Seattle Now & Then: “Cook with Gas”

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This portrait of the Seattle Gas Company’s storage tank dates from the spring of 1907, which explains its somewhat steeper topography. Between 1908 and 1911, both Republican Street, here on the right, and 9th Avenue N. were lowered to a grade close to that of Westlake Avenue, which is behind the photographer.
THEN: This portrait of the Seattle Gas Company’s storage tank dates from the spring of 1907, which explains its somewhat steeper topography. In 1911, both Republican Street, here on the right, and 9th Avenue N. were lowered to a grade close to that of Westlake Avenue, which is behind the photographer.
NOW: Building C (2008) of the University of Washington Medicine Research Center at the south end of Lake Union fills the northwest corner of Republican Street and 9th Avenue. Five buildings for the Research Center are completed, with two more planned.
NOW: Building C (2008) of the University of Washington Medicine Research Center at the south end of Lake Union fills the northwest corner of Republican Street and 9th Avenue. Five buildings for the Research Center are completed, with two more planned.

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 foundation for the first of two tanks, with the Queen Anne Hill horizon, as yet without Queen Anne High School (1909). This snapshot like most of the others in the "Gas Album" is dated. Nearly a half year before the feature photo, this is November 10, 1906.
The foundation for the first of two tanks, with the Queen Anne Hill horizon, as yet without Queen Anne High School (1909). This snapshot like most of the others in the “Gas Album” is dated. Nearly a half year before the feature photo, this is November 10, 1906.
The photographer here stands west of 9th Avenue and on Republican Street. (Like the others from the Gas Album, this is used courtesy of Michael Maslan.)
The photographer here stands west of 9th Avenue and on Republican Street. (Like the others from the Gas Album, this is used courtesy of Michael Maslan.)
Nearly two weeks later, March 23, 1907
Nearly two weeks later, March 23, 1907
Unless I change my mind - or proven wrong - this look south on 8th Avenue from Mercer Street. It is dated April 27, 1907.
Unless I change my mind – or proven wrong – this look south on 8th Avenue from Mercer Street. It is dated April 27, 1907.

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

A Gas Works (Wallingford peninsula) scene ca. 1971, and so before the park. The chorus is singing "Humpty Dumpty had a Great Fall" accompanied by Butterfat, a rock band from Wyoming. Until this moment of caption writing it had not occurred to me that the chorus many have been singing a precaution - about falling and taking care - to themselves.
A Gas Works (Wallingford peninsula) scene ca. 1971, and so before the park. The chorus is singing “Humpty Dumpty had a Great Fall” accompanied by Butterfat, a rock band from Wyoming. Until this moment of caption writing it had not occurred to me that the chorus many have been singing a precaution – about falling and taking care – to themselves.
The band Butterfat trusting the 65-year old construction of the gas works. They are "accompanied" to the right by the "Universal Worm." We also hung one of these from the lip of the Space Needle for eventual use (we hope) in the film/video "Sky River Rock Fire." I, or part of it, may sound familiar to some readers: the survivors.
The Butterfat Chorus can also be found in this photo of the band Butterfat trusting the 65-year old construction of the gas works. They are all “accompanied” to the right by the “Universal Worm.” We also hung one of these worms from the lip of the Space Needle for eventual use (we hope) in the film/video “Sky River Rock Fire.”  It, or part of it, may sound familiar to some readers: the survivors.  Thanks to Marc Cutler, one among us (although in Bellingham) some of us are wearing gray T-shirts modestly imprinted with the message “Not Dead Yet.”
The Gas Works at the north end of Lake Union in 1947 when it was still manufacturing.
The Gas Works at the north end of Lake Union in 1947 when it was still manufacturing.

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. 

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The above is text for the Gas Album photograph above it. Both appeared first in PacificNW on April 25, 1993. The photograph dates from March 24, 1907. Courtesy, again, Michael Maslan.
The above is text for the Gas Album photograph above it. Both appeared first in PacificNW on April 25, 1993. The photograph dates from March 24, 1907.  The tanks at this firt site were off-camera and north of Jackson Street, to the left.   Courtesy, again, Michael Maslan.

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.”

"COOK WITH GAS" signs can be found hanging on both of the Lower Queen Anne tanks in this view from upper Queen Anne aka "The Hill." Part of the David and Louisa Denny orchard still flourished to the west (right) of the tanks, and to the right of the fruit trees the family home is still standing on the north side of Repubican between 8th Ave. and Dexter Street, although the Dennys have long-since move from there.
“COOK WITH GAS” signs can be found hanging on both of the Lower Queen Anne tanks in this view from upper Queen Anne aka “The Hill.” Part of the David and Louisa Denny orchard still flourishes to the west (right) of the tanks, and to the right of the fruit trees the family home is still standing on the north side of Republican Street between 8th Ave. and Dexter Street, although the Denny family has long-since move from there.  Cascade School, at Pontius and Thomas is seen upper-left.  It lent its name to the neighborhood, although no opportunity to see the Cascade Range came with the Seattle School Board’s gift.

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.)

The COOK WITH GAS sign is evident here too. The subject looks northeast across Republican Street in the block between Eighth Ave., on the right, and Dexter, off-camera to the left. The 1911 regrading on Republican is underway, and the Denny family is long-gone from this their home between 1871 and ca. 1890.
The COOK WITH GAS sign is evident here too. The subject looks northeast across Republican Street in the block between Eighth Ave., on the right, and Dexter, off-camera to the left. The 1911 regrading on Republican is underway, and the Denny family is long-gone from this their home between 1871 and ca. 1890.    Note the barn, far-right.  It was noted in the main text with some speculation.

WEB EXTRAS

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.

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THEN: The Dog House at 714 Denny Way was strategically placed at the southern terminus for the Aurora Speedway when it was new in the mid-1930s. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archive, Bellevue Community College Branch.)

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The Denny's big home humiliated some with a one block moved south to the southeast corner of Republican and Queen Anne Avenue, and there suited with apartments.
The Denny’s big home humiliated some with a one block moved south to the southeast corner of Republican and Queen Anne Avenue, and there suited with apartments.

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Looking north on 9th Avenue with the photographer's back to Denny Way. The regraded cliff to Denny Park's eastern border is on the left. The Gas Tanks are hidden behind the homes upper-left.
Looking north on 9th Avenue with the photographer’s back to Denny Way. The regraded cliff to Denny Park’s eastern border is on the left. The Gas Tanks are hidden behind the homes upper-left.
First appeared in Pacific, July 20, 2003.
First appeared in Pacific, July 20, 2003.

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Graves Grocery interior
Graves Grocery interior

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5 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: “Cook with Gas””

  1. I really enjoyed your “Then and Now” in the Oct 31 Times with the on-line extras. But the Natural Gas Building from the 1960’s is still preserved there on Mercer St., engulfed by new structures that are part of the UW Medicine complex. The flame that was on the roof is with MOHAI. The architect of the building, John Graham Jr, was also involved in the construction of the Space Needle (Steinbrueck design). He took over the firm of his father, John Graham Sr., who designed and built the old Model T plant/current Public Storage building at 700 Fairview.
    Try the complicated link below to a photo. Otherwise, google UW School of Medicine Research at SLU.
    https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x549015383c6c37c1:0x18f0f5baedfc3a15!2m5!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i100!3m1!7e1!4shttps://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname%3D100367921941566860122%26id%3D6114407859482497730%26target%3DPHOTO!5sUW+Medicine+Mercer+St.+-+Google+Search&sa=X&ved=0CIMBEKIqMApqFQoTCNSC2oeT8MgCFQraYwodZ3ENbA

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