(click to enlarge photos)
The scales spilling on the sidewalk beside City Hall are in such disarray that we can’t believe that these were very nice machines. Rather, they are captured scoundrels who did not give an honest measure and proved what the city’s investigators reported sententiously as proof that “with certain trade practices custom does not make right.”
Two sturdy officers of the city’s Weights and Measure Division stand between the exposed scales and the department’s trucks. They may have just returned from one of the city’s open public markets where, the division’s annual report for 1917 explains, “the largest number of transactions in food stuffs occur.” The division was then also doing “war work” helping the Federal Food Administration search for “food hoarders.”
This view is dated January 1918. It looks east on Terrace Street towards what is ordinarily still called First Hill, although there have been other names for it as well including Yesler’s Hill, Pill Hill (somewhat later than 1918) and Profanity Hill. This last came from expressions heard especially on the southern slope of the hill. But the name also derived from what is just out of frame to the right and, if we could see it, looming high on the horizon, the old and long since destroyed King County Courthouse.
Litigants and lawyers could reach the grotesquely domed courthouse by either the James Street or Yesler Way cable cars or they could swear while climbing the long and steep Terrace Street stairway seen here ascending the hill upper-right from 5th Avenue east to beyond 7th Avenue. The lower block was a planked path for the most part, and the top half a steep and wide stairway.
Just left of the stairway stands the curiously named Pleasanton Hotel. It is set back a ways from the northeast corner of Terrace and Sixth, and now in the path of 1-5. To its left and also topping the horizon is the domed roofline of the Seattle-Tacoma Power Company at 7th & Jefferson. The frame building below it, nearby at the northwest corner of 5th and Terrace, is the ambitiously named Royal Hotel. A small part of the Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church’s steeple peeks out upper left.
Jean’s note: This weekend, I’m off in Portland narrating a show. I didn’t quite have time enough to put up the color version of this week’s now, but will when I return. Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean. First regarding you and your narration this evening of Chopin’s “Letters to Konstantja” to the accompaniment of his music with dance by the Agnieszka Laska Dancers on the stage of the World Trade Center Auditorium in Portland, “break a leg” while climbing it – or rather don’t, for you have been a bit accident prone lately, losing your pens and such. Here below is another weighted and found wanting picture from Lawton Gowey. It comes probably by way of the old Public Works Department and eventually will be returned to what is now the Municipal Archive. It is, I believe, another storeroom of transgressing scales, (STS). Some of those scattered on the sidewalk above may be here in this room two years later. As you know the original 8×10 inch negative to this image has great clarity and so on your instruction I searched it in detail with magnification but I found no thumbs. [Click to enlarge and search]
And in sympathy with the spatial relations seen in the storeroom above, a kind of mingling of boxes and balls, I have printed below something I created yesterday – by coincidence. I like many others who once used dark rooms for developing and printing, had a practice of exposing strips of photo paper to a negative before exposing an entire sheet of the expensive stuff to a full projection. While cleaning up a corner of my basement I came upon a box stuffed with these developed test strips, and I knew exactly what to do with the contents – scan them. I had kept them for possible use in collage but now with digital ease I have used them for this montage. The circles that appear on all the strips were made from an opaque ring that rested on each strip while it was being exposed in order to hide the paper the ring covered and so see an undeveloped white area when the strip was placed in the developer for slowly revealing the image and testing the exposure. Here I have made six different montages from these strips. I then joined them and then flip-flopped them four times to make this mandala-like montage. The original negatives all have something to do with Alki Beach history and not weights and measures. They have come, I think, from an exhibit I produced for SPUDS fish and chips years ago. The exhibit is a permanent one and on the large size too. [Click to Enlarge and explore the details for historical Alki locations. Or go have some fish and chips at SPUDS and study the exhibit.]