Seattle Now & Then: “We Love the Junction!”

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking into West Seattle’s Junction and north on California Ave. SW to its intersection with SW Alaska Street in 1941. The Hamm Building, is seen above the light-colored car, and the Campbell Building is at right, behind the G.O. Guy Drugs sign.
THEN: Looking into West Seattle’s Junction and north on California Ave. SW to its intersection with SW Alaska Street in 1941. The Hamm Building, is seen above the light-colored car, and the Campbell Building is at right, behind the G.O. Guy Drugs sign.
NOW: The five leaders of the “We Love the Junction” Task Force (West Seattleites all) boldly interrupt the site of the “then” while adding homage to another crossing, that by the Beatles on London’s Abbey Road in 1969. These striders are (from left) Crystal Dean, Esther Armstrong, Cody Othoudt, Peder Nelson and Brad Chrisman.
NOW: The five leaders of the “We Love the Junction” Task Force (West Seattleites all) boldly interrupt the site of the “then” while adding homage to another crossing, that by the Beatles on London’s Abbey Road in 1969. These striders are (from left) Crystal Dean, Esther Armstrong, Cody Othoudt, Peder Nelson and Brad Chrisman.

To those who do not live in West Seattle, the “parts” that best represent it are, I imagine, a trio of large landmarks: Duwamish Head, Alki Point, and Lincoln Park. We might make it a quartet by adding Schmitz Park, although I doubt that many residents of Laurelhurst, Wallingford or Ballard have ever ventured into its virgin wilds.  These four destinations are, of course, very familiar to West

The West Seattle Ferry heading into the Duwamish Horizon, seen, most likely, from near the foot of Marion Street.
The West Seattle Ferry heading into the Duwamish Horizon, seen, most likely, from near the foot of Marion Street.
Tidying the founder's pylon near Alki Point for Seattle's centennial in 1951.
Tidying the founder’s pylon near Alki Point for Seattle’s centennial in 1951. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)
Lincoln Park beyond the Fauntleroy Ferry Landing by A. Curtis.
Lincoln Park beyond the Fauntleroy Ferry Landing by A. Curtis.

1.-Schmitz-Park,-1910--by-Frasch,--maslanWEB

Seattleites, but I will further speculate that it is none of the four but rather the Junction that best represents the heart and soul of West Seattle, the grand peninsula at the southwest corner of Elliott Bay.  It is the Junction, extending in every direction from the intersection of SW Alaska Street and California Ave. SW, that is the best-loved corner in that corner.   

Looking west. from West Avalon Way to Fauntleroy Way SW in 1934, and heading for The Junction.
Looking west. from West Avalon Way to Fauntleroy Way SW in 1934, – approaching The Junction.

Here – in the featured photo at the top –  is the Junction on September 23, 1941.  With its low-rise profile and small-shop milieu, Jean Sherrard’s repeat is similar to the neighborhood recorded two months and two weeks before the United States entered the Second World War.  At that time a photographer on assignment for the Foster and Kleiser billboard company was working to promote the Junction neighborhood as a fine place to advertise.  Note the sign on the roof left-of-center – and in the other company signs collected here.  The photographer has aimed his or her camera north on California from midway between SW Edmunds Street and SW Alaska Street.  The four shining and parallel lines marking the pavement at the scene’s center are the surviving remnants of the Junction’s creation in 1907.  That year the Fauntleroy and West Seattle electric streetcar lines first converged: a junction.  It also was the year of West Seattle’s convergence with, or annexation into, Seattle. 

Heading west for the Junction on W. Alaska St. - another Foster and Kleiser billboard photo. 1939
Heading west for the Junction on W. Alaska St. – another Foster and Kleiser billboard photo. 1939

Because of its connections, the Junction soon grew into West Seattle’s commercial center. William (known as W.T.) Campbell, a skilled real-estate boomer, was largely responsible for the Junction’s rising above the sometimes wetland (it began, in places, as a swamp).  And it was Campbell who built the two two-story brick buildings that still hold half of the intersection: the Campbell Building (1918) at the northeast corner and the Hamm Building (1926) at the northwest corner.  It is these two ornate landmarks that one of the city’s most energetic heritage groups, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, is nominating as worthy of preservation with a project it has named “We Love the Junction.” 

