Seattle Now & Then: A View from the Cambridge Hotel

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The city’s north end skyline in 1923 looking northwest from the roof of the then new Cambridge Apartments at 9th Avenue and Union Street. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: The city’s north end skyline in 1923 looking northwest from the roof of the then new Cambridge Apartments at 9th Avenue and Union Street. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Although somewhat wider than the historical photograph, Jean Sherrard’s repeat includes a fraction of the ambitious ascension of north end skyscrapers competing for variety in their facades.
NOW: Although somewhat wider than the historical photograph, Jean Sherrard’s repeat includes a fraction of the ambitious ascension of north end skyscrapers competing for variety in their facades.

This, I believe, is only the second occasion in which Jean Sherrard, the “repeater-photographer” in this partnership for nearly a decade, has managed to include himself in his “now.”  Standing on the roof at the northwest corner of the ten-story Cambridge Apartments, he appears bottom-right with his head and shoulders sticking out from the building’s shadow, near its pinnacle.  It is not a good likeness. While both Jean and his shadow are broad-shouldered, Jean is over 6 feet 5 inches tall.  [The Golden Rule feature has been placed at the top of those collected by Ron Edge below.]

A tax photo of the Cambridge years before either the freeway or the Convention Center.
A tax photo of the Cambridge years before either the freeway or the Convention Center.

The historical photo at the top was most likely taken in 1923, the year the Cambridge started letting its convenient studio apartments to renters who often worked nearby in what was then already identified as Seattle’s new retail section. Dating the photo is helped by the dark-roofed Dreamland Pavilion, on the far left, at the northeast corner of Union St. and Seventh Ave.  Dreamland was razed for the Eagle’s Lodge, which opened in 1925. 

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Bottom-right in the featured photo is another big new roof, with the raised architecture of either a fly loft (above a stage) or a grand hall. Like the Cambridge, Evergreen Lodge No. 2 of the Ancient Order of United Workmen opened its new hall at 1409 Ninth Ave. in 1923.

Looking kitty-corner through 7th Ave. and Union Street. First appeared in Pacific, March 8, 1992.
Looking kitty-corner through 7th Ave. and Union Street. First appeared in Pacific, March 8, 1992.

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The Cambridge is nestled at the southeast corner of Union Street and 9th Ave., with its back to one of the two steepest grades on First Hill.  (The other is near 9th and Jefferson.)  Most tenants enjoyed splendid views towards the Olympic Mountains and Lake Union.  These prospects were partially obstructed in the 1960s with the construction of the I-5 Freeway.  They were then lost in the 1980s with the unwanted embrace of the Washington State Convention Center, which, with its neighbor, Freeway Park, was built on top of the Freeway.  Still, the sprawling concrete center deserves some credit.  It dampens the noise of the Freeway, and through mitigation, the Center also helped the city purchase the Cambridge in 1987 for conversion into low-income housing.

First appeared in Pacific, August 6, 1995.
First appeared in Pacific, August 6, 1995.

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When Jean first stepped onto the roof, led by Chong Han, the apartment’s live-in manager, he was instantly enchanted.  It is from this prospect that the terraced architecture of the Convention Center’s south façade, a mingling of greenery and green glass, can be both enjoyed and admired.  Jean tells me that he and Chong shared visions of roof gardens atop both the Cambridge and the Convention Center.

Chong Han, Cambridge's live-in manager
Chong Han, Cambridge’s live-in manager

Almost floating above the Center is Jean’s second subject, Seattle’s spreading skyline, heading north for Lake Union down the “Westlake Funnel.” On the subject of our current “high-rise habit,” PacificNW readers may wish to return to Lawrence W. Cheek’s thoughtful feature “Higher Seattle.” Cheek’s revealing cover article for this magazine was published on the 13th of September, 2015.

The clipped sign, upper-left, is for the Senator Apartments in the Eagles Lodge. It was popular with vaudevillians connected with the lodge. First appeared in Pacific, Aug. 23, 1987.
The clipped sign, upper-left, is for the Senator Apartments in the Eagles Lodge. It was popular with vaudevillians connected with the lodge. The view look east from the northeast corner of Union and 7th Ave. with the Cambridge Apts. showing against the sky.   First appeared in Pacific, Aug. 23, 1987.

