Seattle Now & Then: The Ship Canal Bridge

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Long-time Wallingford resident Victor Lygdman looks south through the work-in-progress on the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge during the summer of 1959.  Bottom-right are the remnants of the Latona business and industrial district, including the Wayland Mill and the Northlake Apartments, replaced now with Ivar’s Salmon House and its parking. (Photo by Victor Lygdman)
THEN: Long-time Wallingford resident Victor Lygdman looks south through the work-in-progress on the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge during the summer of 1959. Bottom-right are the remnants of the Latona business and industrial district, including the Wayland Mill and the Northlake Apartments, replaced now with Ivar’s Salmon House and its parking. (Photo by Victor Lygdman)
NOW: Standing near where the bridge’s “express lane” reaches Wallingford, Jean’s repeat includes what appears to be the color-coordinated sleeping gear and sneakers of a truly tired homeless citizen using the shelter and perhaps “white noise” of the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge for some slumber.
NOW: Standing near where the bridge’s “express lane” reaches Wallingford, Jean’s repeat includes what appears to be the color-coordinated sleeping gear and sneakers of a truly tired homeless citizen using the shelter and perhaps “white noise” of the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge for some slumber.  [Below you will find that we are mistaken with this “now” caption.  We are one block of and a few feet down.  We will explain with the “anything to add” part of all this.]

In The Seattle Times classifieds for February 7, 1958, the state highway department advertised: “…men wanted…to do design work in connection with the Seattle Freeway… First project is the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge.”  Later that summer, local contractors Scheumann and Johnson’s low bid was awarded the contract to build the seven piers required to support the steel truss portion of the bridge, and the first concrete was poured on the 24th of September.

The Seattle Times caption for this reads in part . . .
From June 17, 1958, The Seattle Times caption for this reads in part . . .  “Two State Highway Department engineers, Art Kaiser and Pat O’Reilly, examine a model of a bridge which will carry the Seattle Freeway over the Lake Washington Ship Canal.  This view is looking toward Portage Bay, with the University Bridge in the center background.  The bridge, 4,400 feet long with its lower deck 135 feet above the water, is estimate to cost $15,000,000.”

At least parts of six of the seven piers can be found in this construction photo by Victor Lygdman, admiringly described in his Times obituary dated March 23, 2010, as the “unofficial Mayor of Wallingford.”  Born in 1927, Lygdman became an artist in several media, including watercolors, cartoons, fiction and sculpture.  (When my left knee complains, I carry a Lygdman cane, skillfully carved as a snake spiraling the shaft to the handle.)

VICTOR as a teen - or nearly - ca. 1950.
VICTOR as a teen – or nearly – ca. 1950.

Jean and I figure that Lygdman recorded the historical view from where the bridge meets the hill near 42nd Street and Pasadena Avenue.  [Reminder! We are off by one block.  See below, under “anything to add.”]  Pasadena was a busy commercial street in the Latona neighborhood until 1919, when the Latona Bridge was replaced by the University Bridge.  The freeway bridge, with its 2,294 feet of steel trusses crossing the canal, conforms to what was the north-south line of the Latona Bridge, about 125 feet above it.

The I-5 bridge opened to traffic in December 1962, with only 2.2 miles of approaches. On December 18th, Times reporter Marshall Wilson reported on his test drive.  “For the time being commuters in both directions may find that it’s quicker traveling their old and accustomed routes.”  Wilson added, “The view is better on the freeway route. From high atop the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge, the old Aurora Bridge looks almost like a miniature. Even the Space Needle appears to be at eye level.”

Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI.  From their collection of Post-Intelligencer Negatives.
Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI. From their collection of Post-Intelligencer Negatives.

After the bridge was painted “Washington Green” with brushes, it sat idle for more than a year waiting for the freeway to catch up.  Plans to use it for Century 21 Worlds Fair parking were first approved and then dropped. As historian Genevieve McCoy remarks in her book “Building Washington,” published in 2000, “Today, frustrated motorists crawling across the span could surely advise future fair planners that you don’t need a world’s fair to turn a bridge into a parking lot.”

With the Space Needle up and waiting, the Ship Canal Bridge is able and willing to serve as a parking lot for Century 21 motorists.
With the Space Needle up and waiting, the Ship Canal Bridge is able and willing although not called to serve as a parking lot for Century 21 motorists.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Surely Jean, but first we must gathered it up.

