In a note scribbled on the 1937 tax card for this modest block, it is named the “triangle.” Bordered by Pine Street, 5th Avenue, and Westlake Avenue, it is really one of about a dozen triangles attached to Westlake Avenue through its seven-block run between Fourth Avenue and Denny Way. The triangles, and about seven more irregularly-shaped blocks, date from 1906-07 when Westlake Avenue was cut through the original city grid. Thiseccentric
regrade was meant to channel the increasing traffic to Denny Way, there to continue north through the “funnel,” as the South Lake Union retail neighborhood was then sometimes called, to the picturesque viaduct built in 1890 for pedestrians, wagons and trolleys along the west shore of Lake Union all the way to Fremont.
The featured photo at the top is one of three Webster and Stevens Studio photographs of the original charmingflatiron with its waving cornice. It sights north over Pine Street along the east side of Westlake. Another of the three photos is printed directly below. It looks in the opposite direction, and shows the same single motorcar parked on Westlake (perhaps the photographer’s) and the produce stand with its fruit and customers protected by an awning opened over the sidewalk. The Pearl Oyster and Chop House is the
next storefront south of the produce stand. Taped to it windows are more than one poster promoting the week-long visit to the Metropolitan Theatre, beginning Monday January 7, of the Shakespearean troupe led by the “eminent” Shakespearian John E. Kellerd. It is by this bit of advertising that we can easily figure that the three photos were taken sometime either in late 1917 or early 1918. Frankly, this discovery saddened me because I prefer this little triangle with its curvilinear cresting and large basket-handle windows to its several successors, the first of which is shown on the tax photo printed above, three images back or above . (The third of the three Webster and Stevens photos follows, all are used courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI.)
An 1891 Birdseye and Three Maps – 1893, 1908 & 1912 – of Location
In the 1908 Baist Real Estate map [two illustrations up] only a small wooden shed is foot-printed in the triangle block, bottom-center. By four years later, in the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, the block has been tightly fitted for the little retail center captured at the top of this feature. Through its few years it was also home for the Seattle station of the Everett Interurban, which started running in 1910.
Sometime in 1918 this attractive triangle was razed and replaced with a three-story structure that bordered the block with a foundation sturdy enough to support a twelve-story high-rise that was never constructed. Through its more than half-century of service and two remodels (the tax card tells us in 1949 and 1959),
the three-story triangle serviced many retailers. The tax-photo (two above) illustrating the last of these changes reveals a nearly windowless brick mass impressively filling the block with “Weisfield’s Credit Jewelers” signed in big neon letters on its south façade facing Pine Street. (I remember this and I suspect many of you do as well.)
Judging by the tenants’ advertisements sample above and published in this paper through the first weeks of 1919, the quickly-built three-story replacement was completed sometime in late 1918. Among the first tenants were The Silk Shop, Violet Tatus’ New Hat Shop and the New Owl Drug Company. The building was named the Silverstone
after Jay C. Silverstone, a Kansas City native who moved to Seattle with his family to found the Boston Drug Company. Silverstone became a super-promoter for properties in this nearly new retail neighborhood. When he added the little flatiron to his neighborhood holdings, the headline for the Seattle Times for Sept. 2, 1917, read “New Retail /District Sets Record Price for Seattle Realty.” Silverstone and his brother Hiram, a physician practicing in Kansas City, purchased the block from Seattle architect John Graham, paying “$56 Per Square Foot for the Westlake Triangle,” which figured to $250,000, most of it in cash.
BELOW: TWO STRESSFUL SILVERSTONE CLIPS from the TIMES
Anything to add, lads? Surely Jean. As is his way, Ron Edge has pulled up several neighborhood shots and stacked them below. Held in each are more, some of which will be repeated many times through the selection. Which is our way.
ALSO NEARBY (Chapter – or feature – NO. 20 from Seattle Now and Then Volume One, which can be read from cover to cover on this blog, and it found in the front page bug ”