Seattle Now & Then: Yesler (No sir!)

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The address written on the photograph is incorrect. This is 717 E. Washington Street and not 723 Yesler Way. We, too, were surprised. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)
THEN: The address written on the photograph is incorrect. This is 717 E. Washington Street and not 723 Yesler Way. We, too, were surprised. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)
NOW: We have decided to treat Jean’s repeat as ‘representative.’ It looks south across Yesler Way, or one block north of the “then” on Washington. Much of the old Yesler Terrace, including our two sites, is in the upheaval of its grand remodel.
NOW: We have decided to treat Jean’s repeat as ‘representative.’ It looks south across Yesler Way, or one block north of the “then” on Washington. Much of the old Yesler Terrace, including our two sites, is in the upheaval of its grand remodel.

At its core, this two-story box shows off some of the architectural style covered with the term Italianate, and surely this humble Italian could look quite spiffy with some fresh paint, perhaps of several colors in the ‘painted lady’ way. The low-pitch hip roof extends with wide eaves supported by large brackets.  The windows are longish, and the bay that climbs nearly the entire front façade is, appropriate to the style, rectangular.

This photograph includes within its borders two captions. The short one, “43,” is either stapled to the side of the impressively thick power pole standing right-of-center, or it is supported by its own narrow pole temporarily stuck into the unkempt parking strip.  The longer caption, written directly on the original negative, records some clerical necessities for this Seattle Housing Authority property.  For our interests, most important are the date, the eighth of January, 1940, and the address, 723 Yesler.   Except this is not

Compare this Google Earth detail to Jean's "repeat" of the claimed location, 723 Yesler Way. The Google record was photographed sometime before the block's razing.
Compare this Google Earth detail to Jean’s “repeat” of the claimed location, 723 Yesler Way, or near it. The Google record was photographed sometime before the block’s recent razing.
Another Google detail, this time looking northwest over 8th Avenue and through - or nearly - the location of the former 727 Washington Street "Italian."
Another Google detail, this time looking northwest over 8th Avenue and through – or nearly – the location of the former 717 Washington Street “Italian.”

Yesler Way.  Rather, this is E. Washington Street, the part of it that is now either directly under the outer northbound lane of Interstate-5, or in the grass lawn that borders it, one block south of Yesler Way. Whichever, its surrounds will for the next few months look much like the flattened neighborhood that Jean Sherrard recorded south across Yesler Way. 

The rear or south facade of 717 Washington can be found in this detail of a shot taken from the roof of the Marine Hospital on Beacon Hill. (First click this scene however many times it takes to enlarge it.) Our featured home on Washington is the gray box with a flatish (Italianate) roof just left of the center of the subject. There a lot of cleared lots around it - except to the west - left. The home with the tower - mentioned soon in the text - at or near t he northeast corner of 8th and Main appears brilliantly to the right of center. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
The rear or south facade of 717 Washington can be found in this detail of a panorama  taken from the roof of the Marine Hospital on Beacon Hill. (Best to click this scene however many times it takes to enlarge it.) Our featured home on Washington is the half-shadowed gray box with a flatish (Italianate) roof just left of the center of the subject. There are a lot of cleared lots around it – except to the west – left. The home with the tower – mentioned soon in the text – near the northeast corner of 8th and Main, appears brilliantly to the right of center. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
Our featured home also appears in this detail pulled from Seattle's 1891 birdseye view. It is midblock near the bottom-left corner and so west and left of the marcked 8th Street (Later renamed 8th Avenue.) Again, the larger home with the tower near the northeast corner of 8th and Main is also there to be found.
Our featured home also appears in this detail pulled from Seattle’s 1891 birdseye view. It is mid-block near the bottom-left corner, west and left of the marked 8th Street (Later renamed 8th Avenue.) Again, the larger home with the tower near the northeast corner of 8th and Main is also there to be found.
A grocery at the southwest corner of Yesler Way and 8th Avenue.
A grocery at the southwest corner of Yesler Way and 8th Avenue also dates Jan. 8, 1940, and is addressed as 725 Yesler.  Sensibly, our featured 723 would be snug to the right of this 725, but , as we know, it is not.