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WEB EXTRAS

Here’s our second video featuring Mistah Dorpat…

[Allow me to interrupt here Jean.  In the interview clip above, you make note of the OCS (Overall Cooperative Structure) lightshow-concerts-dances that I helped put on at the Eagles Auditorium in 1967.  Here’s the poster – a flyer decidedly economically printed – for the first of those concerts: a benefit for the Free University of Seattle.  As the poster “suggests” the concert date was January 14 and so still a few months short of the “Summer of Love” in 1967.  The dance was billed as “Feather Ecstacy,” a title which you can find in the poster, but rendered with a kind of rectilinear variation of psychedelic style lettering, it is hardly readable.  (The principle pen work seems to be a blending of St. Theresa of Avila with pillow fluff.  By the way, the drug Ecstasy was not then yet known.) This graphic was included in the recently published book titled “Split Fountain Hieroglyphics – Psychedelic Concert Posters From The Seattle Area, 1966 – 1969.”   I attended the book’s  happy introduction in Ballard earlier this fall, and was surprised to be given a copy because one of the quick covers I did for Helix was included.  Its a splendid book, wonderfully printed.   Now I confess that I am also responsible for this “little rough flyer” which is also in the book although probably not on its artistic merits but for its historic position.   I might have stayed mum on this for the poster is credited to another’s penpersonship.  However, in the interest of fact-checking I will now forsake that handy cover and take responsibility for the flyers rude qualities.  The police read it, and busted it – the concert – for what they claimed was a violation of the 1929 law against “shadow dancing.”  You can read about it in Helix, and since that issue is an early one, it is included among those we have so far posted on this blog.  Look for the  Helix button on the front page.]

Flyer for the first Eagle Auditorium light-show dance, a January 14, 1967 benefit for the Free University of Seattle.
Flyer for the first Eagle Auditorium light-show dance, a January 14, 1967 benefit for the Free University of Seattle.

To boot, I’ll throw in a couple of shots of the Cambridge from different perspectives:

Street view of the Cambridge Hotel
Street view of the Cambridge Hotel
Just below the roofline, looking west
Just below the roofline, looking west

Anything to add, boys?  SURELY Jean, beginning with two apologies that less spring than stumble through old age.  You caught my mistaken anticipation for an upcoming feature that has already been “up” and that merely two weeks past.   It was and still survives on this blog as the feature that looks north from Union Street and Terry Avenue, and so just above the Cambridge Hotel.  It is one of the steepest grades on the ridge that joins Capitol and First Hills, and before the Jackson Street Regrade (1909) and the Dearborn Cut (1912) Beacon Hill too.   My second blunder – on  the video – describes the coming of both the Convention Center and Freeway Park in the 1980s.   The park dates from the 70s, and we will attach a feature below that celebrates – and records –  inauguration then.   Otherwise Ron and I have attached a lot of features, most of  them from the neighborhood.  Many will be familiar to readers to keep returning to us for both something new and some of the same old.  Now we start the links with that  feature notes in video, that of the Golden Rules Bazaar advertising card.  As you know Jean doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is also a good survival strategy.  Apropos survival, Jean how did you manage to lean down from the rooftop of the Cambridge to record your shot of its cornice printed her above this paragraph?

THEN: Built in the mid-1880s at 1522 7th Avenue, the Anthony family home was part of a building boom developing this north end neighborhood then into a community of clapboards. Here 70 years later it is the lone survivor. (Photo by Robert O. Shaw)

THEN: Looking north-northeast from a low knoll at the southwest corner of Seneca Street and Seventh Avenue, circa 1916. By 1925, a commercial automobile garage filled the vacant lot in the foreground. [Courtesy, Ron Edge]

THEN: First dedicated in 1889 by Seattle’s Unitarians, the congregation soon needed a larger sanctuary and moved to Capitol Hill. Here on 7th Avenue, their first home was next used for a great variety of events, including a temporary home for the Christian Church, a concert hall for the Ladies Musical Club, and a venue for political events like anarchist Emma Goldman’s visit to Seattle in 1910. (Compliments Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.

