Paris chronicle # 14 Paris je t'aime

Since 2008, we can see some padlocks marked with initials and little hearts, fixed to the railings of the very romantic « Pont des Arts.

As we could notice around the world,  Sweethearts mark their name on a padlock which symbolize their eternal love called « love lock », attach it  generally on the fence of a bridge et throw away the key in the flood.

In front of the inflow of love locks on all parisian bridges, the Mairie de Paris planned  to take them off to preserve the patrimoine, was going to work on a solution of replacement, and imagine to create metallic trees which could be stands for love locks.

This morning on Pont de L’Archevêché, as I was looking at the love locks shining in the sun, some russian tourists ask me  the reason of the ritual of these padlocks, I explained them,  and then asked me «  and after ?  Did they throw themselves in the Seine »?

Depuis 2008, on peut voir des cadenas marqués de petits cœurs et d’initiales, attachés aux grilles du très romantique Pont des Arts.

Comme on a pu le remarquer aux quatre coins du monde, les amoureux inscrivent leurs noms sur un cadenas symbolisant leur amour éternel appelés « love lock » ou « cadenas d’amour », l’attachent sur des grilles généralement sur les ponts et jettent la clef dans le fleuve.

Devant l’afflux des cadenas sur tous les ponts environnants, la Mairie de Paris envisageait d’enlever ces cadenas pour préserver le patrimoine et travaillait à une solution de remplacement c’est-à-dire imaginait de créer des arbres métalliques qui pourraient être des supports pour les cadenas.

Ce matin alors que je regardais briller les cadenas au soleil sur le Pont de l’Archevêché, des touristes russes me demandaient la raison de ce rituel, je leur expliquai donc et ils me demandèrent « et après ? Ils  se sont jetés dans la Seine » ?

Seattle Now & Then: Lake Union from Smith Tower

(click photos to enlarge)

THEN: The historical look north from the Smith Tower towards Lake Union was most likely photographed by Albert Price, a name that survives with the Price Photo Digital Service in the Roosevelt neighborhood. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: This is one of several views recently photographed by Jean Sherrard from the observation deck of the Smith Tower.

This week we continue what we began last week, comparing early views from the Smith Tower with those Jean Sherrard “captured” on a recent visit to the tower’s observation platform.  Last Sunday we looked east to First Hill, and now north over much of the business district to Lake Union.

In all directions we have cropped the “now” view considerably wider, especially on top in order to include the full height of the Columbia Center, still the tallest thing in Seattle. When nearly complete in 1985, the community’s best-known preservationist, U.W. Architect Victor Steinbrueck, described the Columbia Tower (as it was then called) as “a flat-out symbol of greed and egoism.”  Take it or leave it, at 932 feet it makes the rest of Seattle’s high-rises look like middle management forever waiting for promotions.

There are scores of structures in this historical scene that survive, although, like Lake Union, you can no longer see them from the Smith Tower.  We’ll point out the Central Building at 4th and Marion, bottom-center in the “then.”  In the “now” it half hides behind the cream-white “milk carton” of the 23 story Pacific Building. More exposed are the Rainier Club and the recently saved First Methodist Church, both in part on the south side of Marion Street between 4th and 5th Avenues.  They appear here between the Pacific Bldg. and the Columbia Center.

For a close-enough dating of the historical panorama I depended upon two missing structures.  The sizeable Lincoln Hotel at the northwest corner of 4th and Madison (across 4th from the Carnegie Library, which can be seen at the center of the “then”) burned down on April 7, 1920.  The tidied ruins of part of its foundation can be glimpsed left of center above the Central Building.  The 4th Church Christ Scientist – now Town Hall at 8th and Seneca – was completed in 1922.  Its splendid dome could be seen from the Smith Tower, but not here.  This is too early – perhaps the summer of 1920 or 1921.