Jean’s and my eleventh hour one-block correction (at our desks) was first abetted by the photograph’s third “caption,” the house number attached to the top of the dark front door: 717.  A clue also canters from the foreground of this 1940 snapshot.  There are no trolley tracks in the street.  Cable cars first started climbing Mill Street, as Yesler Way was then named, in 1888.  They made their final ascent here (or rather there) on Friday, August 9, 1940, six months and one day after the photographer for or from the Seattle Housing Authority made this record of 717 Washington Street, as well as many other doomed residences in the neighborhood.  All, including some on Yesler Way, were tagged for destruction.  We know the name neither of the prolific photographer nor of the confused scribe.  Possibly they were one and the same. 

The towered manse holding to the east side of 8th Avenue, one lot north of the corner and the much smaller box with the 800 Main address written on the negative. Note Harborview Hospital up the way. Again, this big home appears clearly on the far left of the featured photo at the top. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
The towered manse holding to the east side of 8th Avenue, one lot north of the corner and the much smaller box with the 800 Main address written on the negative. Note Harborview Hospital up the way. Again, this big home appears clearly on the far left of the featured photo at the top. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

A final clue for our correction is a gift from the turreted home on the far left (of the featured photo at the top), which I recognized from another photograph (the one just above).  It stood one block north of Main Street near the northeast corner of 8th Avenue.  It too was razed for Yesler Terrace, the first public housing developed in Washington State, and the first federally funded low-income housing built in the U.S. that was racially integrated.  The first 150 of the old houses started coming down in the fall of 1940.  One year later the first 200 families were moving in, 58 of these families into the two-room flats that rented for $9.75 a month. The Seattle Times of November 7, 1941, noted that the rent would stay the same as long as “papa doesn’t get too big a raise.”  The annual income limit for such affordable smaller quarters was $525.

A clip from the Times from July 32, 1940.
A clip from the Times from July 32, 1940.
The caption for this Seattle Times snapshot from Oct. 7, 1940 reads, "Cr-r-r-a-a-ac-ck! Smash! And down went an old frame home at Seventh Avenue and Washington Street as wreckers razed the first of 143 old bildings to be demolished to make room for the Seattle Housing Authority project on Yesler Hill, where modern buildings will replace t he dwelling which have grown shoddy and bleak since the days many years ago, when they housed Seattle pioneer families."
The caption for this Seattle Times snapshot from Oct. 7, 1940 reads, “Cr-r-r-a-a-ac-ck! Smash! And down went an old frame home at Seventh Avenue and Washington Street as wreckers razed the first of 143 old buildings to be demolished to make room for the Seattle Housing Authority project on Yesler Hill, where modern buildings will replace the dwellings which have grown shoddy and bleak since the days many years ago, when they housed Seattle pioneer families.”  This, in fact, is a shoddy and bleak exaggeration.  Many of the 143 structures were quite comely and sturdy too, if a little blistered.  CLICK to ENLARGE
YESLER TERRACE taking shape, Nov. 5, 1941. Note the Smith Tower far left.
YESLER TERRACE taking shape, Nov. 5, 1941. Note the Smith Tower far left.
As public housing the building of Yesler Terrace was controversial as was its management. The fact that it was also not segregated was both daring and progressive.
As public housing, the building of Yesler Terrace was controversial as was both its politics and management. The fact that it was also not segregated was both daring and progressive.
Yesler Terrace Poster Children
Yesler Terrace Poster Children

WEB EXTRAS

Before I ask my eternal question, I’m going to add some snaps I took last week of the bus station demolition. How many of us climbed aboard a greyhound bus at 9th and Stewart, headed for distant places?

DSC_5884-Edit DSC_5895 DSC_5901

DSC_5904 DSC_5905 DSC_5914

Bus-Terminal-A-WEB

Anything to add, boys?  My oh my how my heart is skipping like a youngster boarding the bus.  How many cheap adventures, beginning in my teens, started off from this corner.   Here Jean and Ron is a not so old interior from the 1970s.  