THEN: A.J. McDonald’s panorama of Lake Union and its surrounds dates from the early 1890s. It was taken from First Hill, looking north from near the intersection of Terry Avenue and Union Street. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

tsutakawa-1967-then

THEN: The row house at the southwest corner of 6th Avenue and Pine Street in its last months, ca. 1922-23. (Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Swedish Lutheran (Gethsemane) Church’s second sanctuary at the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Steward Street circa 1920, photo by Klaes Lindquist. (Courtesy, Swedish Club)

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A Frank Shaw snap of the 4th of July opening of Freeway Parkl in 1976, the country's bi-centennial. Showing patriotic slides in a show at the Civic Auditorium, I missed this inaugural.
A Frank Shaw snap of the 4th of July opening of Freeway Parkl in 1976, the country’s bi-centennial. Showing patriotic slides in a show at the Civic Auditorium, I missed this inaugural.
First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 28, 2008.
First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 28, 2008.

5. Freeway-park-3-NOW-WEB

Another bi-centennial capture by Frank Shaw with the venerable and yet modern senior-housing landmakr, the Horizon House , upper-right.
Another bi-centennial capture by Frank Shaw with the venerable and yet modern senior-housing landmark, the Horizon House , upper-right.
When the pumps were still flowing and the fountains still plunged, while worrying parents and city attorneys. (Photos by Frank Shaw)
When the pumps were still flowing and the fountains still plunged, while worrying parents and city attorneys. (Photos by Frank Shaw)

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Frank Shaw's first look at the park still under construction but over the freeway. He dates this Jan 23, 1976, and so a half year before the opening.
Frank Shaw’s first look at the park still under construction but over the freeway. He dates this Jan 23, 1976, and so a half year before the opening.
Lawton Gowey's look north from the Madison Street overpass to the future parts of the 1-5 ditch that would gets a covering for the park and convention center. The roof of Town Hall (then still a Christian Scientist sanctuary) is on the far right, and the warm bricks across Seneca Street from the hall still clad the Exeter House. Lawton probably remember to date this Kodachrome, but I failed to record is with the scan.
Lawton Gowey’s look north from the Madison Street overpass to the future parts of the 1-5 ditch that would gets a covering for the park and convention center. The roof of Town Hall (then still a Christian Scientist sanctuary) is on the far right, and the warm bricks across Seneca Street from the hall still clad the Exeter House. Lawton probably remember to date this Kodachrome, but I failed to record is with the scan.
Freeway construction looking north through the razed swath much of which would later be given to first Freeway Park in 1976 followed by the Convention Center in the 1980s. Note, right-of-center, both town hall and the Exeter. Of course, the Cambridge is down there too. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
Freeway construction looking north through the razed swath much of which would later be given to first Freeway Park in 1976 followed by the Convention Center in the 1980s. Note, right-of-center, both town hall and the Exeter. Of course, the Cambridge is down there too. (Courtesy Ron Edge)   CLICK CLICK
As yet no Convention Center in this look down from the SeaFirst Tower, but much of Freeway Park, and green with its early landscaping.
As yet no Convention Center in this look down from the SeaFirst Tower, but much of Freeway Park, and green with its early landscaping.  (Double click to enlarge enlarge)

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9.-Union-fm-1st-Hill-before-Cambridge-WEB

First appeared in Pacific, June 19, 1998.
First appeared in Pacific, June 19, 1998.

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Union-fm-Terry-NOW-web

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First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 5, 1984.
First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 5, 1984.

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x-Eagles7-&-Pine-THENweb

First appeared in Pacific, August 25, 2002.
First appeared in Pacific, August 25, 2002.

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First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 5, 2008.
First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 5, 2008.

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First appeared in Pacific, Nov., 12, 2008.
First appeared in Pacific, Nov., 12, 2008.

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First appeared in Pacific, August 22, 1999.
First appeared in Pacific, August 22, 1999.

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First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 24, 2002.
First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 24, 2002.

2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: A View from the Cambridge Hotel”

  1. At the corner (SW) of 8th and Pike, is a building with a turret. I remember it (in the 60’s) as “Greenland Cafe and Bar”. (I think) In the 1923 picture, prohibition would have been in effect. I wonder if the building was a Café?

    Also the building in the center, is about where ACT Theatre is now located.

    The bottom left of the photo is a filling station. That’s the corner of 8th and Union, and I think the Ambassador Hotel was located there, and then demolished, for the freeway.

  2. When living at the Cambridge in 1982, I would catch the bus to UW on Pike just up from Terry. There was a boarded up building on that stretch of Pike (Hotel Wm. Penn??); I acquired a glass-slab door from the building which I still use as my workbench. Lettering from the hotel’s corner diner marquee had been fiddled with such that it read “UTTER MILK HOT”. I regret not taking a photo…have you run across one?

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