Seattle Now & Then: Pachyderms in Pioneer Square

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Thanks to Seattle Public Library’s “Seattle Room” librarian Jeannette Voiland for encouraging me to treat this Pioneer Square parade as part of the 1912 Golden Potlatch Parade. I’m convinced.
NOW: Both the elegant Maynard Building at the northwest Corner of Washington Street and First Ave. S., and Hotel Northern, its neighbor to the north, were built following the city’s “Great Fire” of 1889, and both survive in Jean Sherrard’s repeat.

This is one of three snapshots of a circus parade that Max Loudon, a sportsman-grocer with an adventurous camera, recorded at this pioneer corner and included in his photo album a century ago.  The others are of horses and a camel, both with costumed riders.  For this recording at First Ave. S. and Washington Street, Loudon did not need to travel far.  He worked in the neighborhood.  The horses follow.

With neither a clock nor shadows showing is it possible to determined which of the two subjects - that of the elephants and this with the horses - was recorded first? And the same for the camels below.

We are confident that there is more than one elephant rounding the corner here, for Loudon also photographed the parade nearer its origins in what was then just beyond booming Seattle’s freshly graded Denny Regrade neighborhood.  One of those remaining parade subjects shows more pachyderms, six in a row – and there may have been more. All are crowned with tenders dressed like this one, and musically accompanied, we know from the news coverage, by a “steaming head-splitting calliope.”  I’m pretty confident the subjects that follow with elephants and camels were photographed on 5th Avenue looking northwest from – or thru – Thomas Street, and so where today the monorail enters into the embracing bowels of the Emergency Music Project.  For evidence, below the two photos we’ll attach a detail from our stalwart 1912 – the year of the parade – real estate map.

Block 56 at the center of the 1912 map detail above, shows a line-up of eight frame structures on the west side of 5th Avenue and just north of Thomas Street.  (Two street cross the details, Thomas below its center and Harrison above it.  Broad Street is named and a helpful clue for negotiating the detail.

Heading west on Republican for the circus grounds near 3rd Ave.. To take a "now" for this shot - which Jean and I have often discussed but not yet managed - would take a pole even longer than his big ten-footer. The photographer. Loudon, stands where now the grade of the Memorial Stadium's west end is sunk.
Arranging the Big Top. The view looks north from near what is now the Center House. Nob Hill Ave. is on the right, and 3rd Ave on the left, leading up Queen Anne Hill to Queen Anne High on the horizon.

A century ago – and continuing long after – the Sells-Floto Circus was famous for its big top shows, menageries with scores of exotic animals, and its primary means of promotion – these parades.  Out of Denver, Sells-Floto cut its ticket prices in half to a mere two bits (a quarter or 25-cents) in 1909, a move that filled it tents with joyful customers and its competitors with rage. (Click this TWICE, I believe.)

A page from The Seattle Times for July 7, 1912. Besides a list of Potlatch features the page includes an amusing introduction to dentist E. Brown's flamboyant self-promotions - the kind that would make him the city's major in the mid 1920s. He was especially good at playing the victim role during the scandals of prohibition.

This year, 1912, Sells-Floto was part of Seattle’s second annual Golden Potlatch celebration.  The circus performed matinee and evening shows for two of the Potlatch’s eight days, and on the mornings of both it paraded down First Avenue from Belltown and back on Second Avenue. Loudon took his circus shots on either July 15 or 16, 1912, or perhaps on both.

A Sells-Floto advertisement from an earlier Seattle visit during May/June 1909.

Circus elephants were – as almost ever – our grandest earthbound visitors during the 1912 Potlatch, but they were not the celebration’s biggest attraction.  Those were the aeroplanes: Jean Romano’s Skeeter and Walter Edwards’ Curtis.  Twice daily they flew above the city and the bay.

Other Elephants have visited the old Potlatch Grounds – turned Seattle Center – since the early-century circus.  Here are two instances both by Frank Shaw, who – if you have been paying attention – you know lived in the neighborhood..   First – above – Shaw’s July 22, 1965 recording of a pachyderm line-up beside one of the lesser remainders from Century 21, followed – below – by Phil Dickert looking possessive of another elephants on the grounds.  Like Shaw – if I have read his caption correctly – Dickert was an abiding member of the Mountaineers.


May we then Jean be instructed by the watchful eye of the elephant.

And just for fun, let’s compare this Joshua Tree National Forest rock formation with the elephant’s eye above:


Anything to add, Paul (who, readers, is just now feeling lousy with flu or bad cold – send him good cheer)?

Jean, I enjoy your commiserations and also the change you made to our feature’s title – trading those elephants for the euphonious pachyderms.   I was tempted to go on with an alliteration that was also truer to pioneer usage for they were more likely to call it Pioneer Place than Pioneer Square.  We could have put our pachyderms in place, but will avoid it.  I’ll now add a few features related to the neighborhood and/or to elephants.  And if there is time yet tonight we will close asking, “When is it fair or proper to suggest that someone resembles an elephant?  Earlier we discussed this matter, which I may need to still sleep on and return to in the morning, after a good nightybears, which we might just for tonight call nighty-elephants or nighty-pachyderms.  Let the also silly readers decide.


The Maynard Building (built as the Dexter Horton bank following the city's "Great Fire" of 1889,) at the northwest corner of Washington and First Ave. E., circa 1904.


(First appeared in Pacific July 7, 1996)

Although not the earliest of the Pioneer Square Historic District’s many restorations, the revival of the Maynard Building was so faithful and full that this 1976 work won an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. The Maynard was an 1892 variation on the Romanesque-Revival style of most of the historic district buildings constructed immediately after the Great Fire of 1889.

This five-story home of the Dexter Horton Bank, Seattle’s first bank, was set at the site of the bank’s original home, a single-story building at the northwest corner of Commercial Street (First Avenue South) and Washington Street. Opened in 1870, it was one of the business district’s earliest brick-and-stone structures. (See feature following this one.) Enough of the earlier building survived the fire that Horton reused its frame for a temporary home until he could acquire the adjoining lot and built this comely creation of sandstone from Bellingham Bay and bricks from St. Louis.

This view was photographed about 1904, two years before the bank moved to a new home at Second and Cherry. The building’s new owners changed its name to honor Doc Maynard, the pioneer who platted the area in 1853 as part of his claim. In his elaborate research into Pioneer Square history, Tim O’Brian discovered that Maynard sold this corner lot to a Duwamish Indian named Miles Fowler, from whom Dexter Horton later acquired it. O’Brian and Pioneer Square Preservation Board member Greg Lang are preparing a virtual Walking Tour of Pioneer Square. When completed, it will be accessible through the World Wide Web, where users will be able to click their way to historical profiles of all the district’s blocks and buildings. The tour is being created with sponsorship of the Pioneer Square Community Council and a city neighborhood grant.


Above:  Following the city’s big fire of 1889, its first bank, Dexter Horton’s at First and Washington, although gutted was still secure in its back wall vault and so both used and guarded.   (Courtesy, Seattle Public Library)  Below.  Jean’s repeat of the “basket handle” arching of the burned bank’s windows.  The Maynard building replaced it in 1893.


(Appeared first in Pacific, August 6, 2010)

Sixty-three safes were counted in the ruins south of Yesler Way after the city’s “Great Fire” of June 6, 1889.   Sixty-three plus one.

The Dexter Horton Bank, Seattle’s first bank, at the northwest corner of Commercial Street (First Ave. S.) and Washington Street, was still standing, although without a roof and gutted of its lacquered appointments, like tellers cages, furniture and window casements.   But in the back was the vault, the bank’s own safe, seen here over the shoulder of a standing guard at the missing front door.  There the valuables survived and the room and its locks were kept working and guarded for a few weeks following the fire.

Dexter Horton arrived in Seattle penniless but fortunate: he came early in 1853.  By working hard in Yesler’s sawmill, and saving his pay Horton managed to first start a store and then in 1870 a real bank at this corner with a real safe, one he brought back with him from an extended visit to San Francisco to study banking.  Five years later, in 1875, he replaced his timber quarters with this brick and stone creation, one of the first such in Seattle.

From West Shore Magazine, an artists birdseye of rebuilding following the "Great First." The sturdy ruins of the bank appear bottom-left at the northwest corner of Washington and First.

Before he was a banker with a safe, Horton got a reputation for honesty by taking care of working men’s savings as they were off exploring for whatever.  He secreted their bundled wealth about his store in crannies and most famously at the bottom of a barrel filled with coffee beans.

A few days following the 1889 fire the Times suggested that “the fire has, perhaps, been more beneficial to that portion of the city around Washington Street so long inhabited by prostitutes . . . It may be well to notify the painted element here now that cribs will no longer be tolerated.  In the future this district will not be given for such purposes but for legitimate business only.”  In this case the paper was, of course, half wrong.  Both the prostitutes and the bankers returned.

Standing near the front door of the Dexter Horton bank, the photographer shoots north on Commercial Street (First Ave. S.) to Yesler Way, where its continued way north was then still stopped by the Yesler Leary building, although merely the ruins. This was "Yesler's Corner" and it cost the city a good percentage of its fire restoration budget to buy it from him following the fire.


Above:  Seattle was first developed along the four blocks of Commercial Street decorated here with small fir trees for a parade in 1888.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)  Below:  Following the city’s “great” 1889 fire, Pioneer Seattle’s two principal commercial streets, Commercial and Front (First Avenue) were joined directly here at Yesler Way and run through the site of the old Yesler-Leary building.  Consequently, Jean needed his ten-foot extension pole to approach – but not reach – the prospect of the unnamed historical photographer.


