Seattle Now & Then: The Leland Hotel at Pike and Post

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Leland Hotel survives – although with many changes – as a market corner stone where Pike Place begins at the foot of Pike Street. One of the earliest adjustments cut away its east façade with and for the 1906-7 development – at an angle – of Pike Place. . (Courtesy, University of Washington Library’s Northwest Collection.)
NOW: In a “tug-of-peace” between repeating the “then” outside with some of the Pike Place pavement, Jean Sherrard, after attending a meeting in HistoryLink’s newest home inside the Market, wisely chose this interior recording, which includes a mother and son, we assume, reaching for Rachel, the Market’s mascot and its bronze piggy bank. The five posers at the center are, left to right, Marie McCaffrey, a HistoryLink founder, publisher Petyr Beck, and HistoryLink staff members David Koch, Jennifer Ott and Antonia Kelleher.
Here’s a coupling of the featured photo with a detail from the 1904 real estate and fire map published by Sanborn, The Leland is foot-printed in the map, although not named.    (Click and blow it  UP now) .  The  Leland is titled or named simply “Lodgings” and on the map as in life it is at the foot of Pike Street,  bottom-left.  The front door is there, a little off-center, as it is in the photograph.  Post Alley is in both and well  before the east facade or wall of the hotel was moved in order to make way for the making of  Pike Place in 1906-7.   Note the shacks and sheds north of the hotel on the edge of the of the bluff.   First Avenue is on the right bordering the row of clapboards standing there.  Finally,  note the stairway leading to the waterfront, bottom-left.  It was not the first PIke Street Hill Climb, but nearly. The first was the narrow-gauged railroad viaduct on which the coal gondolas were lowered to the Pike Street Pier or wharf that  led to the bunkers. From 1871 to 1878 this was Seattle’s primary arterial of wealth: coal from the east side of Lake Washington carried to coal colliers from California.   Our coal was, it seems, better than theirs.  
From the back porch or window of their studio at the foot of Cherry Street, Peterson and Bros, pioneer photographers, looked north up the waterfront to the distant Pike Street Coal Wharf in 1876. The steep viaduct that slowly let the coal cars down from the narrow-gauge railroad tracks on Pike to the Pike wharf can be seen in the forest climbing the Pike Street hill-climb on the far right.
The Main Market Building, ca.1915, extended north of the Leland along the bluff and above Western Avenue on the increasingly narrowing wedge-shaped block north of Pike Street, between Western and Pike Place. Please note the temporary boardwalk built around the southwest corner of the Leland.  On its way to Wester Avenue, it switchbacks around the construction sheds showing near the center of the photo. This was an early short-lived variation on the Pike Street Hill-climb.

Of the roughly 150 thousand citizens living in Seattle in 1907, nine answered to Olds – their last name – and six of these lived in the Hotel Leland.  And surely all of them knew by heart the 1904 pop hit “In my Merry Oldsmobile“.  (My dad taught it to me in the 1940s.  He drove one.)

Here, in the featured photo at the top, stands the Hotel Leland at the northwest corner of Pike Street and the Post Alley, circa 1904.  There was then, as yet, neither a Pike Place nor a Public Market, nor any intimation of either.  The alley-wide arterial on the right is not a Place but an alley, Post Alley.  The building of Pike Place, between this intersection and the foot of Virginia Street at Western Avenue, came suddenly, as did the founding of its namesake public market.

A rare early look west on Pike from First Avenue into the building of Pike Place. The Post Alley descends on the left, and the Hotel Leland stands upper right with its remodel including a bay window over the hotel’s front door, still on the south wall.   The hotel’s bay window can also be seen in the photograph above this one, which also shows the added two floors – at the base – which came with the blocks’ new grade between Pike Place and Western Avenue. 

Pike Place was cut thru in 1906-7 on the incentive of activist engineers and not by budget-conscious homemakers conspiring with truck-gardeners to exchange cash for produce in a public place like Pike Place. ( With the coming of the Market the farmers could get around the wholesale grocers’ gouging on Western Avenue.)  It was the transportation planners at city hall who successfully connived to cut through the neighborhood. In this public work of creating the eccentric Pike Place, they completed City Engineer Reginald Thomson’s Route No. 15, an arterial from northwest Seattle directed into the city’s new retail center to the sides of Pike Street.

A detail from the 1908 Baist real estate map includes the Leland Hotel at its new sharpened corner at Pike and Pike Place. Note the stairway to Market Street. As described above it was for a brief period replaced with a switchback sidewalk-ramp built around the south west corner of the hotel. In 1908.  Here  there is, of course, as yet no sign of the Market. Rather this is the Pike Place designed for drivers and not farmers parking their wagons packed with produce.  (Keep Clicking to Enlarge these Illustrations.)
In the Goodwin Real Estate Co. adver from May 7, 1907 there is no hint of Pike Place’s fated Market, but rather a recognition that “Pike Place will be the main channel through which the North Seattle water front travel will pass.”

