Seattle Now & Then: The Hotel York

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Hotel York at the northwest corner of Pike Street and First Avenue supplied beds on the American Plan for travelers and rooms for traveling hucksters. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: The Hotel York at the northwest corner of Pike Street and First Avenue supplied beds on the American Plan for travelers and rooms for traveling hucksters. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: In 1912, eight years after the Hotel York was razed, the Corner Market Building took its place as part of the Pike Place Public Market.
NOW: In 1912, eight years after the Hotel York was razed, the Corner Market Building took its place as part of the Pike Place Public Market.

The building’s name, Palmer, is either chiseled or cast in stone above the front door.  This top-heavy brick pile began its relatively brief life in 1890, with the Ripley Hotel its main tenant.  The name of the hostelry was later changed to Hotel York, as we see it here.  The ever-helpful UW Press book, Shaping Seattle Architecture, names the Palmer’s architects, but not the Palmer’s owner.  Perhaps it was Alfred L. Palmer, who dealt in both real estate and law in the early 1890s, the year this ornate addition to the city’s landscape opened.

Three Hotels - of note - following the Great Fire of 1889, here in 1890.  First on top of Denny Hill the Denny Hotel (later renamed the Washington) is under construction.  Next, at the center of this detail from a pan taken from the King Street coal wharf stands the undecorated south and west facades of the Arlington Hotel, and its tower at the northeast corner of the building but at the southwest corner of First Ave. and University Street rises from it.  The tower was later removed.  Next, the Ripley Hotel under late construction at the far left.   Also note the dark coal wharf at the foot of Madison Street.  Its place is now part of Ivar's Pier 54 which for another 200-plus days will be remodeling as they rebuild the seawall at its front door.
Three Hotels – of note – following the Great Fire of 1889, here in 1890. First on top of Denny Hill the Denny Hotel (later renamed the Washington) is under construction. Next, at the center of this detail from a pan taken from the King Street coal wharf stands the undecorated south and west facades of the Arlington Hotel.  Look closely, its tower at the northeast corner of the building but at the southwest corner of First Ave. and University Street it under construction.. It was later removed.   The Arlington’s  foundation helped stop the northerly advance of the 1889 fire. Next, the Ripley Hotel under late construction at the far left – falling out of frame.  Also note the dark box-shaped coal wharf at the foot of Madison Street, below-center. Its place is now part of Ivar’s Pier 54, which for another 200-plus days will be busy with remodeling the Acres of Clams, while the seawall (1934-36) is being  rebuild  at its front door.
The Gilmore, aka Arlington, Hotel foundation work following the Great Fire of June  6, 1889, looking south-southwest from the Front Street (First Ave.) west sidewalk just south of University Street.  The foundation helped stop the fire's advance north up the waterfront.  (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
The Gilmore, aka Arlington, Hotel foundation work following the Great Fire of June 6, 1889, looking south-southwest from the Front Street (First Ave.) west sidewalk just south of University Street. As already noted, this foundation helped stop the fire’s advance north up the waterfront. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

Architects Arlen Towle and Frank Wilcox shared a brief partnership between 1889 and 1891.  Perhaps they can be numbered among those opportunist professionals who hurried here after the Seattle business district burned to the ground on June 6, 1889. On its move north, the Great Fire was stopped short of University Street by the inflammable foundation of the under construction Arlington Hotel (the Bay Building). Only two blocks to the north, at the northwest corner of Pike Street and Front (First) Avenue, Palmer also got its start in 1889

Looking south from the roof (or upper floor) of the Ripley/York hotel.
Looking south from the roof (or upper floor) of the Ripley/York hotel.  The Arlington Hotel and its tower at the southwest corner of First and University stands center-left.  The University Street ramp to the waterfront runs left-right thru the center of the scene, crossing over Western Avenue, right of-center.   Western Avenue runs on  towards Union Street at the lower-right corner.  The western wing of the Arthur and Mary Denny home at the southeast corner of First and Union is evident far-left.  The dark mass of the coal wharf at the foot of Madison can be found right-of-center, and the longer and larger King Street coal wharf reaches into Elliott Bay, upper-right.   Although the photograph is signed by Asahel Curtis, lower-right, he almost certainly did not record it, but rather copied it.  It memory serves – and let Ron Edge correct me – I think Soule took this and a left-side panel that doubles it to the east.