From the Tower’s observation deck, I shot a much wider angle of the Now. Here it is:

Now: wider, deeper

Anything to add, Paul?  Oh Jean just a few photographs, mostly – ones looking north from the tower like those above.  I’ll also attach an early Pacific feature – one from 1982, the year I started writing that weekly feature for The Times. We lean on an old friend who is now long passed, Lawton Gowey, for many of the pictures below.  There are more, but these are what I could find this evening.  (If you are timing this, it is now fifteen minutes after midnight, and I intend on being in bed by 2 a.m..)

The Smith Tower sometime in 1913 when they have reached the tower part of the tower with the structure's terracotta tile sky.
Rod Edge found this one of the complete tower and a fulfillment to the image above it. Ron attaches the detail below that reveals two hanging men working on the pyramid at, we hope, a good hourly wage. This is last detail work. Note that below them the protective cage on the observation platform is not yet installed.

More Smith Tower from Albert Price. This is followed by the annoted negative sleeve that held these two prints and the negatives that made them. He dates it April 2, 1916.
Price has jotted down all the grand statistics and features for the new landmark that locals embraced.
More from Price looking north through the blocks bordered by Second and Third Avenues, left and right respectively. These were taken on the same visit to the observation platform that produced the look north to Lake Union, at the top, and will help us date them all within a quarter- year (say) - when we take the time "later.".
This is not a Price photo. Without study the construction beam on the right (at least I think that's what it is) suggests that this view was taken early in 1912 or even late in 1911.
The view above this one may be compared to this one. And although similar to the one at the top it is not the same.


This feature first appeared in Pacific Magazine on June 20, 1982.

Click TWICE to Enlarge.

Before the mid-I960s, when the Seattle skyline began to sprout the modern American silhouette of glass, steel, and polymers, the city’s front face looked much as it did on the Fourth of July, 1914, the day the Smith Tower opened to its admiring public.  At least for a while Seattle had distinguished itself with the tallest building outside of New York – or Chicago – or this side of the Mississippi.  The building’s promoters boasted that one could tour its 42 stories and 600 offices, pass through any of its 1,432 steel doors to gaze at the unparalleled view through a few of its 2,314 bronze encased windows and still feel secure that the 500 foot high edifice stood secure on 1,276 concrete piles reaching 50 feet below to the bedrock.

After the skeleton of structural steel was topped off in February 1913, the terra-cotta skin began to steadily ascend its sides. The completed frame of the “monster structure acts as a guiding beacon to vessels in and out of Elliott Bay . . . The Queen City’s noblest monument of steel is declared by seasoned skippers to be by far the finest aid to navigation ever placed on Puget Sound . . .now Seattle would be better advertised than any place outside of New York,” wrote the Seattle Times.

The recurring comparison to New York extended to the building’s namesake Lyman C. Smith, a New Yorker but from upstate Syracuse. In the early 1890s Smith made what was then the largest purchase of Seattle property in the city’s history. It included the Second Avenue and Yesler Way site. By 1909 the armaments entrepreneur had beat his firearms into a typewriter fortune big enough to finance skyscrapers. During a 1909 visit, Smith unexpectedly met another eastern capitalist with similar ambitions. John Hoge was also in town scrutinizing his site at Second Avenue and Cherry Street, catty-corner to Seattle’s first skyscraper, the Alaska Building. Both Smith and Hoge had monumental plans for enhancing what was already being called the “Second Avenue Canyon.” Since each wished to build a little higher than the other, they coyly agreed that the Alaska’s 14 stories was “about the proper height.”

The dramatically different consequences of their will to build are apparent in the 1913 panorama of the Seattle skyline. The 18 stories of the Hoge are just left of center and left of the Alaska Building.  Hoge began his construction in March 1911 and set a world record for speed of steel framing. The skeleton was up in 30 days. Later that year Smith started his tower. By the time the photographer from the firm of Webster and Stevens climbed the coal bunkers near the foot of King Street and sighted the tower’s newly completed frame, it was already a “beacon to the world.”

For all the Smith Tower’s steady grandeur there are plenty of ironies and oddities connected with its history. The darkest irony is the first. Smith decided to build a tower so high that there would be no danger of anyone, including Hoge, approaching it in his lifetime. Smith died before it was completed.

