Seattle Now & Then: Looking East from Ninth and Pike

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This 1939 glimpse east from Ninth Avenue follows Pike Street to the end of the about three-quarter mile straight climb it makes on its run from the Pike Place Market to its first turn on Capitol Hill.
THEN: This 1939 glimpse east from Ninth Avenue follows Pike Street to the end of the about three-quarter mile straight climb it makes on its run from the Pike Place Market to its first turn on Capitol Hill.  [CLICK to ENLARGE and so on]
NOW: A swath of landscaped concrete first poured and planted in the 1960s has replaced the row of former hotels and shops that once lined Pike Street in its ascent of Capitol Hill. Jean Sherrard has put his back to the window-arched tunnel that distinguishes Pike Street where it passes beside the Washington State Convention Center.
NOW: A swath of landscaped concrete first poured and planted in the 1960s has replaced the row of former hotels and shops that once lined Pike Street in its ascent of Capitol Hill. Jean Sherrard has put his back to the window-arched tunnel that distinguishes Pike Street where it passes beside the Washington State Convention Center.

The featured look east on Pike Street from Ninth Avenue is dated May 21, 1939.  In about two decades more this neighborhood would be cut, crushed, and cleared for the construction of the Seattle Freeway. Through these two blocks between Ninth Avenue and Boren Street, Pike’s mixed neighborhood of cafes, hotels, barbershops, and furniture upholsterers would be revamped into a concrete ramp over a concrete ditch.  That this part of Pike was once an “upholstery row” surprised me.  In 1938 (I have a city directory for 1938 but not 1939) there were five furniture upholsterers listed in the few blocks between Eighth and Melrose Avenues.  It is at Melrose that Pike begins its turn east to conform to the more recently platted street grid on the ridge.  The jog’s directional change is indicated with an adjustment in the name to East Pike Street, which in 1939 was one of Seattle’s principal “auto rows.” East Pike also marks the subjective – and by now traditional – border between the First and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.

Another same day snap by the billboard rangers, Foster and Kleiser, on Pike Street, but here one block east at Terry Street. The hotels here include the William Penn, far left,
Another same day snap by the billboard rangers, Foster and Kleiser, on Pike Street, but here one block east at Terry Street. The hotels here on the south side of Pike include the William Penn, far right, Hotel Crest, left of the power pole, and the Wintonia, which I remember for its wild tavern in the 1970 with bad manners contesting with good music.  Across Pike and a block east is the Villa Hotel at the northeast corner of Boren and Pike..

Also with the help of the Polk City Directory for 1938 I have counted four hotels in these two blocks between Ninth Avenue and Boren that were lost to the Seattle Freeway (Interstate Five): the Stanley, here at Ninth Avenue, the William Penn and the Crest near Terry Avenue, and the five-floor Hotel Alvord, on the left.  (Jean Sherrard’s repeat also reveals a survivor. The Villa Hotel at the northwest corner of Pike and Boren can stands out in the photo above.  It cal also be glimpsed directly above the trolley in this Sunday’s “then.”  It is more difficult but not impossible to find in the “now.”)  

A Times clip from December 8, 1924
A Times clip from December 8, 1924
A Seattle Times clip from March 3, 1933
A Seattle Times clip from March 3, 1933
A Seattle Times clip: Oct. 23, 1936.
A Seattle Times clip: Oct. 23, 1936.
Sprinkled throughout most hotel and apartment house histories are true crime stories of many sorts. This one was published in The Times for July 23, 1930.
Sprinkled throughout most hotel and apartment house histories are true crime stories of many sorts. This one for the Alvord was published in The Times for July 23, 1930.

The Alvord’s publicity stream begins in 1924, the year of its construction, and reaches its most sensational height around midnight on March 1, 1933. Mildred Russell, the 24-year-old bride of violinist and orchestra leader Jan Russell, opened a window in search of fresh air and used all five of the hotel’s floors to fall to the ground below.  The Times qualified the ground as “soft earth.”  From her merciful bounce, Mildred received only a few bruises and a cracked skull.  “I had just lit a cigarette,” she said. Only three years later, Margaret Thaanum fell from the Alvord’s third floor to her death.  The trained nurse was trying to walk the three-inch ledge outside her window. 

The single and double fees for the Alvord Hotel a few weeks before the economic crash of 1929. And below: a few weeks more than one year following the crash.
The single and double fees for the Alvord Hotel a few weeks before the economic crash of 1929. And below: a few weeks more than one year following the crash.
From The Times classifieds for Feb. 21, 1931.
From The Times classifieds for Feb. 21, 1931.