The Hotel York and much else is seen here, center-right,  from the Denny Hotel atop Denny Hill.
The Hotel York and much else is seen here, center-right, from the Denny Hotel atop Denny Hill.  The Arlington Hotel can also be found, but not the coal wharf at the foot of Madison.  It has been replaced with Pier No. 3 (later renumber 54 in 1944), to the far south end of the many Northern Pacific finger piers that were built on the waterfront north of Madison Street in the first years of the 20th Century.  So this is the Hotel York in its last years – or months. The Webster and Stevens early number 718 suggests that this was recorded in 1900 – or near it.  [Click to Enlarge – maybe twice]
The waterfront at the foot of Pike Street photographed from bay shows the Hotel York on the left horizon.
The waterfront at the foot of Pike Street photographed from bay shows the Hotel York on the left horizon. This view dates from the 1890s before the Northern Pacific piers were constructed north of Madison.  The Pike Street pier showing here was also soon replaced by the one that now nestles beside the waterfront aquarium.  The Schwabacher Wharf, to the right-of-center, was the largest dock on the waterfront following the 1889 fire and was swarmed during the post-fire construction.  It is also the dock where the gold rush steamer Portland docked with her “ton of gold” in 1897.   The block of hotels on First Avenue between University and Seneca Streets shows its unadorned western facade, far-right.  The Arlington anchors the block at its north end.  [Click to Enlarge]

Second only to the hotel, the Empire Laundry was another of the Palmer’s commercial tenants.  It is represented here by two horse-drawn delivery wagons and its sidewalk storefront, which is nestled between the entrance to the York Café at the corner and the door to the hotel, at far right.  Inside the hotel lobby one could request a room on the American Plan, which included meals, most likely at the York Cafe, for between $1.00 and $1.50 a day.  Many of the rooms – perhaps most – also provided what a classified ad for the York described as an “elegant view of the bay.”

Judging from the few city directories that I have here with me in this Wallingford basement, Thomas C. Hirsch - and not the York Hotel Cafe - controlled the corner door here in 1901.  Hirsch, however, was not there in1903 (another of my directories).
Judging from the few city directories that I have here with me in this Wallingford basement, Thomas C. Hirsch – and not the York Hotel Cafe – controlled the corner door here in 1901. Hirsch, however, was not there in1903 (another of my directories).
From a June 21, 1906 advertisement run in the Seattle Times.  Dr. Sander's Electric Belt promised potency for men in want of it, similar to
From a June 21, 1906 advertisement run in the Seattle Times. Dr. Sander’s Electric Belt promised potency for men in want of it, similar to the array of therapies and tools prescribed and used by some of the therapists who used the Hotel  York for their consultations.

Judging from the ads, the York’s most sensational renters were health providers who promoted either magnetic healing or massage or both, as with the Chicagoan Miss LaRoy’s “magnetic scientific massage.” Most persistent were Professors Gill and Brunn.  For several weeks in 1902, they provided a growing list of therapies, including osteo-manipulation, vibration, hypnotism, vital magnetism, a “new light cure,” and psychology for “bad habits.”  Elsewhere in the hotel, Miss Mooreland, like Miss LaRoy, also from Chicago, provided sponge baths and massage, “a specialty.”  The “well-known trance medium,” Mme. Pederson, shared “the secrets of your life” and advised “how to keep out of the pathway of despair.”

