Seattle Now & Then: North Side Realty

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Chalk-written real estate notices to the sides of Seattle’s Aurora Speedway in 1937 prelude by several decades the profession’s book and computer listings and the expectation of some that an agent will now be driving a Mercedes.  (Courtesy, Washington State Archives, Bellevue Community College branch.)
THEN: Chalk-written real estate notices to the sides of Seattle’s Aurora Speedway in 1937 prelude by several decades the profession’s book and computer listings and the expectation of some that an agent will now be driving a Mercedes. (Courtesy, Washington State Archives, Bellevue Community College branch.)
NOW: John LaMont, Seattle Public Library Genealogist, confirms that the house on the far left of Jean’s contemporary repeat is the same as that on the far left of the “then.”  He adds that “the King County Property Report shows that it was built in 1908.”
NOW: John LaMont, Seattle Public Library Genealogist, confirms that the house on the far left of Jean’s contemporary repeat is the same as that on the far left of the “then.” He adds that “the King County Property Report shows that it was built in 1908.”
The Washington State Archive (Bellevue Community College Branch) tax card for King County structure 1937 and on.
The relevant example of a Washington State Archive (Bellevue Community College Branch) tax card for King County structures 1937 and on.

Here we dip again into King County’s great archive of depression-era street photographs, with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) record of every taxable structure in the county – even sheds as modest as this one at the northeast corner of 81st Street and Aurora Avenue.  The county’s “tax card” indicates that this “residential-business” zoned crib was built in 1928, that last full year of promised prosperity.

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The North Side Realty was founded in 1926.  Jesse M. Warren, the firms’ president, was described in the “Kind Words Club Year Book” for 1929 as one who showed “feverish efforts to transform our population into 100% landed gentry.”  The “tall, medium build, hazel eyes, brown Hair, not balding” Warren’s camping and fishing trips were described as doubling as “under-cover operations for the inspection of possible townsites.”  In 1930 Warren staged a role-playing theatre in the ballroom on the University District’s Wilsonian Hotel.  Allowed three minutes each, salesmen from competing real estate firms attempted to sell imaginary houses to purported customers.  Warren was then chairman of the Seattle Real Estate Board of Governors.

Not a CRASH of any kind! Seattle Times - Oct. 6, 1933
Not a CRASH of any sort! Seattle Times – Oct. 6, 1933

The sidewalk snapshot on top was recorded for the King County Tax Assessor during the summer of 1937, a year when the “Great Depression” that first crashed in 1929 was taking yet another dive.  Soon Jesse Warren would return to what the graduate of Columbia University was trained for: architecture.  In 1949 he led one of twelve teams designing “economy houses.”

From the Times: Jan. 31, 1937
From the Times: Jan. 31, 1937

Warren’s passion for populist home ownership, got the attention of The Seattle Times, which printed his plans on July 17, 1949.  By then Jesse Milton Warren may have begun feeling out of sorts.  His obituary for Sept. 5, 1953 has the architect, 65, dying after a long illness.  The death notice made mention of neither his long life as a leader in local real estate salesmanship, nor of life on Seattle’s “north side.”

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Yes Jean, and this time like many others before it, with the help of Ron Edge.  First Ron has found a few of our  former features that concentrated on Aurora.  He introduces them with the three linking photographs below.  These Aurora subjects will assuredly been used here before and perhaps more than once, but we are fond of repeating variations on our themes – here Aurora – even when they were used earlier in somewhat different contexts.   After these three links, Ron has put up two wonderful opportunities for broad and often amusing research.   I introduce the first of these – entrance to the city’s first numbered ordinances – with a introductory essay below that has several photographs of Seattle in the 1870s, the years of the ordinances found-or-linked here.    Finally, Ron gives the reader a link to the large collection of newspapers/publications that can be searched through the state’s archival services.  I, for one, have found reading in the Puget Sound Dispatch thru the 1870s both revealing and invigorating.

aurora-broad-speed-web

SEATTLE ORDINANCES – 1869 into 1880

Here Ron Edge has crafted from Seattle Municipal Archives sources a patchwork of Seattle’s first ordinances, beginning with incorporation in 1869 and following for 11 years thereafter.  Ordinance No. 1 is dated Dec. 22, 1869 and is concerned “For the Prevention of Drunkenness, Indecent or Disorderly Conduct in the City Seattle.” Edge’s “clippings” continue on as far as Ordinance No. 207, “Appointing a Special Police Officer for the City of Seattle.” dated March 5, 1880.  Some marked “obsolete” are blank.

Most of the 1878 Birdseye of Seattle.  The then new King Street Coal Wharf is bottom-right. Yesler's Wharf (above the smoking side-wheeler) still dominates the more diverse waterfront commerce.
Most of the 1878 Birdseye of Seattle. The then new King Street Coal Wharf is bottom-right. Yesler’s Wharf (above the smoking side-wheeler) dominates the more diverse waterfront commerce. [CLICK TWICE to ENLARGE]
The virgin forest covering First Hill roughly east of 6th and 7th Avenue is recorded here from a backyard on Pine Street between Second and First Avenues, ca. 1872/3.  The territorial university stands on its "Denny Knoll" top-center.
The virgin forest covering First Hill roughly east of 6th and 7th Avenues is recorded here from a backyard on Pine Street between Second and First Avenues, ca. 1872/3. The territorial university stands on its “Denny Knoll” top-center.
Another look at the University on Denny Knoll, ca. 1874.  Third Avenue with a fairly new sidewalk is bottom-right.  The horizon shows a still forested Beacon Hill.
Another look at the University on Denny Knoll, ca. 1874. Third Avenue with a fairly new sidewalk is bottom-right. The horizon shows a still forested Beacon Hill far to the south.

