Seattle Now & Then: The Market’s Front Door

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: By 1931, the likely year for this photo looking east on Pike Street from the Pike Place Market, this intersection had been loved for a quarter-century as the market’s front door. (Photo courtesy Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: In the market’s 111th year, the four modest corners of this brick-lined, walk-all-ways intersection welcome the footsteps of about 35,000 people every day.

Four weeks ago, Jean Sherrard stood at what is known as the front door to the Pike Place Market, the intersection of First Avenue and Pike Street. Hoisting a pole that extended as tall as the base of the market’s clock, he pointed his heavy Nikon eastward, up the center of Pike Street.  From a similar perch about 88 years earlier, a Webster and Stevens Studio photographer also looked east on Pike and recorded this week’s “then.” We are dating this photo as circa 1931, based not on the automotive license plates, which are hard to read, but rather the five-story construction under way for the J.C. Penney department store at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street, here right-of-center and still without windows.

Before the five-floors of Penney’s there was the three of the Bon Marche at the southwest corner of Pike Street and Second Avenue, and so across the alley from Hahn’s building at the southeast corner of Pike and First Avenue. Hegg’s view looks east from First Avenue.
Looking east on Pike from Front Street (First Avenue) in the mid-1890s. Here the future Bon and then Penney’s corner  holds a one-story brick retail building about the same size as the Hahn Building.
With the Elliott Hotel, the Hahn Building on the right at its full 3-stories on April 2, 1963. The photo was taken by Lawton Gowey as was the one that follows after the Penney’s adds below and thirteen years later.

Clipped from The Seattle Times for August 18, 1931.
Lawton Gowey – again – looking east on Pike from First Avenue, here on April 21, 1976.

Later branded as JCPenney but known by one and all as Penney’s, the store opened Thursday, Aug. 13, 1931. In contrast to the uncertainties and outright failures of the Great Depression, Penney’s placed an advertisement in this daily five days later claiming that a “staggering” and “conservative” estimate of 125,000 had visited since the store’s opening. Some were “curious,” others “skeptical,” but many left with “arms loaded, satisfied that regardless of business conditions, people will buy when prices are right.”


Clipped from The Seattle Times for June 14, 1904 where Robert Hahn has struck a deal with the Copeland Medical Hustlers Institute to reveal (for local fame and perhaps more) that he had been cured of “his long years of suffering form catarrhal disease” with “his final cure” got from Copeland. The testimony lets us look into the revived full-face of Hahn with a sketch at a time in periodical publishing when half-tone rendering were still often undependable. .

Ten years later, Seattle traded financial troubles for the anxieties and orders of World War II. By then, the Hahn family had been associated with the intersection of First and Pike for more than 60 years. Robert Ernest Hahn, a German immigrant from Saxony, arrived in Seattle in the late 1860s and soon purchased the southeast corner when First Avenue (then named Front Street) and Pike Street were mere paths. Their neighbors included Seattle pioneers Arthur and Mary Denny and the lesser-known C. B. Shattuck.

Part of the scaffolding for the trestle that restrained coal cars on thru their final feet to the Pike Street Coal Wharf, where at its far western end were attached the company’s coal bunkers. This detail from a 1878 panorama recorded from the King Street Coal Wharf that replaced the service of the Pike wharf and bunkers that year. Perhaps C.B. Shattuck’s home or even office was made in one these few unidentified structures.    Mary and Arthur Denny’s home was behind Peterson and off-camera to the right at the southeast corner of Front (First Ave) and Union Street. 

Shattuck managed the Seattle Coal and Transportation Company that from 1871 to 1878 moved coal from their mine at Newcastle by a route that required both barges on the lakes and trains including one that crossed back-and-forth through this intersection from the company’s bunkers and wharf at the foot of Pike Street to their wharf at the south end of Lake Union. We imagine that Hahn chose not to get soiled by working for his neighbor.  Instead, he thrived as a painter and interior decorator, continuing to buy property and, with his wife, Amelia, raise a family of five children including Ernie who gained some local celebrity as a sportsman.   A Salmon Derby trophy was named for him.

Ernie Hahn and his friend Eddie Bauer show their catches for The Seattle Times of June 4, 1928.
The “Summer Garden” on the Hahn corner in the early 1890s.  It was replaced by the first floor of the Hahn Building.   This view of the Garden looks east from the south side of Pike Street and near its southeast corner with Front Street, aka First Avenue. 

By the time of Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889, the Hahn corner was a popular summer retreat from the heat with a beer garden, which real-estate maps indicate was approached from Pike Street. In 1909, the Hahns completed what survives as First and Pike’s southeast corner post, the three-story brick Hahn Building, also long known as the Elliott Hotel and seen above in our “now” as the Green Tortoise Hostel. The recent proposal that it be razed for a high-rise is rousing the market’s many friends to protect this “humble hundred-year old guardian structure” from the wages of plastic and glass.

A clip from The Times for Nov. 29, 1981 on the proposed renovation of the “historic Hahn Building.”  CLICK TO ENLARGE
Work-in-progress on the Hahn Building at the southeast corner of First Avenue and Pike Street. Lawton Gowey dated his slide May 2, 1982, and named it the Endicott Building.    The hangout International Donut House at the corner is shuttered. 
The restored corner (and Donut feeder) ca. 1962, as seen by a linked couple waiting to head south on First Avenue from its northeast corner with Pike Street.


Anything to add, lads? Another mix from the neighborhood considered, which also reveals our love for it.


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: 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: 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 1974 fire at the Municipal Market Building on the west side of Western Avenue did not hasten the demise of the by then half-century old addition of the Pike Place Market. It had already been scheduled for demolition. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

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)

THEN: Charles Louch’s grocery on First Avenue, north of Union Street, opened in the mid-1880s and soon prospered. It is possible – perhaps probable – that one of the six characters posing here is Louch – more likely one of the two suited ones on the right than the aproned workers on the left. (Courtesy RON EDGE)

THEN: A circa 1920 look north along the tiled roofline of the Pike Place Market’s North Arcade, which is fitted into the slender block between Pike Place, on the right, and Western Avenue, on the left. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Friends of the Market president, architect Victor Steinbrueck, leads a cadre of Friends marching for Market preservation in front of the Seattle City Hall most likely on March 18, 1971. (Photo by Tom Brownell from the Post-Intelligencer collection at MOHAI)

















2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Market’s Front Door”

    1. I’ve discovered that, when I post to Facebook, FB chooses the color Now over the BW Then, if given a choice. To prevent that, I’ve begun posting just the Then; posting to FB; then adding the Now. You should see it presently if you refresh….

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