A note from Jean:
Before continuing on to this week’s column, please excuse Paul and me for a shameless plug of our upcoming event. Sunday evening, we will return with our annual celebration of literature and music ‘A Rogues’ Christmas’, a part of ACT Theatre’s Short Stories Live series (usually held at Town Hall, but moved this year to the Taproot Theatre during reconstruction).
(Now, as always, please click to enlarge photos)
For his contemporary repeat Jean Sherrard has moved a few feet north of this week’s featured “then.” The brick Google Building at the southwest corner of Fremont Avenue and 43rd Street, got in his way. While both views look west from the north end of the Fremont Bridge, the historical photographer stood a few feet south of Jean’s prospect to include, on the left, the then new double trackage of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The construction confusion on the right hides the work-in-progress on the grade separation between the railroad tracks and the line of false-front businesses on the north side of Ewing Street.
The businesses showing in this first block west of Fremont Avenue as far north as Evanston Street are from left-to-right, a dye works, a pool hall, a café, a real estate, loans and insurance office, the New York Laundry (which in a 1910 Times classified was looking for an “experienced ladies’ clothes ironer”), and the Star Plumbing and Sheet Metal Works. The plumbing store shows two small windows on its second floor with a door between them that oddly or imprudently opens to neither steps nor a balcony. This is surely a vestige of this business row when Ewing Street was at its original elevation, nearly twenty-feet lower than it stands here. Continuing to the right (east) the business lineup is stocked with more community necessities: a bar, an undertaker, a store for shoes and another for home furnishings.
Ewing Street was named for Henry Clark Ewing, a precocious real estate agent who came to Seattle with his parents as a fourteen-year-old in 1886 and was building his own real estate office within ten years. In the biographical section of Seattle and Environs, judge and pioneer historian Clarence Hanford describes Ewing as one who “has acquired a wonderfully intimate knowledge of realty values and his judgment of such carries as much significance as that of any other man’s in Seattle.” Ewing’s significance reached Fremont in the late 1880s with his own street name. However, beginning in 1923 the street remembered Ewing only south of the canal where it was kept in the mostly residential Lower Queen neighborhoods. On the industrious Fremont side of the canal Ewing and its historical connotations were surrendered for another street-grid number, North 34th Street.
I feel safe in ascribing the date for the featured view as sometime between 1910-1912. On Sept. 2, 1910, The Seattle Times reported “work was begun this morning on the new Fremont Avenue viaduct across the Lake Washington Canal site just below Lake Union.” We note that the bridge is called a viaduct in The Times report and the canal merely a site. Committed canal cutting between Lake Union and Shilshole Bay began in 1911 and continued into 1916. (Remember, we celebrated its centennial last year.) Although about two stories taller than the first bridge at Fremont, the new “viaduct” was much longer and so actually resembled a viaduct while reaching new and higher grades at both ends. Also in 1911, the north shore of Lake Union received a second temporary bridge – a lower
pile-driven viaduct that reached across the northwest corner of the lake from Westlake to the foot of Stone Way. The Stone Way Bridge was razed in 1917, soon after the viaduct on Fremont was replaced by “the busiest bridge in America”, the bascule span on Fremont Ave. that we still cross and/or wait to cross. (Note the second Edge Link below on the opening of the Fremont Bridge.)
Anything to add, blokes? Yes Jean – more older neighborhood/vicinity features.
REPUNZEL at the FRONT DOOR of the WEST TOWER
I snapped this while crossing the Fremont Bridge many years ago when the orange primer on the bridge was turning pink. It was several years before Fremont glass artist Rodman Hiller convinced the powers that then were both downtown in City Hall and in Fremont, ( perhaps then already “the center of the universe”) to help him brighten the north facade of the west tower with shining neon tubes giving shape to a glowing likeness of Rapunzel the Teutonic beauty with blonde (or golden) hair that grew so fast and unrelenting that “before the tower” she wrapped it around herself. She had no need for clothes, although with adolescence wore them for fear of arousing the loggers who worked for a very bad witch who owned the forest that Rapunzel and her parents lived beside. And much else. The hag paid well enough to keep the men chopping. The forest surrounded a tower that was fated to move Rapunzel’s tale into it and toward tragedy if not into it. As with most enduring tales there are versions. With this one we need to both learn more and get some sleep. We pause noting that at the age of about thirteen (about development one cannot be sure with fairy tales) Rapunzel was locked in a tower without doors and but one high window by a very very bad witch named Gothel who was easily one of the one percent of Bavaria and who was owed something – Rapunzel – by Rapunzel’s parents, who were also her renters. Rapunzel was named for the plant her mother craved when she was pregnant. Her father stole it at night from the only source, the witches garden, and was caught. I have read that one does not censure the diet of a pregnant woman. I’ll pause here back on bridge. My capture of the blonde on the door to the north tower predates artist Hiller’s portrait installed and captured there by many years. I’ll count them later following more study of the fable.