The hydrotherapy available at the Eureka Baths on terretorial Seattle's Commercial Street, was advertized here in 1877.   Seattle's Dr. Weed practiced hydrotherapy and was also a Mayor here.  Interbay Pioneer Henry Smith also practiced it.  And honestly don't you find a hot bath sometimes therapeutic?
The hydrotherapy available at the Eureka Baths on territorial Seattle’s Commercial Street, was advertized here in 1877.  Seattle’s Dr. Weed practiced hydrotherapy and was also our Mayor. Interbay Pioneer Henry Smith also practiced it. And honestly don’t you find that a hot bath sometimes seems to “cause thorough action of the different organs” in your body?  (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

There was no cure, however, for the sudden tremors that came over, but, more importantly, under the adolescent hotel.  In 1903 the Great Northern railroad began tunneling beneath the city, and from the tunnel’s north portal near Virginia Street, the boring soon shook the York’s foundations.  The Hotel York was razed in November 1904, a few days after the cutting and digging from the tunnel’s two ends met at the center.

The north portal to the tunnel near the foot of Virgnia Street.  The Hotel York's northern facade appears - for the moment - at the upper-left corner.
The north portal to the tunnel near the foot of Virgnia Street. The Hotel York’s northern facade appears – for the moment – at the upper-left corner.
The footprint of the abandoned Hotel York appears lower-right in this detail from the 1904-5 Sanborn Real Estate Map.  The stairs to the waterfront show bottom-right and upper right a few footprints of the sheds and shacks that held to the bluff.
The footprint of the abandoned Hotel York appears lower-right in this detail from the 1904-5 Sanborn Real Estate Map. It is “vacant and dilapidated to be removed.”  The stairs to the waterfront show bottom-right and upper right a few footprints of the sheds and shacks that held to the bluff.
Top to Bottom:   Sheds on the waterfront and above it on the bluff near the foot of Lenora Street.   -   Water cannons carving the cliff for construction of the tunnels north portal near the foot of Virginia Street, 1903.  - Looking down the tracks from Railroad Avenue to the tunnel construction at the North Portal.
Top to Bottom:
Sheds on the waterfront and above it on the bluff near the foot of Lenora Street. – Water cannons carving the cliff for construction of the tunnels north portal near the foot of Virginia Street, 1903. – Looking down the spur of narrow construction tracks from Railroad Avenue to the tunnel construction at the North Portal.  The Hotel York and its mural for Owl Cigars can be found – easily., but for how long?

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Surely Jean.  Here are a dozen – or so – links fastened by Ron Edge.  There will be some repeats between them, but such, we know, is the exercise of learning.

pmarket-n-arcade-30s-then-mr

Montana-Horse-Meat-MR-THEN

pan-f-denn-hill-1885-web

helix-79-spri69-covweb

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Lawton Cowey's recording of the Corner Market Building on Oct. 25, 1974, and so before its restoration.
Lawton Cowey’s recording of the Corner Market Building on Oct. 25, 1974, and so before its restoration.
As he was often inclined to do, Lawton returned to record the Corner Market Building after its restoration, here on April 21, 1976, about half-a-life ago for some.
As he was often inclined to do, Lawton returned to record the Corner Market Building after its restoration, here on April 21, 1976, about half-a-life ago for some.
Through out community's history, it's story has been adopted by businesses to help promote their products and/or services.  Here in 1947 is one of Metro Fed. Savings "Seattle Facts."  This one remembers the meeting of the railroad tunnel and the hotel.
Through out community’s history, it’s story has been adopted by businesses to help promote their products and/or services. Here in 1947 is one of Metro Fed. Savings “Seattle Facts.” This one remembers the confrontation of the railroad tunnel and the hotel.

 

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: The Hotel York”

  1. Do you know if the Hotel York moved to a different location in the Market area? My mother said her family was living in the “York Hotel” in the late 1930s and early 1940s. She thought it was in the current location of the Inn at the Market.

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