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 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.
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.
Here follows a few more Roosevelts.
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
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
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.
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.
ON THE SAME DAY – MILDRED DODGE – MARCH 15, 1940
Anything to add, fellahs?
THREE MORE BILLBOARD SHOTS FROM THE FEATURED CORNER – ALL LOOKING NORTH