Seattle Then & Now: The Youngstown Steel Mill

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Seattle Times in its lengthy coverage of the then new Seattle Steel in the paper’s Magazine Section for Sept. 10, 1905 – the year this photograph was recorded – noted that “the plant itself is a series of strong, substantial, cavernous sheds, built for use, not for beauty.”  (Courtesy, MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: The Seattle Times in its lengthy coverage of the then new Seattle Steel in the paper’s Magazine Section for Sept. 10, 1905 – the year this photograph was recorded – noted that “the plant itself is a series of strong, substantial, cavernous sheds, built for use, not for beauty.” (Courtesy, MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: For his repeat Jean Sherrard stood on the Youngstown neighborhood’s SW Yancy Street, a few feet east of SW Avalon Way, shooting north through an industrial park that in the 109 years separating the “then” from the “now” has grown in every available direction for the production of steel.
NOW: For his repeat Jean Sherrard stood on the Youngstown neighborhood’s SW Yancy Street, a few feet east of SW Avalon Way, shooting north through an industrial park that in the 109 years separating the “then” from the “now” has grown in every available direction for the production of steel.

Here (at the top) is print number 12,920, preserved in the library of the Museum of History and Industry’s collection of historical photographs.  Like many of the archive’s early prints, this factory scene is mounted with a generous border to protect it from ‘dog ears’ and other indignities.  On the border of the stiff board, with the identifying number, is printed the caption: “Exterior view of Seattle Steel Company shortly after it began operation in 1905.”

The Seattle Times 1905 celebration of the city's new manufacturer.  (This printing is included for the design and not the reading - it is too small.)
The Seattle Times 1905 celebration of the city’s new manufacturer. (This printing is included for the design and not the reading – out copy is too small and smudged.)
For comparison, another early look at the new Seattle Steel Mill beside Young's Cover.  This prospect looks to the northwest from near Andover Street and the outlet of Longfellow Creek into the tideflats of Young's Cove.  The tide is down.  (Courtesy, MOHAI - an early print from their Webster Stevens Collection.)
For comparison, another early look at the new Seattle Steel Mill beside Young’s Cover. This prospect looks to the northwest from near Andover Street and the outlet of Longfellow Creek into the tideflats of Young’s Cove. The tide is down. We note that his WS print is the same one used in the 1905 Times clip above.  The Webster and Stevens (WS) studio was employed then to do the editorial photography for the afternoon newspaper.   (Courtesy, MOHAI – an early print from their Webster Stevens Collection.)

The rising smoke and steam of the featured photo on top confirm that the superheated work of transforming the industrial scraps, piled here on the south side of the factory, into useable steel is underway.  Much of it was rolled and stretched into bars used to strengthen concrete, like that used in Seattle’s first skyscraper, the then but one-year-old Alaska Building, which stands, both elegant and sturdy, at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and James Street.

A circa 1905 pan of the waterfront and business districts taken from the top of the Alaska Building when it was new.
A circa 1905 pan of the waterfront and business districts taken from the top of the Alaska Building when it was new.  CLICK to ENLARGE
The Alaska Building at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Cherry Street.
The Alaska Building at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Cherry Street.
William Piggott in his place, as rendered on page 180 of the 1906 book of sketches titled "Cartoons and Caricatures of Seattle Citizens"
William Pigott in his place, as rendered on page 180 of the 1906 book of sketches titled “Cartoons and Caricatures of Seattle Citizens.”   Most likely this ambitious tome was not produced by a “vanity press” with its contents paid for by the book’s subjects.  Pigot’s name is misspelled.