(First appeared in Pacific, April 28, 2008)

For looking south through the full four blocks of Seattle’s pioneer Commercial Street (First Ave. south from Yesler to King) an unnamed photographer carried his camera to the top floor of the Yesler-Leary Building.  The occasion was a parade heading north towards the photographer and considering the array of small American Flags strung across Commercial this rare view was most likely recorded on the morning of July 4, 1888.

There was then both a physical and cultural jog here at ‘Yesler’s Corner” (later Pioneer Square). It required all traffic, (including marching bands), to go around the Yesler-Leary building in order to continue north on Front Street (First Avenue).  Yesler Way was also the border or line between the grander, newer, and often brick-clad Seattle facing Front Street (behind the photographer) and the old pioneer Seattle seen here  “below the line.”  Generally Yesler was a gender divider too, for only women with business there ventured “below the line.”

An 1888 Commercial Street sampler includes seven of the city’s dozen hotels, three of its four pawnbrokers, and three of its four employment agencies, nine of its forty-one restaurants, four of seven wholesale liquor merchants.  The tightest quarters were in the block on the left where fourteen storefronts crowded the east side of Commercial between Yesler and Washington Streets.  Among those quartered were a cigar store, a barber, a hardware store (note the “Stoves and Tinware” sign), a “pork packer”, two “chop houses”, two saloons and the Druggist M.A. Kelly whose large and flamboyant sign shows bottom-left.

By contrast Front Street featured more of the finer values and “fancy goods”, like books & stationary, dry goods, confections, jewelers, photographers, physicians, tailors and an opera house.  Of the thirty-seven grocers listed in the 1888 city directory, eighteen have Front Street addresses, while on Commercial there was apparently nowhere to buy an apple or a bucket of lard.

In another eleven months and two days everything on Commercial Street and most of Front Street would be destroyed by the city’s “Great Fire” of June 6, 1889.



(First appeared in Pacific, Dec 11, 1994)

Any circus parade was a great promotion, an anticipated spectacle, and sometimes also a way to move the circus from the railroad depot to the performance site. That may be what’s happening with this Ringling Bros. procession on Second Avenue, here looking north from Seneca Street around noon on a sunny summer day.

Local circus enthusiast Michael Sporrer describes this as “one of the few Seattle photographs that is really good on elephants.” In Sporrer’s cataloging of Northwest circus appearances (a decades-old unpublished work in progress) he has Ringling Bros. here for two-day stands in late August 1902, ’03 and ’04. Since the most popular early-century Seattle venue for circuses was the open swale on Fifth Avenue North at Republican Street (now High School Memorial · Stadium) these elephants may be en route from the waterfront train depot to those green fields of Lower Queen Anne.

First and Second avenues – thru Belltown – were then the preferred routes to Queen Anne and North Seattle. Third Avenue stopped at Pine Street, one block and 100 feet below the front portico to the Victorian Denny Hotel atop Denny Hill. Here, this looming landmark interrupts the left ·horizon. To the far left Second Avenue still climbs the western slope of Denny Hill, so this view probably dates from 1902 or even 1903, when the regrading of Second Avenue that brought it to modern grades began. By 1910 the regraders would raze Denny Hill as far east as Fifth Avenue, taking everything including the hotel.

George Bartholomew’s Great Western Circus was, according to Sporrer, the first real circus to visit Seattle. It came overland from Virginia City, Mont., in 1867-by wagon. The last real full-blown circus parade to trek through downtown Seattle probably was the Cole Bros. Circus procession in 1937.  (The key here is “full-blown.”  I remember watching contemporary colored news film in a KING TV editing room in the early 1970s that looked down from Yesler Way on a long line of elephants heading north on 4th Avenue, while with their talented trunks they pruned some of the lower branches on the street trees along the way.)

The last big tent show hereabouts was Circus Vargas’ 1988 performance in Renton.


Then and Now Caps together:  One hundred and four years separate these looks east on Union Street from 3rd avenue.  In the historical scene Union Street has been closed and appointed for the 1902 Elk’s Carnival.  The now scene dates from 2006, and I no longer remember who took it.   The clever title “Fattest Babies” was, most likely, Pacific assistant editor, Kathy Triesch’s contribution.   By then Kathy had been reading and passing on these features for, it seems, twenty years.


(First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 8, 2006)

For thirteen days, beginning Monday the 18th of August, 1902, the Elks Lodge managed to fence off a sizeable section of downtown Seattle and produce the city’s first multi-day summer festival, “The Elk’s Carnival.”  We may compare this temporary gate to Bumbershoot, which cordons Seattle Center for a long weekend of ticketing and celebrating.  And with the One Reel Vaudeville Show as its producer since the early 1980s Seattle’s annual arts festival also behaves in a few of its many corners like a carnival.

The Elks furnished its “center” with booths, circus tents, and rides on the then still open and green acres of the old University campus on Denny’s Knoll.  From the northern border of the old campus the closed carnival grounds extended west on Union Street from Fifth Avenue to a grand entrance arch that spanned Union half way between Second and Third Avenue.  A shorter arm of this enclosure also ran one block south on Third Avenue to University Street.  This section was lined with booths offering, the Seattle Times reported, “the best products of the best city on earth.”

In this scene with his back to Third Avenue the photographer looks east on Union Street to the old Armory, which has been freshly painted “royal purple and purity white” for the carnival.  The camera has also captured the rump of “Regina.”  The carnival’s “Queen Elephant” is heading in the direction of what a Times reporter described as her own “corner of the campus [where] standing alone in her magnificence” she attracted “an ever increasing crowd of men and boys content . . . to worship humbly at the shrine of one of Africa’s greatest children.”

Meanwhile Seattle’s greatest babies were being judged in a “pretty booth” in the Armory.   There were, of course, prizes for the “prettiest girl” and the “handsomest” boy, but there was also an award for the “largest and fattest baby sixteen months old.”   A week “over or under sixteen months” was considered “no bar to entry.”  After making the awards, the judge, a Dr. Newlands, confided to a reporter, “I have about concluded that it will be wise for me to disappear for a while.”


Looking north on Front Street (First Ave) in 1878 from the front door to the Peterson & Bros photo studio at the foot of Cherry Street. (Courtesy, University Libraries, Special Collections aka Northwest Collection)


(First appeared in Pacific, Dec.30, 1984)

Seattle folks shopping for bargains in 1878 headed down Front Street and into the Elephant Store. There, in what was called a general store, they found bargains and a BIG selection. The store itself was a standout, a retail house among other buildings that looked like homes. Not true.

Most of the clapboards along Front Street (now First Avenue) also had profit as a purpose. One was a foundry, another a cigar store, another a drugstore, and down the block was a brewery.

The Elephant Store was raised at the southeast corner of Front Street and Columbia.   Moses Maddock’s drugstore is the dominant white structure two blocks north at Madison Street, just left of the photo’s center. Beyond that is where the more clearly residential part of Front Street began.

Also seen in the photo are Seattle’s first grand homes. The many-gabled home of Amos Brown at Spring Street is just above the drugstore and to right of the tall fir. Just to the left of the fir is the home of Arthur and Mary Denny, two of the city’s founders. When the Dennys moved into their fancy Victorian mansion in 1865, it was their third residence. Arthur lived there until his death in 1899. By then, the house was surrounded by multistory hotels and department stores.

In the photo, beyond the Denny home, Front Street jogs a little to the right and east at Pike Street, which was the northern end of Front Street’s 1876 improvement, by then the town’s greatest public work.  Before that regrading, there was a hump at Cherry Street (the site of the photographer Peterson’s perch), another rise at Marion and a ravine at Seneca deep enough to require a bridge.

This week’s scene depicts yet another topic of historical Seattle, bigger than either a street or an elephant. It is the hill on the horizon: Denny Hill. Here, the top of it reaches about 100 feet above the present elevation of Third Avenue, between Stewart and Virginia streets. This is the best surviving early record of Denny Hill.  (Or was when I first wrote this in 1984.  Since then Robinson’s 1869 panorama of Seattle taken from the second floor of the Snoqualmie Hall then at the southwest corner of Commercial St. aka First Ave. S., and Main Street showed in great detail the entire southern exposure of Denny Hill still with most of it’s virgin forest.



The caption at the top reads "Barnum & Bailey's Prade Aug. 1908. Everett Wash."

The caption above reads, in part "Seeing the elephants in Saskatoon."


For seeing the elephants in Saskatoon he took a room in the Windsor Hotel and was up well before noon awakened by the steam calliope hissing music that at night would have skeletons dancing behind the shaded windows above Main Street.  On circus day afternoon they kept on dancing but were not seen – hidden in the sunlight and forgotten for the elephant parade.  He heard one dancing in the room next to  his.  It was distracting.


We shall return tomorrow with a few more Elephants or Pachyderms, including a searching consideration of our common enough practice of comparing others – and ourselves too – to animals with special consideration here to one of the species which likes showers – sometimes of water and others of dirt – but also has that endearing appendage to deliver them.


(dateline: Sunday Morning, Jan 27, 2013 – Lesser Seattle)

With his back to 2nd Ave. S. Werner Langenhager looks west on Washington Street, Seattle's Skid Road, in 1956.

