Seattle Now & Then: 3rd and Pike Looking East, ca. 1903

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Sarah Sophia Frye Bass, a pioneer Denny family granddaughter grew up on Pike Street in the 1870s. In her oft-read book Pigtail Days In Old Seattle, published in 1938, she noted “it is today the busiest street in town by actual traffic counts.”
NOW: In this contemporary look east on Pike Street from Third Avenue, little of the turn-of-the-century street survives.

With the number 677 inked, lower-right, on the original glass negative, this is an early exposure from the Webster and Stevens Studio. Loomis Miller was the last owner of this magnum opus (about 40,000 mostly glass negatives) which PEMCO purchased for the Museum of History and Industry in 1983.  The low number of this subject in MOHAI’S “PEMCO Collection” dates it very early in the twentieth century.  (I’m choosing a circa 1903 date until corrected.)

Pike Street runs left-right (west-east) in this detail pulled from the 1904-5 Sanborn real estate map. Third Avenue is on the left and Fourth on the right. Both the Heussy Building and the Abbott Hotel can be found in both the map and the featured photo. They face each other across Pike Street at  its intersection with Third Avenue..
A circa 1904 look south down Third Avenue from the south summit of Denny Hill, the site of the Denny Hotel, aka the Washington Hotel.  CLICK TO ENLARGE
Third Avenue looking north from Third Avenue with the Denny Hotel on the horizon but still closed. The photo dates from the early 1890s. The hotel opened to its first guest, Theo Roosevelt, in 1903. The Heussy Building, at the northeast corner of Third and Pike, is on the far right.
Heussy and his partner Filz advertise two locations for their Parlor Pharmacy, one in “old town,” on Commercial Street south of Pioneer Place, (aka Square), and the other on booming city’s new north end retail strip, on Pike Street and to its sides.  Parlor adver appeared in The Times for June 30, 1896.
With a little searching you will find optician Elliott’s fairly typical in the “then” hanging from the Heussy Buildgins above the sidewalk.

The photographer – perhaps one of the partners, either Ira Webster or Nelson Stevens – focuses east on Pike Street through its intersection with Third Avenue.  While I have just speculated with some confidence on the date, I have no idea what the purpose of the triangular contraption (a kind of designed street clutter on the left) is for.  (You will need to enlarge the scan to see this detail. ) With the aid of magnification one discovers that the wood frame holds two gears that may be connected to the large coil of rope partially hidden behind the second man from the left.  He is looking in the direction of the “SIGNS” sign attached to the corner of the ornate Heussy Building. Meanwhile, directly below him, another man, smoking his pipe, has improvised the coil as a chair, a modern-looking one.

Pike Street looking east from the northwest corner of Second Avenue to the nearly new Seattle High School on the Capitol Hill horizon in the early 1900s. One block north at Pike’s intersection with Third Avenue, both the Abbot and the Heussy can be found.  CLICK TO ENLARGE
Like the subject above it, this Robert Bradley photo was taken from an upper floor of the Eitel building at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street.  A Woolworth has taken the old Abbott Hotel corner.
Looking south on Third Across Pike Street between two of the business district’s more affordable retailers, Woolworth’s and Kress.   The next photo below nearly the same point of view as the above, but from circa 1909.  The Addott Hotel is still on the left.
South on Third from Pike ca. 1909.
Yet another look south on Third Ave. and through its intersection with Pike Street. The long work of building the main post office at the southeast corner of Third and Union has not yet begun. The completed P.O. appears in the photo above this one.

Looking east on Pike (not in the photo directly above, which looks south on Third Ave, but in the featured photo at the top) we can make out, in the half-haze, the Capitol Hill horizon about a mile away.  The tracks in the foreground were a feeder to three Capitol Hill trolley lines: one that did not reach the summit, another that did on 15th Avenue and a third that went over it.  In the early 1900s tracks were not new on Pike Street.  In 1872, there was the narrow-gauge railroad that ran between the Pike

The citizens of Seattle got a free ridge on the first run of the coal railroad between, here, Lake Union and the Pike Street Coal Wharf and bunkers. This the first of Seattle’s coal railroads ran between 1872 and 1878.
The coal railroad’s tracks on Pike Street can be found – with a searching eye – in this detail from Peterson and Bro’s. panorama of Seattle taken from Denny Hill in 1878. The nifty home sits here at the southeast corner of Pike and Second Avenue. The rails run through the hand written “Pike St.” left-of-center in the detail. In 1878 the coal company abandoned the PIke Street-Lake Union route to Lake Washington with its new King Street Pier and a largely unimpeded run to the east side coal mines through Renton and around the south end of Lake Washington.

