Seattle Now & Then: The Last of Denny Hill, Part 2

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN 1: Recorded on April 14, 1928, about sixth months before the Denny Hill Regrade No. 2 began, the last of the scarred Denny Hill rises to the right of Fifth Avenue. Denny School (1884) tops the hill at the northeast corner of Battery Street and Fifth Avenue. On the horizon, at center, Queen Anne Hill is topped by its namesake high school, and on the right of the panorama, the distant Wallingford neighborhood rises from the north shore of Lake Union. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)
THEN 1: Recorded on April 14, 1928, about sixth months before the Denny Hill Regrade No. 2 began, the last of the scarred Denny Hill rises to the right of Fifth Avenue. Denny School (1884) tops the hill at the northeast corner of Battery Street and Fifth Avenue. On the horizon, at center, Queen Anne Hill is topped by its namesake high school, and on the right of the panorama, the distant Wallingford neighborhood rises from the north shore of Lake Union. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)  DOUBLE-CLICK TO ENLARGE
THEN 2: The pre-Regrade No.2 brick business buildings on Fifth Avenue survived the cutting, which otherwise turned the last of Denny Hill into undeveloped land that resembled a sprawling parking lot. The photo was taken on September 22, 1931. Like the 1928 panorama and Jean Sherrard’s late 2016 repeat, the “after” shot was taken from the roof of Hotel Andra, formerly the Claremont Hotel (1926), at the northeast corner of Virginia Street and 4th Avenue. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)
A modern crop roughly matching the borders of the two ‘Thens’
NOW: Jean Sherrard’s repeat unfolds a lifting of the neighborhood with high-rises that far reverse the 110 feet of glacial dirt cut and dumped in Elliott Bay during the combined Denny Regrades.

I came upon this week’s revealing pair of historical photos in the mid-1970’s during my initial visit to the Seattle Engineering Department’s photo-lab at City Hall. Both were given curt captions at their bottom-left corners, identifying this public work as Denny Hill No.2 Regrade.  The diptych reveals with “before” and “after” panoramas the final humbling of Denny Hill between 1928 and 1931.  (Last week’s feature gave another point of view on that last regrade.) The digging for Denny Hill Regrade No. 1 began in 1903.  In 1911 the cutting paused for seventeen years before resuming in 1928 with Denny Hill Regrade No. 2.  By pulling a lever, Seattle Mayor Frank E. Edwards scooped the last electric shovelful in the forenoon of December 9, 1930.   Both the 1928 and 1931 pans include the south facade of the Windham Apartments at the northwest corner of Fifth Ave. and Blanchard Street.  With its 1925 brick facade intact, the Windham still serves but is now, from the Claremont’s roof,  for the most part hidden behind the chisel-shaped glass curtain at the southwest corner of Fifth and Blanchard.  

WEB EXTRAS

Thanks to Hotel Andra (nee Claremont) for hosting our trip to their rooftop. Also, big thanks to Brian Cunningham, Chief Engineer, for his assistance on high.

Chief Engineer Brian Cunningham on the roof
Chief Engineer Brian Cunningham on the roof

He related a Hotel Andra secret, which can only now be revealed! If you examine the photo below, note the twin architectural details high above the hotel’s Fourth Avenue entrance. The grenade-shaped protuberances at the top of each feature seem to be intact…but, no! The one on the right went missing at least a decade ago.

Twin architectural features (or are they?)
Twin architectural features (or are they?)

Brian discovered that a Nerf football, scribed to approximate the lines of the original, painted gray and glued into place would suffice, certainly from a distance. I think it looks pretty fine close up as well (click to enlarge to see for yourself).

Not concrete but Nerf!
Not concrete but Nerf!
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Gull looking west

Finally, a shot of the Space Needle from the rooftop:

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The only remaining view of the Needle from the old Claremont. For French film buffs, I dedicate this photo to the film Jacques Tati’s ‘Playtime’ (not ‘Holiday’)

Anything to add, lads?  

