Seattle Now & Then: ‘The City is More Than Human’

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Ballard dairy farmer Jess Jensen poses with four of his milch cows on 8th Avenue Northwest, near its intersection with NW 58th Street. The subject looks north.
NOW: Holding his book “The City Is More Than Human,” historian Frederick L. Brown, poses for Jean Sherrard in the traffic on 8th Avenue NW. Brown only seems to be in danger. The cars behind him have been stopped by the traffic light at NW 58th Street.

Here stands historian Fred Brown holding his new book and farmer Jess Jensen holding the roped reins attached to his four cows. The two-legged animals pose near one another and the intersection of NW 58th Street and 8th Avenue NW, although across about a century of time.  Before Ballard’s 1907 annexation into Seattle, 58th was named Times Street (not knowing other or better, I propose that it was named for this newspaper). Resting comfortably at the base of Phinney ridge, Eighth Avenue, then called Division Street, served as Ballard’s eastern border.

Jesse and Kjerstine Jensen were Danish immigrants who built their home in Ballard in the 1890s. Like most of Ballard’s first flood of citizens, Jesse easily found hard but sustaining work with a lumber mill on Salmon Bay.  He signed on with one of the largest, the Ballard Stimson Mill.  Soon, however, the couple built their Ballard farm, raising primarily chickens, pigs and cows.  Kjerstine handled the business of the farm.  The milk was both sterile and popular, selling at a nickel a quart.  Anna, the couple’s daughter, recalled “My mother sold quite a lots of chickens, young fryers.  They’d come and get them and she’d kill them (the chickens) right while they (the customers) were there (waiting).”

If Fred and Jesse could have bridged the century here at the corner, the historian might have first asked the farmer for the names of his cows. Surely they all had them. While paging through his book and pausing at page 58 where this snapshot of Jensen and his bovine quartet is printed, the historian Brown would not have missed the chance for asking the builder-farmer for the photo’s date.  Perhaps it was 1907 or soon after.  One of the first freedoms lost that year with Ballard’s annexation into Seattle was a cow’s liberty to wander the neighborhood.  Here Jesse has his milch cows roped.  Perhaps they are regulated, posing together not in Ballard but in Seattle. Whichever. Brown notes that the Eighth Avenue in the snapshot is still more an inviting pasture for the couple’s cows than a paved arterial.

While I do not know where this familiar cow was being milked, I have used the photo in another blog story about a Moclips mystery (One can probably keyword it.) And here we use it again for a “familiar scene” in Ballard.

Brown clarifies the telling title of his book, The City is More Than Human, with a subtitle, An Animal History of Seattle.  For now, I cannot think of a good analogy for his history except to note that once you have read The City Is More Than Human, you may feel that you have been talking with its subjects: beavers, cougars, cattle, cows, horses, dogs, cats, pigs, chickens and salmon.

The Auckland Dairy, not in Ballard but across Salmon Bay up the ridge in Magnolia. (Courtesy, the Magnolia Historical Society)
Julia Zaunder with the family cow on the side lawn of their Belltown Home on First Ave. North.
Several pets on the front steps of the Lowman Home at the southeast corner of Marion Street and Boren Avenue ca. 1890. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)
Caged poultry on a ride.

If you have pets, children with pets, back yard chickens (properly cared for, they are allowed), or an active good will for animals, you may well want to read this book.  Author Brown suggests that it may both help you “see how animals fit into history” and also spur you to “consider how to live amongst animals today.” (To note its own pedigree, Brown’s book is published by the University of Washington Press with the assistance of a grant from the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books Endowment.)

You will find this portrait of Morris the Cat on the facing page to Fred Brown’s Fourth Chapter, titled “Dogs and Cats Loving Pets in Urban Homes.” Morris, of course, was also a publicist, which reminds us to credit his portrait to The Gary Tolam Collection at the Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI.


Anything to add, dawgs? YUP JEAN links galore or more of the same, we mean features, old and not-so-old that touch on this week’s subject and its Ballard home.

THEN: With his or her back to the original Ballard business district, an unnamed photographer looks southeast on Leary Way, most likely in 1936.

THEN: This look west from the West Woodland neighborhood toward Ballard comes by way of the Museum of History and Industry, with some help from both Ron Edge and West Woodland historian Susan Pierce.