Besides the street trees and the historic three-ball light standard on the right the obvious difference in the “now” is the parking lot that in 1969 replaced the storefronts that held the northeast corner of Occidental Avenue and Washington Street when, toting his camera, Werner Langenhager visited the block fifty years ago. (Historical photo courtesy of Seattle Public Library.)

SKID ROAD – 1956

(First appeared in Pacific, summer of 2006)

We may celebrate the photographer Werner Langenhager’s sizeable and sensitive record of Seattle with this “golden anniversary” (2006) example of his work.  With his back to Second Avenue Langenhager looks west on Washington Street to its intersection with Occidental Avenue where, most obviously, the big block letters for Ivar’s fish bar hold the northwest corner.

On May 5, 1958 Lengenhager returned for this look north on Occidental into its intersection with Washington Street. A glimpse of the Seattle Hotel can still be had, on the right and above the bus.

Ivar was sentimental about these pioneer haunts.  During his college years in the 1920s he wrote a paper on the Skid Road for his class in sociology.  To get it right Ivar spent a week living in a neighborhood hotel, visiting the missions, and betting in the Chinese lotteries.

A Skid Road demonstration or protest at the intersection of Washington Street and Occidental Ave. on March 6, 1930. The view looks to the northwest. Ivar's future clam chowder enterprise here was on the sidewalk facing Washington in the Interurban Hotel Building. In this view the business that held that corner advertizes a sale and announces its eviction. The building to upper floors were removed before Ivar moved in, probably in response to the region's 1949 quake, which was strong enough to put a crack in the capitol dome.

For his first try at returning to the neighborhood as a restaurateur Ivar bought the old popcorn wagon in Pioneer Place (then the more popular name than Pioneer Square) in the early 1950s.  He planned to convert it into a chowder dispensary.  And he proposed building a replica of Seattle’s original log cabin also, of course, for selling chowder.  For different reasons both plots plopped and instead in 1954 he opened this corner fish house.  He called it his “chowder corner.”

Consulting the Polk City Directory for 1956 we can easily build a statistical profile for Ivar’s neighbors through the four “running blocks” of Occidental between Yesler Way and Main and Washington between First and Second.  Fifteen taverns are listed including the Lucky, the Loggers, the Oasis and the Silver Star.  But there were also ten cafes (including Ivar’s), six hotels, four each of barbers and cobblers, three second-hand shops, two drug stores, one loan shop, one “Loggers Labor Agency” and five charities, including the Light House.

The 1956 statistic for these four blocks that best hints at how this historic neighborhood was then in peril of being razed for parking is the vacancies.  There were twelve of them.

A Boyd & Braas recording on Washington St. also looking west from Second Avenue in the early 1890s - for comparison. (Courtesy, Rod Slemmons)


(First appeared in Pacific, March 14, 1993)

Some of the best and rarest views of Seattle’s reconstruction after the “Great Fire” of 1889 destroyed most of the city’s business district were photographed by William Boyd and/or Gene Braas.  Boyd and Braas were partners for two years, 1891-1892.  Their bug is printed here, lower right corner.

This view looks west on Washington Street, with the photographer’s back to Second Avenue.  It may be the single look up Washington Street that survives form the early 1890s; it’s the only one I’ve uncovered – or been shown, in this case by Rod Slemmons –  in 19 years of looking.

For topographic reasons there are, generally, many more historic photographs of downtown Seattle’s avenues than of its streets.  (The obvious exceptions are Yesler Way, Madison Street and Pike Street.)  Running north and south, it is the aveunes that are regularly appointed with landmarks and expensive commercial facades.

While not so architecturally distinguished, this lineup on Washington Street is culturally so, with loan offices, bars and bawdy stages.  The Standard at the southeast corner of Washington and Occidental – left of center and above the more distant of the scene’s two wagons – was notorious for the peddling of flesh and booze to the accompaniment of profane ballads.  In this neighborhood the rooms were cheap and lunches often free, but they were subsidized by liquor, gambling and expensive thrills.



Following a Greyhound tour of America, the zoo architect, Englishman David Hancocks, adopted Seattle as his home in 1975. Within a year he was named director of the Woodland Park Zoo. The zoo's African Savanna is the grandest example of his visionary intent to transform the zoo from a prison for animals to a natural habitat where they are freer to act at least more like themselves.
Woodland Park Pachyderms from the 50's.
Another Englishman - or Nova Scotian of English descent - Guy Phinney arrived in Seattle in 1881. Like Hancocks of the zoo, the Phinney family also stays, and the "Big Guy" - at six-foot-three and 275 pounds - quickly became a big local real estate boomer. He purchased the crown of Phinney Ridge for his country estate (like an Englishman) and gave it the name it kept even after the city purchased it in 1899. Phinney installed his namesake trolley for friends and family on Fremont Avenue. It ran from Fremont to the southern entrance of Woodland Park, just north of 50th Street and west of the Rose Garden. Partly in reference to his own ample physique, Phinney's electric trolley car, painted white, was popularly named the "White Elephant."



Some of your dorpatsherrardlomont blog browsers may remember the extended attachment we had to daily insertions of the Kodachrome travels of Northern Life fire insurance instructor and salesman's Horace Sykes. Here's are repeat of one of those nearly 500 examples of his work. These rocks are in Utah's and the national Arches National Park. They are part of an "elephant parade." Or may be. The park's scene the follows, also by Skykes, has a more solid foundation in this Pachyderm claim.
Another Arches National Park subject by Horace Sykes having to do with elephants.
Another elephant by Horace Sykes, this one sleeping in the Northwest.
Elephant kneeling in surf near Taholah, Washington. (Courtesy, Seattle Times)



Visiting vaudevillians posing for Max Loudon in the alley behind some Seattle theatre, about the time Max was also taking his photos of the parading elephants.

Some in the exotic tableau above may be playing the role of a Pachyderm.  For now that is as far as my thoughts about our common enough practice of finding similarities between human animals and the other animals has come.  I’ll return to it later with an addendum.  But as a guiding warning for the platonic dreamers among us we are hardly at the top in every quality.  Even the best swimmers among us are pathetic when compared to the lesser swimmers in the Amazon.  And who can have a nose that dances like an elephant’s nose and picks up things and sounds like a French Horn?    If you want to help than find us some pictures of people that look like elephants.   Any part or practice of them.  Try this please.  If you squint your eyes while looking a Loudon’s above group shot, do they as a whole they may resemble an elephant in profile?



Paris chronicle # 46 Snow on Rue des Carmes

It was a  great delight for Parisians, to discover last Sunday at noon, the entire town white and silent without cars.

I took this photo remembering Eugène Atget’s perspective, who photographed the Pantheon from rue Valette, which is in fact an extension of the rue des Carmes.

It is one of the last views of the Pantheon before its coming restoration …

C’était un émerveillement pour les parisiens de découvrir dimanche midi,  la ville toute blanche et silencieuse sans voiture.

J’ai pris cette photo en me souvenant de la perspective d’Eugène Atget qui photographia le Panthéon de la rue Valette, qui est en fait l’extension de la rue des Carmes.

C’est une des dernières vision du Panthéon avant sa restauration très prochaine…


Seattle Now & Then: Georgetown Firemen on Pike

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Outside of the “fire district” where building in brick and stone was required following Seattle’s “Great Fire” of 1889, the rest of the central city was still built mostly of wood, often with lodgings above and retail at the sidewalk, like here at 7th Ave. and Pike Street.
NOW: With its brilliant arch Pike Street now resembles a gate to paradise. Not so long ago when Seattle was occasionally featured as a “sin city,” one of the tainted corners picked on was here at 7th and Pike. Some readers will surely recall the Gay 90s Restaurant, Oaken Bucket Cocktails, the Golden Egg, the Caballero Dance Tavern, and many more bars including the Chi Chi, the Manhattan, the Circus, and the Lucky Boy.

We can tell from the printing on their helmets that these are the volunteers of the Georgetown fire department.  And we can easily discover that all are posing at the southwest corner of Pike Street and 7th Avenue – the street names are signed on the power pole left-of-center.  Pike, with its trolley tracks and still fresh bricks, is in the foreground while 7th is mostly hidden behind the force.

Very likely most of these men were also employee’s of Georgetown’s Rainier Brewery.  Their leader is posing with two children at the corner.  He is also distinguished by his white helmet on which is printed “captain.” Appearing again but alone, the captain was snapped a half block west on Pike Street posing in front of a sidewalk billboard promoting the two-day – Wednesday and Thursday – visit of the Ringling Brothers circus to Seattle on August 19 and 20.

The Georgetown fire brigade captain again but alone, posing in his buggy on Pike mid-block between 6th and 7th Avenues. The steeple mostly hidden behind the billboard scaffolding stands on the third lot north of Union Street on the east side of 7th Ave.. It was Seattle's first Unitarian Parish. The timing of the circus promoted on the billboard - or broadside - here, helped us date these two older photos from the Fickeisen photo album. Mostly likely these were done professionally.
With help from Ron Edge and Margaret Fickeisen – checking calendars, directories and maps and such  – we think we know the “when” for this well-wrought scene.  It is 1903.  By then Pike Street was already the north end’s “Main Street.”  The “why” for this pause-to-pose is most likely a parade.  Notice, far right, the bunting on the hose wagon’s big wheel.



A detail from the 1904 Sanborn real estate map shows the corner. It also names the Unitarian Church footprint, left of bottom-center.

