Seattle Now & Then: Labor Parade at 2nd & Seneca, 1945

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking south on Second Avenue through its intersection with Seneca Street, ca. 1945. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Built in 1902-3 the Lumber Exchange Building on the southwest corner, was replaced by the Second & Seneca Building in 1991.

While the lead sign at the center exhorts one to follow it to the Civic Field, I have not, I confess, as yet figured out when these spry workers were marching.  The carefully dressed cadre of men – and they are all men it seems – are heading north on Second Avenue. It is mostly women watching from the curb. In the historical photo you can see the street signs for the intersecting Seneca Street holding to the comely light standards on the far left.  A Seneca sign is also gripped to the less ornate pole in the now.

Civic Field under construction beside Civic Auditorium and Ice Arena. ca. 1930 (click to enlarge)
Lake Union Dry Dock (an example)

It is the other parading signs that give us some clues to the year they were shown here.  Somewhat hiding behind the “follow the parade” sign is another to “Increase Dry Dock Facilities For Seattle.”  This was a popular call following WW2.  The combination of ships injured in battle and the thousand of military men returning jobless in 1945-46 to the states made labor’s promotion of dry docks beside the famously calm inland sea of Puget Sound both an easy and sensible call.

Hooverville  (Click to Enlarge)

The next professionally inscribed sign reads “No More Hoovervilles!”  As many readers will know Hoovervilles were the ordinarily waterfront communities of rigged shacks politically named for the reflective Republican Herbert Hoover, the first president born west of the Mississippi (in Iowa). The life-long Quaker was inclined to peace but ineffective in battling the first months of the Great Depression that fell during his first year in office, 1929.  His successor Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs for public works and employment were followed by the employment opportunities connected with WW2 and the Puget Sound’s ship building revival. The grandest of the Seattle Hoovervilles sat beside East Marginal Way West of Seattle’s current sports palaces. It was intentionally burned to the ground in 1941.

Progressive Seattle City Councilman Hugh De Lacy with Henry Wallace

Above the “No More Hoovervilles” poster is an illustrated sign showing uniformed men carrying a war-time coffin captioned with the popular war-time truism that soldiers had died “for our right to vote.”  For labor that referred to Vice President Henry Wallace’s “full employment” proposal that Roosevelt took to and promoted before his sudden death while on vacation in the spring of 1945.  The bill was meant to “link management, labor and government into an effort to guarantee as many jobs as necessary for full employment following the war. The new president Harry Truman’s tag along was ineffective, sand a long menu of post-war progressive bills, including national health and minimum wage rules were not to be.

On his own after the sudden death of F.D.R., Harry Truman campaigns in Seattle, riding an open Cadillac north on Fourth Avenue.

Our last time clue for this photograph falls from the fate of the Civic Field itself.  Built in the late 1920s with the city’s new Civic Auditorium and Ice Arena, by 1946 the field’s roof and timber bleachers were failing.  On Jan 13, 1946 the city and its school agreed to cooperated in building a new covered concrete stadium on the same site. Ground breaking for the Memorial High School Stadium began in late June, 1946.  It seems possible (perhaps likely) that our photograph was taken sometime in 1945 after Roosevelt’s death when labor was still invigorated with the hopeful heat of the Full Employment Bill.

One of many routine Memorial Day patriotic events held beside the names of the WW2 casualties displayed in the Seattle High School Memorial Stadium Plaza. Here the speaker Gen. Joseph Murray , R., Army Reserve, explains to representatives form 14 public high schools that “war has always been hellish, but we must be willing to stand up and be counted and to take the hard road if necessary.”  Taken from another Seattle Times clip.

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Anything to add, ya bums?

THEN: With feet nearly touching the Madison Street Cable Railway’s cable slot, five “happy workers” squeeze on to the front bumper of an improvised Armistice Day float. (Photo courtesy Grace McAdams)

THEN: In the older scene daring steel workers pose atop construction towers during the 1910 building of the Union Depot that faces Jackson Street.

THEN: The Moose float heads south on First Avenue at Columbia Street during the 1912 Potlatch parade of fraternal and secret societies. Behind them are Julius Redelsheimer's clothing store and the National Hotel, where daily room rates ran from 50 cents to a dollar.

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)

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Above: A Seattle Times clip from Dec. 1, 1943

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One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Labor Parade at 2nd & Seneca, 1945”

  1. In my experience (which does not reach back to 1945) “Labor” has one parade a year—the Labor Day Parade. Others are “marches” related to issues. A labor march would NEVER have a banner referring to itself as a parade.

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