Seattle Now & Then: The Winslow Ferry Terminal, ca. 1950

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The gated ticket booths, posing here ca. 1950 at the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal, stand much closer to the landing ferries than now. (Courtesy John Cooper)
NOW: The long, covered passenger trestle from the end of the dock was prudently elevated for higher-tide ferry landings. Its roof was appreciated by both locals and day tourists headed for the shops of Winslow on a rainy day such as is pictured in our ‘Now’ photograph. Later the trestle-passing pedestrians were further protected from the winds off Eagle Harbor with the enclosing of the walkway.

Judging merely from the motorcars parked below the hanging Shell sign in J. Boyd Ellis’ real photo postcard, this is the Winslow ferry terminal about 1950.  By then, the Arlington photographer had given a quarter-century to touring the state snapping whatever it had to offer to stock his inventory of Washington landmarks and picturesque landscapes that were found in gift shops, news stands and drug stores across the state.  His son was still at it in the 1970s.

The ferry San Mateo arriving at Winslow during the summer of the World’s Fair, 1962.  Photo by Lawton Gowey.  [CLICK to ENLARGE]
the San Mateo approaching the Seattle waterfront, June 13, 1965.

I do not wonder that passing through ferry docks make me feel downright nostalgic.  In 1950 it was still three years or four before I first came ashore at Winslow, on a trip from Seattle with my oldest brother Ted and his best friend Fred for my first hiking trip into the Olympics.  From here we drove up the island to its north end where the then new Agate Pass Bridge reached the Kitsap mainland.   After a protracted campaign, the 1,229-foot span opened in 1950.  With this new short-cut up the island. the motor traffic on State Highway No. 305 swelled.  Today 305 can remind one of traffic on Seattle’s arterials, rather than an escape from them.

A clipping from the Seattle Times in 1900 promoting another Winslow, a schooner, sailing for Capt Nome that spring.
Not Bainbridge Isl. but nearby, the Whidbey Island switchboard, May 1916. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Also in 1950, the Leschi, the first car ferry on Lake Washington, made its last cross-lake steam from Seattle.  (Look below for a clipping on the Leschi at her Yesler Leschi terminal.)  A decade earlier when the ribbon was cut for the opening of the popularly named Mercer Island Floating Bridge on July 2, 1940, it was increasingly believed that the ferries on Puget Sound – by then most of them purchased from California after the 1937 opening of the Golden Gate Bridge – would be replaced with bridges such as another floating between West Seattle’s Lincoln Park and Vashon Island.  It was, of course, not to be.

A Seattle Times clip from June 27, 1951

We continue to wait through long line-ups for tickets at Puget Sound’s many terminals, including this one at Winslow, for what can be comforting cruises across Puget Sound. Winslow’s most devoted cruiser was surely E. L. Franks, one of three partners who started in 1902 the Eagle Harbor Transportation Co., running “mosquito fleet” steamers to Seattle and other Puget Sound ports. Forty-nine years later at age 88, he was still on the Winslow dock explaining to a Times reporter “Ferry riders are easy to get along with.”

We know neither which Bainbridge Isl. beach nor the date for the real photo postcard. First camping and then building on the islands beaches was already popular in the 1890s.



Anything to add, lads?   Surely Jean.  Ron Edge has aligned his contribution of recent and relevant features in an order that recommends a tour.   The order goes like this …..  It begins at the West Point lighthouse, an exposed prospect from which one can easily see – for the sake of relevance –  much of Bainbridge Island, From there the attentive reader will find him or her self on the southeast shore of Lake Union where deals can be had at the St. Vinnie, which is built low for a reason never explained.  Watch you head, which is exceedingly difficult to do.  Near by at the truest of southeast corners for Lake Union the reader will look back at the lake from an upper floor of what was once a Ford Manufacturing

Plant and then the home of a big printer.  (My first Seattle Now and Then book was printed therein.)  Next, the reader – if they follow our plan – will climb Capitol Hill by way of the Lakeview overpass pausing first to admire the charms of a little Gothic home on Eastlake.   Then on to Aloha and 15th pausing with a posing trolley, followed by a short walk to the nearby Volunteer Park and a climb up the curving stairway to the top of the Water Department’s brick standpipe and a look east over the neighborhood of oversized homes that are yet squeezed onto their lots.   Here’s a jump from the top of Capitol Hill to the widening of Broadway followed by a walk south to the home Seattle’s baseball team in the early 20th Century, near the top of First Hill.

Another of the many many hundreds of bus stop shots taken in 1976-7 looking west across Broadway above its intersection with Republican Street.

And that is surely enough.   There are fifteen more links to add to the seven just noted.  When the reader comes to the end, aka Number Twenty-Three, titled “Gothic Row on Western” she or he will  have had some intimate brushings with retired cultures and landmarks through a swath that for the most runs back and forth from the north-central waterfront to the tops of Capitol and First Hills.


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: 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: 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: Most likely in 1902 Marcus M. Lyter either built or bought his box-style home at the northwest corner of 15th Avenue and Aloha Street. Like many other Capitol Hill addition residences, Lyter's home was somewhat large for its lot.

THEN: The Volunteer Park water tower was completed in 1907 on Capitol Hill’s highest point in aid the water pressure of its service to the often grand homes of its many nearly new neighbors. The jogging corner of E. Prospect Street and 15th Avenue E. is near the bottom of the Oakes postcard. (Historical Photo courtesy Mike Fairley)

THEN: Looking across Capitol Hill’s Broadway Avenue during its 1931adjustments. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)



THEN: The brand new N&K Packard dealership at Belmont and Pike in 1909. Thanks to both antique car expert Fred Cruger for identifying as Packards the cars on show here, and to collector Ron Edge for finding them listed at this corner in a 1909 Post-Intelligencer. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry.)

THEN: As explained in the accompanying story the cut corner in this search-lighted photo of the “first-nighters” lined up for the March 1, 1928 opening of the Seattle Theatre at 9th and Pine was intended. Courtesy Ron Phillips

THEN:The early evening dazzle of the Roosevelt Theatre at 515 Pike Street, probably in 1941. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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: Looking south from Pine Street down the wide Second Avenue in 1911, then Seattle’s growing retail strip and parade promenade. (courtesy of Jim Westall)







First appeared in The Times, February 1, 2004


First appeared in The Times, May 4, 2008


First appeared in Pacific November 19, 2000


First printed in Pacific, November 10, 2004


First appeared in Pacific, May 9, 1999.



One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: The Winslow Ferry Terminal, ca. 1950”

  1. Hi Paul, what do you know about the Golden Rule Bakery? It was mentioned in ” The Boys in the Boat”. I also have part of a wooden crate that has the Golden Rule Bakery stamped on it….. it was in my garage. The house was built in 1940.
    I’d be curious if you had any pix of it.
    I think your page in the PNW magazine is the only thing worthwhile. Would love to talk about old Seattle w/ you sometime over coffee.

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