Seattle Now & Then: Retail at 2nd & Pine

(click on photos to enlarge)

THEN: Looking south from Pine Street down the wide Second Avenue  in 1911, then Seattle’s growing retail strip and parade promenade.  (courtesy of Jim Westall)
THEN: Looking south from Pine Street down the wide Second Avenue in 1911, then Seattle’s growing retail strip and parade promenade. (courtesy of Jim Westall)
NOW: Very little survives in the near-century between the  "then and now." The Columbia Building, second from left, is  still standing. The parking lot, far left, took the place of the Wilson  Modern Business College Building in 1956. The tiled Venetian  Renaissance-style Doyle Building, far right, replaced the Elk Hotel in  1919. Jean Sherrard took his repeat through a window of what is now the  Nordstrom Rack.
NOW: Very little survives in the near-century between the “then and now.” The Columbia Building, second from left, is still standing. The parking lot, far left, took the place of the Wilson Modern Business College Building in 1956. The tiled Venetian Renaissance-style Doyle Building, far right, replaced the Elk Hotel in 1919. Jean Sherrard took his repeat through a window of what is now the Nordstrom Rack.

This is the fourth “snapshot” we have plucked from an album of Seattle subjects recorded by Philip Hughett between 1909 and 1911.  (Following this “now-then” will join to it a few more snaps of the neighborhood recorded by that pastor-salesman.)

In the 1911 Polk directory Hughett is listed as a salesman for Standard Furniture, which is wonderfully apt for this week’s subject. It looks south on Second Avenue from inside the Standard Furniture building on the corner with Pine Street.

Perhaps, Hughett took a snapshot break from selling sofas. And the most likely date is also 1911.

Although too small to read in this printing, the banner running across Second Avenue just beyond Pike Street — one block south of the photographer — reads “Golden Potlatch.” Between 1911 and 1913 the Golden Potlatch Days were Seattle’s first try at holding a multiday annual summer festival.

The amateur photographer was probably selling furniture here in 1910 as well, because Hughett was using the then-3-year-old Standard Furniture building for a high-rise prospect to record the big changes under way in Seattle’s new retail district and the nearby Denny Regrade. As late as 1903 this block on Second was considerably higher at Pine than at Pike. So everything here is nearly new, except the ornate frame building seen in part on the far right.

This view looks north on Second Ave. from Pike Street and shows the same ornate hotel at the southwest corner of 2nd and Pine.  Beyond it 2nd Avenue still climbs Denny Hill, but not for long.  By 1906 the present grade of 2nd was establsihed between Pike and Battery Streets and that hotel was lowered too.  (Photo by Lewis Whittelsey, courtesy of Lawton Gowey)
This view looks north on Second Ave. from Pike Street and shows the same ornate hotel at the southwest corner of 2nd and Pine. Beyond it 2nd Avenue still climbs Denny Hill, but not for long. By 1906 the present grade of 2nd was establsihed between Pike and Battery Streets and that hotel was lowered too. (Photo by Lewis Whittelsey, courtesy of Lawton Gowey)
Looking down on Second Avenue and over a roughed-up Pine Street to the Elk hotel on their southwest corner.   Far left is the Eitel Bldge under construction.  Likely date for this is 1905.
Looking down fm Denny Hill to Second Avenue and over a roughed-up Pine Street, Again, the Elk hotel is supported on their southwest corner. The depth of the cut on Pine Street is easily examined, right of center, with the mid-block scar between the Elk Bldg and the new Gateway Hotel (now The Gatewood) on the southeast corner of First and Pine, far right. Far left is the Eitel Bldg under construction at the northwest corner of 2n and Pike (1904-06). Likely date for this is 1905.

The Elk Hotel, its name in the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, was built before the regrade and had to be lowered two stories because of it.

In 1911 all of Seattle’s principal department stores, Frederick & Nelson, Stone-Fisher, The Bon Marche, London’s and MacDougall & Southwick were on Second Avenue north of Madison Street. It is a good indication of how commerce had moved north from “old town” around Pioneer Place during Seattle’s blusterous boom years.

