Lewis Whittlesey, a clerk with the Seattle Water Department, visited the Third Avenue regrade in 1906 and took several photographs of its upheaval, including this one that looks north from Seneca Street. After graduating from Amherst College, Whittelsey joined a Rand and McNally expedition into Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains in the late 1890s. It was his first great adventure and last. Upon leaving the expedition, the young surveyor moved to Seattle and was hired by the city, which kept him until his retirement in 1940.
Trained in public works, the city clerk would have known the details of this street work. The parallel timber forms leading up the center of Third probably have to do with the eventual path of the trolley on Third. The stacked bricks to the side are most likely for paving.
With his wife, Delia, Lewis was an active Congregationalist, and he may have chosen this prospect to record the impressive brick pile of Plymouth Congregational Church on the northeast corner of Third and University. Farther on, the sandstone columns of the new federal post office were still a work-in-progress in 1906 and would be for two years more. In the distance, and blocking Third Avenue, the ruins of the Washington Hotel tentatively held on atop the southern summit of Denny Hill. The hotel had its closing ball on May 7. By the end of the year it was razed, and the hill followed.
Within a year of his retirement, Lewis Whittelsey died at the age of 71. His wife donated much of his library to Everett Junior College when she learned of its need for books. She also made a gift of her own book of poems, “Thoughts by the Way.”
Anything to add, Paul? YES Jean – three groups of photographs for three 3rd Ave. locations related to the above now-then.
POST OFFICE – SOUTHEAST CORNER of 3rd and Union.
THIRD AVENUE LOOKING SOUTH FROM PIKE STREET
MORE CHANGES ON THIRD – LOOKING NORTH FROM NEAR SENECA
10 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Lewis Whittelsey's Survey”
I don’t have a comment for this photo but wondered if you had Paul Dorpat’s email address. I have some old Wallingford photos (Sunnyside street specifically) that I would like to email him.
Thanks for this great then-now. How do you go about taking photos in the middle of downtown streets? Do you don a neon vest and set cones around yourself or do you just pause in the crosswalk.
Paul, the picture that shows the old University on Denny Knoll is amazing. I’ve seen other, older photos that show it sitting there backed by tall firs in a landscape that seems really alien to my modern sense of place. This is one of those historic photos that ties together those older views and my current knowledge of the landscape. What a find!
I agree, the view of the old University seen through the keyhole of the big buildings in the foreground does give is a living context. And thanks Matt for sending you Snapshot of the most recent changes on the Post Office at 3rd and Union. I’m going to put it in the story itself in proper place following the one I took years ago – the one your’s “corrects.” And I’ll thank you again in the caption. Also I let anyone who reads this deep in dorpatsherrardlomont that you have a blog of related materials and print – next – a link to a relevant story. Here is comes. If this does not work please let me know what I have done wrong.
I’m going to get a big(ger) head with all you’ve done here. But the link works fine and I thank you for the shout out.
In looking at the 1967 Gowey image above, I see a big KRESS sign opposite the Woolworth’s. This surprises me and intrigues me. As I described in the post you linked to on my blog, Kress is the name of the IGA grocery store that opened a year or so ago on that block, but I didn’t know that the Kress name was associated with this block earlier. Here it is bigger than life in 1967. What gives?
I have never been to Seattle, so I am trying to piece together what I can from the internet. I have found a similar photo to the one you have of the post office in it`s completion. What is getting to me is that the building in the background looks like the Cobb building, but geographically I have to be wrong.
Do you know anything of that corner building in the background?
Not sure whether you got an answer privately from Paul, but the post office is on the same block as the Cobb. PO is in the northwest quadrant, Cobb the southeast. I don’t know which photo you’re referring to, but the 1909 one above that shows the completed Post Office shows a building in the background (east, across fourth at the corner of Union) that looked very similar to the Cobb and occupied the block across the street from it, but that’s the White Building. I believe the Cobb and the White Bldg were created by the same folks at the same time as part of some design of the university’s, but I’m not sure. The White Bldg was razed in the early 70s to make way for the Rainier Plaza (“pedestal building”), but the Cobb is still there.