(click to enlarge photos)
We might wonder what the photographer, F. Jay (“the Professor”) Haynes, found captivating in this long stretch of the Seattle waterfront. It reaches from a small sample of the Magnolia Peninsula on the far left to the outer end of the famous namesake wharf that the pioneer Henry Yesler rebuilt after the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, which destroyed it and practically everything
else on Seattle’s central waterfront. Although difficult to read, both at this size and in the subject’s morning light, the shed/warehouse seen on the far right (of the featured photo at the top) has Yesler’s name printed on its west wall facing Elliot Bay. We will insert here another look at the water end of Yesler’s Wharf most likely photographed in 1890-1. The wharf is left-of-center, and the block-lettered name is the same and easier to read, especially if your click-to-enlarge the pan and all else.
We imagine that there may have also been a sensitive side to Haynes’ choice – an aesthetic motivation. The vessel near the featured scene’s center, which atypically reveals no name on its stern, marks a striking divide between the intimate waterfront congestion of barrels and half-covered bricks on this side of Yesler’s dock, far right, and to the left of the steamship, the long and somewhat mottled urban growth that was then North Seattle. Belltown’s gray dapple on Denny Hill’s western slope, left of center, is composed almost entirely of improvised and rent-free squatters’ vernacular sheds, both on the hill and on the beach.
Haynes’ subject might also have been assigned. Born in Michigan in 1853, the year Seattle’s mid-western founders moved from Alki Point to this east shore of Elliott Bay, Haynes missed the Civil War but not an apprenticeship with Doctor William H. Lockwood’s Temple of Photography in Ripon (‘Birthplace of the Republican Party’), Wisconsin. In the Temple he learn his trade and met Lily Snyder, his co-worker and future wife. Together, they purchased from the Northern Pacific Railroad a Pullman car, which they fitted for a photography studio. In exchange for publicity photographs of the railroad’s expansion and rolling stock, the couple – while raising a family – traveled the greater Northwest, prospering with their own rolling dark room and sales gallery. To his status as the Northern Pacific’s official photographer, Haynes added the same distinction for Yellowstone National Park, where he has a mountain named for him.
Dating this (at the top) visit by Haynes to Puget Sound has left me with an ‘about’ year of circa 1891, two years following the Great Fire. By obscuring the center of the Denny Hotel on Denny Hill, the steamship’s smokestack also hides the hotel’s tower, the last part of the hotel built, and thereby a perhaps helpful clue toward a more refined date. Finally, with the help of an array of historical photos, Ron Edge, a devotee of Seattle history, has determined that the resting steamship here is the City of Kingston and not, as I first thought, its younger sister, the City of Seattle. Ron discovered that there were small differences between them, especially at the stern on the railing for the lower deck. The City of Seattle had a railing.
Jean: We had help along the way on taking this photo… Thanks to Laura Newborn from the State DOT for making the connections and Marty Martin, Facilities Manager, for accompanying me onto the decaying Pier 48.
Paul: Jean, strip it, the pier, is of its clues. Do you remember – and did you attend – any of the big Book Fairs that used Pier 48 sometime in 1990s?
Jean: I did not attend, though I vaguely remember.
Anything to add, fellow travelers? This week like the last 200 or more we’ll pile on a few more features to the Edge Links that Ron put up. But first a copy of the montage that we used to figure out and describe for Laura and Marty the prospect on Pier 48 that we calculated was the correct one for a proper repeat. The red arrow marks the spot. You may wish to notice the range of freedom Jean has used for his art.