I know nothing about the provenance of this photograph, except that it showed up on my front porch among a small bundle of negatives. Still with the help of a tax card, a few city directories, and a scattering of other sources we can make some notes.
With his or her back to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, an unknown photographer looked northeast through the intersection of Second Avenue North and Thomas Street. The Eaton Apartment House across the way was built in 1909 – in time perhaps for the city’s first world’s fair. (It is at least an irony that is was torn down for the second.) It held 19 of everything: tubs, sinks, basins, through its 52 plastered rooms. In the 1938 tax assessment it is described as in “fair condition” with a “future life” of about 13 years. In fact, it held the corner for a full half century until it and much else in the neighborhood was cleared for construction of Century 21.
The Eaton and its nearby neighbor, the Warren Avenue School, were two of the larger structures razed for Century 21. However, the neighborhood’s biggest – the Civic Auditorium, Ice Arena, and the 146th Field Artillery Armory – were given makeovers and saved for the fair. Built in 1939, the old Armory shows on the far right. (Another view of it is included below.) Although not so easy to find it is also in the “now” having served in its 71 years first as the Armory, then the ’62 fair’s Food Circus, and long since the Center House.
This is part of David and Louisa Denny’s pioneer land claim, which Salish history explains served for centuries as a favorite place to snag low-flying ducks and hold potlatches. The oldest user of the Eaton Apt. site was even more ancient. The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) brought King Tut, or at least parts of his tomb, to the Flag Pavilion in 1978. It was about then that Andy Warhol also showed up to party with SAM in the old pavilion, which in 2002 was replaced and greatly improved with the Fisher Pavilion.
Readers who have old photographs of this neighborhood from before the 1962 fair (they are rare) or of the fair itself might like to share them with historylink. That non-profit encyclopedia of regional history is preparing a book on the fair, one that will resemble, we expect, its impressive publication on the recent Alaska Yukon Pacific Centennial. As with the AYP book, the now hard-at-work authors are Paula Becker and Alan Stein. You can reach them by phone at 206-447-8140 or on line at Admin@historylink.org.