William Pigott, the factory’s founder, was variously described as a “devout Catholic” and “patriarchal capitalist.”  As soon as Pigott announced his factory plans in 1903, the small neighborhood on the west side of Pigeon Point began to boom with mill workers moving into new but modest homes.  Pigott first named it Humphrey after a town where he  had earlier lived and worked with steel, but he soon changed the name to Youngstown, after another patriarchal company town with rolling mills in Ohio.  Youngstown resisted

A clip from The Seattle Times for April 27, 1907 that elbows its way through some of the confusing complexities of annexation in 1907.
A clip from The Seattle Times for April 27, 1907 that elbows its way through some of the confusing complexities of injunctions and annexation in 1907.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

incorporation into its much larger neighbor to the west, West Seattle.  When Seattle did annex it in 1907, the unincorporated company town came along, most likely for the better sewerage and water.  By then Youngstown supported four saloons and a public school, the latter built by the mill.  The community also kept its eye on the frequently flooding Longfellow Creek that flowed and too often overflowed through it into Young’s Cove.

A Seattle Municipal Archive recording of the overflowing Longfellow Creek, recorded on Jan. 19, 1919.  The view looks north towards Andover Street, which is here built atop a low trestle as is approaches the creeks outflow into Young's Cove. [Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive]
A Seattle Municipal Archive recording of the overflowing Longfellow Creek, recorded on Jan. 19, 1919. The view looks north towards W.  Andover Street, which is here built atop a low trestle as is approaches the creeks outflow into Young’s Cove. [Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive]
And early look west into Youngstown from near Avalon Way.  Surely there are some bars among the businesses that line the south side of Andover Street.  The Pigeon Point "heights" are on the  horizon.  The photograph was taken by A. Curtis, or his studio, circa 1908.
And early look west into Youngstown from near Avalon Way. Surely there are some bars among the businesses that line the south side of Andover Street. The Pigeon Point “heights” are on the horizon. The photograph was taken by A. Curtis, or his studio, circa 1908.
Looking west from the dirt center of Andover that separates the wagon (or motorcar) planking on the left from the trolley tracks on the right.  Here about two blocks to the west, the company has built into Andover with a modest construction that resembles - at least - an office exterior to the plant proper, which here crowds Andover on the right.
Looking west from the dirt center of Andover that separates the wagon (or motorcar) planking on the left from the trolley tracks on the right. Here, about two blocks to the west, the company has built over the center-line of  Andover Street a modest construction that resembles – at least – an office sited exterior to the plant proper, which here crowds Andover on the right.   It is another prerogative of a “company town.”  The subject is dated from “about 1920.”
Like the subject directly above, this one also looks west on Andover, but also down on it form the neighborhood hotel.  The view is date 1919, and by then Pacific Coast Steel's Seattle plant was operating four open hearth furnaces.  It was easily the largest steel-making facility in the Pacific Northwest. [Courtesy, MOHAI]
Like the subject directly above, this one also looks west on Andover, but also down on it form the neighborhood hotel. The view is date 1919, and by then Pacific Coast Steel’s Seattle plant was operating four open hearth furnaces. It was easily the largest steel-making facility in the Pacific Northwest. [Courtesy, MOHAI]
The footprint of the yet-to-be-build steel plan copied from the 1904 Kroll map.
The footprint of the yet-to-be-built  steel plant copied from the 1904 Kroll map.

Drawn “from plans only,” a captioned footprint of the factory was printed in the1904 Kroll Seattle real estate map.  The map names, left to right, the Stock House, the Heating House (with the smokestacks), the Rolling Mill, and running east-to-west, several attached wings named collectively the Run-out Building and Warehouse.  Beyond these the Kroll map notes, “Tide flats, being filled in.”  These Young’s Cove tidelands between Pigeon Point, on the east, and West Seattle, on the west, would be reclaimed and covered by the expanding factory. Longfellow Creek is now carried to Elliott Bay via a culvert beneath the fill.

