Seattle Now & Then: Florists’ Row at 9th & Union

(click to enlarge photos)

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THEN: Built in the early twentieth century, this two-story corner block of storefronts and apartments was one of the victims of the Interstate-5 Freeway construction in the early 1960s.
NOW: The construction of the Washington State Convention Center over Interstate-5 in the late 1980s included this corrugated concrete façade at the northwest corner of Union Street and Ninth Avenue.
NOW: The construction of the Washington State Convention Center over Interstate-5 in the late 1980s included this corrugated concrete façade at the northwest corner of Union Street and Ninth Avenue.

Aside from its internal evidence, that found in the photo itself, there is no surviving caption or credit for this record of the “N.W. – Cor. of 9th & Union St.”  The 4×5 inch print came to me from Stan Unger, a generous enthusiast of regional history. More than a history buff, he is a preservationist, who more than a half-century ago saved an important part of our recorded heritage.  When Unger was working in the county assessor’s office in the early 1950s, he was invited to retrieve, and so also preserve from the ‘circular file,’ about 4,000 tax photos, most dating from between 1937 and 1941.

The unique intersection (right-center) of 9th Avenue and Union Street in a detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map. Eighth Ave., on the left, is now a viaduct falling through the Convention Center on its span from Seneca Street to Pike Street.
The unique intersection (right-center) of 9th Avenue and Union Street in a detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map.  Eighth Ave., on the left, is now a viaduct falling through the Convention Center on its drop from Seneca Street to Pike Street.

Here at its intersection with 9th Avenue, Union Street completes a 3,000-foot run from the waterfront to a grade on First Hill too steep for a street.  Instead, one must climb a path – behind the photographer – that reaches Terry Avenue one block east and seventy feet higher. Well into the twentieth century the precipitous hill at this point was relatively useless for easy development.  It

Looking west on Union Street from Terry Avenue before the building of the Claremont Apartments.
Looking west on Union Street from Terry Avenue before the building of the Claremont Apartments.  The rooftop of the featured hotel at the northwest corner of 9th  Ave. and Union Street shows in part behind the branches center-right.
I (paul) recorded this about 20 years ago as a repeat of the photo above it. The freeway/conention center was is near the center, and a part of the path down to Ninth Ave. is revealed as a railing, lower-right.
I (paul) recorded this about 20 years ago as a repeat of the photo above it. The freeway/convention center is near the center, and a part of the path down to Ninth Ave. is represented as a railing, lower-right.

stood out and up, covered with a remnant of virgin forest after the land around it was clear-cut in the 1880s.  On the 1904-5 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, the southeast corner’s surviving verdure is marked as home for an “Old Timber Reservoir” and not an  “old timber reserve”, which I first misread from the 1904 map.   (Photos taken from Denny Hill of the evergreen verdure that did

Ninth Avenue runs up through the middle of this detail from the 1904-5 Sanborn Real Estate Map, which also gives an outline to the
Ninth Avenue runs up through the middle of this detail from the 1904-5 Sanborn Real Estate Map, which also gives an outline to the “Old Timber Reservoir  – not reserve – that then still held to the southeast corner of the intersection.   There is, as yet, no other construction on any of the other corners here, but soon would be.  The  addition of our featured hotel at the northwest corner is  marked with a yellow footprint in the 1908 Baist Map, which is included below.
The advertisement we have put to the right of a detail from the 1908 Baist map was print in the Times on April 28, 1907.
The relevant advertisement we have put to the right of a detail from the 1908 Baist map was printed in the Times on April 28, 1907. [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

distinguished this steep section of First HIll  are found in the first of the “Edge Features” lined up below this short report.) Kitty-corner to the antique reservoir, and what landscape endured near it, there was as yet nothing on this northwest corner in 1904, but soon would be.  A foundation outline of the wholesale florist showing here appears on the 1908 Baist Map, above.  (And so also on the 1912 Baist five photos up.  A Works Progress Administration photographer almost certainly recorded the featured photo in 1937.

Florist
Florist David L. Jones appears far  left in this Times photo from the 1954 Rotary International Convention held in Seattle.  
An earlier mention of Jones as a flower man included in a Times clip from March 29, 1933.
An earlier mention of Jones as a rising  flower man included in a Times clip from March 29, 1933.

Below a second floor of steam-heated apartments, and next door to Sing Kee’s Chinese hand laundry (far-left), the Union Street addresses of 820-824 were held by the florist wholesaler David Lloyd Jones.  Born in 1897 in Carbonado, WA, he was the son of a Welsh immigrant coal miner.  David Jones became a Presbyterian leader, beginning in his twenties, of the church’s youth activities and continued into the 1960s as chairman of the planning committee for building the denomination’s Park Shore retirement home on Lake Washington.  In 1933 Jones was named Secretary of the Northwest Florists’ Association. His flourishing sales on Union attracted other wholesale florists to the street.  

David L. Jone, far-right, celebrating the dedication of
David L. Jones, far-right, celebrating the dedication of Park Shore in 1963. 
An artist's rendering of the then proposed Park Shore in 1960. It's high-rise construction was out of character for the Madison Beach neighborhood, which caused some stir at the time and may still.
An artist’s rendering of the then proposed Park Shore in 1960. It’s high-rise construction was out of character for the Madison Beach neighborhood, which caused a little stir at the time and may still.

In one of the cherished “Faces of the City” nostalgic features John J. Reddin wrote for the Times in the 1960s & 70s, the columnist remembered Union Street and “the many wholesale florists with their wares piled high outside on sidewalks, especially during the days prior to Easter or Mother’s Day when retail florists trucks and automobiles made repeat trips to the wholesale house for cut flowers, plants and florist supplies. But, alas, the Freeway’s ‘dog leg’ took part of upper Union Street and ‘Florist Row’ moved to a new location.”  Actually, the surviving florists scattered to varied locations.