Street coal wharf and the south end of Lake Union. There coal from the east side of Lake Washington reached its last leg on prosperous trips to the fleet of coal-schooners that kept California stoked with our own Newcastle nuggets.  The coal was transferred from barges on Lake Union to the coal hoppers waiting at the railroad’s lake terminus, about a block east of where Westlake now crosses Mercer Street. In 1884 the horse cars from the Pioneer Square

Two of the rolling stock for Seattle’s first street railway pose in from of their livery at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street sometime in the mid-1880s. The horses were replaced with cable railways and electric trolleys in the late 1880s.

neighborhood on Second Avenue first turned on to Pike on their zig-zag route to Lake Union.  In 1889 the four-legged horsepower was forsaken for electric trollies, which were scrapped in the early 1940s when replaced with gas and rubber.

Trolleys on Pike Street delayed by a break in a watermain. A feature for this from January 29, 1995 is included  with the Links gathered by Ron and Paul that follow next.

Both the Heussy Block on the left and the Hotel Abbott on the right of the featured photograph were prestigious three-story brick additions to Pike Street in the early 1890s.  The timing of their construction was one part fortuitous and the rest self-evident.  The booming of Seattle in the 1880s continued into the teens, and the city’s Great Fire of 1889, which was blocks away in the oldest neighborhoods and on the central waterfront, helped quicken the development of this the North End.

Detail from the 1884 Sanborn map ‘our’ corner of Third and Pike upper-left center. The Lutherans showing in the pan that follows are not yet in place.
A circa 1885 look south from Denny Hill into what was then still a residential neighborhood with a few institutions like the Territorial University on Denny Knoll, upper-left, and the Swedish Lutheran Church on Third Avenue, on the left.  It rests on the second lot north of Pike Street. Here both the southeast and northwest corners of Third and Pike are still only barely developed. Comparing this to the subject that follows, another look into the neighborhood, circa 1909, and a a quarter-century of boom-development is revealed, spread across what was a spread of residences.   
I’ve timed this ca.1909 because my knees ache, that is, I’m not getting up to find out if it is 1908. There are many clues including the deconstruction of the Methodist church at the southeast corner of Pine Street and Third Avenue, the work of adding floors to the Seaboard Building at Fourth and Pike, on the left, and the development of the Metropolitan Tract top-center. Let us know and we will fix this caption.

We find no motor vehicles on Pike in the featured photo because they were still rare.  On December 23, 1904;, the city’s Public Works Department counted the vehicular visits through Pike Street’s intersection with Second Avenue.  Nearly lost in the total count of 3,959, a mere fourteen were not pulled by horses.


Here’s a serendipitous, if unrelated, treat of local restoration. As I was strolling down 1st Avenue and Washington Street this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of an old friend, the harbor pergola back in its rightful spot.

THEN: The harbor pergola, built in 1918.
NOW: The pergola re-installed, after years of absence.
A King County tax photo from the 30s with detailed information about the structure

Anything to add, fellahs?  It is a swell surprise, your pergola.  I did not know that it was saved and probably restored for its next century – even.  I wrote more about this in The Illustrated History of the Seattle Waterfront – I think we named it.  You will find that – or can find it – among the list of books we have published and then also scanned for this blog.

The flood on Pike first appeared in Pacific on January 29, 1995.

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: James P. Lee, Seattle’s busy public works photographer of the early 20th century, recorded this 1922 look north from near the west end of Denny Way on the bluff above the then-forming Elliott Way. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

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

THEN: This rare early record of the Fourth and Pike intersection was first found by Robert McDonald, both a state senator and history buff with a special interest in historical photography. He then donated this photograph - with the rest of his collection - to the Museum of History and Industry, whom we thank for its use. (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: Looking east on Pike Street from Fifth Avenue early in the twentieth century. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Seattle Architect Paul Henderson Ryan designed the Liberty Theatre around the first of many subsequent Wurlitzer organs used for accompanying silent films in theatres “across the land”. The Spanish-clad actor-dancers posed on the stage apron are most likely involved in a promotion for a film – perhaps Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925) or Douglas Fairbanks’ The Gaucho (1929) that also played at the Liberty. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: With her or his back to the Medical-Dental Building an unidentified photographer took this look northeast through the intersection of 6th and Olive Way about five years after the Olive Way Garage first opened in 1925. (Courtesy, Mark Ambler)

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)

THEN: Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill. Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner. (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

THEN: Where last week the old Washington Hotel looked down from the top of Denny Hill to the 3rd Ave. and Pine St. intersection, on the left, here the New Washington Hotel, left of center and one block west of the razed hotel, towers over the still new Denny Regrade neighborhood in 1917. (Historical photo courtesy of Ron Edge)

THEN: Sometime between early December 1906 and mid-February 1907 an unnamed photographer with her or his back about two lots north of Pike Street recorded landmarks on the east side of Third Avenue including, in part, the Washington Bar stables, on the right; the Union Stables at the center, a church converted for theatre at Pine Street, and north of Pine up a snow-dusted Denny Hill, the Washington Hotel. (Used courtesy of Ron Edge)