Marked "1953" with a postit at the top, here fare below is the steel mill and Young's cover a mere half-century since Pigott devised him plans and began rounding up and purchasing permits and real estate to build Seattle Steel.  The mill is below the subject's center, and below Spokane Street too, which comes from the far right where it crosses the West Waterway before passing below Pigeon Point on its way to West Seattle, on the left.
Marked “1953” with a post-it at the top in Elliott Bay, here far below we find the crowded steel mill filling Young’s cove a mere half-century since Pigott devised his plans and began rounding up and purchasing permits and real estate to build Seattle Steel. The mill is below the subject’s center, and also below Spokane Street, which comes from the far right where it crosses the West Waterway before passing below Pigeon Point, wrapped in its greenbelt, lower-right,  on its way to West Seattle, on the left.   Note the verdant acres, bottom-center, where Longfellow Creek passes through the Youngstown neighborhood as far as Andover Street.  From there the creek has been redirected to reach Elliott Bay thru covered culverts.
A detail from a 1909 map of Seattle marking both Youngstown and Youngs cover.  Seattle Steel is noted with its footprint.  [Courtesy, Greg Lange]
A detail from a 1909 map of Seattle marking both Youngstown and Youngs cove. Seattle Steel is noted with its footprint. [Courtesy, Greg Lange]
The plant and the neighborhood in a detail pulled from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map.  Note how the tideflats of Youngs Cove have been drawn for sale, reclamation and development - to and by the steel manufacturers.
The plant and the neighborhood in a detail pulled from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map. Note how the tideflats of Youngs Cove have been drawn for sale, reclamation and development – to and by the steel manufacturers.

Many years ago I first featured Seattle Steel in the Pacific Northwest Magazine.  Here’s a clip of it from the Sunday Times.

xa.-Seattle-Steel-as-used-in-Pacific-years-agoWEB

xa Seattle-Steel-across-tideflats-early-WEB

Pacific Northwest readers may recall the Pacific Magazine’s recent May 25th cover story on this factory. See it online at http://bit.ly/1y2SKBF.   Or click on the next image below.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?

Yes Jean, and some of it is inserted above your request – or will be – illustrating this week’s text itself.   As for LINKS there is but one this week, and it reaches back merely a few weeks to the feature SPOKANE STREET from WEST SEATTLE.   Ron Edge will put it up next.  If explored, this single link will lead the dedicated reader to many more features – more than twenty of them – that relate to the neighborhood widely considered.

THEN: In 1852 many of Seattle’s first pioneers removed from Alki Point by dugout canoe for the deeper and safer harbor along the east shore of Elliott Bay (our central waterfront).  About a half-century later any hope or expectation that the few survivors among these pioneers could readily visit Alki Beach and Point by land were fulfilled with the timber quays and bridges along Spokane Street. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

=====

FOLLOWS

I found the prints below while doing research for a legal case years ago.  It had to do with responsibilities following damage from the flooding of the Longfellow Creek across Andover Street and into the industrial park, lighted like the inferno and spreading harrowing noises, now run by Nucor Steel Seattle.  The prints were all part of an exhibit, which, I figure, was shown at MOHAI, for it is, after all, a museum for both history and industry.

Pacific Coast Steel, about 1915 and after the large additions, left-of-center, were in place, reaching Andover Street on the far right.   Youngs Cove is still visited by the tides, and the photograph was taken over the Longfellow Creek outlet, and looking west to a West Seattle skyline that still mixes tall trees with new homes. (Courtesy, MOHAI)
Pacific Coast Steel, about 1915 and after the large additions, left-of-center, were in place, reaching Andover Street on the far right. Youngs Cove is still visited by the tides, and the photograph was taken over the Longfellow Creek outlet, and looking west to a West Seattle skyline that still mixes tall trees with new homes. (Courtesy, MOHAI)
This dark interior of the early plant's 12-inch rolling mill dates from about 1910.  We can imagine the mix of warm light from the furnaces with the cool blue light falling from the mill's high windows.
This dark interior of the early plant’s 12-inch rolling mill dates from about 1910. We can imagine the mix of warm light from the furnaces with the cool blue light falling from the mill’s high windows.