Returning now to the trolley heading east on Pike Street, on this spring day there was a growing sense that these often rattling common carriers were about to lose out to the busses and trackless trollies promoted by internal combustion and “big rubber.”  Two years more and most trolley tracks in Seattle were pulled up and the disrupted brickwork patched with asphalt and/or concrete.   

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COMING UP - This Spring the 50th ANNIVERSARY of the FOUNDING of HELIX. We hope to completed the scanning of every page - by then. Keep watch. The above was printed on a back cover of one of the (very roughly) 130 weekly (for the most part) tabloids.
COMING UP – This Spring the 50th ANNIVERSARY of the FOUNDING of HELIX. We hope to completed the scanning of every page – by then. Keep watch. The above was printed on a back cover of one of the (very roughly) 130 weekly (for the most part) tabloids.

On this Sunday, May 21, 1939, we learn from The Times that while Hitler and Mussolini were preparing a military alliance with their Rome-Berlin pact, Seattleites were anticipating in the week the grand Potlatch Pageant and its big parade.  (Hitler and Mussolini vented that “Germany and Italy have no intention of using any country as a tool for egotistical plans, which is happening only too clearly on the other side.”)  Two days later Boeing’s Yankee Clipper inaugurated the first commercial airway service between the Unites States and Europe. Perhaps playing it safe at the start, other than the crew of fifteen, the clipper carried only mail, four tons of it. 

The Boeing Clipper at Matthews Beach, its testing harbor on Lake Washington.
The Boeing Clipper at Matthews Beach, its testing harbor on Lake Washington.

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WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, blokes?  Blokes but not bullies we will find some links and other decorations and put the UP.

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: 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.

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THEN: First dedicated in 1889 by Seattle’s Unitarians, the congregation soon needed a larger sanctuary and moved to Capitol Hill. Here on 7th Avenue, their first home was next used for a great variety of events, including a temporary home for the Christian Church, a concert hall for the Ladies Musical Club, and a venue for political events like anarchist Emma Goldman’s visit to Seattle in 1910. (Compliments Lawton Gowey)

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)

THEN: The Ballard Public Library in 1903-4, and here the Swedish Baptist Church at 9th and Pine, 1904-5, were architect Henderson Ryan’s first large contracts after the 20 year old southerner first reached Seattle in 1898. Later he would also design both the Liberty and Neptune Theatres, the latter still projecting films in the University District. (Photo 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: 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 early evening dazzle of the Roosevelt Theatre at 515 Pike Street, probably in 1941. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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: The brand new N&K Packard dealership at Belmont and Pike in 1909. Thanks to both antique car expert Fred Cruger for identifying as Packards the cars on show here, and to collector Ron Edge for finding them listed at this corner in a 1909 Post-Intelligencer. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry.)

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

THEN: Swedish Lutheran (Gethsemane) Church’s second sanctuary at the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Steward Street circa 1920, photo by Klaes Lindquist. (Courtesy, Swedish Club)

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: We are not told but perhaps it is Dora and Otto Ranke and their four children posing with their home at 5th and Pike for the pioneer photographer Theo. E. Peiser ca. 1884. In the haze behind them looms Denny Hill. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: Looking west on Pike Street from Fourth Avenue, the variety in the first block of this retail district includes the Rhodes Bros. Ten Cent Store, Mendenhall’s Kodaks, Fountain Pens and Photo Supplies, Remick’s Song and Gift Shop, the Lotus Confectionary, Fahey-Brockman’s Clothiers, where, one may “buy upstairs and save $10.00”. (Courtesy, MOHAI)

THEN: In this April morning record of the 1975 “Rain or Shine Public Market Paint-in,” above the artists, restoration work has begun with the gutting of the Corner Market Building. (Photo by Frank Shaw)

THEN: The Hotel York at the northwest corner of Pike Street and First Avenue supplied beds on the American Plan for travelers and rooms for traveling hucksters. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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A detail from the 1912 Real Estate Map. Note the two brick structures (including Seattle Taxi) in block 108 on the right.
A detail from the 1912 Real Estate Map. Note the two brick structures (including Seattle Taxi) in block 108 on the right.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

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Seattle Taxi is on the left in this look south 9th Ave. from Pike Street.
Seattle Taxi is on the left in this look south 9th Ave. from Pike Street.

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The buildings on Ninth Avenue south of Pike Street, including the Seattle Taxi, are still standing in this aerial of the neighborhood photographed sometime before it was cut through by Interstate-5.  Compare to the photo below.

Courtesy, Ron Edge
Courtesy, Ron Edge

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RETURN to a detail of the neighborhood pulled from the 1912 Baist Real Estate map
RETURN to a detail of the neighborhood pulled from the 1912 Baist Real Estate map

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