Yes Jean, but first thanks for the roof architecture atop the old Claremont.   I too love “Hulot’s Holiday” and saw it first at the Harvard Exit in the early 1970s.  But you have me puzzled how that trip from Paris for a holiday on the Normandy Coast (I assume) with a stay in a waterfront hotel filled with eccentric guests relates to your textured reflection of the Needle off Garth Vader’s glass skin.  Will you explicate, please?

Yes, Paul, my mistake – I meant to say ‘Playtime’ – the 1967 film which featured Monsieur Hulot wandering through glass and steel skyscrapers, unable to find the Eiffel Tower or the  Arch de Triomphe, except in the glass reflections. A marvel of the cinema (which, was unappreciated at the time, and bankrupted Hulot creator Jacques Tati).

Second, we hope our dear readers will key word our blog for “Denny Regrade” or any other key.  For instance, our Illustrated History of the Seattle Waterfront (found here under the “books bug”) has a thumbnail history of the Denny Regrade.

I snapped this look west through an upper-floor window in the Muni-Building sometime in the 1970s when I was editing through the nitrate negative collection in the Engineering Department's photo laboratory. Some of it was cooking-bubbling and needed to be tossed.
I snapped this look west through an upper-floor window in the Muni-Building (City Hall aka a Texas Hotel) sometime in the 1970s when I was editing through the nitrate negative collection in the Engineering Department’s photo laboratory. Some of it was cooking-bubbling and needed to be tossed.   All of its was illegal, but protected, so to speak, inside city hall and decades of neglect.
A comedic interruption of The Times serious news flow for March 15, 1930, about the time of this week's regrade pans.
A comedic interruption of The Times serious news flow for March 15, 1930, about the time of this week’s regrade pans.
Can the still serving Windham Apts (1925) at the northwest corner of Fifth and Blanchard be glimpsed in any of Jean's shots from the roof?
Can the still serving Windham Apts (1925) at the northwest corner of Fifth and Blanchard be glimpsed in any of Jean’s shots from the roof?

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MY FIRST INTIMATE GLIMPSE OF THE PRE-REGRADE DENNY HILL NEIGHBORHOOD.    The text here is copied from Seattle Now and Then Volume One, the Fifty-Second story.  An earlier version was first printed in The Seattle Sun.  It was that tabloid exposure that, I believe, persuaded The Seattle Times to take me on as a suffering free-lance contributor in the winter of 1981-82.  I discovered the historical photo, which looks south on Second Avenue from its intersection with Bell Street, in a stack of prints that John Hannawalt – still of the Seattle Paperworks in the Pike Place Market (lower level)-  purchased from Loomis Miller, the last keeper of the Webster and Stevens Studio.  It was an exciting moment for me.  I had by then plenty of exposure to regrade pictures, and distant portraits of Denny Hill long before the lowering began, but none of the intimate neighborhood.   They are still rare.   One of the best was featured recently  in “Too High and Too Steep”, David B. Williams historical study of the several natural upheavals that have come with making Seattle.  Our review of David’s well-illustrated study of the “reshaping of Seattle topography” is included here below illustrated with the Anson Burwell House at Denny Hill’s high point the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Blanchard Street.   You will find it below, second from the top with the Edge Clippings,

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CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE FOR READING
CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE FOR READING
You may recognize the three-gabled row house that survives at the southeast corner of Second and Bell. Note please the detail of the hotel above it, and find it below
You may recognize the three-gabled row house, on the left,  that survives at the southeast corner of Second and Bell. Note please the detail of the Blanchard Apartments above it, and find it again twice in the triptych printed below.
The Blanchard Apts appear here to the left of the power pole. Cutting on the east side of Second Ave. begins to take its temporary shape as a cliff.
The Blanchard Apts appear here to the left of the power pole. Cutting on the east side of Second Ave. begins to take its temporary shape as a cliff.
We first published this in The Times sometime after the popularity of the movie with "Pond" in the title. It escapes me for the moment.
We first published this in The Times sometime after the popularity of the movie with “Pond” in the title. It escapes me for the moment.
A minimal Potlatch parade floats poses on the south side of Blanchard across from the Blanchard Apartments after its lowering. The intersection with Second Ave. is on the left. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)
A minimal Potlatch parade floats poses on the south side of Blanchard across from the Blanchard Apartments after its lowering. The intersection with
Second Ave. is on the left. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)
The Blanchard Apartments appear to be occupied during their lowering to the north side of Blanchard Street, between Second and Third Avenues.
The Blanchard Apartments appear to be occupied during their lowering to the north side of Blanchard Street, between Second and Third Avenues.

