Seattle Now & Then: Lake Union Logs

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking north on Lake Union from some unidentified off-shore prospect near where Galer Street reached the Westlake Trestle. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Logs have long since been replaced with marinas, house boats, and small maritime-based businesses along Westlake Avenue North.

Surely the subjects here are the logs, although their likely destination, the Western Mill at the south end of lake Union, is also visible.  A water tower, two stacks, and a few long factory sheds are bunched there. Scattered about to all sides are the mill workers’ generally small homes in the community that was started in 1882 by David Denny and his partners.

Above: The Western Mill photographed by LaRouche looking east over Westlake.  Below: My “repeat” of it about a dozen years ago taken from the second floor of the McKay Ford retailer.

The silhouette of the hotel named for his brother Arthur Denny (last week’s feature) rises on the horizon far right of the featured photo at the top, where it is considerably dimmed by the industrial haze contributed by a city rebuilding after its Great Fire of June 6, 1889.  The greatest teeming of timber for remaking the city were these logs temporarily parked below Queen Anne Hill.

Paving Weslake on landfill regraded along the base of Queen Anne Hill.
Westlake on August 14, 1933 looking north towards a billboard set near Crockett Street. (Do you remember what beer made Milwaukee famous? CLICK FOR YOUR ANSWER)
Also looking north on Westlake to a Foster and Kleiser billboard near Crockett Street, six years later on September 29, 1939.

The featured print at the top is part of a small collection contributed a few years back to the Museum of History and Industry.  The selection is distinguished by panoramas and other subjects wide enough to reveal a variety of landmarks.   The fifteen prints of this collection also expose the elaborate changes in the cityscape that quickly followed the fire.  The economic crash of 1893 slowed the growth, but beginning in 1897 inhibitions were effectively scattered by the Yukon Gold Rush.

Houseboat mailboxes on Westlake, 1970s
A few of the 1889 Seattle Great Fire ruins printed by John P. Soule, the probable photographer of the week’s featured photo of the logs off Westlake.

The year here is most likely 1890 or 1891. By photo-historian Ron Edge’s studied speculation, the photographer may well have been John P. Soule. One of the small collection’s three-part panoramas of the Seattle waterfront was taken from the King Street wharf, which, with its coal bunkers, was then one the largest structures in Seattle. Ron identified the same pan from the same spot recorded with only a few changes among the vessels. It was, it seems, also recorded on the same day and this time, signed by Soule, who is best known for his many photographs of the ruins left by the Great Fire. (CLICK WHAT FOLLOWS TO ENLARGE IT!!!)

For the photographer, my first hunch was Frank LaRoche, another skilled local with a proven lens and a penchant for recording panoramas. In 1890 LaRoche was hired by a tireless young developer named Luther Griffith to assemble an album of prints showing off his two-mile-long trestle to Fremont. Not by coincidence, Fremont was the name of the Kansas township where Griffith was born. The LaRoch album also features a few new landmarks, like the rebuilt central waterfront and Arthur Denny’s hotel.

The photograph above of stringing trolley wire above Luther Griffith’s Westlake Avenue Trestle was taken by LaRoche and is copied from the album the photographer made of the project for the developer.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Approaching the penultimate turn on Westlake’s approach to the Fremont Bridge, and before the completion of the Aurorea (aka George Washington) Bridge ).
The last turn on Westlake befor crossing the Fremont Bridge. This “high bridge” was built in 1911-12, and served until the 1915-17 construction of the Fremont Bascule Bridge.  Fremont and Phinney Ridge are on the far north side of the bridge.  

The Stone Way bridge was built in 1911 to help handle north-end traffic during the construction of a new Fremont Bridge. This view looks north over both the Westlake Trestle and the Stone Way Bridge.  It was dismantled in 1917 after the opening of the Fremont Bascule Bridge.


Construction on the north pier of the Fremont Bascule Bridge.

The trestle to Fremont was built wide enough to handle promenading pedestrians, wagons, and most importantly, electric trolleys.  After they began running here in the fall of 1890, the trolleys pretty much put a stop to the “mosquito fleet” of small steamers that had delivered settlers and their goods to the growing neighborhoods on the north shore of the lake.  These included, west-to-east, Fremont, Ross, Edgewater, Latona (not yet Wallingford), Brooklyn (not yet the University District), Ravenna and Yesler.  The northeast corner of Lake Union – and so Portage Bay as well – got its own trolley service along the east side of Lake Union in 1891.   Some of this east side line was built on piles, and some on land.  Railroad ties were easier to lay beside the kinder grades of the future Eastlake and Fairview Avenues.

Mrs Brown playing at the enclosed beach behind (to the west) of the Westlake Trestle at the Southwest corner of Lake Union ca. 1902.  CLICK WHAT’S BELOW TO ENLARGE IT

First appeared in Pacific on March 21, 1999.
A ca. 1928 late-afternoon rush hour traffic jam at the south end the Fremont Bridge, and effective evidence for the need of another bridge – a high one, the Aurora Bridge.
Useful Junk Dance in Fremont June 19, 1979.


Anything to add, fellahs?  We shall not disappoint professor, and we may well repeat.   CLICK ON THE BELOW.

THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)


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)

THEN: Samuel McKnight’s early 1890s panorama of Lake Union also looks north into most of Seattle’s seventeen square-mile annexation of 1891, when the city limits were pushed north from McGraw Street to 85th Street. Fremont, Edgewater, the future Wallingford, Latona, and Brooklyn (University District) were among the neighborhoods included. (Courtesy, Dan Kerlee)

THEN: Photographed in the late 1950s, the floating restaurant’s huge on deck hooligan got no competition as yet from the Space Needle (1962) in breaking the horizon.

Another Foster and Kleiser billboard portrait. This looks north on Westlake to Pine Street. {This stands on its own – nothing to click.]

Great railroad signs, theatre signs and ranks of neon were still the greatest contributors to night light at 4th and Westlake in 1949. (Photo by Robert Bradley compliment of Lawton and Jean Gowey)

THEN: Werner Lenggenhager's recording of the old St. Vinnie's on Lake Union's southwest shore in the 1950s should remind a few readers of the joys that once were theirs while searching and picking in that exceedingly irregular place.

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: Photographed from an upper story of the Ford Factory at Fairview Avenue and Valley Street, the evidence of Seattle's explosive boom years can be seen on every shore of Lake Union, ca. 1920. Courtesy of MOHAI

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: 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: This portrait of the Seattle Gas Company’s storage tank dates from the spring of 1907, which explains its somewhat steeper topography. Between 1908 and 1911, both Republican Street, here on the right, and 9th Avenue N. were lowered to a grade close to that of Westlake Avenue, which is behind the photographer.

THEN: The 1906-07 Gas Works at the north end of Lake Union went idle in 1956 when natural gas first reached Seattle by pipeline. In this photo, taken about fifteen years later, the Wallingford Peninsula is still home to the plant’s abandoned and “hanging gardens of metal.” (Courtesy: Rich Haag)

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: 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)

THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: William O. McKay opened show rooms on Westlake in July of 1923. After fifty-seven years of selling Fords, the dealership turned to the cheaper and more efficient Subaru. Now reconstructed, the old Ford showroom awaits a new tenant.

THEN: A carpenter’s jewel with Victorian ornaments recorded by a tax assessor’s photographer in 1936, nestles at 615 Eastlake beside the surviving Jensen Apartments, aka the O’Donnell Building, on the left. (Courtesy Stan Unger)

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: 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.


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