Seattle Now & Then: Yesler’s Wharf, 1891

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: F. Jay Haynes recorded this ca. 1891 look up the Seattle waterfront and it’s railroad trestles most likely for a report to his employer, the Northern Pacific Railroad. (Courtesy, Murray Morgan)
THEN: F. Jay Haynes recorded this ca. 1891 look up the Seattle waterfront and it’s railroad trestles most likely for a report to his employer, the Northern Pacific Railroad. (Courtesy, Murray Morgan)
NOW: For his repeat, about 125 years late, Jean Sherrard looks north from what is left of the old Pier 48 to the King County Water Taxi’s loading dock at the waterfront foot of Yesler Way.
NOW: For his repeat, about 125 years late, Jean Sherrard looks north from what is left of the old Pier 48 to the King County Water Taxi’s loading dock at the waterfront foot of Yesler Way.

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

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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.

Compare this post-fire view from both the featured photo at the top and the pan that follows. All three were recorded from coal wharves at the foot of King Street.
Compare this post-fire view from both the featured photo at the top and the ca. 1887 pan that follows. All three were recorded from coal wharves at the foot of King Street.
Another record of the waterfront looking north from the King Street Coal warf, this one most likely in 1887. Denny Hill, on the far left, has been cleared of trees for development, but there is as yet no Denny Hotel on the top of this the Hill's southern summit.
Another record of the waterfront looking north from the King Street Coal wharf, this one most likely in 1887. Denny Hill, on the far left, has been cleared of trees for development, but there is as yet no Denny Hotel on the top of this the Hill’s southern summit.  Yesler’s wharf is at the scene’s center.
A detail of the featured docks grabbed from the 1893 Sanborn real estate map. Yesler's cock is at the top.
A detail of the featured docks grabbed from the 1893 Sanborn real estate map. Yesler’s  dock is at the top.  King Street is just off-frame at the bottom.   All is new here – except the pile of ship’s ballast on which “501” is printed.  Most of the ballast was dumped there in the 1870s by ships visiting to pick up coal at King Street.  With the construction of docks between the bunkers beisde King Street  and Yesler Wharf the ballast-dropping was  stopped here, and sizeable docks and sheds were constructed above the ballast and/or to its sides.   The tuning=fork dock between Madison and Main Streets (marked again by “502”) was fitted with a warehouse at its water (west) end that tended ships, while the east end of the new (in 1882) dock was left open revealing Ballast Island and waiting for later development, both before and after the 1889 fire. 
Part of Ballast Island is exposed, bottom-right, in this pre-fire 1884 Seattle Birdseye. Note Mill Street at the center. Here off-shore it is part of Yesler Wharf
Part of Ballast Island is exposed, bottom-right, in this pre-fire 1884 Seattle Birdseye. Note Mill Street at the center. Here off-shore it is part of Yesler Wharf.  At the center not Mill Street where it is off-shore and part of Yeslere Wharf (or dock). 

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.

Another Haynes view, this one from some vessel off shore of Marion Street. (It lines up with the photographer's prospect.) Notes Denny Hill on the far left.
Another Haynes view, this one from some vessel off shore of Marion Street. (It lines up with the photographer’s prospect.) Note Denny Hill on the far left.  CLICK CLICK to ENLARGE, please.

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. 

The rising hotel on the hill is seen between the stack and mast rising from another and unidentified vessel on the south central waterfront following some post-'89 fire reconstruction, the warehouse rooftops about the vessel are familiar, and the Denny Hotel is still sans tower. But not below. The Haynes photo that follows shows the back of the hotel and tower from looking south on Third Ave. new Blanchard Street.
The rising hotel on the hill is seen between the stack and mast rising from another (and unidentified) vessel on the south central waterfront following early  post-’89 fire reconstruction.  The warehouse rooftops above the vessel are familiar, and the Denny Hotel is still sans tower. But not below. The Haynes photo that follows shows the back of the hotel and tower looking south on Third Ave. thru the intersection with  Blanchard Street.
Denny Hotel from the rear. This later Haynes exposure looks south across Third Avenue's intersection with Blanchard Street.
Denny Hotel from the rear. This later Haynes exposure looks south across Third Avenue’s intersection with Blanchard Street.

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. 

The steamer City of Seattle on one of its many runs to Alaska. This is, the caption reads, "just below Dixon's Entrance. (Courtesy, Cornell University Library)
The steamer City of Seattle on one of its many runs to Alaska. This is, the caption reads, “just below Dixon’s Entrance. (Courtesy, Cornell University Library)
The steamer City of Kingston on the Seattle waterfront.
The steamer City of Kingston on the Seattle waterfront.  [Courtesy, Michael Maslan]
Two looks at the City of Kingston's stern. Compare it to one of the City of Seattle, the stern that follows.
Two looks at the City of Kingston’s stern. Compare it to one of the City of Seattle, the stern that follows.
The City of Seattle's stern.
Above: the City of Seattle’s stern.
Part of a page on Lewis and Dryden's history of Puget Sound vessels published long ago.
Part of a page on Lewis and Dryden’s history of Puget Sound vessels, including the “companion ships” shown above, published long ago.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

WEB EXTRAS

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.

Marty Martin, facilities manager, DOT, on Pier 48
Marty Martin, facilities manager, DOT, on Pier 48
Ravaged surface of the pier, access forbidden
Ravaged surface of the pier, access forbidden

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.

Above Pier 48, Courtesy of Google
Above Pier 48 from on high, Courtesy of Google
Furthermore, may we help you?
Furthermore, may we help you?

THEN:In late 1855 the citizens of Seattle with help from the crew of the Navy sloop-of-war Decatur built a blockhouse on the knoll that was then still at the waterfront foot of Cherry Street. The sloop’s physician John Y. Taylor drew this earliest rendering of the log construction. (Courtesy, Yale University, Beinecke Library)

THEN: The S. S. Suveric makes a rare visit to Seattle in 1911. (Historical photo courtesy of Jim Westall)

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: The driver, lower left, leads his team towards First Avenue up a planked incline on Madison Street. (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: From boxcars and rooftops to the planks of Railroad Avenue, excitement builds for the ceremonial re-enactment of the S.S.Portland’s 1897 landing with its “ton of gold” on the Seattle waterfront, the city’s first Golden Potlatch Celebration. [Courtesy, Michael Maslan]

THEN: Between the now lost tower of the Pioneer Building, seen in part far left, and the Seattle Electric Steam Plant tower on the right, are arranged on First and Railroad Avenues the elaborate buzz of business beside and near Seattle’s Pioneer Square ca. 1904.

THEN: The original for this scene of a temporary upheaval on Mill Street (Yesler Way) was one of many historical prints given to the Museum of History and Industry many years ago by the Charles Thorndike estate. Thorndike was one of Seattle’s history buffs extraordinaire. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry.)

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