(click to enlarge photos)
When the Marine Hospital opened in 1933 to eighty-four veteran patients, many moved from the Fed’s old hospital in Port Townsend, the new Art Deco high rise on the head of Beacon Hill looked much higher than its sixteen stories. And from its roof it also “felt” taller, as evidenced by this panorama that looks north over both the
Dearborn Cut (1909-1912) and the Jackson Street Regrade (1907-1909). This hospital observatory afforded this most revealing profile of First Hill. It made it actually look like a hill. Since the early 1960s the developing ditch of the Seattle Freeway, far left
in the “now,” made the western slopes of First Hill more apparent and gave the hill a western border. The slope of its eastern border, here far right, is occupied for the most part by the low-rise structures on the Seattle University campus, east of Broadway.
In 1940, the likely year for this “then,” the skyline of First Hill was scored with landmarks that are still standing, although by now most are hidden behind higher structures. These include more apartment buildings and the well-packed Swedish Medical Center campus, which is right-of-center in the “now.” The grandest exception is Harborview Hospital. In the circa 1940 photo its gleaming Art Deco tower stands out, left-of-center. In Jean’s colored “repeat,” Harborview, while half-hidden, still shows its true color, which is like a pale café-latte.
We know the photographer’s primary subject here. It is neither the First Hill horizon nor the man-made valley between First and Beacon Hills. Before the regrading began in 1907, the hills were two parts of the same ridge. Rather, the intended subject is the swath of
open lots and mostly doomed residences that run west to east (left to right) through the center of the subject. Within two years of this recording, a photographer from the Seattle Housing Authority visited the Marine Hospital again and recorded another panorama
with the same frame, but of the completed Yesler Terrace Public Housing. Nearly 700 housing units with their own front yards, new General Electric ranges, free utilities and low rents averaging about $17 a month replaced the former neighborhood of mostly modest Victorian residences..
There are two more panoramas photographed from the Marine Hospital by the Seattle Housing Authority. One shows the Yesler Terrace project completed (included here directly below), and the other, an early record of its construction (placed here directly below). Or dear reader come and see much of this on the big screen at Town Hall this coming Friday evening when Jean and I share illustrated stories on FIRST HILL & BEYOND. Again, this is next Friday evening, October 3. The Hall will also then “unveil” in its lobby our “now and then” exhibit of this and other First Hill subjects.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes. We will start with seventeen links to past features from this blog. As is our way, some we will have shown earlier in support of some subject or other. Ordinarily these links, of course, hold links within. And so on and on. For the most part they are relevant to the neighborhoods of the north end of Beacon Hill and the south end of First Hill, and the ridge/regrade that shares them. The first linked feature looks familiar because it repeats, far left, the Rininger Home at the northwest corner of Columbia and Summit, although at the time we submitted this feature to Pacific Northwest Magazine, now thirteen years ago, we knew nothing about its medical motives. We concentrated then on the Otis Hotel on the right. The next link is packed with relevance, built about a rare photo of a pioneer home near the future Deaborn Street on the slop leading up to the ridge that included both First and Beacon Hill before much of it was lowered with the combined cuttings of the Jackson Street Regrade and the Dearbort Cut. The third link uses the Sprague Hotel on Yesler Way to lead into a small survey of buildings in the Yesler Terrace neighborhood that were removed because of it. Some of them were surely worth saving and/or moving. Links sixteen and seventeen, the last two, give Jean and I an opportunity to first wish you a too early Seasons Greetings and second to promote the First Hill lecture we are giving at Town Hall this coming Friday Evening – early. It is cheap – $5 – and the title is FIRST HILL & BEYOND. (The title suggests more hills.)
Thanks again and again – seventeen times – to Ron Edge for finding and putting these “associates” up.
THE MARINE HOSPITAL
The Feature above was pulled from Pacific Magazine for Nov. 13, 1994. Perhaps the older of you dear readers will share some sympathy with me when I confess that those twenty years went by far too fast. “It doesn’t seem possible” that I took the “now” for this – printed directly below – so long ago. I can still smell the pine cones and feel the breeze off the Bay.
One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: First Hill and Yesler Terrace”
Back then, did you get off 5 and take Dearborn to 90? I remember the unfinished stack of ramps throughout my childhood, and every time I drive onto 90 I puzzle over what the old run looked like. Thanks so much for your great work.