We consulted these ordinances to help us determine how Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood was cleared of its forest for streets and home sites – and when.  The ordinances were at least helpful in this effort.  For instance, Ordinance No. 140, dated July 2, 1877 records the street grade elevations from Alder to Pine Streets and from 7th Avenue to Elliott Bay.  From the evidence of photographs it is our feeling that most of the clearing of First Hill between 4th and 7th Avenue occurred sometime between 1873 and 1877.  Our best hunches – so far – narrow this effort to the years 1875-76.  Ordinance No.140 encourages us in this editing.

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Ron’s montage is a mix of documents and newspaper reports clipped from the Weekly Intelligencer and/or the Weekly Dispatch.  Their printing is sometimes given color-of-the-times by other news appearing with  – that is, to the side –  of a few of the numbered and dated ordinances.

Another captioned pioneer photo from the albums assembled by Seattle's journalist-historian (of the time) Thomas Prosch.  Note the Dispatch office on the right.  (With the others matched with their own hand inscribed captions, this one is used courtesy of the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.)
Another captioned pioneer photo from the albums assembled by Seattle’s journalist-historian (of the time) Thomas Prosch. Note the Dispatch office on the right. (With the others, this one is also matched beside its own hand inscribed caption, and used courtesy of the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.)

Included among the printed ordinances are a number of “Blue Laws,” decrees on how one may or may not behave on Sundays.  The longest of the ordinances included here is No. 36, which lists the rules connected with the local cemetery.  [Its dead have dominion.] No. 42 concerns “Indian Women,” and is painfully racist.  In ordinance No. 43 bulls run free but shouldn’t be. In No.49 street vendors and medicine quacks are scolded and licensed and/or fined. No. 56, dating from May 7, 1874, deals with prostitutes.  If you are one and get caught you may be fined from $5 to no more than $100.  These penalties may be compared to those of Ord. 96, from Feb. 28, 1876.  It has its eye out for those saloon merchants hiring female bartenders without a license.  If one is caught the license still costs “$50 per quarter” with a fine as well “not exceeding one hundred dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding twenty days for every offense.”  Ord. 96 is also hard on dancing.

Another Prosch contribution, this time looking west on Mill Street (Yesler Way) with the photographer's back to Second Avenue.  The Occidental Hotel is on the right, and Yesler's Mill beyond the Pioneer Place flag pole. (Courtesy UW Libraries)
Another Prosch contribution, this time looking west on Mill Street (Yesler Way) with the photographer’s back to Second Avenue. The Occidental Hotel is on the right, and Yesler’s Mill beyond the Pioneer Place flag pole. (Courtesy UW Libraries)
The structures here on the right - south - side of Mill Street (Yesler Way) looking east from First Avenue, match well the structures in the photo above this one.  This is perhaps the best early look looking east up Mill Street to First Hill where it begins its fall south to the ridge and attaches it to Beacon Hill.
The structures here on the right – south – side of Mill Street (Yesler Way) looking east from First Avenue, match well the structures in the photo above this one. This is perhaps the best early look east up Mill Street to First Hill where it begins its fall south to the ridge that attaches it to Beacon Hill.   Here the flag pole and the Occidental Hotel are on the left.   Asahel Curtis, the photographer credited bottom-left,  did not take the photograph.  In 1876 he was but a toddler of two.  His family moved Washington Territory in 1888.  One of the mature Asahel’s many projects was taking copy negatives of pioneer photographs, and then signing the results.  The signature was certainly not meant to fool the consumers, but to control them.
From is abiding affection for details in sharp old photos, Ron pulls a detail here from Peterson & Bros. 1878 record of the Seattle Waterfront taken the dogleg end of Yesler's Wharf.  Ron chose it for the cows sort of posing on Front Street (First Ave.)
From his abiding affection for details in focused old photos, Ron pulls a detail here from aPeterson & Bros. print.  It is an 1878 record of the Seattle Waterfront taken from  the dogleg end of Yesler’s Wharf. Ron chose it for the cows.  They are sort of posing on Front Street (First Ave.) between Madison and Spring Streets and at the subject’s center.  The unchained cows are relevant to our promotion of the city’s ordinances from the 70s.  Most of the larger farm animals get their own ordinances.  It begins with Ordinance No. 2, which is for swine.  Dogs get two – Nos. 5 and 45.  Horses and mules appear together in Ordinance No. 16.  Bulls appear in Ordinance 43, and very relevant to their detail in Ron’s print above, cows make it into Ordinance Nos 62, where they are titled as “Unruly Cows.”  Read the ordinance itself for a description of what an unruly cow is capable and how they are punished.  The date for No. 62 is Sept 3, 1874 and therefore four years before Peterson caught these cows unfenced on Front Street, and two years before Front Street was regraded from James Street to Pike Street.  Also on Sept 3, 1874 the same City Council composed Ordinance No. 63, an eloquent complaint against that public nuisance cow bells.  Ron notes that James Colman’s salvaged schooner the Winward is anchored at the bottom-center of the scene.  The Puget Sound Dispatch was obsessed with it.  If you do a key-word search of the Dispatch – and you can – you will find the paper’s stories on Colman’s drawn-out rescue of the steamer out of Useless Bay on Whidbey Island.

We have – you see – interspersed some photographs of Seattle in the 1870s between the few paragraphs of this introduction.   Ron Edge has put up a link to the City Ordinances. It follows. In addition he also has a link to Washington State’s collection of online newspapers including the Weekly Dispatch, an often eloquent and sometimes muckraking newspaper publish in Seattle during the 1870s.  Happy reading and sleuthing to all.

 

 

Ordinances

Dispatch

Above is the LINK to the state’s old papers archive.  Above that is the LINK to the Seattle City Archives collection of the first city ordinances.

 

 

 

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