More than a quarter-century ago I copied this week’s parade scene from an album of 1911 Golden Potlatch subjects generously loaned to me by collector/dealer and friend Michael Maslan. The intended subject is quite peculiar – a sort of float with four bushes pruned like small trees decorating the corners, a comfortable ensemble of half-costumed characters, two teamsters, two teams and two signs.
The larger sign shows real wit. It reads, “Everett the Most Prosperous City in the Northwest” and then sites Seattle as if it were a suburb “33 miles south of Everett.” The sign draped to the horse reads “Washington State Reunion Everett, Aug. 20 & 21 Big Time.” It is, however, unclear even to the admired Northwest History Room of the Everett Public Library what parts of Washington were reunited in Everett that august of 1911. A review of the dozens of floats pictured in Maslan’s album reveals that this one is easily the most minimal, perhaps an intended contrast to its own boast of “big time.”
Most readers probably know that the setting here is part of the Denny Regrade, and not so long after it was scraped from Denny Hill. This block on Blanchard between Third Avenue (off-frame to the right) and 2nd Avenue (on the left) was one of the steepest on the hill and negotiated by steps only. Before the carving began the block climbed west to east 58 feet from 170feet (at 2nd) to 228 feet (at 3rd) above sea level. After the grading it climbed gently in the opposite direct, from east to west, and at a much lower elevation throughout. These regrade changes were made by blasting the hill with jets of eroding water.
Of the several hundred structures on the hill few were saved. However, the Blanchard Apartments shown here was one of two big buildings that were carefully lowered with the hill. A cheap three-story tenement (with three tubs and four toilets for 21 one-room apartments) it was lowered to a new brick first floor with two storefronts. Built in 1900 – only five years before it’s descension – it kept wearing out until it was razed in March of 1972. “Run down inside and out” is how the surviving tax card describes it.
JEAN we have a few additions. [Click to Enlarge – sometimes twice]
In the book Seattle Now and Then Volume One (1984) the above appears on two pages, side-by-side. Here I have stacked the pages to better your chances of reading the text from about 1983. Ron Edge (of our Edge Clippings) has recently scanned all the features included in Seattle Now and Then Vol. 1, so the entire book will soon be up on this site.”]
One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: The Float and the Tenement”
It bothers me that we are losing our history when people call the Denny Regrade “Belltown.” Belltown is the area to the west, that was not regraded. Calling the Denny Regrade “Belltown” is like calling the Admiral District “Alki.”