Seattle Now & Then: Fifth Avenue Parades

An unnamed photographer looks south on 5th Avenue thru Times Square during the final stages of an early American Legion sponsored Independence Day parade. After nearly two hours of marching, one-by-one the units were disbanded one block behind the photographer at 5th and Virginia Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: On Tuesday, July 5th last, Jean Sherrard and his ten-foot camera pole entered the flow of marching Lions from clubs around the world. The club motto is “We Serve,” and here they served this repeat nicely. The “now” view is printed a good deal wider than the historical scene in order to show off the day’s fanfare on Times Square.

Booming Seattle, looking for an open staging place north of Pioneer Square in the business district’s new retail neighborhood, found it here at this — depending on how you stretch it — five- or seven-star corner at Fifth Avenue and Stewart Street.

Two disruptions of the city grid prepared this intersection for civic celebrations. The oldest was the pioneer turn in the city’s street grid at Stewart Street. Next, in 1906, Westlake Avenue, between Pike Street and Denny Way, was cut through the grids, creating along the way pie-shaped blocks and several wide intersections, like this.

The 1915 addition of this newspaper’s elegant terra-cotta tiled Times Square Building (far right in both views) gave this civic space a stage from which to address political rallies, announce and post sports scores, and review Independence Day parades.

Jean Sherrard took advantage of the recently parading Lions on Fifth Avenue to make his repeat for the ca. 1926 American Legion-sponsored Fourth of July parade.

“My shot was taken late morning, with the sun high in the southeast,” Sherrard says. “Fifth Avenue at Stewart didn’t begin to emerge from shadow until the last few minutes of the parade. The crowd was thick enough that I stood in the crosswalk at Stewart, hoisting and lowering the camera pole without causing injury to strolling prides of Lions.

“Waves of parade participants flowed down Fifth Avenue, from the red and black banners and umbrellas of youngish German Lions to the yellow jerseys favored by exuberant marchers from both mainland China and Taiwan.

“Interestingly, American branches tended to be older and a bit more sedate than their international brethren.”


Anything to add, Paul?  Yes Jean, but just a few touches on Times Square.

First another parade, this one from the Great Depression, 1937. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

Next: Twenty years earlier.


(First appeared in Pacific, May 22, 1988)

This 1917 view of Times Square features three landmarks. One of them is moving and one survives. The survivor, of course, is the building after which the square was named: the Seattle Times Building, seen here, center-right, topped by six flags. Between 1916 and 1931, the newspaper published in this granite and terra cotta Beaux Arts temple perhaps the best memorial to the art of Carl Gould, Seattle’s most celebrated early-century architect.

Times Square was also named after New York City ‘s Times Square, which was also fronted by a newspaper, The New York Times. To complete the equation, Gould’s design also alludes to the New York paper’s plant. Also, neither of these squares is square. Seattle’s is star-shaped, formed by the chained intersection of Westlake, Fifth & Sixth Avenues, Olive and Stewart streets.

The Times Square Building is but one year old here. During World War I, the open area in front of it was a popular meeting place for wartime rallies. This quiet scene was shot on September 19, 1917, or one day before Seattle’s second “Great Recruitment Parade” was staged to send off 724 King County men to the French trenches.

The second stationary landmark in this scene is the noble little structure in the foreground, which is much too elegant to be called, simply, a bus stop. This combination waiting and rest station was built by the city in 1917 and included, below the sidewalk level, two rest rooms. The steps seen at this end lead to the men’s section. (This documenting view was photographed for the Seattle Engineering Department.)

The third and moving landmark is on the right: Car 51. This is one of the six Niles cars that the Pacific Northwest Traction Company bought from its manufacturer in Niles, Ohio for the Seattle-Everett Interurban. The purchase was made in the fall of 1910, or only a few months after the opening of the line in the spring of that year. Car 51 continued to serve until the evening of the Interurban’s last day, February 20, 1939.

Here Car 51, heading in from Everett, is about to take its last turn, onto Fifth Avenue for the two-block run to its terminus beside the Shirley Hotel on Fifth between Pike and Pine. In 1919 the depot was moved to the southeast corner of Sixth and Olive, and in 1927 to Eighth and Stewart on the site of the present Greyhound Depot.

