Seattle Now & Then: Leary Way

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: With his or her back to the original Ballard business district, an unnamed photographer looks southeast on Leary Way, most likely in 1936.
THEN: With his or her back to the original Ballard business district, an unnamed photographer looks southeast on Leary Way, most likely in 1936.

NOW: On September 17th last Jean Sherrard took this “repeat” with the 2 Bit Saloon on the far left. It was the last day and night for the tavern, which timed its finale with that month’s Backfire Motorcycle Night in Ballard.

NOW: On September 17th last Jean Sherrard took this “repeat” with the 2 Bit Saloon on the far left. It was the last day and night for the tavern, which timed its finale with that month’s Backfire Motorcycle Night in Ballard.

We had two “thens” to choose from, and here follows the alternative.

The alternative also looks southeast on Leary Way to its first curves of three on its way to Fremont.
The alternative also looks southeast on Leary Way to its first curve of three on its way to Fremont.

This week we look south-southeast into a somewhat befuddling Ballard intersection where Leary Way, before curving to the east and ultimately heading for Fremont, meets 17th Avenue. N.W. and N.W. 48th Street. The photographer of this picture was working for the Foster and Kleiser billboard company, whose negatives we have used before, and will surely many times to come, the fates willing. So the intended subjects were the big signs on the far side of the curving Leary Way.

This snap in the billboard survey looks thru the same Leary curve but from the southeast end of it.  So it looks northwest on Leary.  The date, March 13, 1939 is recorded, bottom-left.  [A personal reflection to share: born in the fall of 1938, it was then barely babbling when this shots was recorded, and here and now nearly 76 years later, I blabber on and on.
This snap in the billboard survey looks thru the same Leary curve but from the southeast end of it. So it looks northwest on Leary. The date, March 13, 1939 is recorded, bottom-left . [Unless you are not dyslexic, then it is properly bottom-right. Another  personal reflection to share: born in the fall of 1938, I was then barely babbling when this shot was recorded, and now nearly 76 years later, I blabber on and on.

On the left of the featured photo at the top, between the Mobilgas flying horse (named Pegasus by the ancient Greeks) and the OK Texaco service station, 17th Avenue N.W. heads north.  In the early 1890s, 17th was the eastern border for Gilman Park, an early name for Ballard.  In 1936, the likely date of the photo, this intersection was obviously devoted to filling stations, billboards and power poles. The pavement, laid in 1930, is fairly fresh.  Unlike the many brick

A Seattle Times clipping from April 17, 1930.
A Seattle Times clipping from April 17, 1930.
An look northwest on the mostly brick Ballard Avenue during the 1916 Big Snow.
A look northwest on the mostly brick Ballard Avenue during the 1916 Big Snow.   Note the snow-capped city hall tower beyond the snow-bound trolley.  The bank building on the right also had a tower, and it was from that prospect that the next photo below was recorded on a 4th the July ca. 1910.   The clipping of that feature follow as well.
I have for this moment - a long lapsing one - misplaced the "now" negative for this "then."
I have for this moment – a long lapsing one – misplaced the “now” negative for this “then.”  But here is the text scanned from  a Times clip.
First appeared in Pacific Magazine April 5, 1992.
First appeared in Pacific Magazine April 5, 1992.

landmarks on Ballard Avenue, one block to the west, the buildings along Leary Way were mostly one- and two-story commercial clapboards and manufacturing sheds, like the one behind the billboards at the scene’s center, again, in the featured photo on top.  (Here we will insert three billboard photos taken on Leary Way in the three block run between N. W. Dock Place and Market Street.  (They do not all look in the same direction.)

This is captioned around the billboard, left-of-center, which sits "82 feet west of Ione Place.
This is captioned in reference to the billboard, left-of-center, which sits “82 feet west of Ione Place.
Leary way looking northwest to the billboards at Dock Place.  In the distance, across Market Street stands the Bagdad Theatre.
Leary way looking northwest to the billboards at Dock Place. In the distance, across Market Street stands the Bagdad Theatre.
The Bagdad then and during a recent Ballard Stret Fair.
The Bagdad then and during a recent Ballard Stret Fair.
Looking northwest on Leary Way to its intersection with Ione Place.  The caption makes not of its billboard subject as "100 feet west of Ione."
Looking northwest on Leary Way to its intersection with Ione Place. The caption makes note of its billboard subject as “100 feet west of Ione.” The captions “P-1” and “R126” are references we have not as yet cracked – nor tried to.

Leary Way was named for Seattle capitalist John Leary, who was the first president of the West Coast Improvement Company (WCIC), which through the 1890s shaped Ballard into the “Shingle Capitol of the World.”  Writing in 1900, pioneer Seattle historian Thomas Prosch called it the “most successful” real estate enterprise connected to Seattle.  The town was named for Capt. William Rankin Ballard, who with Leary was one of the WCIC’s principal developers. Ballard explained that in the first three months of the township venture he made 300 percent profit on the property that he had earlier “won” as a booby price in a “heads or tails” gamble with a friend.  Ballard did not live in Ballard, but recounted this from his First Hill mansion.