Ingots - all in a row - are here top cased in the open hearth pit, which was first opened soon after Pacific Steel too over Seattle Steel in 1911. [Courtesy, MOHAI]
Ingots – all in a row – are here top cased in the open hearth pit, which was first opened soon after Pacific Steel too over Seattle Steel in 1911. [Courtesy, MOHAI]
An early crew at Seattle Steel takes a break from its heavy labor at the rolling mill.  [Courtesy, MOHAI]
An early crew at Seattle Steel takes a break from its heavy labor at the rolling mill. [Courtesy, MOHAI]
An example of the scrap still - on top - that the men with tongs - at the middle - turn into ingots - at the bottom - with the help of great heat.  [Courtesy MOHAI]
An example of the scrap steel – on top – that is turned into ingots – at the bottom – with the help of great heat and the men in the middle.  These, however, are not from Seattle or Pacific or Bethlehem Steel, but from a smaller Seattle competitor, Northwest Steel. [Courtesy MOHAI]
Work on constructing a factory "shed" to house a new rolling mill.  Dated 1920, by then Pacific Coast Steel's Seattle branch was the largest steel making facility in the Pacific Northwest.  [Courtesy MOHAI]
Work on constructing a factory “shed” to house a new rolling mill. Dated 1920, by then Pacific Coast Steel’s Seattle branch was the largest steel making facility in the Pacific Northwest. [Courtesy MOHAI]
Bethlehem Steel purchase Pacific Coast Steel late in 1929, the year, also, of William Pigott's death and the start of the Great Depression.  South (left) of Spokane Street there is nothing tidal in Youngs Cove to be found here. [Courtesy, MOHAI]
Bethlehem Steel purchase Pacific Coast Steel late in 1929, the year, also, of William Pigott’s death and the start of the Great Depression. South (left) of Spokane Street there is nothing tidal in Youngs Cove to be found here. [Courtesy, MOHAI]
Another aerial of Bethlehem Steel, this one looking to the southeast with Spokane Street on the left. It is dated tentatively ca. 1955.  Avalon Way is bottom right, and the climb on Andover east up to Pigeon Point is upper-left.  The building on the right, with the five mostly smoking stacks, housed the open hearth furnaces where scrap steel was transformed into "new old steel."  Soon after this aerial was recorded the plant would be closed for installation of electric steel making equipment, in 1958.  [Courtesy, MOHAI]
Another aerial of Bethlehem Steel, this one looking to the southeast with Spokane Street on the left. It is dated tentatively ca. 1955. Avalon Way is bottom right, and the climb on Andover east up to Pigeon Point is upper-left. The building on the right, with the five mostly smoking stacks, housed the open hearth furnaces where scrap steel was transformed into “new old steel.” Soon after this aerial was recorded the plant would be closed for installation of electric steel making equipment, in 1958. [Courtesy, MOHAI]
Steel framework in place during the construction of the electric furnace building in the late 1950s.  [Courtesy MOHAI]
Steel framework in place during the construction of the electric furnace building in the late 1950s when two 100-ton units were installed, doubling the plant’s annual ingot capacity from 250,000  to 500,000 tons.  [Courtesy MOHAI]
The lid is opened on a new electric furnace to accept its first "charge of scrap" in the company of men in hardhats and, it appears, some suits.  [COURTESY MOHAI]
The lid is opened on a new electric furnace to accept its first “charge of scrap” in the company of men in hardhats and, it appears, some suits. [COURTESY MOHAI]
The MOHAI caption for this print expresses itself. "Always a dramatic sight . . . steel poured from an electric furnace at Bethlehem's Seattle Plant."  [Courtesy, MOHAI]
The MOHAI caption for this print expresses itself. “Always a dramatic sight . . . steel poured from an electric furnace at Bethlehem’s Seattle Plant.” [Courtesy, MOHAI]
In 1972, Bethlehem built this "baghouse" air pollution control system adjacent to the electric furnace shop.  [Courtesy, MOHAI]
In 1972, Bethlehem built this “baghouse” air pollution control system adjacent to the electric furnace shop. [Courtesy, MOHAI]

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