Seattle Now & Then: The Juneau Street Footbridge

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: As the caption at the bottom allows, the Juneau Street footbridge opened for pedestrians on March 26,1915. It crossed the main track lines – not spurs – of three railroads and reached east from the Georgetown business district to a sprawling neighborhood of workers’ homes on the gentle slope of the Beacon Hill ridge. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives.)
THEN: As the caption at the bottom allows, the Juneau Street footbridge opened for pedestrians on March 26,1915. It crossed the main track lines – not spurs – of three railroads and reached east from the Georgetown business district to a sprawling neighborhood of workers’ homes on the gentle slope of the Beacon Hill ridge. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives.)
NOW: Had the approximately 200-foot long footbridge survived, it would have required a 300-foot extension to make it over the Interstate-5 Freeway.
NOW: Had the approximately 200-foot long footbridge survived, it would have required a 300-foot extension to make it over the Interstate-5 Freeway.

In 1904 when the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company had nearly completed the construction on their oversize plant in Georgetown, the citizens there, at least 300 of them brewery employees, voted to incorporate. The citizens took to politics largely to facilitate the sale of booze and associated pleasures – to create a town free of censors, prohibitionists, and all but the least acquisitive of tax collectors.  The brewery’s superintendent, John Mueller, won two of the new town’s most important positions: mayor and fire chief.  The third position, chief of police, was paid well. 

The pedestrian trestle still under construction, looking north along the tracks. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)
The pedestrian trestle still under construction, looking north along the tracks. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

Also in 1904, the brewery’s superintendent had a sincere talk with himself, the town’s mayor, about building, for the convenience of workers, a footbridge over the railroad tracks that separated the brewery from Beacon Hill, which is not so steep where it rises east of Georgetown. Although the footbridge was delayed for twenty years, the building of small workers’ homes to the east of the tracks was not.  Many of these survive.  On snuggly-fitted blocks 800 feet-long, upwards of thirty homes look at each other across streets, such as 16th and 17th Avenues South. 

The Juneau Street footbridge can be found crossing the tracks just below the subject's center. The brewery is on the left. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive and Ron Edge)
The Juneau Street footbridge can be found crossing the tracks just below the subject’s center. The brewery is on the left. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive and Ron Edge)
A detail from the 1936 aerial. The trestle is gone, although its "scar" can be detected upper-left. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)
A detail from the 1936 aerial. The trestle is gone, although its “scar” can be detected upper-left. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

When new in 1904, the 855-foot-long red brick brewery along Duwamish Avenue (Airport Way) was a few feet longer than St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican.  It was billed by its boosters as the largest brewery west of the Mississippi, and by 1912, after some additions were made, including greater ice production and doubling the size of the bottling works, the Georgetown brewery was listed as the sixth largest in the world.

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Juneau Street Footbridge construction order, Dec. 9, 1914. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)
Juneau Street Footbridge construction order, Dec. 9, 1914. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

Locally, Georgetown’s “cathedral to brewing” was described as the largest industrial establishment in the state in 1914, the year that plans for the Juneau Street footbridge were revived. The brewery covered the cost, about $3,300.  A C.H. Stratton won the contract on Dec. 10, 1914. Expecting to complete the construction in ninety days, he ran only a little late.  As the caption across the base of the featured print at the top notes, “Juneau S. footbridge Built 1914-5, Open 3-26-1915,” which may be the date, or close to it, this print was recorded.  A second caption at the bottom of the negative is too faded to include here.  It reads, “Secured by efforts of Dept. of P.W.” (Public Works).

This prohibition-era Sanborn Real Estate map shows the line of the foot bridge on the far right. The text, upper-right, explains that the brewery has been closed since Jan. 1, 1916, which was the start for Washington State's dry years.
This prohibition-era Sanborn Real Estate map shows the line of the foot bridge on the far right. The text, upper-right, explains that the brewery has been closed since Jan. 1, 1916, which was the start for Washington State’s dry years.   CLICK CLICK to ENLARGE

It was a different sort of “public works” that caused Georgetown’s growth and increasing optimism of the mid-teens to flounder.  In 1916, the anti-saloon warriors and Washington State’s effective teetotaling legislators won the war against intoxicants by imposing statewide prohibition.  Rainier Beer was moved to San Francisco. After midnight on Jan 1, 1916, bars were closed and all the jobs serving the imbibing culture – including those of hundreds of brewery and bar workers in Georgetown – were over.  National prohibition, beginning in 1920, prevailed for thirteen often-farcical years of abstinence, until the breweries and bars were reopened in 1933.  Months earlier, on Monday, Oct. 17, 1932, the deteriorating Juneau Street footbridge was closed to pedestrians and soon dismantled. 

The Lander Street footbridge was another rail-crossing the city built for pedestrians in 1915. This Municipal Archive photograph is dated April 23, 1915.
The Lander Street footbridge was another rail-crossing the city built for pedestrians in 1915. This Municipal Archive photograph is dated April 23, 1915.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, chief?   Not as much as we ordinarily contribute.  We will make up for it in about one month when our now-then on the Georgetown RR Station will be featured.  It is a neighbor within yards of the pedestrian bridge.  We will treat on both subjects – the trestle and the station – then in our video, which since late last year has introduced the blog.   The truth is that Jean is also busy producing/directing another play with his students at Hillside School (in Bellevue – see the link for the school on our front page) and I am happy to give more time to wrapping up “Keep Clam,” my long work-in-progress on an Ivar Haglund bio.  Meanwhile here on some neighborhood-related features, plus a few bridges, from the blog’s recent past, which Rod Edge has pulled and placed.

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THEN: Sometime before her first move from this brewery courtyard in 1912, Lady Rainier was moved by a freeze to these sensational effects. She did not turn her fountain off. (Courtesy of Frank & Margaret Fickeisen)

Looking southwest from Walker Street to the burning ruins.

Walter Ross Baumes Willcox, the architect who planned this 1911 Arboretum aqueduct, went on to design another city landmark mades of reinforced concrete and ornamental bricks: the 1913 Queen Anne Boulevard retaining wall. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

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THEN: The work of filling the tidelands south of King Street began in 1853 with the chips from Yesler’s sawmill. Here in the neighborhood of 9th Ave. S. (Airport Way) and Holgate Street, the tideland reclaiming and street regrading continue 70 years later in 1923. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)

THEN: The new sub H-3 takes her inaugural baptism at the Seattle Construction and Dry Dock Company’s ways on Independence Day, 1913. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: Part of the pond that here in 1946 filled much of the long block between Massachusetts and Holgate Streets and 8th Avenue S. and Airport Way. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

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