel in 1891.  Subsequently the hotel’s name was changed first to the Touraine and then to the Tourist.  The tower could be seen easily from the railroad stations.   It kept the name Tourist until replaced in 1960 with a parking lot.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN:  In Lawton Gowey’s 1961 pairing, the Smith Tower (1914) was the tallest building in Seattle, and the Pioneer Square landmark Seattle Hotel (1890) had lost most of its top floor.  (by Lawton Gowey)

gn-depot-e-on-king-blog

THEN: In the older scene daring steel workers pose atop construction towers during the 1910 building of the Union Depot that faces Jackson Street.

THEN: At Warshal's Workingman's Store a railroad conductor, for instance, could buy his uniform, get a loan, and/or hock his watch. Neighbors in 1946 included the Apollo Cafe, the Double Header Beer Parlor, and the Circle Theatre, all on Second Avenue.

THEN: With the clue of the ornate Pergola on the right, we may readily figure that we are in Pioneer Square looking south across Yesler Way.

Then: The Pacific House, behind the line-up of white-gloved soldiers, might have survived well into the 20th Century were it not destroyed during Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889. Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry

THEN: 1934 was one of the worst years of the Great Depression.  This look north on Third Avenue South through Main Street and the Second Avenue South Extension was recorded on Thursday, April 19th of that year.  Business was generally dire, but especially here in this neighborhood south of Yesler Way where there were many storefront vacancies.  (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: This view looking east from First Avenue South on Jackson Street in 1904, is still four years short of the Jackson Street Regrade during which the distant horizon line near 9th Avenue was lowered by more than 70 feet. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: The Phoenix Hotel on Second Avenue, for the most part to the left of the darker power pole, and the Chin Gee Hee Building, behind it and facing Washington Street to the right, were both built quickly after Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. (Courtesy: Museum of History and Industry.)

 

Events! this Sunday in Fremont, Tuesday at Horizon House, Thursday at Third Place Books

In the Good Shepherd Center Chapel on Nov. 18, 2018, Paul and Jean discuss a photo of the 1932 opening of the Aurora Bridge, an image from “Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred.” The event, sponsored by Historic Seattle and Historic Wallingford, drew 150 people.

Join us for one of Paul Dorpat‘s and Jean Sherrard‘s illustrated talks about their new book, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred!

So far, besides the big October 28 launch on Paul’s 80th birthday, 10 events have taken place, and three more are coming up this post-Thanksgiving week:

Paul and Jean (left) sign books November 18, 2018, at Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.

Click here to see all 11 remaining events through mid-December. The events are free, and you have the opportunity for one-on-one conversation afterward with Paul and Jean.

The media

In recent weeks, the book has garnered great media attention from:

Westside Seattle, “Seattle Time Travelers” column by Jean Godden

Jean Godden’s column in Westside Seattle

The launch of Seattle Now & Then, a new film by Berangere Lomont

KOMO-TV, “Eric’s Heroes,” with Eric Johnson

To see all the print and broadcast media coverage of the book, click here.

The blurbs

A total of 25 Seattle notables have weighed in on Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred. Here are two samples:

Fran Bigelow

Paul and Jean have created a real treasure for all of us who love Seattle. Much more than a beautiful art book, this is a fascinating history of how Seattle has changed, and it arrives at the perfect moment when Seattleites are focused on that subject. This book entertains and answers questions, but it also makes us think about the future of our precious city.

Fran Bigelow,
Seattle chocolatier

———

Norm Rice

The beauty, depth and rhythm of Seattle are found in the hearts, minds and souls of those who built, lived, worked and played in it.

I am thankful for this walk through memory lane and the reinforcement of our dynamic city. It gives us life and legacy.

Norm Rice,
former Seattle mayor

For the rest of the blurbs, check out our blurbs page.

How to order

Eager to place your order? It’s easy. Just visit our “How to order” page. You can even specify how you want Paul and Jean to personalize your copy. We expect orders to be mailed by the end of November and reach mailboxes the first week of December.

As Jean looks on, Paul signs a book for Nancy Guppy of The Seattle Channel’s “Art Zone.”

Thanks!

Big thanks to everyone who has helped make this book a successful tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns for nearly 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

Seattle Now & Then: The Metropolitan Theatre, 1911

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Metropolitan Theatre was among the many structures designed by Howells and Stokes, the New York architectural firm for the Metropolitan Tract.
NOW: For his repeat Jean needed to move to the sidewalk on the north side of University Street.

For forty-three years – 1911 into 1954 – this elegant box of bricks and tiles, the Metropolitan Theatre, was among Seattle’s favorite attractions, a venue for many sorts of shows.  It was named for the Metropolitan Building Company, which held the lease on the University of Washington’s original campus. Pioneers first referred to the property as “Denny’s Knoll” for Arthur Denny, their founder-merchant-politician, that helped organize the giving of the knoll to Washington Territory for its first campus, and the state still owns its ten-plus acres.

