This Signal Station’s aging tax card has the Art Moderne landmark at the southeast corner of Aurora Ave and 80th Street built in 1929, the upsetting year that set loose the Great Depression. Still the businesses then along Aurora were excited by what was coming. The 1932 completion of their new highway’s great cantilever bridge over the Lake Washington Ship Canal, followed by the May 14, 1933 opening of Aurora directly through Woodland Park, poured onto Aurora’s long commercial strip north of the Green Lake a flood of commercial opportunities, but also speeding violations, and accidents.
“Cunningham Service” is signed on the station in this 1937 tax photo, and all the Cunninghams – Agnes, William and their then fifteen-year-old twins, Bob and Bill – worked the station together. Bob, now a resident of Horizon House on First Hill, recalls how his and Bill’s help washing windshields, inside and out, was a pleasing double-vision for patrons. Service stations were then still “full service”, although rarely by twins.
The Cunninghams lived in the neighborhood. Bob and Bill’s mother took them to the grand Feb. 22, 1932 dedication of the Aurora Bridge and they walked with thousands across it. And the twins attended Bagley School, although in the brick plant behind the station on Stone Ave, not the 1907 frame schoolhouse seen, in part, here on the far right. From Bagley they graduated to and from Lincoln High School.
After about twenty years pumping gas on the corner, Agnes and William Cunningham “retired” to developing apartment houses on the other – south – side of Woodland Park. By then the Signal Station had turned to Flying A.
On Feb. 3, 1965 traffic on Aurora suddenly slacked, when Miss Sno-King, Rose Clare Menalo of Meadowdale High School, opened the 19.7 mile section of Interstate-5 between Seattle and Everett.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yup Jean and mostly photographs of the neighborhood and/or of other gas stations sampled from the same Tax photos as the Signal Station was above. First Ron Edge will set up a few “buttons” for links to past stories that relate to Aurora. They will be, in order, features on the Dog House, Dags Drive-in, The Seattle Speed Bowl, the Igloo Cafe (neighbor to the Dog House), an Igloo Menu from Ron’s menu collection, and a return to the Aurora Overpass on 41st – the one, Jean, your mother used to cross as a very young scholar living with her parents in Wallingford reach B.F. Day Primary School in Fremont.
Avoiding stairs the serpentine Aurora overpass to Oak Lake School at 10040 Aurora Ave. Mayor Clinton and Super of Schools, Ernest W. Campbell, helped dedicate it. Police Capt. George W. Kimball was also thanked during the inaugural. His service of running Oak Lake’s Junior Safety Patrol was, with the new overpass, no longer needed. For the junior patrol there would be no more wearing of badges and other official gear. The project was spurred by the school’s PTA, and the picture taken by The Seattle Times.
Aurora's overpasses in Woodland Park when new in the 1930s. Below is the swath clear-cut through the park for the speedway and below that the section when it was new and still reflecting light from its fresh concrete. (All of these are Courtesy Lawton Gowey and the Municipal Archive.)
SERVICE STATIONS – A SELECTION (with few exceptions) from the late 1930’s KING COUNTY TAX PHOTOS in the keep of the WASHINGTON STATE ARCHIVE, at its Bellevue Community College branch. The architecture for these shrines to nearly everybody’s mobility is often rewarding – for sales too. For the most part we will adjourn from caption writing. The photograph’s have their own. The brands are easily noted, although many of them will be familiar only to students of petroleum or old pump-hands like these.
MORE TAX PHOTOS on AURORA or Near It.
Above and below, the litter of 1956, later at 8700 Aurora.
Still part of the Pacific Coast Highway in 1953, Aurora, as it passed through Seattle also passed by many motels.