(click to enlarge photos)
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.