Denny Knoll with Territorial University, looking southeast from Denny Hill ca. 1878.
Denny Knoll topped by the Territorial University, photo taken from Denny Hill (looking south) ca. 1885.  Beacon Hill is on the right horizon. 

Many of you are familiar, by photographs, with another ‘box’, the university’s first school building built in 1861 on this site.  It was adorned with a bell-fitted cupola for the waking of students and calling of classes. The façade was fronted with four classical ionic columns that looked west to Elliott Bay from its elevated knoll. You can still visit the original columns, which are preserved in the present UW campus’ outdoor Sylvan Theatre.  (Some may also wish to carry a flute, light incense and dance around them.)

After the University moved to its new and present Interlake Campus in 1895, the knoll waited another decade for the state to begin sharing its old campus with the expansion of the business district – for rents.  Many activist students joined nostalgic alums then pushing to save the school’s first multifarious hall, aka, the box.  The schoolhouse might have been saved with a move to the new campus or preserved at its original place on the old campus,  If the latter, it would have hindered Stone and Webster’s 1911 construction of the Metropolitan Theatre.  The northeast corner of the school’s first “box” overlapped the plans southwest corner of the Metropolitan Theater.  The fact is that in 1909, with a little moving of the theater’s footprint by its New York architects, Howells and Stokes, there was still enough room on the campus for both the elegant brick box and the cherished clapboard one.

Members of a troupe playing at the Met. pose for Max Loudon in the alley at the rear of the theater before what Olympic Hotel was built round it in 1924. 

This Webster and Stevens Studio portrait of the theatre at the top of this week’s feature is easy to date – within four days.  The clues, of course, are the posters pasted to the front of the theatre for promoting “Spring Maid,” a Viennese-inspired operetta on its west coast tour. Of course, It first stopped in San Francisco. While it was a light opera, the “Maid” was not a light haul, with a company of 94 and an orchestra of 35.  Tickets ran from 50 cents to $2.00.  The “Spring Maid” opened its four-day Metropolitan run on October 19, 1911. While it was the largest early performance to touch the Met stage, it was not the first event held there.  On October 12, a Columbus Day show was staged by the local Knights of Columbus, and aided by history professor Edmond S. Meany, surely the most prolific public speaker in the history of the UW.

History Prof. Edmund Meany poses for a most appropriate portrait As yet the artist is not identified.
Swedish film, The Girl and the Devil.

Any sample of the international talents that took to the Met’s stage would include many plays and foreign films. The Swedish movie “The Girl and the Devil” was projected at the Met in 1946. Tennessee Williams’ play “Summer and Smoke” was produced in 1950.  Also that year, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America performed at the Metropolitan.  Many members ate and slumbered at the Olympic Hotel that since its construction in 1924 had a grip on the theater (as shown in last week’s “Now and Then.”)  Byron Fish, the Times screwball humorist and reviewer, instructed the newspaper’s readers that “The S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.” was founded thirteen years before the bomb.  Its members are “pioneers in the nostalgic wish to return to pre-atom bomb days.”

Humorist Byron Fish when still a Ballard Boy.

The Met was torn down in the fall of 1955 to enlarge the Olympic Hotel’s ballroom and build a better front entrance on the hotel’s University Street side. After its demise, the Metropolitan began receiving a long line of nostalgic citizen press coverage.

Victory Square on University Way, between 4th and 5th Avenue. The pylon lifted behind the small temple lists the local losses during WW2.
Byron Fish’s signature used during his years as a columnist for The Seettle Times and also when he was Ivar Haglund’s first companion huckster. Between them, they originated “Keep Clam” Ivar’s identifying command. 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Sure Jean.  While we are on the edge of exhaustion we know – at least by your reports – that you work even harder.   And here’s more of the same.   (We may proof-read later.)

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THEN: As explained in the accompanying story the cut corner in this search-lighted photo of the “first-nighters” lined up for the March 1, 1928 opening of the Seattle Theatre at 9th and Pine was intended. Courtesy Ron Phillips

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THEN: Steel beams clutter a freshly regraded Second Avenue during the 1907 construction of the Moore Theatre. The view looks north toward Virginia Street.

THEN: The Metropolitan Tract's Hippodrome was nearly new when it hosted the A.F. of L. annual convention in 1913.

