Here we look northwest across the intersection of 9th Avenue N. and Republican Street to the first of two gasholders, or gas storage tanks, that were quickly built in succession on this south Lake Union block. Most likely some of PacificNW’s readers will remember them, for the tanks were still around in the 1950s, until replaced by the Seattle Gas Company’s modern building, which was popularly known as the “Blue Flame Building” after the illuminated sign that crowned it. It, too, is now gone, replaced by a new construction in what we might call “Allentown” for its primary developer Paul Allen, or perhaps “Amazopolis” for the made-over neighborhood’s primary tenant.
The featured photo of the gas tank on top (and above) was copied from an album of views, most of which concerned the big changes made for the Seattle Gas Company between 1906 and 1908. Most of the snapshots feature the destruction of the company’s first plant, built in 1873 at Fifth Avenue and Jackson Street, and the building of its gas works, now Gas Works Park in ‘Lower Wallingford.’ The album was loaned to me for copying by Michael Maslan, one of
Seattle’s busiest sellers of historical photographs and other ephemera. Michael has been sharing his often rare and exquisite ‘stock and stuff’ with me since the mid-1970s, and many of the images that have appeared in this column over the past thirty-three years came to me through Michael.
The featured print at the top is dated May 4, 1907. On that Saturday, The Times variously reported that railroad cars of Florida Tomatoes and Bananas had arrived, and that a “heavy shipment of strawberries (had) reached the city this morning.” Preparing, perhaps, its readers for Sunday church, on its front page, The Times explained that two clergyman with “differing schools of theology,” the Unitarian Rev. W.D. Simonds and the Baptist Rev. J. M. Dean, agreed that “men are most iniquitous,” not women. One week later, on May 11, the renamed Seattle Lighting Company ran one of its illustrated advertisements advising, “Cook With Gas and avoid worry and trouble. It is cheaper, healthier and cleaner than any other fuel in use.” This promotion was repeated on the storage tanks with large hanging signs also reading, “Cook with Gas.”
It is clear from the photo album that the charming building to the right (in the featured photo and two below it) was built with the storage tank, and somehow served it. The oversized shed – or barn – on the left may be the livery stable for the company’s horses, which by 1907 were beginning to lose their horsepowers to internal combustion. A Times classified for June 30 hints at this dislocation. “Four combination ladies’ or gents’ single foot saddle or driving horses for sale at Seattle Lighting Co.’s stable, Ninth North and Republican. These horses all trot in harness.” (The barn on the left may also be part of the Denny family farm.)
Anything to add, fellahs? Yup. Ron Edge has pulled forth a half-dozen or some former features that touch either the neighborhood or the subject. Please remember that these links are often stuffed with other links, and some of those may also be so stuffed.