Seattle Now & Then: The Wall Street Pier

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: A circa 1912 look at the Wall Street finger pier from the foot, not of Wall, but Battery Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: A circa 1912 look at the Wall Street finger pier from the foot, not of Wall, but Battery Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Galbraith and Bacon built their pier between Battery and Wall Streets. From this Battery side we see the Edgewater’s south façade.  From the Wall Street side one looks directly to the front of the Edgewater, and prior to the hotel, the Galbraith and Bacon pier shed. Consequently, the pier is named for Wall Street.
NOW: Galbraith and Bacon built their pier between Battery and Wall Streets. From this Battery side we see the Edgewater’s south façade. From the Wall Street side one looks directly to the front of the Edgewater, and prior to the hotel, the Galbraith and Bacon pier shed. Consequently, the pier is named for Wall Street.

The Galbraith Bacon dock, like most others built on the Seattle waterfront after 1900, was positioned at a slant off Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way) for two sensible reasons. First, such a dock allowed railroad spurs an easier angle for reaching the aprons to the sides of the wharves.   Second, at such a slant the end of a long dock was closer to shore and so did not require unnecessarily long piles to support it.

Gailbraith-Cartoon-web

Having dealt feed on the waterfront since 1891, James Galbraith was the ‘old timer’ in this partnership.  Cecil Bacon, a chemical engineer with some extra capital, arrived in Seattle in 1899.  Deep pockets helped Bacon persuade Galbraith to make a bigger business with him by adding building materials, like lime and concrete, to the established partner’s hay and feed.  In 1900, they were the first signature tenants in the Northern Pacific Railroad’s newly constructed finger pier No. 3 (now 54) at the foot of Madison Street.  The partners prospered and soon added to their enterprise this pier at the foot of Wall Street.

An early record of Pier 3 (54 since 1944) and its first tenant Galbraith and Bacon.  The photo was taken in 1900, some little while before the photographer, Aders Wilse, return to Norway and the call of his wife who left Seattle first for a visit back to the homeland and then decided to not return here.   Wilse then obeyed she who must be.  Soon he became a Norwegian national treasure, and the photographer to its King and Queen and all their little princes and princesses.
An early record of Pier 3 (54 since 1944) and its first tenant Galbraith and Bacon. The photo was taken in 1900, some little while before the photographer, Aders Wilse, return to Norway and the call of his wife who left Seattle first for a visit back to the homeland and then decided to stay.. Wilse then obeyed she who must be. In time  he became a Norwegian national treasure, and the photographer to its King and Queen and all their little princes and princesses.
The Northern Pacific Docks (mostly) between First Station No. 5 at the foot of Madison Street and Pier 6/57 near the foot of Union Street.
The Northern Pacific Docks (mostly) between Fire Station No. 5 at the foot of Madison Street and the Milwaukee Railroad’s Pier 6/57 near the foot of Union Street.

Although I like the featured photograph at the top for how it upsets our prepossession with the picturesque – I mean, of course, the askew yards on the sailing ship and its splotched starboard side – I neither know why the square-rigged Montcalm was tied to the Wall Street pier, nor which Montcalm it was.  Many ships bear the name, and probably all were named for Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, who until he was hit with an English musket ball in the Battle of Quebec, was New France’s Commander-in-Chief during its French and Indian War with the British in the 1750s.

Not the
Not the Montcalm, but another tall ship holding the same slip to the south of the Wall Street Pier.   Photo by Whitelsey.
The Galbraith and Bacon Wall Street Pier seen from the bluff.
The Galbraith and Bacon Wall Street Pier seen from the bluff.
Frank Shaw's record of the Wall Street Pier soon after it was cleared of the Galbraith & Bacon pier shed.  Feb. 26, 1961.
Frank Shaw’s record of the Wall Street Pier while being cleared of the Galbraith & Bacon pier shed. Feb. 26, 1961.
Shaw returned to take this snapshot of the completed Edgewater on a gray December 9, 1962.
Shaw returned to take this snapshot of the completed Edgewater on a gray December 9, 1962.

For some clue on the Montcalm’s condition I turned to Scott Rohrer, an old friend who is also celebrated hereabouts for his sailing and understanding of maritime history.  Scott tersely answered, “She’s steel and her crew is scaling and chipping her hull for primer and repainting after a long, apparently rough voyage.”