THEN:The early evening dazzle of the Roosevelt Theatre at 515 Pike Street, probably in 1941. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: With the stone federal post office at its shoulder – to the left – and the mostly brick Cobb Building behind, the tiled Pantages Theatre at Third Ave. and University Street gave a glow to the block. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Seattle Architect Paul Henderson Ryan designed the Liberty Theatre around the first of many subsequent Wurlitzer organs used for accompanying silent films in theatres “across the land”. The Spanish-clad actor-dancers posed on the stage apron are most likely involved in a promotion for a film – perhaps Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925) or Douglas Fairbanks’ The Gaucho (1929) that also played at the Liberty. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Long thought to be an early footprint for West Seattle’s Admiral Theatre, this charming brick corner was actually far away on another Seattle Hill. Courtesy, Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

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THEN: Capitol Hill’s Society Theatre first opened its doors in 1911. This record of it most likely dates from 1920, the first year in which the theatre could have shown the four films promoted with sensational posters near its front doors: the comedy “Mary’s Ankle,” “The Sagebrusher,” a western, “Silk Husbands and Calico Wives,” and “Everywoman,” a feminist allegory appropriately filmed in 1919, on the eve of women’s suffrage in the United States. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Lawton Gowey looks north through the tail of the 1957 Independence Day Parade on Fourth Avenue as it proceeds south through the intersection with Pike Street. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: This “real photo postcard” was sold on stands throughout the city. It was what it claimed to be; that is, its gray tones were real. If you studied them with magnification the grays did not turn into little black dots of varying sizes. (Courtesy, David Chapman and otfrasch.com)

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P.I. GLOBE

Events! Friday on the Eastside, Saturday at Duwamish Longhouse, Monday in Wallingford

The events!

Paul greets crowd at Oct. 28, 2018, launch at Seattle Central Library.
Paul pontificates during the Oct. 28, 2018, book launch at Seattle Central Library.

Have you been able to attend one of Paul Dorpat‘s and Jean Sherrard‘s illustrated talks about their new book, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred?

So far, besides the big October 28 launch on Paul’s 80th birthday, six events have taken place, and three more are coming up this weekend prior to Thanksgiving:

With the book’s back cover as a backdrop, Jean speaks at the Oct. 28, 2018, launch at Seattle Central Library.

And the events just keep on comin’, resuming on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in Fremont, followed by 11 more through mid-December.

Join us! The events are free, books are available for purchase and personalizing, and you have the opportunity for one-on-one conversation afterward with Paul and Jean.

The media

In recent weeks, the book has garnered great media attention from:

Westside Seattle, “Seattle Time Travelers” column by Jean Godden

The launch of Seattle Now & Then, a new film by Berangere Lomont

The Launch of “Seattle Now and Then,” a video by Berangere Lomont

KOMO-TV, “Eric’s Heroes,” with Eric Johnson

KOMO-TV’s “Eric’s Heroes” salutes “Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred,” Oct. 31, 2018.

To see all the print and broadcast media coverage of the book, click here.

The blurbs

A total of 25 Seattle notables have weighed in on Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred. Here’s a sample:

Mike James

If you love a city, you want its story, not only in words, but also with a vision of its evolution.

Paul and Jean meet that desire in these pages, a brilliant melding of story and photo – a vivid journey from that long ago Then to Now.

Mike James,
former KING-TV and KIRO-TV journalist

For the rest of the blurbs, check out our blurbs page.

How to order

Eager to place your order? It’s easy. Just visit our “How to order” page. You can even specify how you want Paul and Jean to personalize your copy.

As Jean looks on, Paul signs a book for Nancy Guppy of The Seattle Channel’s “Art Zone.”

Thanks!

Big thanks to everyone who has helped make this book a successful tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns for nearly 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

 

Seattle Now & Then: Olympic Hotel Construction, 1924

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: An instance in the 1924 construction of the Olympia Hotel recorded from the roof of the Cobb Building. Included, upper-left, among the First Hill landmarks are, on the horizon at Madison St. and Terry Ave., the Sorrento Hotel, and, far left, the brilliant terra-cotta clad Fourth Christian Science Church, now Town Hall, at 8th and Seneca. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Jean Sherrard advises “I couldn’t move closer to the original prospect because the southeast portion of the roof is now the Cobb Building’s penthouse garden.”

Here is another offering from the Webster and Stevens collection, held in the library of the Museum of History and Industry.  Early in the twentieth century Webster and Stevens moved their studio into the Seattle Times Building and handled the newspaper’s editorial photography. Consequently, I had some hope that I’d be able to date this contribution by finding it printed in The Times. (As I have noted before, The Times can be searched online through the Seattle Public Library.)  Nevertheless, while enjoying the pleasures of looking, I failed to find this photograph.  Perhaps Webster and Sevens recorded it for the Community Hotel Corporation, which successfully hustled the Olympic’s 1924 construction with bonds

invested by more than 3,000 citizens.  This local enthusiasm reminded some genuine old-timers of the ‘Seattle Spirit’ they had known in the late 1870s that supported Seattle’s struggles with what locals considered the neglect of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the competition with its company town, Tacoma.