THEN: This panorama could have used a tower (or drone) to better survey the size of the June 1, 191l, crowd gathered in Fremont/Ross to celebrate the beginning of construction on the Lake Washington Ship Canal. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Looking east from the roof of the still standing testing lab, the Lock’s Administration Building (from which this photograph was borrowed) appears on the left, and the district engineer’s home, the Cavanaugh House (still standing) on the center horizon. (Photo courtesy Army Corps of Engineers at Chittenden Locks)

THEN: Ballard’s short-lived fire station at the southwest corner of Broadway (NW Market Street) and Burke Avenue (Russell Ave. NW) circa 1903. Looking northwest the view includes, above the horses, a glimpse of Sypher’s Hall, a rentable venue for playful and/or political events. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: James Lee, for many years an official photographer for Seattle’s public works department, looks south over Ballard’s Salmon Bay a century ago. Queen Anne Hill marks the horizon, with a glimpse of Magnolia on the far right. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Captioned Salmon Bay, 1887, this is most likely very near the eastern end of the bay where it was fed by Ross Creek, the Lake Union outlet. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan Vintage Posters and Photographs)

THEN: A circa 1908 look northeast through the terminus of the Loyal Electric Street Railway line at the corner of now Northwest 85th Street, 32nd Ave. Northwest, and Loyal Way Northwest. (Courtesy, the Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Ballard photographer Fred Peterson looks south-southeast on Ballard Avenue on February 3rd or 4th, 1916. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)


THEN: If I have counted correctly this ca. 1930 Fremont Baptist Orchestra is appointed with three cellos, eleven violins and violas, two saxophones, two clarinets, one coronet, one oboe, one flute and two members who seem to be hiding their instruments. (courtesy Fremont Baptist Church)

Built for the manufacture of a fantastic engine that did not make it beyond its model, the Fremont factory’s second owner, Carlos Flohr, used it to build vacuum chambers for protecting telescope lenses. Thirty feet across and made from stainless steel the lens holders were often mistaken for flying saucers. (photo courtesy Kvichak marine Industries.)

THEN: Looking west from the southwest corner of 6th Ave. N. and Mercer St. to the trolley barn and yards for the (renamed in 1919) Seattle Municipal Railway in 1936. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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: A Seattle Street and Sewer Department photographer recorded this scene in front of the nearly new City-County Building in 1918. The view looks west from 4th Avenue along a Jefferson Street vacated in this block except for the municipal trolley tracks. (Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

Then: The thousands of skaters on Green Lake in this late January 1916 view could not have known that the skating would soon be over, one of the victims of the Big Snow of 1916. Courtesy Fairlook Antiques


THEN: One of a few photographs recording from different prospects the Fremont trolley car barn on Dec.11, 1936. North 35th Street, on the right, was originally named Blewett for Edward and Carrie Blewett. In 1888 the couple, fresh from Fremont, Nebraska, first named and promoted Fremont as a Seattle neighborhood. That year Fremont also got its lumber mill. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: The rear end of the derailed trolley on N. 35th Street appears right-of-center a few feet east of Albion Place N. and the curved track from which the unrestrained car jumped on the morning of August 21, 1903. (Courtesy, Fremont Historical Society)

THEN: From the Fremont Bridge, this subject looks northwest across the torrent that followed the washout of the Fremont Dam in the early afternoon of March 13, 1914. Part of the Bryant Lumber and Shingle Mill appears left-of-center. The north end of the Stone Way Trestle appears in the upper right corner. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

Temporarily untended the Good Shepherd orchard awaits its fate, ca. 1978.

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)


















Another (see above) from the Loman Album: a scene from First Hill, ca. 1890.
Looking East on John Street from near Aurora (before the speedway), from the Brown Family  collection, ca. 1905. .
One of the many Pike Market pigs, photographed by Jean Sherrard.
Another “Moclips Cow
In its time the hip confectionaire Pig-N-Whistle at 1009 2nd Avenue.

Mercer School, Lower Queen-Anne, can you find the cow?
Another Belltown Cow
Another Moclips, it seems,  milker
Wallingford Watch Dog, 4500 block on Bagley, Sept. 27, 2006
Ballard fish trap
Ballard fish preparation


2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: ‘The City is More Than Human’”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.