Seattle Now & Then: The UW South Campus – Oars and Oceanography

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Following the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition on the U.W. Campus, the AYP’S Tokio Café was converted into a crew house for the University’s already popular rowing crews. (Courtesy: Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: For his “repeat” Jean moved about three-hundred feet west from our more precise repeat, the U.W.’s now landscape-enshrouded Oceanography Building (aka the Old Ocean Building, 1931), to the same department’s newer but by now middle-age Oceanography Teaching Building (1969) on the right and its similarly-designed Marine Sciences Building, on the left. We wish to thank University School of Medicine cardiologist Douglas Stewart and his rowboat for delivering Jean to the north side of Portage Bay. The doctor also made note of the department’s historic research vessel docked there, the Clifford A. Barnes, named for the distinguished professor of oceanography from 1947 to 1973. Our friend the cardiologist knows his vessels.
A Japanese art auction from the fall of 1909 and the fading of the Fair, or Expo.

This week we visit the University of Washington’s South Campus. The “then” photo looks north from Portage Bay to the south façade of what was built as the Tokio Café for Seattle’s first world’s fair, the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (AYP). The Tokio was the most southerly of the attractions that opened on the Exposition’s carnival named the Pay Streak, which reached as far as the bay. Practically all the Streak’s approximately fifty attractions were either exotic, like the Tokio, or eccentric, like the Upside Down House.

The Upside-Down-House at the AYP – one the Pay Streak.

[above: Looking west over the Pay Streak landing with Portage Bay on the left and the Cafe Tokio at the middle-distance center. The Pay Streak extends out-of-frame to the right. This was photographed on the expos’ New England Day. ]  (Courtesy, U.W. Libraries, Northwest Collection)

With the conclusion of the AYP the Pay Streak attractions were either razed or recycled.  The result was the barren corner of the campus shown here in the featured photo at the top to either side of the seemingly stranded café.  The Tokio, however, was saved.  The University’s athletics department was in need of a new crew house, for what was decreed

A distant detail of the Tokio Cafe turned into Crew House photographed from Capitol Hill. The similarly-sized structure to the left (west) of the crew house may be more crew quarters. The rows of distant tents stand on campus for a World War One related camp.
A 1909 Times clip on coed hopes for “Aquatics.”
The UIW Campus from Capitol Hill with Portage Bay between them. The saved Tokio Cafe stands at the north shoreline on the far right.   CKICK TO ENLARGE
A Seattle Times clip from Nov. 28, 1909 – Click to Enlarge
The popularity of rowing is expressed in the intention (or hope or plan) to give every student a chance at it. From the Seattle Times for March 25, 1910.

in the press as “now the leading sport at state university.”  Actually, rowing took football’s place at the top only after the latter’s playing season was over in November.  In any season, rowing coach Hiram Conibear and football coach Gil Dobie contended for the athletic department’s resources and the presses’ attentions.  To the delight of Conibear and his crews, the Japanese eatery was remodeled for both storing the shells and building the spartan, we imagine, living quarters for the elite students who were selected to train and repeat the smooth and powerful paddling that would ultimately propel them to victory on the waters of the world.

Forty years after the U.W. Crew’s victory in Berlin for the 1936 Olympics. Coxswain Bob Moch, crouches center-front. Behind him, left to right, are Don Hume, stroke; Joe Rantz, 7; George Hunt, 6; Jim McMillan, 5; John White, 4; Gordon Adam, 3, and Roger Morris, bow. Empty between Adam and Morris is an open space for the late Charles Day who pulled No.2 oar.
UW crew practicing on Lake Union before the Olympics of 1936

Before the opening of the Montlake Cut in 1916, the crew’s stroking was for the most part restricted to the smaller Lake Union.  On January 28, 1917, The Seattle Times reported, “The Washington crew will row on Lake Union until March 1, when it will row through the canal each afternoon and practice on Lake Washington.  Coach Conibear has issued a standing invitation to all who are interested in watching the boys work to go out in the coaching launch…” The Times report concludes with the last evidence that I could find of Conibear’s oaring kingdom abiding here in the converted cafe:  “The boathouse is at the foot of the Pay Streak of the Exposition.”