The Olympic Hotel photographed by Lawton Gowey from the front lawn of the Federal Courthouse on 6th Avenue, March 13, 1963.

Once the bonds started selling, the Italian Renaissance landmark went up with remarkable speed on acres that had been the first home for the University of Washington.  The Times enjoyed its coverage on what it called “the hotel of Seattle’s dreams.”  The construction began in earnest on April 1, 1923, on the 450-guest-room “hotel of its dreams.” The Olympic Hotel was built around the city’s by then cherished theatre The Metropolitan, seen at the top in the featured photograph.

Clearing the old university grounds around the Metropolitan Theatre for the construction of the hotel.  First Hill is on the right horizon.  On right Sprint Street is momentarily blocked by a sizeable building moved off of the impending hotel’s footprint, the part of it at the northwest corner of Spring Street and Fifth Avenue.
The Olympic Hotel’s wing along 5th Avenue was completed in 1929. It shows here on the left with the hotel-surrounded Metropolitan Theatre on the right, and the new Northwest Insurance tower upper-right,   Now renamed the Seattle Tower, it was completed in 1928..

The theatre was constructed in 1911 and closed in 1954 for the Olympic’s enlargement between its two wings. With its hurried construction, the hotel took on the elegant “dress of terra cotta tiles” near the end of February 1924, and by December 6, 1924, a dinner dance celebrated the opening of the Olympic, the city’s ‘grand hotel.’

The Olympic Hotel’s lobby – when new.
The Olympic’s spiral staircase inside the hotel’s Fourth Avenue entrance.

I ordinarily travel with a sleeping bag and frankly know little of hotels.  For an informed opinion on the now Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s status among local hostelries, I asked Tamara Anne Wilson, a friend who is also widely experienced in the professional virtues of local hospitality.  From 1997 to 2003 Tamara kept several offices of her PR firm on the hotel’s twelfth floor. After naming and complimenting several other Seattle hotels, she concluded “there will never be anything like Seattle’s Olympic Hotel again. Valet, doormen and concierge that understand discretion, perfect classic martinis, comfortable seating areas that aren’t ‘trying too hard to be hip’.”

The Olympic Hotel’s Georgian Dining Room (when new).

Finally, in the interest of ‘full disclosure,’ Tamara continues and concludes that in January 1960 when her father Lieutenant William Critch was preparing to ship to Okinawa with his bride of three months, Marlene Prosser, they got the order to leave instead for a preferred station in Hawaii.  The couple celebrated with dinner at Rosellini Four-10 and a night at “the” hotel.  The appropriate months later Tamara was born in Honolulu.  “The Olympic was conceived for the carriage trade.  I’m grateful I was conceived there.”

The Olympic’s Venetian Room used here for classes in the preparation of meats.

WEB EXTRAS

The creation of this column was documented by KOMO-TV’s Eric Johnson in an installment of his long running series, Eric’s Heroes. Thanks, Eric!

Anything to add, compadres?  Yes heroic Jean for you and your admiring platoon of fellow recorders (aka shutterbugs) we will pull free from the archive a few more features from the neighborhood often on the key subjects (hotels and theaters.)

THEN: Steel beams clutter a freshly regraded Second Avenue during the 1907 construction of the Moore Theatre. The view looks north toward Virginia Street.

THEN: An early-20th-century scene during the Second Avenue Regrade looks east into its intersection with Virginia Avenue. A home is being moved from harm's way, but the hotel on the hill behind it would not survive the regrade's spoiling. Courtesy of Ron Edge.

THEN: The Metropolitan Tract's Hippodrome was nearly new when it hosted the A.F. of L. annual convention in 1913.

THEN: With the stone federal post office at its shoulder – to the left – and the mostly brick Cobb Building behind, the tiled Pantages Theatre at Third Ave. and University Street gave a glow to the block. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Thanks to Pacific reader John Thomas for sharing this photograph recorded by his father in 1927. It looks north across Times Square to the almost completed Orpheum Theatre. Fifth Avenue is on the left, and Westlake on the right.

THEN: Plymouth Congregational Church barely reached maturity – twenty-one years – when it was torn down in 1913 for construction of the equally grand but less prayerful Pantages Theatre, also at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and University Street. (Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Lawton Gowey looks north through the tail of the 1957 Independence Day Parade on Fourth Avenue as it proceeds south through the intersection with Pike Street. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Seen here in 1887 through the intersection of Second Avenue and Yesler Way, the Occidental Hotel was then easily the most distinguished in Seattle. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

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Now & Then here and now