-Seattle Now & Then: The Nine Millionth Visitor

(Click to enlarge photos)

THEN: With her sister Nancy and her dad Harold standing behind her and her mom Laura, here on the left, Paula Dahl (Jones) has just learned that she alone is Century 21’s “goal marker,” the world fair’s 9 millionth visitor. She recalls, “Once I realized I hadn’t done anything wrong I started to feel pretty excited.” (Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Holding the sign that was suddenly hung around her neck in 1962, a half-century later the teacher at Issaquah’s Sunset Elementary, poses with her 5th grade class.

Six-year-old Paula Dahl was rather ready and very lucky for the excitement attendant on her second visit to Century 21.  It was in October, the last month of the 1962 world fair’s sixth month run, and the fair’s publicists had managed to inspire locals with the likelihood that the goal of having 9 million visitors would almost certainly be reached.  Paula remembers her parents making this point after the Dahl family’s most exciting day at the fair.
While her 9-year old sister Nancy waited at the turnstile with their mom, Paula stayed with her dad to buy the tickets, including the fated one.  Soon after the family was reunited at the turnstile surprises wondrously “fell” upon Paula.  First a bouquet of roses, an oversized stuffed dog and the glowing yellow sign that numbered her distinction.  City councilman, fair booster, and gregarious Democratic pol, Al Rochester, hung the sign around her neck, a neck that was no doubt smaller than expected.
For the rest of their lucky day the Dahl family rode the fair’s rides without fee, and toured the grounds like royalty always going to the head of the line.  Their guide, a European named Erika, made such an impression on Paula that she named her stuffed purple dog after her.  At the fair’s Plaza of States, Paula was asked to give a speech.  She recalls, “I really was very unsure about what I should say to this very large crowd of people; but somehow I managed the courage to say very meekly, ‘Hello.’ The crowd followed my ‘mini’ speech with the song, ‘For she’s a jolly good fellow!’”
While Paula wore out her purple Erika – “I rode it pretty hard.” – she saved her necklace sign with such care that it seems brand new in Jean Sherrard’s repeat.  There, Paula Dahl Jones, a fifth grade teacher at Sunset Elementary in Issaquah, poses with her class.  Also appearing behind her students are two special teachers for the day.  One is another Paula, Paula Becker, and the other Alan J. Stein, both lecturers on all things Century 21, and authors for the Seattle Center Foundation’s illustrated history of the fair, aptly named “The Future Remembered, the 1962 Worlds’ Fair & it’s Legacy.”
Authors Becker and Stein will be on hand this coming Saturday, April 21, for the beginning of the Center’s six month Golden Anniversary celebration of Century 21.  The opening ceremony begins at 10:30 am on the Center House Stage.


Anything to add, Paul?
Certainly Jean, and I may I also hope that you will reflect some on  your visit to Paula’s classroom at Sunset Elementary in Issaquah?  Here we will start with Ron Edge’s attachment of two links to former blog features that deal with Seattle Center and also to some extent with Century 21.  Following that we will attached three or four fresh – if retreaded – features as well as an ensemble of other appropriate subjects, most of the photos with short captions.


Frank Shaw captured the fireworks of April 21, 1961, which began a year-long countdown to the Century 21 opening. The Coliseum is certainly roofless.
Frank Shaw returns for the 10th anniversary on April 21, 1972. It was not a long walk for Frank, who lived four blocks from the Needle.