An early ideal Edgewater when it still had a chance of being named the Camelot.
An early ideal Edgewater when it still had a chance of being named the Camelot.
What became of Camelot, Lawton Gowey's - or perhaps Bob Bradley's - record of the Edgewater dated May 29, 1963.
What became of Camelot, Lawton Gowey’s – or perhaps Bob Bradley’s – record of the Edgewater dated May 29, 1963.
Either Jean or I recorded this repeat sometime in 2005, I think.
Either Jean or I recorded this repeat sometime in 2005, I think.

The Wall Street pier, about the size of a football field, was replaced in the early 1960s with what the waterfront long wanted: a big hotel.  First sketches of the Edgewater show it as the Camelot Inn.  The Edgewater is perhaps best known for the visiting Beatles, of whom the now common fish tale is told that they followed the instructions written on the waterfront side of the hotel and fished from their window.  We suspect that a trolling of the bottom might still catch some paint chips fallen a century ago from the worn sides of the Montcalm.

An early and passionate rendering of the  planned Edgewater - or Camelot.
An early and passionate rendering of the planned Edgewater – or Camelot.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Certainly, and beginning again with Ron Edge’s selection of links to other features we have had swimming in the Pacific in the past.  Ron has also put up the cover to our illustrated history of the waterfront.  I suspect that if it is clicked then several chapter choices will appear.  We remind the reader that this Waterfront History is always available in toto on this blog.  And was also propose again that when in doubt or squinting that readers should click twice and sometimes thrice.

THEN: Pier 70 when it was still Pier 14, ca. 1901, brand new but not yet "polished."  Courtesy, Lawton Gowey

THEN: Before this the first shovel of the last of Denny Hill was ceremonially dropped to the conveyor belt at Battery Street, an “initial bite of 30,000 cubic yards of material” was carved from the cliff along the east side of 5th Avenue to make room for both the steam shovel and several moveable belts that extended like fingers across the hill.  It was here that they met the elevated and fixed last leg of the conveyor system that ran west on Battery Street to the waterfront.  (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

belltown-moran-then

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THE WATERFRONT FIRE OF 1910 – at the FOOT OF WALL STREET

Looking west down Wall Street thru the popular ruins.
Looking west down Wall Street thru the popular ruins.

1910-Wall-fire-now-lk-w-WEB

A clip from the March 23, 2003 Pacific Magazine
CLICK TO ENLARGE – A clip from the March 23, 2003 Pacific Magazine
The ruins looking northeast from the waterfront.
The ruins looking northeast from the waterfront.
The 1910 fire's remains seen west over First Avenue.
The 1910 fire’s remains seen west over First Avenue.

====

RAILROAD AVENUE LOOKING NORTH FROM WALL STREET

Merged from two negatives, Railroad Avenue looking north over Wall Street.
Merged from two negatives, Railroad Avenue looking north over Wall Street.
Jean has a colored version of this repeat, and I shall encourage him to find it and following his discovery also erase this caption for the prospect is obvious.
Jean has a colored version of this repeat, and I shall encourage him to find it and following his discovery also erase this caption for the prospect is obvious.
You should probably CLICK-TO-ENLARGE this insert.
You should probably CLICK-TO-ENLARGE this insert.

=======

QUIZ  – SELF-CONFIDENCE WILL BE REWARDED TO THE READER WHO CAN REVEAL FROM WHAT THE HISTORICAL PHOTO BELOW WAS RECORDED.

RR-ave.-fm-Pike-st-trestle-lk-n.-THEN-web

RR-Ave.-fm-Pike-trestle-NOW-WEB

4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Wall Street Pier”

  1. Hi Paul,
    I am only aware of one Montcalm that was a barque-rigged sailing vessel. That is the Montcalm of 1902, 2,315 tons built at Nantes, France, which was used in around Cape Horn service by La Societe des Voiliers Nantais. The vessel was broken up in the Netherlands in 1924.
    A list of her fleetmates and a photo of her sister-ship Amiral Courbet may be seen here: http://voiliersnantais.free.fr/HTML/page006.html
    Kind Regards,
    Kyle

  2. Hi Jean,
    From what I can tell, the UW Collection’s information must be incorrect. There was an Alma-class armored corvette named Montcalm started for the French Navy in 1865 and completed in 1869. However, that vessel never left Cherbourg after 1884, and was condemned and broken up in 1891. It’s appearance was also radically different, notably due to a ram bow. More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alma-class_ironclad
    Kind Regards,
    Kyle

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