Seattle Now & Then: A Protest in 1937

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Depression-era protestors climb Columbia Street sidewalk along-aside Seattle architect Harlan Thomas’s elegant Seattle landmark that opened in 1925 as home to the by then already forty-three year old Seattle Chamber of Commerce.  (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: Depression-era protestors climb Columbia Street sidewalk along-aside Seattle architect Harlan Thomas’s elegant Seattle landmark that opened in 1925 as home to the by then already forty-three year old Seattle Chamber of Commerce. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: The Chamber moved from its landmark at 215 Columbia Street nearly a quarter-century ago.  Among it residents presently is SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership.
NOW: The Chamber moved from its landmark at 215 Columbia Street nearly a quarter-century ago. Among it residents presently is SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership.

The Seattle Chamber of Commerce building, its name signed with the luster of gold leaf lettering on each of the heftily-glassed dark doors on the left, is both physically and politically to the right of this cadre of about a dozen demonstrators marching east on Columbia Street up to Third Avenue.  Seven of the patrol are wrapped in professionally produced signs that resonate with depression-era concerns and commands.

As it turned out the Seattle Chamber of Commerce's full-page advertisement  for July 25, 1937 was premature.  The rise of the economy that was the trend in the beginning of July a month later began its moved in the other direction: down.
As it turned out the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s full-page advertisement for July 25, 1937 was premature. The rise of the economy that was the trend in the beginning of July a month later began its moved in the other direction: down, which carried on for the  year of what is called the “Recession of 1937-1938” in the Great Depression of 1929-1940.  BLOW THIS ONE UP with some clicks to read the Boomer’s optimism that rings in-with-and-under it  a a Real Presence of Commerce. 

The original negative is one of the great hoard of Post-Intelligencer photos that are protected by the white-gloved hands of Museum of History and Industry archivists.  It is numbered “PI22387” and, quoting MOHAI photographer Howard Giske, “It has a file date of July 15, 1937, on the old PI negative sleeve . . . good enough for me!”  Alas, with the help of skilled librarians in the Seattle Room of our central public library, we did not find it in the paper itself.

While it is not unusual for a busy daily to neglect a negative, we will hope that a Pacific reader might visit the central library, and after a more dogged microfilm search than ours, find that this subject of a silent and yet telling moment of protest on Columbia Street was also published and captioned on the pulp pages of the P-I during the summer of 1937.

BOOM-or-BUST-COVER-web

Meanwhile, for a better understanding of the subject, we recommend retired UW Archivist Richard Berner’s Seattle 1921-1940: From Boom to Bust, which covers local history during the bubbling 1920s up through the Great Depression of the 1930s. Berner notes (on page 409) that a recession, in the midst of the Great Depression, began in August 1937 when “Cutbacks in federal work relief funds coincided with unemployment levels that approached those of 1932-1933.” The timing is such that the event pictured in the ‘then’ photo, snapped in July by the P-I photographer, is prelude to the August recession.

The back cover with notable blurbs worth reading.
The back cover with notable blurbs worth reading.

The “red-baiting” that we usually associate with the Cold War was also commonplace during the Great Depression, when communists were thought to be behind every placard.  And here, far right, it seems they are.  We may have a “commie” in the picture!  Held like an umpire’s chest protector, a “newsboy” blandishes a copy of The Daily Worker, the Communist Party’s long-lived publication.  Unfortunately, the focus is too soft to read the front page, which by 1937 could have included the latest baseball scores. Might it be that this confrontation of the two dailies, the P-I and the Daily Worker, was reason enough for the former not to print this negative?  It is more likely that the bigger daily was distracted by the great mass of its own daily news.  Or that we have simply missed it.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Well, yes Jean, and we struggled over selections from past features of protest or those, again, of the neighborhood.   We get both in Ron Edge’s first link below.  The others keep to both for the most part, although we have included some of Berangere’s recent reports from Paris.  Following the eleven links attached below (and some of them will be very familiar to regular readers – like the Friends of the Market 1971 march in front of City Hall, which was the “top feature” here only two weeks past) we will continue with a few more neighborhood features.   Our ending this week will show Jean’s photos of the public art fixed to the front facade of the Chamber’s building on Columbia (although they have long since moved away).

CLICK TO OPEN

THEN: Friends of the Market president, architect Victor Steinbrueck, leads a cadre of Friends marching for Market preservation in front of the Seattle City Hall most likely on March 18, 1971.  (Photo by Tom Brownell from the Post-Intelligencer collection at MOHAI)

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THEN: Looking north from Columbia Street over the construction pit for the Central Building.  On the left is a rough section of the Third Avenue Regrade in the spring of 1907.  (Courtesy, MOHAI)

THEN: In this 1887 look up Columbia Street from the waterfront is the bell tower of the fire station, tucked into the hill on the right. It would soon fail to halt the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. The station and everything between it and Elliott Bay were reduced to ashes, smoldering bricks and offshore pilings shortened like cigars. (courtesy, Kurt Jackson)

THEN: An Emergency Relief Administration wood pile took temporary quarters on the southeast corner of S. Alaska Street and 32nd Ave. S. in 1934.   (Courtesy, Northwest Collection, University of Washington Libraries.)

