Seattle Waterfront History, Chapter 3

[In the original hard-copy printing of this book (or report) the webpage’s already inserted chapters 1 & 2 constituted an introduction to what now follows – or begins to follow.   In the book it had the grander title “Part One – The Pre-1889 Fire Waterfront.”]

First Photographs

The community’s oldest extant photo – a daguerreotype of the Yesler Home struck ten years earlier in 1859 – does “imply” the waterfront.  In it we can find the flume that carried spring water from First Hill to Yesler’s wharf running down and above the center of James Street. [9] It was also a fateful year for Seattle’s future as a port city. The sidewheeler Eliza Anderson was sent north from the Columbia River to Puget Sound and thereby, to quote an old but now long gone friend Jim Faber from his book Steamers Wake, “in 1859 did the Age of Steam solidify on Puget Sound.” (In a second Pioneer Square photograph taken a year later in 1860 from roughly the same position, the flume is gone and water to the mill and a few homes near it is carried through bored logs buried beneath the street.) [10]

Five years later E. M. Sammis, the town’s first but brief resident photographer, returned from a stint in Olympia to resume making portraits of locals and sometimes when they lacked cash trading his art for vegetables. Thankfully Sammis also photographed Chief Seattle – for this privilege he may have paid the chief – and the young town’s first panorama. [11] [12] The 1865 view from Snoqualmie Hall at the southwest corner of Commercial (First Ave. S.) and Main Street is not very revealing of the waterfront, showing only a small section of it on the far left.  However (as we will show later), four years later, this same prospect would be used by the visiting Victoria-based photographer G. Robinson and, as already noted above, his wider and sharper panorama is very revealing.

[Please CLICK to Enlarge.]

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For the rest of Chapter Three, click here

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