Seattle Now & Then: Two English Elms in Wallingford

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN:Two English elms stand at the corner of 42nd Street and Eastern Avenue in good health on Aug. 15, 2007.
NOW: Dutch elm disease and subsequent chain saws brought down these natural Wallingford landmarks two years ago.

Carrying a camera during the summer of 2006,  I started my daily Wallingford Walks, two to three hour circle treks thru the neighborhood from our front door on Eastern Avenue.  I carried with me both tested intentions and temptations to lose some weight while walking within intimate odiferous range of Dick’s Drive-In on NE 45th Street. After four years of walking in the increasingly familiar circle I’d chosen I lost only a few pounds but gained hundreds of thousands of digital snapshots. With studied care I repeated –over and over – about 300 of my subjects, animating them through four years, 2006 to 2010, of their four seasons.

This is the map we used to chart the Wallingford Stop taken during my afternoon walks. The map was made for the MUSEUM of HISTORY & INDUSTRY’S show “Repeat Photography” work at he Museum’s last exhibit before its move to the naval armory at the south end of Lake Union. (Jean will know the date and may add it here.)

Here from several prospects near Eastern Avenue and 42nd Street, we share one of our Wallingford Walks subjects: two landmark English Elms recently lost to the voracious Dutch Elm disease that first reached North America aboard a timber-hauling steamer in the 1920s.   (They are named “Dutch” for the nationality of the scientist who first described them.). Here in King County the elm bark beetles which spread the disease apparently first arrived in Seattle by wing from the east shore of Lake Washington– they can fly over 15 miles between rests. The root-hungry cousins that consumed Seattle’s elms came it is figured from Clyde Hill .

Seattle’s first public sponsored aerial swept back-and-forth across the city resulting a record of the city’s taxable objects as well as its landscaping. In this Wallingford detail 42nd streets makes it surviving curve at the bottom of the photo  between Eastern Ave. n. on the left and First Ave. n.e. on the right, about one-third of the way above the photo’s right border.. The Elms at the northeast corner of 42nd Street and Eastern Avenue are not be be found on the parking strip bordering 42nd Street.  The were plant sometime around 1950,  The three houses facing the sidewalk at this south end of the block all survive. The rarely considered or visited Museum of Forsaken Art (MOFA) is on the east side of First Ave. N.E., about a third of the way up the right side of the print.  They all appear in the featured NOW photo included here near the top,.  The home of Wallingford’s Honorary Mayor his honor Douglas Wilson is the second structure on the east side First Av.e N.E.. It rests above the end of the block at 42nd Avenue.  

The elms were long prized far and wide for their service as street trees.  Tall and tough, if given care in resisting the beetles, elms can endure.  We used several aerial photo-surveys in figuring the approximate age of these two at their demise two years ago.   The earliest Seattle aerial from 1929 shows no trees on this parking strip.  Six years later they appear but then by surprise disappear sometime between the 1946 and 1952 aerials.  Not knowing the age of these two when first planted, we accept the early 1950s.

Neighbor Philip Wells counted that the hard-to-calculate exposed rings in the felled trunk reach into the seventies.  Wells notes that we do not know how long their first years were cared for in a nursery.  For comparison, it is estimated by expert arborists that of the 15,000 elms still standing in England’s Brighton, and Hove and East Sussex several are over 400 years old.

Looking north on Eastern Avenue from 42nd Street.

A memorial was made with a slab cut from the trunk of the most easterly of the two elms.  It rests on the parking strip with a print attached of the tree streaked by the blizzard of January 4, 2009.

This picture was taken by me at night during the brief blizzard of January 4, 2009, ten winters ago.


The crown of the elm closest to the corner reaches above the Japanese Maple om  Eastern Avenue.
Leaves of the corner Elms, far-right,  touch the corner’s full rainbow of August 9, 2008.
Autumnal colors embrace the elm, above, and an apple tree below.


Just for fun, I’m including a few snowy shots of Green Lake from this evening. Enjoy the snow!



Anything to add, tree lovers?  I feel I can promote Ron’s love of healthy trees.  He was a student of landscaping at the U.W.  I am a liberal tree hugger who once but briefly lived in a carefully joined treehouse where doughnuts were regularly enjoyed with  green tea.


RON EDGE and I bring forward again more evidence of the Wallingford Walks I took most days from 2006 into 2010 when my lower knees – I call them my shins – were getting increasingly sore as my rich diet meanwhile advanced arthrightous in my knees.  (I am thankful for my knees.  It is something we seniors talk over with sympathy and tea..  One of the goals of all my walking was animation.  I carried no tripod but still managed to repeatedly record certain favored subjects – about 200 of them – during my years of nearly daily walks.  A few years back for the MOHAI’S LAST SHOW at their Union Bay location, Ron Edge helped me with making the first animations of about 25 of them.  Twenty-two are featured directly below.  And they include two sequences that concentrated on the neighborhood’s elms that then still stood at the southeast corner of Eastern Avenue and 42nd Street.  (If you want to skip to the elms they begin on numbers 25:09 and 28:00.  It is a not so long animation of about 40 mins so they appear beyond the half-way mark.) Trust me the jiggle in these animations can be improved later with the application of new aps meant to stabilize chosen subjects without correcting the animator’s spelling.

Example: Seven of several undred pans taken of the Meritian play field, which I referred to a Hyde Park, I studying London History at the time..
Nine examples of using photoshop to play with subjects found on my Wallingford Walks.
lt was this front lawn wonderfully filled with dandylions that persuaded me walk for five years repeating digitally several hundred neighborhood subjects.

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Two English Elms in Wallingford”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.