One  month separates the subject above, dated Dec. 8, 1927, and the one below, dated Jan. 9, 1928. Construction of the Civic Auditorium is progressing on the right.
(First appeared – in part – in Pacific on Nov. 7, 1993)
In its transformation from swale to Seattle Center, David and Louisa Denny’s donation claim never developed into a typical residential neighborhood. Rather, its uses were mixed – from the Dennys’ large garden (one of the principal sources of Seattle’s produce through the 1870s) to circuses, auto races, baseball, opera and Bumbershoots.    The contemporary photo (which I have as yet not uncovered) was recorded on Labor Day during Bumbershoot 1993. (I’ll substitute another Bumbershoot – a later one – and described within it the spot – once the intersection of Third Ave. and Harrison Street – from which this “then” was taken in 1928.)
On the right of the historical scene the city’s new auditorium is a work in progress. Built in great haste, it was dedicated Nov. 12, 1928, less than a year after this scene was photographed. The auditorium (which was later given
a new Opera House skin for the Century 21 fair in 1962) was part of a civic complex designed, as promotional material of the time put it, as the “most multipurpose auditorium group in the world,” lifting Seattle to the status of “Convention City of the Charmed Land.” Also included on the eleven-acre site were the surviving Ice Arena and Civic Field, which was replaced in the late 1950s by the Memorial Stadium.
In the distance, north of Mercer Street, Queen Anne Hill climbs to a 400-foot-plus horizon. Straight up Third, the roof line of Queen Anne High School is detectable at the center of the subject’s horizon.  Many of these residences survive in part because of the successful zoning struggle this community waged in the early 1970s to restrict the proliferation of high rises on the south slope of the hill.
The historical views were taken from positions a few yards to the right of these Bumbershoot visitors in 2007. This view also looks north from the east side of the International Fountain.
Bumbershoot 2006 seen from the roof of the Fisher Pavilion. The Civic Auditorium construction photos were taken in line with the trees on the right - just to the far (right) side of them. Queen Anne Hill is on the horizon. The next subject below looks south from Queen Anne Hill to the David and Louisa Denny claim in 1899 when it was used as a corral for mules headed for the Spanish-American war and any island insurrections that might spring from it.
Trading mules for Bumbershooters - or vice versa - and looking south in 1899 from near Warren Ave. and Aloha Street. (Courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.)
(First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 14, 1993)
This rear view of Seattle’s Civic Auditorium was photographed two short blocks from the scene shared directly above it. In the earlier scene, construction was beginning; here, nine or 10 months later, it is complete. At the time such speed was heralded as record-breaking.
The photographer looks across the freshly paved intersection of Fourth Avenue North and Harrison Street to the principal components of the new civic center: the Ice Arena, center right; the Civic Auditorium, center, and the Civic Field. The east end of its covered grandstand shows on the left. The sign above the Arena’s wide back door reads “Ice Skating Opens November 7th.” The 1928 dedication ceremonies featured an ice carnival presented by the Seattle Ice Skating and Hockey Association in benefit for Children’s Orthopedic Hospital.
The 6,500-seat auditorium had opened earlier for a Kiwanis convention. On June 20 the Kiwanis witnessed the auditorium’s first musical event, “Oriental,” with exotic dances, sets, soloists and a 50-piece orchestra. Civic Field was used for professional, amateur and high school sports. Seats (9,000) were covered, and the low “peekaboo fence” along Fourth and Harrison opened the contests to freeloaders – the “knothole gang on Deadbeat Hill.”
Included among the complex’s 655 events in 1935 were auto and dog shows, dances, operas, wrestling and boxing smokers, banquets, lectures, donkey baseball, soccer, hockey and lacrosse. But not Rita Rio and her all-girl orchestra. They were banned in 1939 by Mayor Arthur Langlie for “activities objectionable to a substantial portion of our citizens.” The Communist Party and the Jehovah Witnesses also were banned repeatedly by officials anxious to protect the public from controversial or eccentric ideas – material and spiritual.
If I have read this correctly, here Frank Shaw looks east from near the same corner on Harrison where the municipal photographer took the 1928 photo above Shaw's.
Seattle in 1896 from Queen Anne Hill. This view can be compared with the 1899 look at mules printed above.
From his apartment near by Frank Shaw walked up the southern slope of Queen Anne Hill to photograph Century 21 on its April 21, 1962.
Space Needle construction on Nov. 5, 1961 - only five months-plus left to get the revolving restaurant attached. Another photo by Frank Shaw.
The scale of things on Sept. 16, 1961. By Frank Shaw
A leg of the Coliseum, the west facade of the Flag Plaza Pavilion, and beyond it a stub of a needle.
An aerial of the future Seattle Center grounds, ca. 1959. Some of the clearing has already begun, for instance the Warren Ave. School - future site of the Coliseum - cannot be found. The view look east and a little north.
The memorial aka Seattle High School stadium became a destination for the floats of Seafair's parades years before Century 21. Warren Ave. School shows far right, and the armory on peeks around the cover of the stadium.
During the fair the stadium's tight running track was converted for a motorboat and water skiing show. Another Shaw subject.
Walking a rope high above the stadium floor and without - it seems - a net.
Long before a stadium was built the site of David and Louisa's pioneer garden was sometimes carpeted with sawdust and canvas for circuses.
And more mules - actually the same heroic ones of 1899 as those above. This view looks northeast. Fifth Avenue borders the scene to the east, crossing the wet acres on a very short trestle.
A Century 21 faux bush that prefigures artist Fred Bauer's Seattle Center landscape below, ca. 1970.
First a draining and enduring Great Depression and then a world war broke the gears of these civic dreams that were first proposed in 1937.
The pamphlet above is used courtesy of Michael Maslan, and the “grabbed” Seattle Times clipping below compliments of the Times and the Seattle Public Library, and its subscription to the “key word search” service of the Times.  [Click the clip twice for reading.  Titled “Realtor Scoffs at ‘Long Faces'” it is an invigorating read.]  By good luck the March 6, 1938 clipping also includes most of C.T. Conover’s first feature for the Times that he wound up writing for the paper well into the 1950s.

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