Not Ballard's home on First Hill, but Leary's on Capitol Hill, now home for Episcopalians.   (photo by Robert Bradley in 1969)
Not Ballard’s home on First Hill, but Leary’s on Capitol Hill, now home for Episcopalians. (1969 photo by Robert Bradley.)
The Yesler Leary Building at the northwest corner of Mill Street (Yesler Way) and Front Street (First Avenue.)  Leary's partnership in the 1884 construction of this Victorian showpiece is a sign of his local power at the time.
The Yesler Leary Building at the northwest corner of Mill Street (Yesler Way) and Front Street (First Avenue.) Leary’s partnership with Henry Yesler in the 1884 construction of this Victorian showpiece is a sign of his Seattle status then.
Scanned from Bagley's History of Seattle, Vol. 2
Scanned from Clarence  Bagley’s History of Seattle, Vol. 2

Behind the photographer of the featured photo at the top, the first Ballard street grid, a triangle of about a dozen blocks south of Market Street and west of 17th Avenue N.W., is aligned to the nearby Salmon Bay shoreline.  Otherwise, this rapidly growing, confident and, beginning in 1890, incorporated suburb followed the American practice – often written as law – of laying streets in conformity to the compass.

The grid of eastern Ballard - or Freelard aka Ballmonst - reveals with this April 25, 1947 aerial, courtesy of Ron Edge.  Upper right is Leary Way's last or most southeasterly section before turning (at the top) east into Fremont "proper."
The grid of eastern Ballard – or Freelard aka Ballmont – revealed from on high in this April 25, 1947 aerial, courtesy of Ron Edge. Upper right is Leary Way’s last or most southeasterly section before turning (at the top) east into Fremont “proper” on 36th Street.
The last (or first) curve on Leary where from this prospect 39th Street it turns east into Fremont.
That last (or first) curve on Leary where from this prospect near 39th Street it turns east into Fremont on 36th Street..
Queen Anne Hill neighborhood just west of Seattle Pacific College, seen across the ship canal and from a Fremont prospect near 39th Street and 2nd Ave. N.W.    nd
Queen Anne Hill neighborhood just west of Seattle Pacific College, seen across the ship canal and from a Fremont prospect near 39th Street and 2nd Ave. N.W. and so also above the curve where Leary merges with 36th Street.  nd

On Leary Way, another disruption of the greater Ballard grid follows soon after Leary passes east under the north approach to the Ballard Bridge. (The bridge’s trusses appear at the far-right.) At 11th Avenue N.W., Leary Way turns to the southeast cutting the shortest

Looking northwest to the Leary Way curve between N.W. 47th Street and 11th Ave. N.W..  Again, the photograph's own caption is preoccupied with its billboard.
Looking northwest to the Leary Way curve between N.W. 47th Street and 11th Ave. N.W.. Again, the photograph’s own caption is preoccupied with its billboard.

possible route to Fremont through a somewhat treeless neighborhood of grid-conforming streets, snuggly lined with well-tended workers’ homes.  There are cherished alternative names for this neighborhood just east of Ballard or just west of Fremont.   It is sometimes called Ballmont, and other times, Freelard.  Of course, both are good-natured popular names meant to calm anxieties along a border between neighbors.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Pro forma, Jean.  First a few links pulled by Ron Edge from past features followed by a stand-alone but not forlorn feature from the neighborhood: its Carnegie Library.   By this time some of the Edge Links will surely have been employed in this blog before, repetitions (we repeat) we are proud of and play like musical motifs in different contexts or on different staffs.  Remembering my mom – again again – “Repetition is the mother of all learning.”  Thank’s mom.

THEN: A Seattle Street and Sewer Department photographer recorded this scene in front of the nearly new City-County Building in 1918.  The view looks west from 4th Avenue along a Jefferson Street vacated in this block except for the municipal trolley tracks.  (Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: Looking east from the roof of the still standing testing lab, the Lock’s Administration Building (from which this photograph was borrowed) appears on the left, and the district engineer’s home, the Cavanaugh House (still standing) on the center horizon. (Photo courtesy Army Corps of Engineers at Chittenden Locks)

 locks-fm-gn-brdg-early-web

THEN: Captioned Salmon Bay, 1887, this is most likely very near the eastern end of the bay where it was fed by Ross Creek, the Lake Union outlet. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan Vintage Posters and Photographs)

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Library-THEN-web

Library-NOW-WEB

First appeared in Pacific, June 12, 1994.
First appeared in Pacific, June 12, 1994.

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Leary Way”

  1. I enjoyed the pictures of Leary Way. I would love to see some of 15th Ave NW as well, especially of Crown Hill and the “Bardahl” neighborhood!

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