This Sunday’s feature is another witness to photographer Frank Shaw’s interest in the changes to our cityscape that came with the building of the Seattle Freeway on the western slope of First Hill. Through its construction in the 1960s, this part of the I-5 Freeway kept to a block-wide swath between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Shaw dated this example of his Hasselblad’s work December 6, 1962, a mere fifty-seven years ago.
PacificNW first visited this block with another now-and-then feature pulled from the Shaw collection that showed the sunlit façade of the same brick and stone building whose back fills most of this week’s feature. Located at the southwest corner of Columbia Street and Seventh Avenue, it was the Seattle Fire Department’s new headquarters built soon after the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. We may speculate that the preservationist in Shaw took his earlier photo in admiration of his subject’s substantial architecture, as well as it distinguished past. Dated August 6, 1960, it was first printed in Pacific on Sunday, January 19, 2014. (Shaw’s colored shot of the fire station and the 2014 feature that interpreted it, are included below as the first of the many Edge Extras that follow Jean’s question below “Anything to add, blokes?)
The more “in your face” subject in the feature at the top is the collapsing rear stairway of the three-story apartment row that in time strung five addresses together on the west side of Seventh Avenue, north from its corner with Cherry Street to the Monticello Hotel. Construction of the row began in the late 1880s, but not at the corner. Footprints of its first two flats, the most westerly units of the row, are drawn in the 1888 Sanborn Fire Insurance map. (Included here two illustration up.) These two were built on the largest of the row’s five lots, and their roofs distinguished them from the addresses beginning at Cherry Street. It seems fitting that the
often generous flow from the First Hill springs that supplied pioneer Seattle are shown rushing across the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Cherry Street in the 1878 birdseye view of the city. Perhaps the centuries-old fluid dynamics at this corner had something to do with the eleventh-hour settling of the Coo Coo’s back porch.
The recent revelation of the row’s last name, Coo Coo, seems to us both appropriate and surely silly. The name of the apartments and the tavern at the corner appear in my copies of the Polk City Directory for 1938 and 1950. In the 1938 edition the Coo Coo’s proprietor, George H. Thomas, lives at 701 1/2 Seventh Avenue, and so perhaps above the Tavern listed at 701 Seventh Avenue. We learn from a Times clipping for May 12, 1944, that both George and his wife Ethel had their tavern license suspended for twenty days for their “purchase of improperly stamped beer from an unlicensed wholesaler.” This, I’m guessing, was a profitable racket learned during Prohibition and continued afterwards.
Anything to add, blokes? Yup Jean, and its again more features (relevant or appropriate) that we unload on your digity-dock.