The building project was announced in 1910, only after Smith received the assurances of the city council that they would not move City Hall from its site at Third and Jefferson Street, a half-block from the proposed tower.  Both Smith and Hoge were anxious to stabilize land values in the southern business district. They were ultimately unsuccessful. Already in 1910 it was the commercial fashion to move north and away from the “old city center.”

The building’s first superintendent, William Jackson, gave the tower its final topping in 1914 with an unplanned 20-foot flagpole from which the Stars and Stripes were waving for the Fourth of July opening. This is the same pole that years later flew another symbol for reasons more piscatorial than patriotic. Ivar Haglund, in 1976 the first local owner of the tower, insisted that the carp he was flying from the top of his tower was not a publicity stunt but an innocent public service for indicating the wet direction of Seattle’s weather. ‘

Top - 1982. Above - 1984.

The city’s skyline, as it appeared above in the spring of 1982, was photographed from the Port of Seattle’s Pier 46, once the location of the old coal docks and now of containers. Orville Elden, a mechanic then for the American President Lines, the pier’s lessee, stands beside one of the cooling units that are regularly spaced between two rows of refrigerated containers. The composition like runway lights forms a line-of-sight that ends in the city’s new corporate center. The Hoge and Alaska Buildings, although dwarfed, are still visible to the left of the light pole. The lights pin point the spot where the Columbia Center’s 76 stories will eventually top off in 1984.   The paired photographs above from 1982 and 1984 were scanned from Seattle Now and Then, Volume One, where this story was reprinted after first appearing in Pacific Magazine long ago.

Compared to Price's photo at the top, here the Lincoln Hotel, far left across 4th from the Carnegie Library at the northwest corner of 4th and Madison, is still standing.
The cars below look like those I remember as a child of seven in 1945 when car models were a matter of great importance.
June 21, 1961. A Lawton Gowey slide.
The big black box usurper in 1971. Another Gowey slide.
Gowey's the "ides of April, 1976."
A Webters and Stevens studio look into the CBD. Seek and Ye Shall Find the Lincoln Hotel.
Lawton Gowey looks north on Second Ave., June 21, 1961.
Again over 2nd, Gowey on August 27, 1971.
April 15, 1976 - again by Lawton.
Photographed looking down from the roof of the Frye Hotel, the Tower's tower has been traded for some Lilliputians on the sidewalk below.

Our Daily Sykes #258 – The Oregon Coast

We have named this "Oregon Coast" because it looks like Oregon more than Washington, and judging from his Kodachrome responses it was the coast of his home state, Oregon, that Horace Sykes visited most often. Slim evidence, surely. But headlands like the one pointing to China are as unique as fingerprints and easier to read. Someone, we hope, will know it. Or take the time to try a Googlecopter trip from the Columbia River to Crescent City, California. They cannot miss it.

Our Daily Sykes #257 – Chelan Gorge Bridge & Chelan Butte Above it.

Our Daily Sykes #115 includes a view of the Chelan River gorge and bridge photographed from very near where Horace Sykes stood to record this view across the bridge and up a crease in Chelan Butte nearly to its 3000 foot-plus summit. That black-and-white photoraph was taken by Hugh Paradise, a traveling photographer and feature-writer who appeared often in Sunset Magazine. Besides the color Horace Sykes' view is distinguished by a Sykesian element: the rock at the foreground-left. To me is resembles the head of a surveying cobra. This like his foreground flowers and bushes is so very typical of Sykes.

Our Daily Sykes #256 – A Confident SOAP LAKE

Here either earlier or later Horace Sykes has taken a snap at the same lake appearing in Our Daily Sykes #253, and by now we are confident that this is, indeed, SOAP LAKE. Again, both views look south from the lake's northeast corner. Both show some of the "froth" produced by these waters, and now we see curved below Washington Highway 17, about two miles north of the community of Soap Lake, home of the zestful producer Kathy Kiefer. the artist who when Mt. St. Helens was acting out road a bike over the Cascades to Soap Lake and stayed.