Directly below are three picture links to other blog features that relate to our primary subject.   The second of these, about the Latona Bridge in its last days, we printed in Pacific only two weeks past.  It is still relevant.  The third link starts with a feature of the split in the path of Lake Washington Bike Trail and its repeat looks north on the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge from the Roanoke Street overpass.  The first link we were surprised to discover with our own “key word” search.  It’s the same Victor Lygdman snapshot of the bridge supports printed on top, and it appeared first with two other relevant photos by Lygdman as an installment of a series we were running in 2011 called “Seattle Confidential.”  The title is apt, for now – if you open the top link – you will find our caption from then, and may compare it to the one near the top here.  But this requires another confession – now.   The “then” feature this week – on top – is not given good service with its “now.”   I may in the call of “team work” claim that WE – Jean and I – made a mistake.  But it was really I who was “most” responsible.  The “now” should have been taken one block further south where the bridge makes a big change to its center cantilever section.  And it should have been taken from the top of the bridge (dangerous), and not from the lower express lane, or beside it with a sleeping bag. ( When we first reflected on this feature, Jean remarked that the Lygdman photo seemed closer and higher to the canal than the prospects I was promoting.  And so once more, mea culpa.)   You will find some of the evidence for this change in one of the two other Lygdman bridge photos included in the link directly below.  It is a snapshot looking due east from the top of the bridge at that same time – 1959/60.    Here it is again.

Looking east on N.E. 40th Street to the U.W.Campus from the top of the bridge. By Victor Lygdman
Looking east on N.E. 40th Street to the U.W.Campus from the top of the bridge. By Victor Lygdman

Another revealing photograph – a panorama over Wallingford to the Cascades – by our old friend, Lawton Gowey, looks west from near the south end of the Aurora Bridge.  It is dated  Jan. 1, 1960 and shows the “stub” of the Ship Canal Bridge  when the top lane is a work-in-progress and aside from the concrete piers the cantilever work for the center span has not begun.  It is from there – high and open on that south end – that Victor took the photograph that we feature at the very top and directly below.  But first here is Lawton’s distant look at one high bridge from another, or near another: the Aurora Bridge.  [CLICK to ENLARGE]

A detail of Lawton Gowey's Jan. 17, 1960 look east from Queen Anne Hill over Grandmas Cookies in Wallingford and further to construction on the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge, the University and its district, and the Cascades on a clear winter day.  (By Lawton Gowey)
A detail of Lawton Gowey’s Jan. 17, 1960 look east from Queen Anne Hill over Grandmas Cookies in Wallingford and further to construction on the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge, the University and its district, and the Cascades on a clear winter day. (By Lawton Gowey)

 

THEN: The historical view looks directly south into the Latona addition’s business district on Sixth Ave. NE. from the Northern Pacific’s railroad bridge, now part of the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail.  (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

 MORE TO COME

We have other extras from the neighborhood to insert tomorrow Sunday Morning after a late breakfast.

Latona School, "Class, Jan. 22, 1900."
Latona School, “Class, Jan. 22, 1900.”
The Latona campus on Sept. 6, 2006.
The Latona campus on Sept. 6, 2006 with a glimpse of the Lake Washington Canal Bridge.

The-Latona-Campus,-Pac.-Nov7,-1999-WEB

Taken on Sept. 6, 2006, during the first year of my Wallingford Walks.
Taken on Sept. 6, 2006, during the first year of my Wallingford Walks.
The first Latona School
The first Latona School
Latona School - the 1917 brick addition looking east on 42nd Street through 4th Avenue Northeast.
Latona School – the 1917 brick addition looking east on 42nd Street through 4th Avenue Northeast.  The south end of the 1906 addition is seen far-right.

 

Looking across 42nd Street at the razing of the 1917 brick addition and revealing behind it the 1906 frame school house, 1998.
Looking across 42nd Street at the 1998 razing of the 1917 brick addition and revealing behind it the 1906 frame school house.

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MAY-DAY-now-Latona-School-playfiled-WEB

Above: May Day festivities, like these at Latona School, were once a regular feature on the calender of many Seattle schools.  Below: Latona graduates Dorothy Lunde and her youngest sister, Marcella Fetterly, far right, stand beside a moving football formation of Latona students in 1993, with a glimpse of the ship canal bridge to the east.