Both subjects – the one shown and the other described – were copied from Henry J. Fickheisen’s revealing photo album, which was shared with us by his son Frank, whose grandfather, Carl W. Fickheisen opened a bakery in Georgetown in the 1890s.  Both the baker and his son were members of the brewery town’s volunteer fire brigade, and at least young Henry has been identified posing here on Pike in 1903.  The teenager is the second uniformed figure from the right.  Both the trumpet* (a bugle actually) he holds in his right hand and his clean face distinguish him.

* Thanks to John Dunne we have changed “trumpet,” our first choice for the instrument in “young Henry’s” hand – the one printed on pulp with The Times Sunday edition – to “bugle.’  Here’s the whole of John’s kind correction.  “Paul,  I always enjoy reading your column, often the most interesting part of the Sunday supplement.  I have a slight correction for your photo today.  You identified the instrument carried by young Henry as a trumpet.  What he is actually carrying is a bugle, used to alert the volunteers and residents to a fire.  The bugle call is prosaically named “Fire Call”, which I recall playing during my time as a Boy Scout camp bugler and still fondly remember.”

With its fine-line gilded lettering, the cover to the Fickeisen album is typical for its time.


Anything to add, Paul?    Jean, I am now searching for the parts to a feature I wrote on this block – Pike between 7th and 8th – a few years back.   If found it will be part of a short list of items that, again, relate to this neighborhood.  If I do not find it, I may still scan the clipping from the Times – when I find it.   Beyond that we will include a few other photos from the Fickeisen photo album from which we copied this feature.   (Thanks again to Ron Edge for scanning the entire album and to Ron’s standards, which are very steady and pixel-rich.) I’ll have it up before I climb the steps to nightybears (aka Nighty Bears) around 2:30 am.   [Actually is now 3:00 am.  We will return later this morning to do the proofing.]

The three-story frame structure on the southeast corner of 7th and Pike appears just above the center of this look east up Pike Street from a high prospect in or on top of the Eitel Building at the northwest corner of Pike Street and Second Ave. The new Broadway High School nearly fills the Capitol Hill horizon.
Face with red bricks and terra cotta tiles, the McKay Apartment-Hotel replaced the frame building in 1913. The sturdy new building was given a foundation that would allow for more stories, but 1921 plans to add three more were not fulfilled. The namesake owners, D.R. and Mathilde McKay, retired instead and "devoted considerable of their time to traveling."
This detail from a 1925 real estate map marks the McKay's place and its neighbors too including the Hotel Waldorf across Pike Street and the then new Eagles Auditorium behind it at the northeast corner of Union and 7th Ave. where it survives as home for ACT Theatre and as part of the state's convention center..

Above:  A circa 1923 look south on 8th Avenue over Pike Street, bottom-left. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)   Below: Jean’s repeat took him high above the historical photographers prospect to the roof of Grand Hyatt Hotel’s parking garage stacked for about ten stories atop Ruth’s Chris Steak House at 8th and Pine.  From that height the considerable bulk of the Convention Center screens most of the First Hill horizon.   Jean thanks Darcy, Michelle, Steve and Lam, the helpful string of contacts, which guided him to the roof.


(First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 2008))

Throwing long shadows across 8th Avenue, a late winter sunset lights up a trolley heading south from Pike Street (bottom-left) to Union where it will turn right for its last leg into the business district.

The unnamed photographer stands on the roof, probably, of the Jackson Apartments at 1521 8th and records a neighborhood of hotels, apartments and furniture stores in the middle ground, below a First Hill horizon.  We’ll name, left to right, the line-up of landmarks there.

Upper-left, the still plush Sorrento Hotel. Below it the dark brick mass of the since passed Normandie Apts. at 9th and University.  Next are the twin towers of St. James Cathedral and to its right the Van Siclen Apartments which face 8th a half-block west of Seneca.  Follows the nearly new Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist with its gleaming cream tiles and centered dome, since 1998 home of one of Seattle’s greatest cultural assets, Town Hall.  To the right are the twin domes of the exciter-preacher Mark Matthew’s First Presbyterian Church – one dome for his office and the other for the radio station of what became, the congregation claims, “the largest Presbyterian church in the world.”   Far right, the brick tower of Central School at 6th and Madison completes the horizon-line tour.

The likely date for this scene is 1922-23.  The same photographer on the same visit to the roof turned around and recorded the Cascade Neighborhood to the north.  We will study that next week.


Above: Looking north through a skyline of steeples towards the Cascade neighborhood and Lake Union, ca. 1923.  Courtesy, Lawton Gowey.  Below: Like last week’s repeat, this “now” took Jean much higher than the unknown historical photographer to the top of a windowless garage.  Here, on the far right, the landmark Camlin Hotel (1926), for decades home of the distinguished Cloud Room, is now dwarfed by new neighbors.


(First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 2008)

If we recall last week’s selection, which looked south on 8th Avenue over Pike Street in the early 1920s, then we may here pivot with the unnamed photographer and look north on the same afternoon.  Here on the distant horizon are parts of Queen Anne and Capitol Hills, left and right respectively, and between them Phinney Ridge and Wallingford beyond the hazy north shore of Lake Union.

Like last week’s subject this one also has landmarks on its horizon, although unlike those none of these are brick.  Most are wooden churches serving the Cascade Neighborhood, which quickly filled with homes for working families, many of them Scandinavians, during the city’s booming years between 1890 and 1910.  There are five steeples here.  Farthest to the left is Gethsemane Lutheran church, which was dedicated in 1901.  The congregation with Swedish roots still holds that southeast corner of 9th Avenue and Steward Street.   Directly behind it facing Terry Avenue are the German Lutherans and their Zion parish, which dates from 1896.  In 1951 the congregation moved to Wallingford.

Three more steeples, left to right, belong to the Norwegian-Danish Methodists at Stewart and Boren, next more Norwegians at Immanuel Lutheran (1912), kitty-corner to Cascade School (1894) at Thomas and Pontius, and last at Terry and Olive, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, with a tower that here crowds the smoke stack on the far right.   Also on the horizon, and nearly at the scene’s center is the smaller stepped tower of Fire Station No 15 at Minor and Virginia.

The resident rooms in the Astoria Hotel, left foreground, at 8th and Pine, were brightened by bay windows that were then typical of hotels and apartments built beyond the central business district.  Across 8th Avenue from the Astoria, Bernard Brin kept his Brin School for Popular Music for a few years.  His rooftop sign reads, “Learn To Play in Ten to Twenty Lessons.”  No instrument is named.


On the northeast corner of Pike Street and Seventh Ave., and so directly across Pike from the McKay Apt-Hotel, the Waldorf was distinguished by its bays, a variety of banded windows and an imposing cornice. The Waldorf can be seen in the feature that follows, which looks west on Pike from near Eighth Ave.
Since I failed - for now - to uncover the original scans for both the "now" and the "then" in this feature, I have scanned the Times clipping as a tolerable substitute.



(First appeared in Pacific, Jan 29, 1995)

This flash food along Pike Street came not from above, but below. On the morning of May 3, 1911, a contractor’s steam shovel cutting a grade for Fifth Avenue through the old University of Washington campus sunk its steel teeth into a sizable city water main. In moments the pressure within tore the pipe like a cooked noodle, releasing a geyser at Fifth Avenue’s intersection with University Street. There the flood divided, one channel moving west along University toward First Avenue and the other north on Fifth Avenue, where it split twice more, first at Union and then Pike streets.  This is the last of those three floods.

This view – complete with wading dog – looks east on Pike toward its intersection with Fifth Avenue. “For half an hour the district between Pike and Madison streets from Third to First avenue was flooded,” said the next morning’s Post -Intelligencer; “Improvised bridges of planks served to carry pedestrians across the rivers, horses floundered along hock-deep in the yellow waters, street cars left a swell like motor boats and the appearance of things was generally demoralized.”

Damage from this man-made freshet was minimal – a few basements were puddled. The water rarely leaped the curbs, although this sidewalk along Pike seems an exception. At the alley behind the former Seattle Times plant on Union Street, a dike was quickly constructed from bundles of newspapers, preventing the tide from spilling onto the presses. The reporter for The Times was amused by the many “funny situations” created, including the scene “where a hurrying couple avoided delay and kept the feet of a least one dry by the man picking up his companion and carrying her across the small river.”



(First appeared in Pacific, Jan 19, 1997)

The occasion for this small disaster on Sixth Avenue has eluded me. Neither the records of the city’s engineering department (the photo is theirs), nor those of the fire or water departments (a hydrant has been broken), nor a search of the daily papers for March 3, 1920 (the date captioned on the negative), has offered the slightest hint. Still, the event was significant enough to call out the city’s photographer to record it.

One flood at Sixth and Pike, however, gives me an excuse to refer to another.

In her delightful book “Pig-tail Days in Old Seattle” – a treasure of local pioneer reminiscences – Sophie Frye Bass, who grew up beside this intersection when Pike was still an ungraded wagon road, recalls how after a rain the streams that once ran across Pike “became torrents.” One stormy Christmas, Sophie took a “pretty mug” she had found in her stocking outside “to play in the water when the swift current caught it out of my hand and carried it away. Evidently it was not meant for me, for it said on it, in nice gold letters, ‘For a good girl.’ ”

Also in her book, Bass, granddaughter of Mary and Arthur Denny, recalls how on a Saturday morning in the late summer of 1890 the peace of this place was suddenly interrupted when a cougar raided a chicken coop and bounded through the intersection, scattering pedestrians along Pike. The puma’s Pike was already a mix of residences and storefronts, and Sophie Fry Bass’ streams had been diverted.