Our Daily Sykes #254 – Forest Deity

   Forest Deity is what sculptor Dudley Carter named it, and here we see it in its original native place – somewhere. Born in New Westminster, Canada in 1891 Carter spent much of the first half of his life as a forest engineer and a timber cruiser too. He learned the art of wood carving first as an adolescent by watching the Tlingit and Kwaquit Indians at it. The second half of his century (1891-1992) was spent sculpting. He was the first artist-in-residence with the King County Parks and Recreation Dept. He was then 96 years old.  Somehow this rather large example of his work was moved for exhibition to an early Bellevue Arts and Crafts fair.  I found it there thru historylink’s essay 2888.  It shows a woman in a late 1940s dress standing beside it, and thereby helps one estimate its size, which you will see – if you look – will be bigger than it seems here – it seems to me.  Where, I wonder, has it wandered to by now?”]
CLICK TWICE to Enlarge

Seattle Now & Then: Harborview from Smith Tower

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Sighting east from the Smith Tower in 1930 to the part of First Hill called Profanity Hill. (Courtesy Municipal Archives)
NOW: This past fall Jean Sherrard visited the Smith Tower’s observation deck and shot in all directions, including here east to the full Harborview Medical Center on 9th Avenue.

Last Sunday’s “now-and-then” looked northwest from the roof of the brand new Harborview Hospital into the retail section of the business district.  That photo was recorded near the time that the hospital was dedicated in February 1931.

Now we look back at Harborview when it was still under construction. Here the photographer stands on the observation deck of the Smith Tower on May 30, 1930. Harborview reaches to its 5th and 6th floors, or about half way to its ultimate height, not counting the about three-story cap of its central tower.  There’s another hospital here as well. The tower and top floors of Providence (now part of Swedish Hospital) straddling James Street on 17th Ave. E. are not yet obscured by a full Harborview.

The old King County Courthouse on the right is but seven months and 9 days from being dynamited to its foundation. A belfry at the top has already been decapitated from this ponderous and painful tower.  Here through its 41 years some King County prisoners were executed.  Here in 1930 the building is a danger to enter, and yet it is still home to the county’s prisoners who were still months away from being marched to their new quarters at the top of the King County Courthouse facing City Hall Park.

The drying tower for the Fire Department’s Engine House No. 3 rises above the courthouse roof and just to the right of Harborview.  The station survives, although not its tower.

All the structures in the bottom half of the scene have been long since razed, and the Interstate 5 Freeway now makes its concrete swatch between 6th and 7th Avenues. Bottom-center sits the Pleasanton Hotel with three-story bays, balconies and an arched front door.  The Pleasanton faced Elliott Bay from the east side of 6th Avenue and on the north side of a Terrace Street so steep that it was only climbed by steps – you can see them to the right of the hotel.


Anything to add, Paul?  Yes Jean, a few related features from the past imperfectly presented.  For two of them I could not – again – find the negatives, and so have substituted scans of clips.   We have done it before and will again.   We start with another and earlier look to First Hill from the top of the Smith Tower.

This is central portion (aka middle) of a panorama taken most likely in 1913 before the Smith Tower's dedication (of July 4, 1914). The full panorama is included after the featured text, which was first printed in Pacific on Jan. 29, 1989. (Somewhere deep in the horde of old "now" negatives rests the repeat I took then.) With rare exceptions all of this handiwork was completed within the previous quarter-century since the city's "great fire" of 1889.)


The prospect east from the observation disk of the Smith Tower looks at about eye-level with the horizon of the part of First Hill, which has been variously called Yesler’s Hill, Profanity Hill and Pill Hill.

The name Yesler derived from Henry Yesler’s first reserve of timber, which he harvested here after the easy logging along the shore was used up.  The name Profanity comes from the habit of lawyers and litigants acquired after an exhausting climb to the King County Courthouse, the dominant landmark, right of center, included in the detail, which was taken from the pan exhibited below it.   Pill Hill is a reference to the collection of hospitals that have more recently taken the place of First Hill’s mansions.