Seattle's Greyhound Depot at 8th and Stewart, ca. 1974. (dorpat)
Seattle’s Greyhound Depot at 8th and Stewart, ca. 1974. (dorpat)   And, below, an earlier, and anonymous depot exhuberance..

Bus-Depot-Kiss-WEB

Yup, and again with help from Ron Edge and all his links we’ll put up some relevant past features.   Here’s also our bi-weekly reminder.  There will be some repeats of these repeats.  That is, a peculiarly or especially relevant feature may well appear linked to several features.  Here we again appeal to mom – my mom, Ida Gerina Christiansen-Dorpat – and her homily.  “Paul, remember that the mother of instruction is repeitition”  (She  may have said “all learning” rather an instruction.)  I don’t remember, which is evidence that I did not follow her advice well enough to remember the wording, although I have often kept to the spirit.

THEN: The Sprague Hotel at 706 Yesler Way was one of many large structures –hotels, apartments and duplexes, built on First Hill to accommodate the housing needs of the city’s manic years of grown between its Great Fire in 1889 and the First World War. Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey

THEN: Looking north from Yesler Way over the Fifth Avenue regrade in 1911. Note the Yesler Way Cable rails and slot at the bottom. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: Sometime around 1890, George Moore, one of Seattle’s most prolific early photographers, recorded this portrait of the home of the architect (and Daniel Boone descendent) William E. Boone. In the recently published second edition of Shaping Seattle Architecture, the book’s editor, UW Professor of Architecture Jeffry Karl Ochsner, sketches William E. Boone’s life and career. Ochsner adds, “Boone was virtually the only pre-1889 Fire Seattle architect who continued to practice at a significant level through the 1890s and into the twentieth-century.” (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: This “real photo postcard” was sold on stands throughout the city. It was what it claimed to be; that is, its gray tones were real. If you studied them with magnification the grays did not turn into little black dots of varying sizes. (Courtesy, David Chapman and otfrasch.com)

THEN: 1934 was one of the worst years of the Great Depression. This look north on Third Avenue South through Main Street and the Second Avenue South Extension was recorded on Thursday, April 19th of that year. Business was generally dire, but especially here in this neighborhood south of Yesler Way where there were many storefront vacancies. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: Local candy-maker A.W. Piper was celebrated here for his crème cakes and wedding cakes and also his cartoons. This sketch is of the 1882 lynching from the Maple trees beside Henry and Sara Yesler’s home on James Street. Piper’s bakery was nearby (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: A winter of 1918 inspection of some captured scales on Terrace Street. The view looks east from near 4th Avenue. (Courtesy City Municipal Archives)

THEN: On his visit to the Smith Tower around 1960, Wade Stevenson recorded the western slope of First Hill showing Harborview Hospital and part of Yesler Terrace at the top between 7th and 9th Avenue but still little development in the two blocks between 7th and 5th Avenues. Soon the Seattle Freeway would create a concrete ditch between 7th and 6th (the curving Avenue that runs left-to-right through the middle of the subject.) Much of the wild and spring fed landscape between 6th and 5th near the bottom of the revealing subject was cleared for parking. (Photo by Wade Stevenson, courtesy of Noel Holley)

THEN: Looking north from Yesler Way over the Fifth Avenue regrade in 1911. Note the Yesler Way Cable rails and slot at the bottom. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

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NEARBY

Japanese Buddhist temple on Main Street.
Japanese Buddhist temple on Main Street near 10th Avenue..
First appeared in Pacific, July 12, 1992.
First appeared in Pacific, July 12, 1992.

=====

WE CLOSE WITH A QUIZ – WHERE IS THIS?  I do not remember, Although I stopped my car to snap it, the negatives to either side of this one do not help place it – sometime in the 70’s, it seems.  I think it nifty.

209-ca,-1978-web

 

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