A Times clip from June 6, 1960. Note, if you will, just before the "Edge Links" an aerial, also shared by Ron Edge, which shows the neighborhood during the construction of the Seattle Freeway.
A Times clip from June 6, 1960. Note, if you will, just before the “Edge Links” below,  an aerial, also shared by Ron Edge, which shows the neighborhood during the construction of the Seattle Freeway in the 1960s.
Here, again, is David L. Jones as an energetic florest. But here also is a review of our laws on fortune telling in 1931 (and perhaps still) juxtaposed with the header for another report that it is the dollar that "shows your future." This is a jump for the article that started on page one. But you will need to visit the Times Archive for Nov. 15, 1931 to find the beginning of this prescient cash story.
Here, again, is David L. Jones as an energetic florist. Here also is a review of our laws on fortune telling in 1931 (and perhaps still) juxtaposed with the header for another report or claim that it is the dollar that “shows your future.” This is a jump for an article that started on page one. But you will need to visit the Times Archive for Nov. 15, 1931 to find the beginning of this prescient cash story.

In 1974 the 77-year-old David Jones rolled his car twice on Interstate 90 in eastern Washington, 50 miles west of Moses Lake.  He may have been returning from a meeting at Whitworth College in Spokane, where he served as a trustee for forty-one years.  The wholesale florist did not survive the wreck.

(Not fatally but comically, my reverend father, Theodore Erdman Dorpat, also rolled his car in the 1970s, and also on I-90 west of Moses Lake – the long relatively boring stretch before the drop to Vantage and the Columbia River.  But dad rolled once, not twice, and survived as he did ten years earlier when he rolled his car into a snow-bank north of Sandpoint, Idaho  while rushing to get to a scheduled Sunday service sermonizing  in Bonners Ferry.   We never knew if Dad’s frequent Guardian Angel explanation for his survival of mishaps  like these was an expression of his sense of humor, for he was a performer, or his faith.  Or some theological mix of of the two.)

Roger Dudley's aerial was shot, Ron Edge proposed, from an helicopter hovering at what would be the top of the "black box" SeaFirst Tower three (or four) years later when it was completed in 1969. This prospect shows "our corner" near the center.
CLICK-CLICK-To ENLARGE:  Roger Dudley’s aerial was shot, Ron Edge proposed, from an helicopter hovering at what would be the top of the “black box” SeaFirst Tower three (or four) years later when it was completed in 1969. This prospect shows “our corner” at the center and, of course, much else, including Mt. Baker..

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, boys?   Yes Jean including some flowers at the bottom in memory of David Jones – and my Wallingford Walks of years past.  First, however, we hope that our readers will CLICK to open at least the first of the 26 Edge Links directly below.   It includes a few looks at our steep and long forested corner of 9th and Union recorded long ago from Denny Hill across what is now the retail section of the Central Business District.

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: Built in 1909-10 on one of First Hill’s steepest slopes, the dark brick Normandie Apartments' three wings, when seen from the sky, resemble a bird in flight. (Lawton Gowey)

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

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THEN: In the 32 years between Frank Shaw's dedication picture and Jean Sherrard's dance scene, Freeway Park has gained in verdure what it has lost in human use.

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: A circa 1923 view looks south on Eighth Avenue over Pike Street, at bottom left.

THEN: The scene looks north through a skyline of steeples toward the Cascade neighborhood and Lake Union, ca. 1923.

THEN: Beginning with the Reynolds, three hotels have taken tenancy in this ornate three-story brick block at the northeast corner of Boren Avenue and Pike Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: The home at bottom right looks across Madison Street (out of frame) to Central School. The cleared intersection of Spring Street and Seventh Avenue shows on the right.

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: As explained in the accompanying story the cut corner in this search-lighted photo of the “first-nighters” lined up for the March 1, 1928 opening of the Seattle Theatre at 9th and Pine was intended. Courtesy Ron Phillips

THEN: The “then” photo looks southeast across Union Street to the old territorial university campus. It was recorded in the Fall of 1907, briefly before the old park-like campus was transformed into a grand commercial property, whose rents still support the running of the University of Washington. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: The Perry Apartments is nearly new in “postcard artist” M. L. Oakes look at them south on Boren to where it intersects with Madison Street. (Courtesy John Cooper)

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THEN: Revelers pose on the Masonic Temple stage for “A Night in Old Alexandria,” the Seattle Fine Art Societies annual costume ball for 1921. (Pic courtesy of Arthur “Link” Lingenbrink)

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)

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THEN: An early view of Virginia Mason Hospital, which opened in the fall of 1920 at the northwest corner of Terry Avenue and Spring Street. In 1980 for its anniversary, the clinic-hospital could make the proud statement that it had “spanned sixty years and four city blocks.” Courtesy Lawton Gowey

THEN: At the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Boren Avenue, two of the more ordinary housing stock on First Hill in the 1890s. (Courtesy MOHAI)

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WALLINGFORD WALKS FLOWERS in memory of DAVID JONES and GOOD KNEES

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One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Florists’ Row at 9th & Union”

  1. Hi! I have the article, “Now & Then” by Paul Dorpat, “Remembering Seattle’s Florist Row” with no date. it is from Pacific NW page 6. If you could provide the date that it ran, I would be very grateful. Thank you, and best wishes, Priscilla Wegars, pwegars@uidaho.edu

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