Perhaps we would be right to imagine that the suited man with the watch chain standing above, and perhaps posing, at the Leland’s front door is its owner Gamaliel T. Olds. The helpful Kate Krafft, one of Seattle’s most effective activists for historic preservation, dates the construction of the Hotel Leland in 1902-3.  In the Aug. 11, 1907 classifieds for The Seattle Times – a mere week before the Pike Place Market’s grand opening – the Olds hotel was offered for sale and described as a “Lodging House, eighteen rooms; good furniture, good location.”

While the Olds were building their Leland on Pike they were running another Leland on First Avenue, north of Pioneer Square. There Gertrude Myren “inspirational psychic clairvoyant” was one their tenants. The capacities she claimed are impressive. She could diagnose and cure diseases, restore lost affection, locate mines, and “tell you all from cradle to grave.” (But why must she bring up the graves!)
Nervous about the effects of the planned Pike Place Market approaching opening, the “commission men” speculate among themselves and for a Times Reporter  on Aug. 7, 1907, a long week before the Market’s first sales between farmers and families, that Pike Place will be busy with “more hucksters” who first purchase their produce from the commission houses, than farmers who picked them from their own gardens.  
In its August 18, 1907 advertisement printed in The Times, the Goodwin brothers played on the crowded success of the public market on its first day while announcing the sale of three of their properties “south of Pine Street.” On easy terms.
A Clip from the Seattle Times for Sept. 4, 1907.

It was the Goodwin brothers, the market neighborhood’s first spirited developers, who purchased the hotel while keeping one of the Olds on as its manager.  Surprisingly, the democratically stressful part of the Market’s popularity soon upset M. Olds. The Times for Nov. 10, 1907 reported that he had complained that the police should “do something to prevent Socialists from attempting to hold street meetings on Pike Place . . . He complains particularly about the crowds, which he says congregate in front of his hotel much to his annoyance.”  Now after the Pike Place Public Market’s first 111 years of clamoring activism, M. Olds complaining comes across as partially prescient and partially pathetic.

A clip from The Times for Nov. 10, 1907.
Lots of besuited bother at the Socialist State Convention in Seattle, 1914.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, mates?  Surely captain.   More from the neighborhood.

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: 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: 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)

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)

pmarket-n-arcade-30s-then-mr

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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: Steel beams clutter a freshly regraded Second Avenue during the 1907 construction of the Moore Theatre. The view looks north toward Virginia Street.

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: Thanks to Pacific reader John Thomas for sharing this photograph recorded by his father in 1927. It looks north across Times Square to the almost completed Orpheum Theatre. Fifth Avenue is on the left, and Westlake on the right.

THEN: An early-20th-century scene during the Second Avenue Regrade looks east into its intersection with Virginia Avenue. A home is being moved from harm's way, but the hotel on the hill behind it would not survive the regrade's spoiling. Courtesy of Ron Edge.

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)

belltown-moran-then

THEN: In 1910, a circa date for this look north on First Avenue across Virginia Street, the two corners on the east side of the intersection were still undeveloped – except for signs. The Terminal Sales Building, seen far right in Jean Sherrard’s repeat, did not replace the billboards that crowd the sidewalk in the “then” until 1923. (Seattle Municipal Archive)

Then: Looking north from Pioneer Place (square) into the uptown of what was easily the largest town in Washington Territory. This is judged by the 3218 votes cast in the November election of 1884, about one fourth of them by the newly but temporarily enfranchised women.Tacoma, in spite of being then into its second year as the terminus for the transcontinental Northern Pacific Railroad, cast 1663 votes, which took third place behind Walla Walla's 1950 registered votes.

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: 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)

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4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Leland Hotel at Pike and Post”

  1. My grandfather’s brother Amos Engle worked out of the Leland hotel for a time in 1919, on a cross country trip to see the U.S. from the east coast to the west coast after WWI service. I have a letter dated Aug 12, 1919 from Amos to family discussing first impressions of Seattle, his work there as an artist, climate, a trip to Bainbridge Is, joining the card writers union, and comparison of Seattle to his home in New York city. Amos continued his travels along the west coast, eventually settling in San Francisco.
    This article about the Leland hotel and Pike Market helps me understand the context of Amos’s letter. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful Leland Hotel column. I like many others was fortunate enough to have lived in an apartment in the Leland in the early years after its renovation by the City and PDA in the late 1970s to early ‘80s.

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