Here follows – and so soon – several more photographs recorded by Hughett, perhaps all of them while he was in the employ of Standard Furniture at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Pine Street.  We will try to exercise some restraint with the captions, rather than thumbnail every landmark included in Hughett’s recordings.  All of these – unless otherwise noted – are used courtesy of Jim Westall.   They were copied from a family album of prints, which Jim shared with us.

From nearly the same window, looking south on Second Avenue from its northwest corner with Pine Street and from an upper floor at Standard Furniture, Philip Hughett captioned this view "the odd fellow's parade."
From nearly the same window, looking south on Second Avenue from its northwest corner with Pine Street and from an upper floor at Standard Furniture. Hughett's caption, that this is a scene of parading Odd Fellows for their day during the Seattle's summer-long Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (AYPE), suggests that the photographer was also selling couches here in 1909, the year of the AYP Expo.
Although not taken from the same window as the view just shared above, this one is also most likely of the same AYPE parade for the Odd Fellows.  Note that most of the awnings shading the building on the east side of Second Avenue - the block showing - hold their position between the two photographs.  Most - not all.
Although not taken from the same window as the view just shared above, this one is also most likely of the same AYPE parade for the Odd Fellows. Note that most of the awnings shading the building on the east side of Second Avenue - the block showing - hold their position between the two photographs. Most - not all.

Next we will leave Standard Furniture and go south on Second Avenue two blocks for more excitement.

Philip Hughett has shared the date for this look north on Second from University Street.  This is July 4, 1910.  A few of the buildings survive but so many of the fashions.  In 1910 it was still likely that a parade would includes long lines of horse-drawn wagons carrying not VIPS - they would have by then taken to motorcars - but the regulars, those who pay their bank fees, shop for bargains and in a lifetime might get to ride in a parade.
Philip Hughett has shared the date for this look north on Second from University Street. This is July 4, 1910. A few of the buildings survive for this centennial repeat but not so many of the fashions. In 1910 it was still likely that a parade - like this one - would include lines of horse-drawn wagons carrying not VIPS - they would have by then taken to motorcars - but the regulars, those who pay their bank fees, shop for bargains and in a decent lifetime might get to ride in a parade. The banner strung across Second promotes the Sons of Norway's Grand Picnic. Just beyond and to the right of the banner is the Seattle Times building then still at the northeast corner of Second and Union. The paper's name is signed on the roof.
On the same afternoon as the Independence Day parade a crowd gathered on Union Street - clogged it - beside The Times building to follow the wire reports on James J.Jeffries vs. Jack Johnson "fight of the century" in Reno.  Jeffries, a former world champion, came out of retirement, he said, "to demonstrate that the white man is king of them all."  Rather than be knocked out, Jeffries withdrew in the 15th round and Johnson held on to his heavyweight campion status.  With the ambitions of the "great white hope" dashed riots followed.  By the following morning 25 blacks and 3 whites had died because of them.
On the same afternoon as the Independence Day parade a crowd gathered on Union Street - clogged it - beside The Times building to follow the wire reports on the James J.Jeffries vs. Jack Johnson "fight of the century" in Reno. Jeffries, a former world champion, came out of retirement, he said, "to demonstrate that the white man is king of them all." Rather than be knocked out by Johnson, Jeffries withdrew in the 15th round and Johnson held on as top heavyweight. The ambitions of the "great white hope" had flopped. By the following morning across these United States of America 25 blacks and 3 whites had died because of the riots that followed Jeffries' loss.

Next Philip Hughett returns to Standard Furniture and takes us to its roof for looks south, southeast, east, and north – witnesses to the condition of the Central Business District and the Denny Regrade a century ago.