(First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 20, 1983)

In 1888 young Dr. Frantz Coe came west from Michigan looking for a practice and found one in Seattle when ex-mayor Gideon Weed, then one of the oldest, best respected and established physicians in town, invited Coe to share his offices.

So the 32-year-old doctor sent for his wife, Carrie, and soon they were nestled into 606 Pike St., one of the six newly built and joined abodes that together were called “Bridal Row.”

The Coes, however, were not on a honeymoon, for they had three children, Frantzel, Harry and Herbert. Within a year, the city’s Great Fire of 1889 would destroy the Weed and Coe medical offices but not the domestic peace along Bridal Row, which was described by Sophie Frye Bass in her book, “Pigtail Days In Old Seattle,” as “an attractive place with flowers in the garden and birds singing in the windows.”

Sophie also lived on Pike Street with her pioneer parents, George and Louisa Frye, just across Sixth Avenue from the Coes. The Fryes had moved there many years before when Pike was a path and their back door opened to the forest.

Although no longer at the end of town, the corner of Sixth and Pike was still largely residential in 1890. While the central city was loud with the noises escaping from its booming efforts to rebuild itself after the Great Fire, the residents along Pike were still listening to birds Sing and sniffing flowers. Some of them, like the Frye family, continued rural routines of milking cows and gathering eggs.

6th and Pike southwest corner, kitty-corner from Bridal Row ca. 1918.

Around 9:30 on the Saturday morning of Sept. 20 this settled peace was interrupted by what the next day’s Intelligencer called the “Panic on Pike Street.” Both Sophie Frye and young Herbert Coe witnessed a wild event.

Sophie Frye Bass recalled how “I heard the chickens cackle loudly . . .  and I shuddered when I saw a cougar cross Sixth Avenue; I could hardly believe my eyes.”

The cat had killed a chicken in the Kentucky Stables a short distance from the Frye home. There it also was shot in its behind and, quoting the newspaper’s account: “Enraged and uttering a terrific yell bounded the sidewalk and rushed down Sixth Avenue.”  The cat turned up Pike Street and, as “the panic spread to the thronged thoroughfare and all pedestrians made a rush for safety, with two great bounds the cougar landed in the yard of Dr. F.H. Coe’s residence.”

Nine-year-old Herbert, who was playing on the porch, heard the warning shouts and fled inside behind the front-room window. The big cat went to the window and looked at him, with his claws on the pane. For one long transfixed moment, they stared at one another until a man with a 44-caliber revolver emptied it into the cougar. Eight feet and 160 pounds the wild cat stumbled, bloodied the flowers along Bridal Row, and then lay still.

In our view of the Row, Herbert sits atop a fence post. Behind him is the window that kept him from the cat. In front of him is the then conventional wooden planking for the sidewalk, and here for the street as well.  With trolley service, Pike was the “main street” of the north end.

PP 70 and 71, the first two of four pages on Pike Street included in Pigtail Days.

By 1895, with the encouragement of a very good practice and the steady conversion of Pike Street into a commercial thoroughfare, Frantz Coe and his wife, Carrie, would leave Bridal Row and take their children up to a “better neighborhood” on First Hill.  In 1902 they moved again, this time to Washington Park and into a new home with a view out over the lake. In 1903, Pike Street was regraded to Broadway Avenue and Bridal Row put on stilts with a new first floor of storefronts moved in beneath it.

Dr. -Frantz Coe died suddenly in 1904, two years before his son, Herbert, would graduate from his father’s alma mater, the University of Michigan Medical School.  On July 15, 1962, The Seattle Times published a feature titled “Seattle’s Four Grand Old Men.” One of these was the “beloved” Dr. Herbert Coe who by then had for 54 years been an essential part of the Children’s Orthopedic’ Hospital, including 30 years as its chief of surgical services and ten years as chief of staff.

Herbert Coe died in 1968 at 87.  He was survived by his two sons and widow, Lucy Campbell Coe, daughter of a pioneer hardwareman, James Campbell. Mrs. Coe recalled for us the details of young Herbert’s confrontation with the cougar and supplied the photograph of Bridal Row. This year (1983) Mrs. Coe will celebrate her 96th birthday.

Looking east on Pike thru Sixth Avenue with the Waldorf hotel sparkling at 7th Avenue in spite of this bruised negative. The shops on the left are the same addresses as those in the "now" photograph printed above. Note the light standards that date from the late 1920s. The McKay Apt-Hotel can be glimpsed thru and below them. The scene dates from 1939.


Now follow a few subjects from the Fickeisen album
A fine variation on the once popular domestic subject of a family reading together.
Another convention and still a popular gag. With so many witnesses it - something - must be there.
The family's Georgetown Bakery
At the oven. Note the Fickeisen on the right whose profile is so perfect that he appears (to me) to be nearly a mannequin.
Another well-wrought Fickeisen - we assume - doing some well-wrought work beside a well-lighted home (we continue to assume) laboratory table.
The Georgetown Oregon and Washington Depot, circa 1912.
Excluding the children, of course, workers at the brewery perhaps posing with part of factory to the rear. (This too is speculation.)
This is surely part of the Georgetown brewery - the famous fountain part on a winter day. Recently Jean and I discovered this brew-mistress still holding her glass aloft but now at the old Rainier plant in South Seattle, or just north of Spokane Street and long the home of Tullies, which, it seems, will soon be in now need of a home. I might have include the snapshot I took of Jean taking a picture of the statues but, again, I could not find it in a timely fashion. We might return to this really sensational (very cold) subject for a now-then feature in the Times, later. Minerva, I suspect.
All the young dudes, or some of them, well-hatted and posing with distinction.
Here's Louis Hirsch leaving Seattle's main Carnegie Library on August 18, 1912. And here we may understand the once popular Seattle instruction between literate friends, "Meet me at the steps."
A good part of the Fickeisen album is given to a grand trip east. This since roughly fated Atlantic City beach is the only east coast image we are including here.
A rare scene from White City, Madison Park's short-lived amusement park.
Another Madison Park attraction, this time on the race track that once attracted everything that could compete for speed and duration - horses, motorcycles, motorcars. Here two devilish fellows both stand on two horses, an attraction reported by the track promoters as an ancient Roman spectacle.
At the northwest corner of Cherry Street and Second Avenue - still - the 1911 construction of the Hoge Building was at its completion claimed to have set a record for speed.
From the rear of the Rainier-Grand hotel on First Ave. between Marion and Madison Streets, looking to the intersection of Madison and Western, where a Madison Street Cable Car makes its way, and above it the nearly new finger piers from No. 4 (now 55) on the left. Note the temporary trestle in Elliot Bay, pile-driven there to distribute Denny Hill into depths.
Finally, for this small selection, a wonderfully composed and flowing portrait of Snoqualmie Falls beneath a sympathetic sky, but one also in need of some tender Photoshop polish.











HELIX Vol.4 No.2 July 18, 1968

We return to our postings of – if you have forgotten – the Seattle-based tabloid HELIX, which was originally published on newsprint between the budding seasons of 1967 and 70.   With this issue Number 2 from Volume 4 we reach the mid-summer excitements of 1968.  We were – surprisingly to this reader – still a bi-weekly then.  (Surely, we will become a weekly soon.)  Our haphazard insertions – as of late we have not made weekly those weekly offerings as originally hoped  – are the result of working from two continents, although both are in the Western Hemisphere.  During this audio commentary you will sometimes hear a not displeasing percussive sound behind the conversation.  It comes from street work outside Bill and Kel’s apartment in Lima, Peru.  The conversation between Bill and myself was dropped toward the very end  for a short while providing a sonar like intermission. By now Bill has Vol. 4 No. 3 already in hand which was done on Ron’s new* oversize scanner, and so the work of recording/scanning the pages has been made easier for him and the results are somewhat clearer for all of us.  (*It may be not new but used.  Ron has a profound knack for finding his technology in thrift stores. While this is good for the environment it is not so swell for the gross national product, and that. we know, is an old conflict.)

B.White and P. Dorpat

[audio:|titles=HelixVol 4 No 2]


Seattle Now & Then: Alley to James Street

THEN: Looking north down the Alley between Jefferson and James Street, in the First Hill block also bordered by Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
NOW: The screen of trees on the right, border the 7th Avenue exit to James Street off of the 1-5 Freeway. The Seattle Freeway – the name used most commonly for it during I-5’s construction in the 1960s – was dedicated on Jan. 3, 1967. Dan Evans, the state governor then, helped with the big scissors.

[CLICK – sometimes double-click – to ENLARGE the IMAGES]

Most likely the photographer for this record of dilapidation was James Lee who worked with his cameras (both still and moving) for the city’s public works department.  Both the Municipal Archive and the University of Washington archive include helpful examples of Lee’s field recordings, some as old as 1910.

This subject was used in the 1930s as evidence in favor of slum clearing for the then new Seattle Housing Authority’s plans for Yesler Terrace, the city’s first low-income housing project.  Once built, Yesler Terrace came close to this site, missing it by a block.  Lee looks north down the alley to James Street in the short 500-block between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.  His back is to Jefferson Street.

