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