 

Third Avenue, looking north from near Virginia Street. The Blanchard Apartments, left-of-center, may be approaching their regrade - or may not. What do you think?
Third Avenue, looking north from near Virginia Street. The Blanchard Apartments, left-of-center, may be approaching their regrade – or may not. What do you think?

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THE EDGE CLIPPINGS

THEN: Steel beams clutter a freshly regraded Second Avenue during the 1907 construction of the Moore Theatre. The view looks north toward Virginia Street.

THEN: The northeast corner of Belltown’s intersection of Blanchard Street and Fourth Avenue was about 100 feet higher than it is now. The elegant late-Victorian clutters of the Burwell homes’ interiors are also featured on the noted blog. (Courtesy John Goff)

THEN: An early-20th-century scene during the Second Avenue Regrade looks east into its intersection with Virginia Avenue. A home is being moved from harm's way, but the hotel on the hill behind it would not survive the regrade's spoiling. Courtesy of Ron Edge.

THEN: Before this the first shovel of the last of Denny Hill was ceremonially dropped to the conveyor belt at Battery Street, an “initial bite of 30,000 cubic yards of material” was carved from the cliff along the east side of 5th Avenue to make room for both the steam shovel and several moveable belts that extended like fingers across the hill. It was here that they met the elevated and fixed last leg of the conveyor system that ran west on Battery Street to the waterfront. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

belltown-moran-then

THEN: The Dog House at 714 Denny Way was strategically placed at the southern terminus for the Aurora Speedway when it was new in the mid-1930s. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archive, Bellevue Community College Branch.)

5th-ave-car-barns-then-mr

THEN: Thanks to Pacific reader John Thomas for sharing this photograph recorded by his father in 1927. It looks north across Times Square to the almost completed Orpheum Theatre. Fifth Avenue is on the left, and Westlake on the right.

THEN: Thanks again and again to Lawton Gowey for another contribution to this feature, this ca. 1917 look into a fresh Denny Regrade and nearly new “office-factory” at 1921 Fifth Avenue. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey.)

2nd-and-Blanchard-THEN

THEN: In 1910, a circa date for this look north on First Avenue across Virginia Street, the two corners on the east side of the intersection were still undeveloped – except for signs. The Terminal Sales Building, seen far right in Jean Sherrard’s repeat, did not replace the billboards that crowd the sidewalk in the “then” until 1923. (Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: James P. Lee, Seattle’s busy public works photographer of the early 20th century, recorded this 1922 look north from near the west end of Denny Way on the bluff above the then-forming Elliott Way. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: We imagine that the photographer A.J. McDonald waited for one of his subjects, the cable car to Queen Anne Hill, to reach the intersection of Second Ave. N. and Aloha Street below him before snapping this panorama in the mid-1890s.

THEN: William O. McKay opened show rooms on Westlake in July of 1923. After fifty-seven years of selling Fords, the dealership turned to the cheaper and more efficient Subaru. Now reconstructed, the old Ford showroom awaits a new tenant.

THEN: The Seattle Central Business District in 1962. I found this panorama mixed in with the Kodachrome slides photographed by Lawton Gowey. It was most likely taken by my helpful friend Lawton, who died in 1983, or Robert Bradley, Lawton’s friend in the then active Seattle Camera Club. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

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In the late 70's, if memory serves . . .
In the late 70’s, if memory serves . . .

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