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The photograph above and the text below first appeared in Pacific May 15th, 1983 when the Times was sometimes still giving two page to this feature.  (Courtesy, UW Libraries)
The photograph above and the text below first appeared in Pacific May 15th, 1983 when the Times was sometimes still giving two page to this feature. (Courtesy, UW Libraries)
Again, from the 5/15/1983 printing of Pacific.  Imagine, now more than 30 years ago.
Again, from the 5/15/1983 printing of Pacific. Imagine, now more than 30 years ago.  The recommendation that the reader “(See feature 80)” refers to another now-and-then printed in the first of three Seattle Now and Then books.  You can find it in the book folder on the front page of this blog.
Fire Hill and Columbia Street seen from the Hoge Building at Second and Cherry.  When it was completed in 1911, the Hoge was the tallest in Seattle, until it was soon surpassed by the Smith Tower.
Fire Hill and Columbia Street seen from the Hoge Building at Second and Cherry. When it was completed in 1911, the Hoge was the tallest in Seattle, until it was soon surpassed by the Smith Tower.  Although the Rainier Hotel is gone, leaving a block of scarred dirt, many other structures survive here from the featured Warner photo at the top of the text above.

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4c. Moore-photo-waterfront-fm-bay-right-sec-to-columbia-WEB

If some smart readers still want a copy of "Washington Then and Now," the address has changed.  The new box is closer to home at the Wallingford  Post Office.  It is number 31636,  Seattle, WA 98103)
If some smart readers still want a copy of “Washington Then and Now,” the address has changed. The new box is closer to home at the Wallingford Post Office. It is number 31636, Seattle, WA 98103)
Looking back at Seattle from Elliot Bay early in 1887-88.  The Yesler Wharf that elbows thru the scene will be turned to a stubble of pilings by the Great Fire of June 6, 1889.  A year and a few week earlier Central School, the white box with tower on the left horizon at 6th and Madison, would by consumed by fire.  Columbia Street runs up to First Hill near the center of the panorama.
Looking back at Seattle from Elliot Bay  in 1887-88. Yesler Wharf that elbows thru the scene will be turned to a stubble of pilings by the Great Fire of June 6, 1889. A year and a few weeks earlier Central School, the white box with tower on the left horizon at 6th and Madison, would be consumed by fire. Columbia Street runs up First Hill near the center of the panorama. CLICK TO ENLARGE!
About ten years earlier, Peterson and Bros recorded this as part of a wide panorama of the city taken from the elbowed end of Yesler's Wharf. That's Yesler's log pond in the foreground.  First Hill has been recently logged off.  Columbia Street climbs it, right-of-center.  The log retaining wall holding Front Street (First Ave) above the tides was installed in 1876,
About ten years earlier, Peterson and Bros recorded this as part of a wide panorama of the city taken from the elbowed end of Yesler’s Wharf. That’s Yesler’s log pond in the foreground. First Hill has been recently logged off. Columbia Street climbs it, right-of-center. The log retaining wall holding Front Street (First Ave) above the tides was installed in 1876,

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5th-&-Columbia-duplex-12-4-1909-WEB

If you hide-and-seek for this duplex in one of the Columbia Street revealing photos above it, you will find it.
If you hide-and-seek for this duplex in one of the Columbia Street revealing photos above it, you will find it.

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8a. Post-Office-on-Columbia-lk-n--WEB

8b. POST-OFFICE-on-Columbia-tex-WEB

This subject appears as an extra with an essay in one of the eleven links offered near the top.
This subject appears as an extra with an essay in one of the eleven links offered near the top.  We show it here to also show the little Post Office, at the alley on the right.
Columbia Street, looking west thru Third Avenue during the latter's 1907 regrade.  The post office has moved on to First and University, and will soon be moving further into its headquarters at Third and Union.  The next photo is earlier and shows the P.O..
Columbia Street, looking west thru Third Avenue during the latter’s 1907 regrade. The post office has moved on to First and University, and will soon be moving further into its headquarters at Third and Union. The next photo is earlier and shows the P.O..
The Post Office is back, on the right beyond the alley.  The retail brick on the left was predecessor to the Chamber building.  The Boston Block just beyond it at the southeast corner of Columbia and Second Ave. , was built before the Great Fire of 1889 and after it packed with a great array of lawyers, salesmen, and the great array of desk duties involved in running a booming city.
The Post Office is back, on the right beyond the alley. The retail brick on the left was predecessor to the Chamber building. The Boston Block just beyond it at the southeast corner of Columbia and Second Ave. , was built before the Great Fire of 1889 and after it packed with a great array of lawyers, salesmen, and the great array of desk duties involved in running a booming city.
I took this repeat about a dozen years ago, which was two years or three before Jean took over the repeats.  Bless him.  Now we'll take a closer looks at those two sculptured panels that adorn the Columbia Street facade of architect Harlan Thomas' (with Thomas and Schack) Chamber of Commerce Building.
I took this repeat about a dozen years ago, which was two years or three before Jean took over the repeats. Bless him. Now we’ll take a closer looks at those two sculptured panels that adorn the Columbia Street facade of architect Harlan Thomas’ (with Thomas and Schack) Chamber of Commerce Building.
Jean's full-frontal of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce's facade facing Columbia Street, with fragments of its neighbor, the Central Building, reflecting in its windows on a sunny autumnal afternoon in 2014.  (Jean Sherrard)
Jean’s full-frontal of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s facade facing Columbia Street, with fragments of its neighbor, the Central Building, reflecting in its windows on a sunny autumnal afternoon in 2014. (Jean Sherrard)
The up-hill relief sculpture - to the east or left of the front door - by Moran Padelford, who designed and formed it for his masters degree in art at the UW.
The up-hill relief sculpture – to the east or left of the front door – by Moran Padelford, who designed and formed it for his masters degree in art at the UW.  It depicts indigenous crafts and so commerce too.
Sculptor Mildred Stumer's depiction of modern work - and so commerce.   (Jean Sherrard)
Sculptor Mildred Stumer’s depiction of modern work – and so commerce. (Jean Sherrard)

 

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