First appeared in Pacific on July 7, 2002 -CLICK to ENLARGE

Conibear and his crews soon abandoned the Tokio for another useful oddity.  This time a larger shell house was made from a seaplane hangar built by the navy to help with waterways surveillance during World War I.  Set at the eastern end of the Montlake Cut, it never accommodated planes, only shells.  In 1931 the Tokio’s footprint was covered by the University’s first

A Times clip from October 6, 1931 illustrating the laying of the cornerstone for the UW’s Oceanography Building on the former site of the Tokio Cafe at the Portage Bay foot of the AYP’S Pay Streak.
The aerial photographer Laidlaw recorded lots of revealing photos of the U.W. Campus, mostly in the 1930s. Here at the bottom-center, between Portage Bay and the U.W. golf course, stands the school’s new Oceanographic Building.  Courtesy, [MUSEUM OF HISTORY & INDUSTRY]
Another of MOHAI’s aerials by Laidlaw showing the South Campus when it was still a golf course. The new Oceanographic Building shows on the far left.

oceanographic laboratories built in the then popular Collegiate Gothic style with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.  Until 1947 the oceanographers shared the future south campus with grass and sand traps.  The 1947 ground-breaking for the University’s new School of Medicine began the ‘cultivation’ of the University Golf Club’s nine-hole course into a South Campus overflowing with doctors, nurses, oceanographers and other scientists.


Another heartfelt thanks to the good doctor, Doug Stewart! He rowed me around Portage Bay and we visited some faves…

The rowing cardiologist – talk about heart health!
Jensen’s Motor Boat Company – a family business devoted to restoration of classic boats
Hard at work on a Saturday morning
A pause at the yacht club to check out a classic tug; gorgeous lines, but given its condition, in need of a major restoration…

Anything to add, boys?  Surely more from the neighborhood Jean, and one analogy from Portland, Oregon.  Also, the bottom two links, those on the north end of the University Bridge and at Gasworks Park, include two of the video’s we managed to produce early last year (2016).

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: First designated Columbus Street in the 1890 platting of the Brooklyn Addition, and next as 14th Avenue to conform with the Seattle grid, ‘The Ave,’ still its most popular moniker, was renamed University Way by contest in 1919. This trim bungalow at 3711 University Way sat a few lots north of Lake Union’s Portage Bay. (Courtesy, Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Regional Archive)


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: For the four-plus months of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, the center of commerce and pedestrian energy on University Way moved two blocks south from University Station on Northeast 42nd Street to here, Northeast 40th Street, at left.

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)

THEN: Above Lake Washington’s Union Bay the Hoo-Hoo Building on the left and the Bastion facsimile on the right, were both regional departures from the classical beau arts style, the 1909 AYPE’s architectural commonplace. Courtesy John Cooper

Then Caption: Amateur photographer George Brown most likely took this view of Portland’s 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition from the north porch of the Washington State Building. Brown also played clarinet in Wagner’s popular concert and marching band, which was probably performing at the Expo. (pic courtesy of Bill Greer)

THEN: An estimated 50 percent of the materials used in the old Husky Union Building were recycled into its recent remodel. The new HUB seems to reach for the roof like its long-ago predecessor, the AYP’s landmark Forestry building. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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: Named for a lumberman, and still home for the UW’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the upper floor’s high-ceilinged halls, including the Forest Club Room behind Anderson Hall’s grand Gothic windows, were described for us by the department’s gregarious telephone operator as “very popular and Harry Potterish.” (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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: 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: 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)

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: 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: 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)

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)


First appeared in Pacific on June 7, 1998.


First appeared in Pacific, February 2, 2003


First appeared in Pacific Feb. 18, 2001.  CLICK TO ENLARGE



On the far right of the Google-Earth aerial shot a red line has been placed in line with the former AYP Pay Streak’s commercial promenade and now – for part of the away – the drive that circles inside the campus.  CLICK CLICK TO ENLARGE
A detail of the Tokio Cafe’s roofline showing some of the south facade of the Architecture Building that still stands and serves near the 40th Street entrance to the campus..
Click the image to download a pdf of an article by Lee Corbin on the Gun Shed built for World War I naval training on the south UW campus. (Lee Corbin)

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