MAY-DAY-now-LATONA-SCHOOL-playfield-with-sisters-WEB

Latona-May-Day-text-Nov.-21,-1993

THE DAHLS at HOME on EASTERN

Eastern-Dahl-4228-EAstern-Ave.-N-WEB

Eastern-Dahl-4228-Eastern-Ave.WEB

Eastern-Dahl-4228-Eastern-Ave.-WEB

Eastern-doll-4228-Eastern-Ave.-N-WEB

The Dahl home under a snow of 1985.
The Dahl home, on the left,  under a snow of 1985.
Recent verdure about the Dahl home
Recent verdure about the Dahl home
Peruvian Lilies in the front yard, four times.
Peruvian Lilies from the McCoy Garden in the front yard, four times.

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Another  - that is, not the one directly below - group of Latona School kids pose with their school and their report cards.
Another – that is, not the one directly below – group of Latona School kids posing with their school and their report cards.   Who is the child marked with an “x” we do not know.   Perhaps he does not look forward to going  home with his report.
Clipping from The Times Pacific Magazine for Dec. 29, 1991.
Clipping from The Times Pacific Magazine for Dec. 29, 1991.

 

Frank DeBruyn with wagon in front of the family home at 4123 Eastern Ave. N..
Frank DeBruyn with wagon in front of the family home at 4123 Eastern Ave. N..
Pacific clipping from Nov. 15, 1992.
Pacific clipping from Nov. 15, 1992.

Frank-DeBruyn-snapshots-of-his-youth-on-Eastern-Ave-WEB

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Jean's alternative to the sleeping bag scene (Here he stands above the sleeper.), taken on the same afternoon, but still a block too far north on my misguidance.
Jean’s alternative to the sleeping bag scene (Here he stands above the sleeper.), taken on the same afternoon, but still a block too far north on my misguidance.
Work-in-progress on the express land access off of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue. E.
Work-in-progress on the express land access off of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue. E.. The ramp on the left passes above Pasadena Avenue, once an important commercial street in Latona. (by Victor Lygdman)

Marking the I-5 freeway route.  Note that both the Wayland Mill - future site of Ivar's Salmon House - and the Northlake Hotel - future site of the Salmon House parking - can be found above the "Lake Union" tag, bottom left.
Marking the I-5 freeway route. Note that both the Wayland Mill – future site of Ivar’s Salmon House – and the Northlake Apartments – future site of the Salmon House parking – can be found above the “Lake Union” tag, bottom left. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)  [CLICK TO ENLARGE]
A tax photo of the Northlake Apartment at the northwest corner of Northlake and 5th Avenue N.E.
A tax photo of the Northlake Apartment at the northwest corner of Northlake and 5th Avenue N.E. [Courtesy Washington State Archive, Bellevue Branch]

The Salmon House parking, former site of the Northlake Apartments.
The Salmon House parking, former site of the Northlake Apartments.
A detail pulled from the late 1950s aerial printed above shows close-up the Wayland Mill, future Salmon House, and the Northlake Apartments at the northwest corner of Northlake and 5th Ave. N.E..
A detail pulled from the late 1950s aerial printed above shows close-up the Wayland Mill, future Salmon House, and the Northlake Apartments at the northwest corner of Northlake and 5th Ave. N.E.. [Courtesy Ron Edge]
With the help of the 1936 aerial mapping survey on the right, and a ca. 2012 satellite shot of the same acres, we can compae the changes to the Salmon House - and its parking - site and its neighbors.  The freeway bridge is far-right in the ca.2012 view.
With the help of the 1936 aerial mapping survey on the right, and a ca. 2012 Goggle Earth (courtesy of)  satellite shot of the same acres, we can compare the changes to the Salmon House – and its parking – site and its neighbors. The freeway bridge is far-right in the ca.2012 view.  The red dot marks the spot of the Wayland mill’s burning silo on the right, and the same spot, appropriately new the fire place, in the Salmon House bar, on the left.
A Feb. 4, 1953 tax photo looking east thru the Wayland mill site from the foot of 4th Avenue n.e. on Northlake.  The mill's burning tower is obvious center-right and beyond it to the east the open bascules of the University Bridge.
A Feb. 4, 1953 tax photo looking east thru the Wayland mill site from the foot of 4th Avenue n.e. on Northlake. The mill’s burning tower is obvious center-right and beyond it to the east the open bascules of the University Bridge.

 

 

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