The look south.  Built quickly  in 1911, the Hoge building at Second and Cherry is not evident.
The look south. Built quickly in 1911, the 18-story Hoge building at Second and Cherry is not evident. The nearly new Federal Post Office, on the left at the southeast corner of Third and Union, is.
A look southeast to the First Hill horizon from the roof of Standard Furniture at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Pine Street.
A look southeast to the First Hill horizon from the roof of Standard Furniture at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Pine Street. St. James Cathedral (1907) still has its dome and would keep it until 1916 when the Big (and wet) Snow of that year collapsed it to the floor of the sanctuary. The King County Courthouse and Jail, on the right horizon, lasted 40 years (from the time it was built) and handled a few hangings below its dome. Finally it too was judged and dropped - by dynamite - in 1931.
Recently we printed a cropped version of this for another now-then feature - one describing the fate of Seattle Electric's trolley car barns at 5th and Pine.  The view looks east on Pine.  The outline of the nearly new Volunteer standpipe appears on the left horizon.
Not so long ago we printed a cropped version of this for another now-then feature - one describing the fate of Seattle Electric's trolley car barns at 5th and Pine. The view looks east on Pine. The outline of the nearly new Volunteer standpipe appears on the left horizon. The car barns appear left of center behind the Westlake Market sign.
The look north past the new New Washington Hotel, on the right, and over the Moore Theatre to a degraded (photographcially) Queen Anne Hill.  In between work continues on the Denny Regrade.
The look north past the new New Washington Hotel, on the right, and over the Moore Theatre to a degraded (photographcially) Queen Anne Hill. In between work continues on the Denny Regrade. Sacred Heart Catholic Church appears lust left of the tall Hotel Washington Sign. It held to its campus at 6th and Blanchard until the Denny Regrade was revived in 1929 and that intersection and many others east of 5th Avenue (where this regrade stopped in 1911) and north of Denny Way were graded to new lower elevations. The church then moved to its present location contiguous to Seattle Center. Here the cliff that drops from the church to the east side of 5th Avenue was a Denny Regerade feature for nearly 20 years. One of the regrade's hydraulic cannons at work can be seen left-of-center near the intersection of 3rd and Bell.
The New Washington at the northeast corner of Second and Stewart as seen from the northwest corner of Standard Furniture's roof.
The New Washington Hotel at the northeast corner of Second and Stewart as seen from the northwest corner of Standard Furniture's roof. (The Hotel survives as the Josephinum Apartments.)
No longer on the roof but still from an open window at Standard, Hughett gives a good recording of the new Haight Building at the southeast corner of  Second and Pine.
No longer on the roof but still from an open window at Standard, Hughett gives a good recording of the new Haight Building at the southeast corner of Second and Pine. If the curious reader returns to the second photograph included in this sequence (not counting those in the repeated story above them) they will see the building site for the Haight, next door to the Wilson Business College. A likely year for this view is 1911. This concludes the Philip Hughett extras.
A Webster and Stevens Studio (it did mot of the Seattle Times early editorial photography) shot of Standard Furniture in the extended elegance of its new retail neighborhood.   The view, of course, looks north on 2nd over its intersection with Pine Street.
A Webster and Stevens Studio (they did most of the Seattle Times early editorial photography) shot of Standard Furniture, its effect extended in the elegance of its new retail neighborhood. The view, of course, looks north on 2nd over its intersection with Pine Street.

2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Retail at 2nd & Pine”

  1. Westall’s historical photo pre-dates the Clemmer Theatre (1414 2nd Ave), which opened for business in 1912. Later re-named Columbia, it was located in the middle of the block between Pike and Union on the East Side of 2nd Avenue. The Odeon Theater (1412 2nd Ave) was listed in Polk’s Directory from 1907-1911. I’ve never seen a photo. A higher resolution of this image might be revealing. I also noticed what could be the very first territorial glimpse of the Mission Theatre (1412-14 4th Ave) I’ve ever seen in your 7th photo, “A look southeast to the First Hill horizon from the roof of Standard Furniture at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Pine Street.” Downtown Seattle’s Mission Theatre (there was another in Georgetown) operated from 1914-1920. Again, a higher resolution image might confirm this.

  2. These scans from the Hughett prints don’t ordinarily blow up so well. They are made, so to compromise, for on-line mediocre presentation but not for much scrutiny with a magnifying class or super-pixels. I’ll send you – at your home e-mail – the whole thing David and see what you can see. As you will notice when comparing the several Hughett pics the Columbia Bldg got taller between 1909 and 1911.

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