The older view – photographed most likely in 1913 – and current view  (at least on January 29, 1929 when this was first printed in Pacific) share only two landmarks.  Easiest to located is the Trinity Parish Episcopal Church at 8th and James, the northwest corner.  If you follow the line of the old James Street cable up three blocks you will find the three stained-glass windows on the rear chancel wall of what is the sanctuary for the oldest Episcopalian congregation in Seattle.  The twin towers of the second surviving landmark, Immaculate Conception Church, just escape the horizon near the middle of the 1913 view.  The original neighborhood of homes and apartments between 4th and 7th avenues has been replaced by government buildings and the I-5 Freeway.

The complete Webster and Stevens (WS) studio panorama, although this printing of it is small. (Courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry. MOHAI holds the WS collection on a grant, now years ago, from Pemco.)
The feature printed directly below was first pubished in Pacific early enough to be included in Seattle Now and Then Vol. One, which was printed in 1984. All three collection, Vols. 1,2,3, can be read and "watched" on this blog. The are found under the "history books" button. Of course, they take a while to download! They are big.


The two most evident structures in the photograph above, taken about 1906, were both once King County Courthouses, and each was called a “castle.” Their somewhat eccentric histories, though quite different, both border on the grotesque.

The frame construction in the center was built in 1882 at the southeast comer of Third Avenue and Jefferson Street, the present site of City Hall Park. It had two careers, the first as the modest home for the county’s courts. But soon after the county moved out in 1890 and up to its new imperious courts overlooking the city (the dome on the horizon), the city moved in.

In the eighteen years municipal government was managed from that comer, Seattle’s population swelled from 40,000 to more than 200,000. City Hall swelled as well into an odd collection of clapboard additions aptly renamed the “Katzenjammer Kastle.”             When, in 1890, King County gave in to the monumental urge to recommend itself with a castle-on-a-hill, it also set off a chorus of complaints. From the start it was called the “Gray Pile,” the “Tower of Despair,” and the “Cruel Castle.” This poetic invective often fell to expletives less literary when lawyers in a hurry were forced to sprint the long and steep steps on Terrace Street to reach their litigation and pant out the abuses that gave the hill its popular name, “Profanity.”

In 1914 a local landmark of both mass and scale was completed with no despair: the Smith Tower. Less than one relatively level block away, ground was ceremonially broken, beginning construction of a new courthouse: the one still with us. The Town Crier, a local tabloid, announced: “In a city and county possessing such structures as the Smith, Hoge, and Alaska buildings and the Washington, Savoy, and other fIne hotels, the old Court House has long stood as a silent and dingy bit of sarcasm… . Fifteen years of effort by county commissioners to reduce profanity in King County to a minimum is now triumphantly consummated!”

Although lawyers and judges no longer needed to climb the hill, that did not end the profane career of the castle on the hill. The Times of January 17, 1926 reported that after 35 top-heavy years “King County’s old Courthouse, rearing its imposing bulk atop steep, slippery Profanity Hill, is in danger of collapse. Beneath its 200-foot tower of tons of crumbling brick . . . are more than 200 human beings, prisoners locked behind bars. The jail is a relic of barbarism. The danger of collapse is no mere fancy.”

The Times writer added to this grave description a dark and ironic revelation: “In the west wing, under the statue of Justice who has lost her scales, is the execution chamber, where records show at least two condemned prisoners have been hanged.”

Six years later on January 8, 1931 36 holes were bored into the crumbling brick pillars then still tentatively supporting the old Courthouse cupola. They shared 200 sticks of dynamite. In the moment it might take an exhausted barrister to mouth a monosyllabic indecency, the old embarrassment was leveled. And now fully revealed behind it and braced against a modem sky, the new King County Hospital appeared ready and waiting for its February dedication. 2 In 1931, the prisoners were moved into their own “penthouse” in the top floors of the new addition to the King County Courthouse looking down on City Hall Park.