Perhaps the man standing in the shadows of the alley, bottom left, is Andrew Knudsen, who is listed in the 1938 Polk City Directory as living at 511&1/2, the likely address for one of these alley houses.  A 72-year-old Knudsen is still there in 1948 when this newspaper reported that he was hit by a car driven negligently by Ken C. Johnson.  Fortunately Harborview Hospital was nearby.  Knudsen was treated and soon released, but Johnson, most likely, surrendered his license.  Four years more when John W. Pearson is found dead at the same address, the city published a notice – again in The Times – asking anyone who knew him or off him to contact the Johnson and Sons Mortuary.

These little homes date from the 1890s – perhaps one or more may have been built already in the late 1880s when the slope up First Hill began its rapid development.   And they were survivors.  It was only the building of the Seattle Freeway – not Yesler Terrace – that brought them down.


Anything to add, Paul?   We will stay near “our alley” for the most part Jean – perhaps every part.

We had hoped to generously mark many of our prints with interior captions that marked the several points of interest. In this - for want of time and skill - we have failed. Here is an example - only. The alley of interest - aka "our alley" is directly above the caption, which rests on the rooftop of the then recently enlarged with added stories King County Courthouse. (Thanks here, again, to Ron Edger for used of several of his Seattle aerials.) The aerial dates from 1950.
A helpful detail of "our alley" from the same Edge 1950 aerial.
Our Alley appears here running through Block No. 45, Note the red footprint for the Puget Power transfer station (electric not waste) at the southwest corner of Jefferson and 7th Ave. The competitor, Seattle City Light, is also marked in red at the bottom of this detail. It sits on Yesler Way near 7th and Spruce. We will return to to the Puget Power plant below, and much else that appears here as footprints and drawn paths. (This early page from the Baist Atlas was used often and so bears the damage of that. But such scars are rare in our copy.)
Looking northwest from 7th Avenue, we find near the center of this subject the Jefferson Street entrance to "our" alley. The big white structure above the alley is the Kalmar Hotel at the southeast corner of James and 6th Avenue. This "then" and the "now" that follows it, appeared with essay in this blog recently - somewhat. The "then" dates from late 1887 or early 1888. That spring Central School, far right horizon, burned to the ground. (That helps with the dating.)
Jean's repeat from 7th Avenue. (Jean has a colored version in his own computer, but is at this moment off to Hillside School making sets for the next play production there, this time with his younger students, and everyone of them!)
Frank Shaw's study of work-in-progress on the Seattle Freeway on January 26, 1963. Shaw stood somewhat close to 7th Ave. but on the freeway's path. He looks north toward the James Street crossing.
Shaw returns on August 15, 1964. By then the IBM Building has joined the skyline, from Shaw's prospect it peeks above the Federal Courthouse.
Another stalwart of this blog, Lawton Gowey - bless him - took to the Smith Tower to get this look thru the neighborhood soon to be marked by freeway construction. Like Frank Shaw, Lawton almost always dated his subjects. This one is from June 21, 1961. Our block is right of center - with the green verdure on its western half and then the alley and a few of the homes along it - the same homes that appear in the primary subject at the top of this blog. Trinity Church is above-center, and the north end of the Puget Power building is far right, at the corner of 7th and Jefferson. The Kalmar Hotel is in there too, center-right at the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and James Street.
Lawton Gowey returned to the Smith Tower for his repeat on May 15, 1976. Actually, Lawton and his camera made many visits to the tower.
Much the same territory from the Smith Tower in 1913 from the opportunist photographers of Webster and Stevens, visiting the top of the tower long before its 1914 dedication.
A helpful reminder - a detail of "our alley" from the 1950 Edge aerial. Block 45 is missing the three row houses on 7th. We'll see them below - a few times.
Another neighborhood revelation - with "our" block. The hand-drawn light blue bordered irregular compound indicates the borders of the Yesler Way Housing as originally planned. The most northerly of the borders part reaches halfway into our Bock 45. A hand has dated this original "1939" on its far-right border. It may be 1938.
The same area as that outlined above, here for an artist's birdseye of the future Yesler Terrace Low Rent Housing Project

We return, above, to the Webster and Stevens 1913 look into the neighborhood from the Smith Tower in order to point out the Kalmar Hotel, at the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and James Street.  James climbs the hill on the left.  Fifth Ave. is the first street that crosses the subject – north to south, left to the right – near the bottom of the scene.  (Our Lady of Good Help is found at Fifths intersection with Jefferson Street, the street that climbs from the subjects center.)  Sixth Ave. is the next street up the hill, crossing the subject, left to right i.e. north to south.  Jefferson Street between Sixth and Seventh (and further to half way between Seventh and Eighth) is not graded.  So it shows the darker gray of weeds and such.   Our alley, however, does cut a light swatch across it.  Following the alley north to James puts us, as it seems, on the roof of the big and boxish Kalmar Hotel.

The Kalmar Hotel with the James Street Trolley climbing to First Hill at the intersection of James and 6th. (The text below appeared with this pix long ago in Pacific.)

The Kalmar photographed late in its life by Lawton Gowey.
My recording of this same intersection of Sixth Ave. and James Street and its southeast corner from a few years back. Here the reader is encouraged to go forward into the shadows below the freeway and imagine there the "now" or "repeat" for the historical photo that follows of the Puget Power plant at the southwest corner of 7th Avenue and Jefferson Street.
Our alley on the left, Jefferson Street crossing from the right, and the Puget Power transfer station surmounting all. Heed the familiar home - lower left corner - on "our alley." (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey - as a collector. The photo dates from the early 20th Century.)

Harborview Hospital is under construction in this 1930 view and the nearly decapitated King County Court House is soon to be razed. Note the by now shabby Puget Power plant, left-of-center and above it, and the beginning of "our alley" to the left of it. The Seattle City Light electrical transfer station on Yesler is far-right. Bottom-left, work is beginning on raising the roof several stories for the King County Courthouse, to a new top floor penthouse for the prisoners brought down to it from the old and still barely standing Courthouse seen here on First Hill - here aka Profanity Hill - in front of the Harborview construction site.
The King County Courthouse on First Hill (aka in this part, Profanity Hill) under construction, ca. 1890.
Only 40 years later, the columns "deconstruction", another sign of a booming metropolis.

Then Caption:  The grades up First Hill from the Central Business district involved a variety of uneven dips that can scarcely be imagined since the construction of the Seattle Freeway Ditch.  If preserved these old clapboards would have been suspended several stories above Interstate Five.  (Pix courtesy Lawton Gowey)  Now Caption:  Jean’s contemporary view repeats the presentation of the Harborview Hospital tower, upper-right, while looking north from the Madison Street bridge over the freeway.  Two blocks south of Jean’s prospect Columbia Street climbs First Hill.

Freeway Laundry

(First appeared in Pacific, May 18, 2008)

Here is yet another unattributed, undated, and unidentified historical photograph with yet very helpful clues – this time two of them.

First is the obvious one, the tower of Harborview Hospital upper-right, which was completed in 1931.  We may compare the tower to a fingerprint, for when Jean Sherrard visited 6th Avenue, which we agreed was a likely prospect for this view of the tower, he first discovered that when he set his camera on 6th about 20 yards north of Madison Street that the basic forms in his view finder of Harborview tower and the tower in the historical photograph lined up.    But it still “seemed” that he was too far from the tower to, for instance, imagine having a conversation in normal tones with the unnamed historical photographer across – I’ll estimate – about seventy years.  Jean needed to move south.

The second helpful clue is the sign on the wall of the frame building right of center and above the hanging wash.  It reads, “Admiral Transfer Company – Day – Night – Holiday Service.”   The address for Clyde Witherspoon’s Admiral Transfer in 1938 is 622 Columbia Street, which puts it at the northwest corner with 7th Avenue and Columbia.   Now we may move south from Jean’s original position on 6th Ave. to the alley a half block south of Marion Street and between 6th and 7th Avenues.  If Jean could have managed to make it there he would have been suspended sixty feet or so above the center of the Interstate-5 ditch.    Instead, for his second look to the tower he stood on the Madison Street overpass.

The houses on the left are in the 800 block on Seventh Avenue.  Real estate maps show them set back some from the street.  And whose uniformly white wash is this?   Again in the 1938 city directory the laundryman Charles Cham is listed at 813 7th Avenue.   Perhaps this is part of Cham’s consignment from a neighborhood restaurant.



Looking northwest from an upper terrace - or lower roof - of Harborview Hospital. At the lower-left corner are the 8th Avenue fronts of two of the houses seen in the feature of this one - the extended First Hill laundry story. The subject is dated 1930 and includes the nearly new Exchange Building, far left, the Northern Life Tower, right-of-center, and the also nearly new Washington Athletic Club, on the far right. Our alley is mostly hidden behind the structures and trees on the left between 8th and 7th and south of James. Trinity Episcopal Church is on the right.
Long shadows from a late afternoon sun reach in the direction of the brilliantly new Harborview Hospital in this close-in aerial. Note the vacant lot, right-of-center. It is the former home for he top-heavy court house. Also note the homes at the southwest corner of 8th and Jefferson - in the home-stuffed block, left-of-center. The most northeastern of those are the same homes that appear in both the clipping above, and the panorama too. And here we glimpse, bottom-center, the tops for the three row houses on the west side of 7th Ave. in our block 45 between Jefferson and James. Just above and right of the row is Puget Power, while, far-right at Yesler and with its corner towers resembling a sanctuary for pubic works is its City Light competitor.