Looking east from Westlake to the same shelter. Stewart is on the right and Sixth Ave. on the left. The date, Sept. 19, 1917, the same. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
Everett Seattle Interurban on Westlake, (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)



( First appeared in Pacific on Feb. 14,1999)

In “Raise Hell and Sell Newspapers,” Sharon Boswell and Lorraine McConagy’s 1996 history of Col. Alden J. Blethen marking the centennial of the founding of The Seattle Times, the 69-year-old editor-publisher is shown in shirtsleeves vigorously scooping the first shovel for the 1914 groundbreaking of his new Time’s Square plant.

As the authors explain, this was a momentary vigor, for Blethen’s health was in steep decline. Actual construction was put off until after his death in July 1915, and resumed by his sons as a monument to their father’s uncommon life. The building of Times Square began in September 1915 and proceeded with such speed that one year later, on Sept. 25, 1916, The Times could devote an entire edition to its move north from Second Avenue and Union Street to its new terra cotta-tile palace at Fifth and Olive.

The architects, Carl F. Gould and Charles Herbert Bebb, created a monument as much to Renaissance Revival style as to the Colonel. The new partners repeated the division of labor employed so effectively by Bebb’s former Chicago employers, the famous “prophet of modern architecture,” Louis Sullivan, and his partner, Dankmar Adler. Here the practical Bebb, like Adler in Chicago, handled the business and engineering while the Harvard-educated aesthete Gould, like Sullivan, created the designs. Gould took the Gothic plans Bebb had drawn earlier with another partner and transformed them into this gleaming Beaux Arts landmark. .

This rare view of the full northern facade was photographed before much of it was hidden between its neighbors. The flatiron block was Blethen’s direct and proud allusion to the similarly styled New York Times Building, which also faced a Times Square in Gotham. The newspaper continued to publish here until 1930, when it moved north again, this time to its current offices on Fairview Avenue North.

The Seattle Times at the northeast corner of 2nd and Union.
The Seattle Times by real photo postcard purveyor, Ellis. Stewart St. is on the left, Olive Way on the right, 4th Avenue in the foreground.
Times Square looking west from the Tower Building at the northwest corner of 7th Ave. and Stewart Street. The Medical Dental Bldg is on the left. (Courtesy, Seattle Public Library)
Times Building at the northwest corner of Fairview Ave. and John Street.


Here are printed two slides by Frank Shaw, which he has dated April 16, 1966.  The place, of course, is our extended Times Square intersection and the concern is the war in Vietnam.   It is not the earliest protest in Seattle, but still it is early.  The individual signs reflect a sometimes more sober rhetoric than that often used later.  One of the signs indicates support for the Buddhist – of Vietnam – criticism of the war.  I checked the Seattle Times for April 16, 1966 and April 17 too (that’s a Saturday and Sunday) and found a prominent report on the Buddhist story, but not on this Westlake protest.  Using the new on-line service for searching The Seattle Times between 1896 and 1984, I studied every page for that weekend but still I  might have missed it.*  The helpful chronology in Walt Crowley’s memoir of the Sixties, “Rites of Passage,” does not make not of it.  For that weekend of the 16th-17th of April, 1966, I did find one Vietnam protest story with a local angle, and I have attached it at the bottom.  While it holds no signs, the combined opinions of retired Army Colonel Martin T. Riley, Commander of the Catholic War Veterans, is a kind of broadside for the pro-war sentiments of the time.  I was then into my second year living in Seattle, having moved over from Spokane.  I did not attend this demo. and no longer remember if I knew about it in advance or learned about it later. If the vacuity of my search is confirmed, my chances of reading about it were diminished by the lack of coverage, at least in the Times.  I did not make it to the microfilm reader at the U.W. Library to search the Post-Intelligencer.

* You may wish to do your own “key word” search of The Seattle Times for whatever.   All you need is a Seattle Public Library card.  It shows your long bar code number, but you will also need to know your private 4-number code aka PIN number.   If it will help, mine is 1-2-3-4. Perhaps yours is too.  It is a common choice.

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