THEN: We are not told but perhaps it is Dora and Otto Ranke and their four children posing with their home at 5th and Pike for the pioneer photographer Theo. E. Peiser ca. 1884. In the haze behind them looms Denny Hill. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: Beginning with the Reynolds, three hotels have taken tenancy in this ornate three-story brick block at the northeast corner of Boren Avenue and Pike Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: In this April morning record of the 1975 “Rain or Shine Public Market Paint-in,” above the artists, restoration work has begun with the gutting of the Corner Market Building. (Photo by Frank Shaw)

THEN: The Hotel York at the northwest corner of Pike Street and First Avenue supplied beds on the American Plan for travelers and rooms for traveling hucksters. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Looking west on Pike Street from Fourth Avenue, the variety in the first block of this retail district includes the Rhodes Bros. Ten Cent Store, Mendenhall’s Kodaks, Fountain Pens and Photo Supplies, Remick’s Song and Gift Shop, the Lotus Confectionary, Fahey-Brockman’s Clothiers, where, one may “buy upstairs and save $10.00”. (Courtesy, MOHAI)

THEN: Mark Tobey, almost certainly Seattle’s historically most celebrated artist, poses in the early 1960s with some Red Delicious apples beside the Sanitary Market in the Pike Place Market. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: The Pike Place Market’s irregular block shapes and bluff-side topography joined to create a multi-level campus of surprising places, such as this covered curve routing Post Alley up into the Market. Here, in 1966, the “gent’s” entrance to Seattle’s first Municipal Rest Room (1908) is closed with red tape and a sign reading “Toilet room, closed temporarily for repairs.” The Market was then generally very much in need of repair. (by Frank Shaw, courtesy, Mike Veitenhans)


The Denny Hotel, the landmark that waiting a dozen years for Teddy Roosevelt’s visit in the Spring of 1903 when it first opened as the Washington Hotel. . Before that it loomed down on the growing city a testimony to the stresses of business partnerships.


Hear Ye, Jean has picked this as one of the about 100 features that will be included in our next volumn of now-and-thens. We are planning for you to purchase it for yourself and loved ones in the months before Christmas, some will call it and/or sing it.  (Blessed Bach). Please anticipate Jean’s “repeat” for now until then, and all else that will be included in this Fourth Volume, for which Jean and Clay Eales have conjured a new name, which they promise, will reveal their considerable talens for promotion.














ANOTHER and probably DIFFERENT HEUSSY and ABBOTT looking across this feature column at each other.  One of the primary delights got with doing these Sunday features is the odd matter picked up with research, especially reading old newspapers.  Here are TWO EXAMPLES both pulled or picked from The Seattle Times archive.  The first is dated Feb 19, 1897 and reveals with the reflections of Dr. Lyman Abbott how far forward Darwin and his “truth of evolution”  have ‘evolved’  through the then still lingering 19th Century.  The second celebrates the decision of Dr. C.W. Heussy, a young medical doctor, to locate his practice in Seattle.


DR. HEUSSY (or is is Henssy or Heusey?)




4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: 3rd and Pike Looking East, ca. 1903”

  1. In your posting, “Seattle Now & Then: 3rd and Pike Looking East, ca. 1903,” you mentioned a wooden “triangular contraption” in the lower-left foreground of the earlier picture. I suggest contacting Seattle City Light, to see if they concur with my assessment. It appears they were just beginning to install light standards, in anticipation of connecting up with underground cabling. The “gears” you observed might, in fact, be a type of manhole cover. The rope might be used to raise the cable connection from below street level.

    I am a fifth-gen Seattle native, of the pioneer “Maple” clan. My father and grandfather taught me a thing or two about farming, boating, construction methods, observation, and a myriad of other living skills, From early family pictures and narrative, practical skills and determination helped them survive the Northwest Winters that practically drove the Denny’s out. Understanding construction and applied innovation just comes with the territory.

  2. In your posting, “Seattle Now & Then: 3rd and Pike Looking East, ca. 1903,” I agree with the original comment…the tripod arrangement was probably contingent with electrical cable runs being installed underground for the block or buildings. Notice the “Telephone” pole just behind the tripod…There appears to be an electrical transformer located underneath the cross bar at the top, with possibly power cables coming down the front side of the pole. The cable reel might contain insulated power cables verses “rope”. The Telephone poles on the opposite side of the street are simply for individual telephone pairs/lines (before the advent of Multi-pair cables used for telephones today)
    You might have discovered the purpose for this early 1903 photograph….The installation of electrical power to Pike Street at the turn of the century. Really exciting! Tom Gaither, Lacey, Washington

  3. I may fooled by the picutre, but it looks like the poles on the side of the street that they are working don’t have many wires on them – not yet, anyway.

  4. I think the triangle is what is currently known as a safety tripod. They are for sewer manhole (or similar confined space) work, primarily to be used to hoist a worker from the manhole. A worker in a manhole can be overcome by fumes (e.g., methane). I’m pretty sure I see a manhole cover in front of the triangle in the picture.

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