Recorded in the late 1930s as a piece for Seattle Housing propaganda depicting the saddened housing stock on the western and southern slopes of First Hill. We are expected to feel some compassion for this old man (nice hat), who only needs a new home for him to revive from a life of sitting on steps above the alley - our alley. It was while preparing this posting that I determined where it was photographed, and, yes, it is from "our alley." Note the row houses above. Next we'll print a few subjects that include them.
The row houses on 7th dazzle here - right of center - below the tower of Trinity Church. St. James Cathedral lights the horizon, and at the bottom below it - and in its archdiocese shadow - one can find Our Lady of Good Help Catholic Church at the southeast corner of 5th Ave. and Jefferson Street. Note the glowing tower atop Puget Power, upper-right. (Earlier, Jean and I posed a feature for this Romans photo, which was taken, we determined, from the Great Northern Depot tower. Try, if you will, a key word search on St. James and/or Romans.)
Block 45 shows at the center of this Feb. 26, 1930 aerial by Pierson. The row is easily identified on the east side of 7th Ave. and left of Puget Power too. Both are near the subject's center.
LaRoche's ca. 1891 look north on 7th Street from the front lawn of the King County Courthouse. The row houses appear here right of center. This "puts' our alley downhill and to the left of them. Central School appears on the right, filling the block between Marion and Madison Streets, and Sixth and Seventh Avenues. The over-sized Rainier Hotel is near the scene's center bordered by Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Columbia and Marion Streets. (Key word it - if you will.)
Returning to the 1913 look east from the nearly completed Smith Tower we see the by now many "familiars" - the alley and its row of nearly identical and attached houses (three of them), Puget Power, the King County Court House, Kalmar Hotel, and, near the bottom-center, Our Lake of Good Help Catholic Church at the southeast corner of 5th Ave. and Jefferson Street.
Our Lady of Good Help at the southeast corner of Jefferson and 5th Avenue.


(First appeared in Pacific, Dec. 14, 1986)

That Our Lady of Good Help no longer graces the southeast comer of 5th Avenue and Jefferson Street is not the result of a slide in her parishioners’ faith but of one in the earth beneath her. The church’s 1949 demise was reported by the Times. “The city’s oldest Catholic church was abandoned hurriedly yesterday afternoon when it was discovered that the old frame structure . . . was threatening to slide into Fifth Avenue.” The heavy rains in February shifted the church, threw the windows out of line, tilted the chimney and, as the Rev. Joseph P. Dougherty noted while negotiating his way through the congregation’s last Mass, twisted the altar steps.

Our Lady of Good Hope at 5th and Jefferson with part of the west facade of Puget Power up Jefferson Street at its southwest corner with 7th Avenue.

Our Lady took her first “slide” 45 years earlier when the original sanctu•ary at Third Avenue and Washington Street was tom down and the valuable property sold for commercial use. The $104,000 received was not used to build this modest replacement on 5th Avenue, but rather helped fuel the building fund for the grand twin-towered St. James Cathedral above it on First Hill. When Seattle’s cathedral was dedicated in 1907, it fulfilled the archdiocese’s 1903 decision to move here from Vancouver, W A.

In its last year, 1903, the old Our Lady at 3rd and Washington was used by the archdiocese’s Bishop Edward O’Dea as his pro-cathedral while he made plans for St. James. This meant that the city’s first priest, Father Prefontaine, not only lost the old church he’d built, but that his congregation would ultimately lose its distinction as Seattle’s center of Catholicism.

Looking north on 5th Avenue in 1939. The front stairway to the parish is on the right and Jefferson Street just beyond it. Note the Drake Hotel at the southwest coner of 5th and James.

The cross-topped octagonal spire is the one part of the old Our Lady which was incorporated in this, its 1905 replacement on the corner of 5th and Jefferson. By then Father Prefontaine had retired to a home overlooking Volunteer Park. The home was his, for the French-Canadian Prefontaine was known not only for his jovial disposition, delightful ecumenical manner and love for Protestants, but also for his taste for fine food, good cigars, and real estate.

The city powers-that-were were so fond of the pioneer priest that while he still lived, they named for him the short street that skirts the property south of Yesler Way and that Francis X. Prefontaine himself first cleared for his sanctuary in the late 1860s. After his death, Prefontaine added to his landmarks by leaving $5,000 for the Prefontaine fountain that intermittently still spouts at Third Avenue and Yesler Way. But his “Lady” has slipped away.

The original Our Lady parish with dates inclusive and the affable father inset.
A few First Hill towers in 1930. Work is nearly completed on the Harborview tower. Whilte the tip-top of the King County Courthouse is weight subtracted, the structure still seems to ponder, and will soon be razed. The Puget Power roofline - here left of center - is not so distinguished in 1930 as it was ca. 1905 (a few scenes above this one), and Our Lady of Good Help just escapes the lower-right corner.
Grading for the Seattle Freeway subtracted the part of Yesler Terrace, which was due west of Harborview.
May 16, 1964, Frank Shaw looks south-southwest over Seattle Freeway construction from a prospect near 8th and Jefferson.


Seattle Now & Then: Frank Shaw's Big Neighbor

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Work on the Washington State Coliseum began early in 1960. For Frank Shaw it wasn’t until the early summer of ’61 that the Space Needle suddenly emerged from the Coliseum’s roof line and kept on ascending. From his apartment windows Shaw photographed the view of the superimposed and still growing landmarks on September 16, 1961
NOW: On our early Sept. visit to Shaw’s corner we could not get into what was Frank’s Apartment 203, so Jean extended his oft-used ten-foot-pole and took this look kitty-corner at First Ave. N. and Republican. The Coliseum is hidden here behind the late summer landscape and the Queen Anne Post Office (1964).

From the roof, but more often from his second-floor window of Wedgewood Court, a comely lower Queen Anne apartment house, Frank Owen Shaw watched Seattle’s Century 21 take shape, especially the largest part of it: the Washington State Coliseum.  It was directly kitty-corner from his flat.

In 1957 the life-long bachelor moved into one of what the Wedgwood Court appropriately advertised then as its “nicely furnished bachelor apartments.”   From his privileged prospect, the Boeing quality control inspector, could also watch the Space Needle rise like a barometer of the fair’s heated construction, and he kept photographing this great pubic work both on site and from his window above the northwest corner of First Ave. N. and Republican Street.

Before Shaw moved out one month before the fair opened on April 21, 1962, he carefully framed his last 2×2” color slide from his second floor flat with his curtained window, and meticulously captioned it “Last shot from former Apt., March 20, 1962, 5:30 p.m.”   It showed the shining Coliseum topped by what I remember a friend’s daughter – a 6-year-old promoter-poet – describing for me then as “our splendid Space Needle.”

Frank Shaw's snap of Bob Geigle, on the right, and Dave Clark atop the Space Needle on April 14, 1985.

On the evidence of his carefully ordered negatives, one of Frank Shaw’s last photographs is of Bob Geigle posing at the top of the Needle in April, 1985.  For Geigle, a young employee then also at Boeing, Frank O. Shaw was “Frankoshaw” with the accent on the first syllable.  Bob remembers Frank’s dry wit as “sort of English old school.  And he was quite prim and proper too.  He loved to travel and climb mountains.  He took lots of pictures while climbing and some were published.  As he explained it, when he got too old to climb he started walking the city with his camera taking picture of what he called ‘what is.’”  Leaving lots of exquisitely real pictures, Frank died on Nov. 1, 1985, age 76.

Frank Shaw's self-portrait many times over from 1978. It would seem these multiplying mirrors are part of some "fun forest," perhaps that one at Seattle Center, which Shaw visited often.


Anything to add, Paul?   Jean, we will begin with a short stack of other 2×2 colored reversals that Frank Shaw took from his apartment at the northwest corner of First N. and Republican Street of work-in-progress on the Coliseum.  If there is time left we’ll pull a past feature or two from the neighborhood, as well – if time allows – some other fair photography by Shaw.