Another look at the part of First Hill called Profanity Hill, this time from the second floor of the old Territorial University at 4th and Seneca in 1887. There are no institutions as yet on the hill. Note the distant cliff showing to the right of Providence Hospital. That precipice was between James and Jefferson Streets and stopped 8th Avenue from continuing to the south, without first leaping, (which, of course, it could not do then and still not.)


(correction: The clip below asserts that the view looks southwest from the territorial university.  It is actually southeast.)

The new Providence Hospital in the Squire Park Neighborhood on Second Hill (behind First Hill) on 17th Avenue was first printed in Pacific on June 10, 1990.  (That seems far too long ago.) Here folows another clip substituting for a lost (temporarily) negative.  It should be noted that the new Providence follows the old with a central tower facing the setting sun.   And this is the Providence that can be seen looking over the construction of Harborview Hospital in the photograph at the top.

You will find the substation, here looming down from 7th and Jefferson, in the First Hill pans, above – those taken from the Smith Tower.


Among the pack of turn-of-the-century power companies vying for Seattle consumers, the Seattle Cataract Company headquarters was cited to show-off.   Built against the steepest grade of First Hill this temple for power generated at Snoqualmie Falls flashed upon the customers and competitors below two electric signs.  The higher sign is evident here in whole, and the lower, in part.

At the southwest corner of the fourth floor the electric letters signing “Snoqualmie Light” illuminate a space the same size as the six windows at the structure’s northwest corner.  The effect makes the symmetry of substation’s west façade more dynamic.   Lower, between the second and third floors, the second sign, “Seattle Cataract Company,” is extended two-thirds of the width of the building.  Much of this second sign is hidden behind power poles.

This view dates from 1900 or 1901 when these looming headquarters were nearly new.  In 1898-99 the civil engineer Charles H. Baker slacked the grandeur of Snoqualmie Falls by diverting the river’s water behind the falls through a rock tunnel.  With a head of 270 feet the borrowed water suddenly turned 90 degree into a chiseled chamber fitted with four water wheels for the state’s first large hydroelectric plant.  The 6,000 kilowatts of power generated there was transmitted to customers from Everett to Tacoma.

When the Cataract company headquarters was built at the southwest corner of 7th Avenue and Jefferson Street – now the northbound lane for Interstate Five – its joined a neighborhood of mostly modest clapboard lodgings like those shown here.  First Hill mansions were at the top of the hill.  The Seattle Photo Company photographer recorded this scene from a back window or porch of the pioneer Kalmar Hotel at the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and James Street.   The old landmark Kalmar was lost to the Freeway in the early 1960s – in spite of efforts by local preservationists, led by architect Victor Steinbrueck, to save it.

The roofline of the First Hill landmark recorded here appears more ornate then it was.  The smaller cupola to the right is not its own, but rather tops the King County Courthouse otherwise hidden behind this the Snoqualmie Power headquarters and substation.  (Courtesy,  Museum of History and Industry)

Another clipping for want of the "real thing", the wandering negative. It has been sleep walking for twenty years. The feature originally appeared in Pacific on August 5,1990.


We shall wind this Sunday up with some Edge Clippings – two pages from an 1889 Seattle Post-Intelligencer.   It is a curious collection of proverbs translated from European sources.  Like “Our time runs on like a stream; first fall the leaves and then the tree.” Some are by now cliches.  Others offer strange advice.  A few are by now  inscrutable.  Several are examples of what we like to excuse with a . . . “Well you know that is the way they thought back then.  They can’t be blamed for that.” And often they cannot.

CLICK THESE not once but TWICE and they will be easily read.

What then have we learned?

“Don’t throw away your old shoes until you have got new ones.” Still “Everyone must wear out one pair of fool’s shoes, if he wear no more.” But “an ass does not stumble twice over the same stone.”  It is said that “A rich man is never ugly in the eyes of a girl” and yet “fair, good, rich and wise is a woman four stories high.”  Remember then that “a melon and a woman are hard to know (or chose).”