The Pike Street Dock (or pier or wharf), here on the right, welcomed Pacific Net and Twine as its primary renter in 1916, and so began the pier’s preoccupation with fisherman and their needs. The wharf in its enduring landmark size was built in 1903-4. The new dock’s principal tenants then were diverse and included, fish merchants, grain dealers and shipping companies.
With Pacific Net and Twine in residence, the dock became the central waterfront headquarters for the fishing fleet which often – as here – packed the slip between itself and the Schwabacher Pier, to the south and here on the left. Many of the fishermen’s voluntary groups like the Fishing Vessel Owners Association and the Purse Seiners’ Association took residence on the Pike Dock and a variety of sail-makers, fish brokers, and other specialists in supplies for the fisheries had offices there as well.
The Schwabacher wharf was the older pier. It was in this slip that the gold ship the S.S.Portland made its historic call in July 1897 with a “ton of gold” and thereby launched the gold rush north to the Yukon and Alaska. An older and smaller version of the Schwabacher pier just escaped the city’s “great fire” of 1889, and for weeks following it most of the materials for rebuilding the business district entered the city across its then mostly uncovered deck.
Recent history of this slip begins, we will say, with the destruction of what remained of the old Schwabacher Dock in 1967. The city purchased – without condemnation – the Pike Pier in 1973 for a bargain of $585,000. Two years earlier Mayor Wes Uhlman switched his advocacy for building a Forward Thrust (1968) funded Aquarium in Ballard to the Pike Street Pier. Construction on Waterfront Park (seen, in part, in the “now”) began in the fall of 1973. By the late 1970s both the park’s promenades and the aquarium’s tanks served a, by then, mostly playful central waterfront.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean there are a few items clinging to the sides of the Pike Pier we will put up. Much else has by now appeared in other stories – or their extras – so I’ll lean on Ron Edge to put them up next as hot-links (do you call them?). After that I’ll do some sampling. Much of what follows and more can be found in the Illustrated Waterfront History included in the “books” part of this blog.
Ron has found three primary links, and each features a string of stories and illustrations. Click on the picture (three of them) directly below and you will be carried to them.
Next we’ll lay in three photographs taken of, to me, an inscrutable life-saving demonstration on a low platform in the slip north of the Pike Pier. These look innocent enough and harmless too, and may most likely be tried at home without injury. The most heroic part in this is the performers willingness to appear in swim wear on the central waterfront when all others are bundled against the cold – or at least the rain. Note the stairway to the Pike Street trestle that after 1912 crossed high above both Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way) and Western Ave and reached the Pike Place Public Market.
The above detail from a 1911 map of the waterfront shows both the Schwabacher and Pike Street piers, and also to the proposed site for a power boat dock, which was never built. There is as yet no 1912 Pike Street trestle spanning Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way) here.
The Bogue Plan map (1912) above includes the then new Pike Street trestle as well as two novelties that were never built. The proposed line for the Union Pacific Tunnel meant, like the 1905 Great Northern Tunnel nearby, to move trains under the city between the new Union Pacific Depot on Jackson Street and the waterfront below Belltown. The map also shows an incline on Virginia Street that would have moved teams and their wagons up the steep hill from the waterfront to First Avenue.
First a detail and the below it a “now-then” of the Pike Street Coal Wharf, which was the first of many docks built at the foot of Pike Street. The photograph dates from the 1870s and was taken from the back porch or window of the Peterson & Bros photography studio on Front Street (First Avenue) at the foot of Cherry Street. The contemporary scene (from ca. 1990) was recorded from the parking garage that extends a block south on the west side of First from Columbia. The “now” prospect is much higher than Peterson’s, whose view was not obstructed my structures on Post Alley.