Why?  Clay Eals, the group’s executive director, explains, “We know that none of us will live forever. But landmarking the unique structures that for the past century have created an attractive and vibrant center for connection and collaboration, for friendly commerce, for appreciation of the visionaries who came before us, for the inexpressible sense of home, and for affirmation of our humanity – this is the stuff of identity, of legacy and of hope.”  We will add that a visit to loghousemuseum.info, the group’s website, will reveal with moving splendor this heritage group’s good works, including those of “We Love the Junction.”

FK-W.-Spokane-St.-lk-e-fm-near-26th--[Pigeon-Point]-R-176-Oct-1936-WEB

FK-W.-Spokane-St.-&-Harbor-Ave.-B2619--Sept--WEB

FK---37th-SW-&-W-Oregon-SW-P-1)-[most-likely-lk-sw-on-Fauntleroy-Way-SW]-R-262-1939-WEB

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, mes amis?  Yes Jean, Ron has returned to the blog a few of its more recent neighborhood insertions.  While was have quite a stack of ancient features that we might have lifted here, we will not for want of time, which must be given to our next contribution to the Times, also a West Seattle feature – one from Alki Point.  For coda we will now slip in a poem on California Street, which seems – to me – to date from about 1940.   I confess that I do not remember where I picked it up.  Perhaps a reader will know and enlighten us all.

THEN: The Gatewood Craftsman Lodge was built on a road, in a neighborhood, and near a public school all named for the developer Carlisle Gatewood, who also lived in the neighborhood. The three women posing in the third floor’s open windows are the Clark sisters, Jean, Dorothy and Peggy, members of the family that moved into the home in the late 1930s.

THEN: In 1852 many of Seattle’s first pioneers removed from Alki Point by dugout canoe for the deeper and safer harbor along the east shore of Elliott Bay (our central waterfront). About a half-century later any hope or expectation that the few survivors among these pioneers could readily visit Alki Beach and Point by land were fulfilled with the timber quays and bridges along Spokane Street. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: Included among the several detailed photos taken for the Bernards of their new and yet rustic Fir Lodge, was this one of the living room with its oversized fireplace and the piano on which Marie, their older daughter, learned to play well enough to concertize. (Courtesy Doris Nelson)

THEN: Looking southeast from above Alki Avenue, the Schmitz Park horizon is serrated by the oldest trees in the city. The five duplexes clustered on the right were built 1919-1921 by Ernest and Alberta Conklin. Ernest died in 1924, but Alberta continued to live there until well past 1932, the year this photograph was recorded. (Seattle Municipal Archives.)

California-Ave-poem-CA-1940-WEB

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For “SO SHORT A TIME” a CALIFORNIA AVENUE CLOCKCourtesy, Southwest Seattle Historical Society

8.-California-Street-Clock-before,-WSeatttleWEB

4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: “We Love the Junction!””

  1. You’re Pacific NW mag. article is grossly wrong! The “now” photo, (We Wish!) is significantly missing all the horrid skyscraper condos! No sunshine at the junction anymore. As a third generation West Seattlite it’s so very sad to see what really has happened to our beloved West Seattle.

  2. Interesting to note one business survives in the before and now pictures–Poggie Tavern (on the left)…keep up the good work

    1. As a second generation West Seattlite I can get all nostalgic about what has happened to our own special land here. We can only imagine how the Duwamish tribe must feel. In the river silt across the street from the Duwamish Longhouse lie the 1400 year old remains of their town. (For more info, see http://www.duwamishtribe.org)

      Chief Seattle’s ancestors were leaders in both Suquamish & Duwamish tribes, which is how he came to be Chief of both tribes when the white settlers first arrived in the place soon to be named Seattle.

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