Most likely this is the first surviving recording Shaw took of early work on the Century 21 site. The scrubbing of the campus has begun. First Ave. N. is on the right. Shaw dates it Oct. 6, 1959.
About a half year later than the view above, this snap from Shaw's window is dated May 12, 1960, a few weeks short of two years before the Century 21 opened in the Spring of 1962. Although work on the Coliseum is hardly evident, lots of razing and clearing has happened since the photo (above) from the fall of 1959. As yet nothing of the Needle can be found from this prospect - or any.
For ready comparison to the next two views that follows this one, we return here to Oct. 6, 1959 for a look from Shaw's apartment across Republican to its southwest corner with First Ave. N., the future site of the neighborhood post office.
July 19, 1960 and early structural work on the Coliseum takes shape. The cream colored car holding the corner space in the parking lot keeps it in the shot that follows, which dates from six days later.
July 25, 1960.
October 6, 1960 and a time for political campaigning. We cannot account - as yet - for the success of either Olsen or Mast in the upcoming election. A half-block south and across First North, the grand west footing for the Coliseum lends some confidence to the idea that it will be ready little more than a year hence. Later, below, Shaw approached the footing with an unsteady camera. Perhaps he was excited. The focus is soft.
Nov. 1, 1960
Feb. 9, 1961 and the Space Needle is still nearly a half year away from being apparent from Shaw's apartment. Work on the Coliseum's primary roof supports - that will meet center-top - are underway.
One month later - March 8, 1961.
Three weeks more and topped-off - March 29, 1961
With but one year and one day to go before the opening of Century 21, there was a good deal of swingshift work on the fair, including this welding on the crown of the Coliseum, April 20, 1961. Frank Shaw took this one too.
About this time, not Shaw's but young Victor Lygdman's visit with part of the "Lunchbox Crew" working on the Coliseum.
Shaw visits the Coliseum construction site on May 6, 1961, and includes a glimpse - barely - of his Wedgewood Court Apartments hiding behind the far northwest corner of the Coliseum. Search directly below the summit of Queen Anne Hill that peeks above the same corner.
Frank Shaw captures the fireworks on April 21, 1961, marking the beginning of a one-year count-down to the Century-21 opening.
July 9, 1961. Work in progress for the structural "netting" of a roof that would later leak on the Sonics and begin a long routine of complaints by the dribblers to improve the Coliseum for an enlarged - and dry -place to be paid and play. Staging work for the structure on the fair's periphery has begun here at the southeast corner of First Ave. N. and Republican Street. The Space Needle will soon reveal.
Victor Lygdman's - not Shaw's - same construction stage photograph of the Coliseum's roof.
July 23, 1961 and the Space Needle shows itself to Frank Shaw.
Sept. 16, 1961. Less than two months later and the Needle has grown to its waistline.
October 1, 1961
November 4, 1961 - What goes up will go 'round - or seem to.
A splendid vase of mixed flowers has inspired Frank Shaw to step back and use his window - one of them - as a frame for the Space Needle, which is preparing to top-off. The date is Nov. 5, 1961. The glass is wobbly enough that we suspect that more often than not Shaw opened a window to make his recordings.
Horace leaves his lower Queen Anne apartment and ventures up the hill for this Nov. 5, 1961 subject.
December 10, 1961: Frank Shaw steps inside and catches work on the ramp being built for the Coliseum's planned futuristic attraction: World of Tomorrow.
More of the ramp and supporting structure of what will be the "World of Tomorrow." From a Seattle Times press shot by Paul V. Thomas for Jan. 3, 1962.
Thomas, most likely, returns on Jan 28 for a work-in-progress recording of the modular future world's "cubes."
During his excursion to the grounds on Dec. 10, 1961 Shaw also visited the base of the Space Needle for this subject.
On December 31, 1961 Shaw records what he captions as "The Space Needle with its torch on the first day it was tried!"
A bright winter afternoon with both the Space Needle and the Coliseum looking whole - on the outside. Feb. 11, 1962 - two months and ten days before the fair opens.
In part to point out Shaw's apartment house, we interrupt the flow of Shaw's recordings with this press shot taken for the Seattle Times from the Space Needle on Feb. 14, 1962. Clearly, from this perspective there remains lots of grooming for the fair's campus in the slightly more than two months remaining before Century 21 opened on April 21. For locating the Wedgewood Court Apartments use the brilliantly illuminated roof of the L-shaped (inverted) fair structure that borders the northwest part of Century 21 and turns at the apartment's corner: Republican Street and First Ave. North. The roof, we may imagine, points at the apartment at the center-top of this subject.
Having practiced finding Frank's apartment, the Wedgewood Arms, above the above, now find it again here in color and during the worlds fair. And notice the changes since, like the conversion of a graded field of mud into the Flag Plaza.
Surely one of the few times in the year when the sun lines up with the top of the Needle when viewed from Shaw's apartment - and he is soon to leave it. Feb. 25, 1962.
On the well-lighted evening of March 16, 1962 Frank Shaw captures the spotlighted International Fountain.
Shaw has captioned this, "Last shot from my former Apartment window." And so we wonder does the date he gives - March 20, 1962 - mark the day he took the photograph from his old haunts or the day he wrote on the cardboard frame of the developed slide in his new apartment less than three blocks to the south.

Leaving the ambiguity of the above slide’s caption, ordinarily Frank Shaw kept his slides and negatives in good order and well marked with captions that included place names and dates and sometimes even the hour of the day.   These tidy habits are also evident in the two recordings that follow of the living room in his new apartment after nearly 15 years of use.  They were photographed on June 10, 1977

DECATUR TERRACE:  On May 31, 1961 Frank Shaw – still from his apartment window above Republican Street – turned his camera to the west and recorded the old David and Louisa Denny home, known as Decatur Terrace in its grander days, holding to its second footprint, the one at the southeast corner of Queen Anne Ave. and Republican.  It was originally built on a terrace that was near the center of the Shaw’s block – the block between First Ave. N. and Queen Anne Ave., Mercer Street and Republican.

MAY 31, 1961 looking west on Republican from Frank Shaw's apartment.
The view directly below was photographed in the late 1890s by Anders Wilse from a prospect near the corner of Mercer and Queen Anne, or Temperance Ave. as it was then still called.  (There were no spirits even sipped in this home.)



Follows now a two-column copy of the text for this Pacific feature as it was printed in the second of the three “Seattle Now and Then” books.  (All three can be called forth and read in Ron Edge’s scan of their every page.  You will find them under the “history books” button on the front page of this blog.

The Denny's big home soon after it was moved A long half-block to its new footprint at the southeast corner of Republican and Queen Anne Ave, where, as the banner indicates, it started advertising for lodgers.
On may 24, 1971 Frank Shaw returned to the corner for this recording of the humbled Decatur Terrace. Shaw's caption reveals that he was aware of the big home's landmark status and most likely lamented its loss. He writes, "The Denny Mansion - a day before it was razed."


Smiling Paul Thiry, left, Century 21's "Official Architect" and the primary hand behind the Coliseum's design, is awarded "Flame," the sculpture on the right, in recognition of the fair's architecture. An equally smiling Norman Cahner, representing Building Construction magazine, presents the award equally to Century 21, Seattle, and by witness of those who work with him the often commanding Thiry. Appropriately - for this feature - part of the Coliseum is included in the photo.


The Warren Ave. School looking southeast from Warren and Republican.


In the mid-1880s, the patriarchs of North Seattle – David Denny and George Kinnear included – urged settlers aboard a horse-drawn railway to their relatively inexpensive lots north of Denny Way.  Their efforts were rewarded as the flood of immigration, which increased steadily after the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1883, pushed settlement into the land between Denny and Queen Anne hills.

By the turn of the century, this crowd of newcomers had established a neighborhood full of large families.  And beginning in 1902 more than 400 of the neighborhood children attended primary school on Block 35 of David and Louisa Denny’s Home Addition.

Warren Avenue School (on Warren Ave.) was built in 1902 and abandoned in 1959.  This view of the school is an early one.  The school’s demise came when the site was chosen first for an expanded civic center and soon after for a world’s fair: Century 21.  By closing time, the neighborhood around the school had long since stopped swelling with families.

The siting of the contemporary photograph was adjusted to make a comparison of the Key Arena’s and the school’s west walls.  The school’s fine-tuned position would put the children posing near its front door on the Key Arena’s floor beneath the rim of its north end backboard (if there is still a backboard around since the flight of the Sonics.)

The first Sonics, from 1967-68. (Al Bianci is the head coach, kneeling in black at the center. Can you name any of the others - players and coaches?)
Frank Shaw's record of the Steven Pass sponsored summer snow jump using the Coliseum's roof and sturdy eastern foundation for support. The photo dates from Aug. 27, 1966 and so beats the Sonics' first play by a year.
We return again to the 1912 Baist Map for some grounding. The Warren Ave. School appears in yellow on green above and to the left of the map detail's center. The Mercer Playfield, to the right (east) of the school, is the site of the International Fountain. The future site of Frank Shaw's home in the Wedgewood Apts. is part of the featureless block in light-blue, upper left. The future site of the Space Needle appears below and right of the map's center as the red brick fire station on 4th Ave.
Recalling Ron Edge's superimposition of a (more-or-less) contemporary map of the Seattle Center with a indexed (for landmark and services locations) map of Century 21. (Click to Enlarge)
Thoughts and some planning for Century 21 began with the state legislature's World Fair Commission in 1955. This 1956 birdseye imagined what the "Festival of the West," as it was then called, might involve in a remaking of Seattle's Civic Center. It retains much of the old center, however, all that it adds had no apparent effect on the eventual designs of a few years later. The 1957 birdseye also depicts a link between the fairgrounds and a monument on Duwamish Head, which would tower above and "amusement zone" built on the tidelands to the west. It was or would have been, no doubt, for some an intimation and possible revival of Luna Park, the amusement park built over the shallow tidelands at the Head in 1907.
We return to Frank Shaw's kitty-corner glimpse from February 9, 1961 as his closest gateway to a Seattle Times clipping from 30 years earlier: Feb. 22, 1931. It is a lesson - although a simple one - in the changes wrought by a Great Depression, another World War, and a post-war courting of progress and development.
The Times from Feb. 9, 1931 is abundantly dedicated to the powers of positive thinking and imagining relief from what was then growing into the Great Depression, which would require the grim relief (or false economics) of a world war for escape.












Happy New Year


I took this photo from the bell tower  of the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés which is the oldest in Paris and was built from 990…

I imagine this view is the oldest…

Best wishes to you all

J’ai pris cette photo du clocher de l’église Saint-Germain-des-Prés qui est le plus ancien de Paris.

Et j’imagine que c’est ainsi la vue plus ancienne de Paris.

Meilleurs voeux à tous.