Seattle Now & Then: Lower Roosevelt Way, 1940

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Roosevelt Way in 1940, looking north from E. 41st Street. (The named direction was later changed to N.E. 41st. Street)
NOW: The fire-prevention hydraulics seem to have kept their same tie to the corner, although with a newer hydrant.

Lower Roosevelt Way is an arterial that aside from the bascule bridge it is attached to, was, it seems, developed without distinguished landmarks.   For the fetured photograph above,  it was recorded on the afternoon of March 14, 1940, a year remembered, perhaps, by many of us, myself included. I was born in 1938  – late ’38.

The featured intersection of Roosevelt Way and NE 41st Street is near but not exactly at the north end of the University Bridge, seen here on the right of an aerial indicating the intended path of the Seattle Freeway. We will included some other photos of the close-in neighborhood around E. (or Northeast) 40s and 41st and 10th Ave. (Roosevelt Way)  at the end of the feature’s primary text or before the attached Edge Clippings – about 40 of them, some also revealing of the immediate neighborhood.
From near the University Bridge’s bascule spans, looking north to the were arterial make a gentle curve through N.E. 40th Street, photographed on June 10, 1940.
The photo’s original caption refers to the business to the sides of the Krao Syrup billboard at the northeast corner of 10th Ave. N.E. and Roosevelt Way in 1931.  If you check back a week or two or three you’ll find another Kato Syrup billboard on Roosevelt Way.  Immediately below (aka next) we’ll insert an old feature that gives more space to the Van de Kamp bakery’s windmill seen here on the far right. 
A municipal pubic works photo from March 9, 1933 following the rebuilding of the originally wooden University Bridge with concrete pilings.  Below is another Van de Camp windmill on Roosevelt at 64th Avenue.  It was featured here about three years ago and can be found again below among the crowd of linked features.
Another bakery, another windmill, this one in 1946 and the northeast corner of Roosevelt and NE 64th Avenue. (See the links below for the story featured with the same photograph.)

The featured view at the top looks north on Roosevelt Way (10th Avenue N.E.) from its northeast corner with NE 41st Street.  Seventy-seven years later, hardly anything survives for Jean Sherrard to repeat except the nearby utility pole and the fire hydrant at the bottom-right corner.  They are, at least, nearly the same. A temporary seven feet-or-so of whitewash has been applied below the street sign on the 1940 pole.  The sign reads “E. 41st St.” but not yet “Northeast.”  Actually, transcending our prejudice, we notice a string of landmarks here in 1940: the syncopated clutter of the long line of tall power poles competing and/or cooperating for our attention above the narrow parking strip on the east side of Roosevelt Way.

Portage Bay from the future north end of the Eastlake aka Brooklyn aka University Bridge. (This was first featured in Pacific on February 7, 1993.)
First printed in Pacific on July 18, 1999.
The last days of the Latona Bridge, photographed in the “then” from the construction site of the new bridge, circa 1919 – we here confidently speculate but directly propose in the feature’s attached caption/text.  Who can you trust?  Not always yourself?)

When the bascule bridge that crossed the narrow passage between Lake Union and Portage Bay was first opened in 1919, it briefly held to its forebear’s name, The Latona Birdge, but was also called the Eastlake Bridge after its south end tie, and other times the Brooklyn Bridge for the name of its north end Brooklyn Addition, but most often, and perhaps inevitably, the University Bridge for its nearby and dominant campus landmark.  By the time its north feed, Tenth Avenue Northeast, was renamed in 1933 for two popular presidents, one passed and one brand new, Roosevelt Way was well along with its development into one of Seattle’s auto rows, with several dealerships, garages, used car lots and full-service filling stations.

A De Soto adver. in The Times for March 25, 1934.
Miss Roosevelt District helps apply or install the one way sign for 11th Ave. N.E in early 1960. She shares the page with Bridget Bardot, her new baby, and flamboyant permanent.

Here follows a few more Roosevelts.

Gathering signatures for the renaming of 10th Avenue to Roosevelt Way. Another Times clip. This one from May 24, 1933.


Another tax photo, this one showing part of Roosevelt Way’s car culture circa 1937.
Liberal City Council streets committee from 1933 gives  Roosevelt Way its OK.
Five blocks north looking south through NE 45th on May 8, 1933.

Checking The Seattle Times archive for March 14, 1940, (the day for the featured photo at the top) we find that while celebrating his 61st birthday in Princeton with the press, Albert Einstein was asked if he had any plans in the “immediate future” to go public with any new discoveries for his “unified theory.”  The cosmologist answered “No, no.  I’m having difficulty there.”  Meanwhile that afternoon with a

Albert Einstein watches over (or under) me throughout the days from beneath my transparent desk mask.

less cosmic attitude, the deliberating Seattle City Council voted to revoke the license of the Rialto Theatre after sampling the theatre’s rum-flavored toffee and peeking into its “view-boxes.”  For the politicians’ edification and distraction, the Rialto’s manager projected into its ordinarily bawdy boxes lush transparencies of Far

Without sampled evidence from the Rialto’s test before City Council we substitute this riotous piece of bas relief from a ancient Cambodian temple.

East pagodas and exotic stone monuments, and not “nudes in a variety of poses,” or other First Amendment-testing titillations that the theater’s late night customers – mostly older men – paid tens cents to watch and/or sleep the night through from the comforts of the heated theatre’s cushioned seats.

Failing for the moment to find an interior look at the Rialto Theatre with its early morning clients, we substitute another exhibition, the rugged Supreme Court Justice William Douglas’ way out in front leading a group hike along Rialto Beach.

Upon reflection, I must correct the introductory point about a lack of landmarks on lower Roosevelt Way.  There is, at least, one grand exception.  At the northeast corner of NE 42nd Street and Roosevelt Way, which is one long block north of the historical photographer’s prospect, spreads the creative clutter of Hardwick’s Swapshot, “Seattle’s coolest emporium since 1932.”  It is hidden here behind the clutter of the parking strip. This helpful stockpile of long aisles is packed with both new and used hardware that can be enjoyed, studied and procured.  On top of it all, original framed art is arranged salon-style in the spaces that climb the walls above the tools.  Much of it is “forsaken art” found in estate sales and the rummage market.  Forsaken, and yet precious, it is NOT for sale.

Above and Below: Not examples of Hardwick’s exhibit but something to take its place until we can get around to snap the evidence. Still these are nearby in Wallingford, parts of a recent Halloween exhibit on Northeast 42nd Avenue.

The Roosevelts at Hyde Park



A Times late Depression-time cip from March 14, 1940, same day as our featured photo at the top.
A Seattle Times clip, March 15, 1940.


Anything to add, fellahs?

THEN: sliver of the U.W. campus building called the Applied Physics Laboratory appears on the far right of this 1940 look east towards the U.W. campus from the N.E. 40th Street off-ramp from the University Bridge. While very little other than the enlarged laboratory survives in the fore and mid-grounds, much on the horizon of campus buildings and apartments still stand. (Courtesy, Genevieve McCoy)

THEN: The Latona Bridge was constructed in 1891 along the future line of the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge. The photo was taken from the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway right-of-way, now the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail. The Northlake Apartment/Hotel on the right survived and struggled into the 1960s. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: The historical view looks directly south into the Latona addition’s business district on Sixth Ave. NE. from the Northern Pacific’s railroad bridge, now part of the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Roosevelt Way bustling after the war. This subject first appeared in The Seattle Times on July 7, 1946. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: Pioneer Arthur Denny's son, Orion, took this photo of popularly named Lake Union John and his second wife, Madeline, sometime before the latter's death in 1906.

THEN: With great clouds overhead and a landscape 45 years shorter than now, one vehicle – a pickup heading east – gets this part of State Route 520 to itself on a weekday afternoon. (courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Long-time Wallingford resident Victor Lygdman looks south through the work-in-progress on the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge during the summer of 1959. Bottom-right are the remnants of the Latona business and industrial district, including the Wayland Mill and the Northlake Apartments, replaced now with Ivar’s Salmon House and its parking. (Photo by Victor Lygdman)

THEN: On March 25, 1946, or near it, Wide World Photos recorded here what they titled “University Vet Housing.” It would soon be named the Union Bay Village and house the families of returning veterans. The first 45 bungalows shown here rented for from $35 to $45 dollars a month. It would increase to a “teeming conglomerate of 500 rental units.” With housing for both married students and faculty. The view looks north over a street that no longer exists. The homes on the right horizon face the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail on N.E. Blakeley Street near N.E. 45th Place. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: The Gothic University of Washington Campus in 1946 beginning a seven-year crowding with prefabricated dormitories beside Frosh Pond. In the immediate background [on the right] is Guggenheim Hall. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: The first house for Delta Gamma at N.E. 4730 University Way. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: From 1909 to the mid-late 1920s, the precipitous grade separation between the upper and lower parts of NE 40th Street west of 7th Ave. NE was faced with a timber wall. When the wall was removed, the higher part of NE 40th was shunted north, cutting into the lawns of the homes beside it. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)


4719 Thackeray Place NE. The 1938 WPA tax photo.

THEN: Like violence in a classic Greek play, the carnage suggested by this 1934 crash scene on the then new Aurora speedway was kept off stage, either behind the city’s official photographer, or in the county morgue. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive.)

THEN: When the Oregon Cadets raised their tents on the Denny Hall lawn in 1909 they were almost venerable. Founded in 1873, the Cadets survive today as Oregon State University’s ROTC. Geneticist Linus C. Pauling, twice Nobel laureate, is surely the school’s most famous cadet corporal. (courtesy, University of Washington Libraries)

This rare glimpse of the rapid Ravenna Creek’s fall through Cowen Park was photographed not long before the stream that had had “topped off” Green Lake into Lake Washington’s Union Bay for thousands of years was shut off in 1911. (Photo courtesy of Jim Westall)

THEN: When it was built in 1902, this box home, with classic Ionic pillars at the porch, was set above the northwest corner of the freshly graded Brooklyn Avenue and 47th Street in the University District. (Courtesy, John Cooper)


The Gasworks and beyond it the University District in 1910, photographed from Queen Anne Hill. CLICK CLICK CLICK to read.  (Courtesy of Museum of History and Industry, from their Webster Stevens Collection.)


First appeared in Pacific, July 7, 2002
Appear in Pacific, April 6, 2003
First appeared in Pacific, December 28, 2003



First appear in Pacific on May 11, 2008


The approaches of the original University Bridge from the late teens were built of wood. The planKs and pilings were replaced with concrete in 1932. Here’s the Temporary two lane bridge used by traffic during the main spans reconstruction.  CLICK TWICE to READ

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