Seattle Now & Then: Denny Regrade, 1905 (a mound of spite)

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Dated Jan. 17, 1905, this photo looks south from the southern slope of Denny Hill. (courtesy, Ron Edge)
NOW: Brickwork of the landmark Colonnade Hotel building, far right, and the delicate ornamentation of the J.S. Graham Building, at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Pine Street, survive.

Here, side-by-side in one photograph, stands a three-part lesson in the changes at the southern slope of Denny Hill between about 1890 and Jan. 17, 1905 — the date consistently inscribed on this and a dozen other photographs uncovered by persistent explorer Ron Edge.

Most were recorded within two blocks of this unidentified photographer’s prospect on the north side of Pine Street between First and Second avenues. Many of the subjects are readily identified, especially the Denny Hotel, standing at the top of the hill’s north summit. Both grand and picturesque, the hotel is the centered landmark in six of the 13 photographs, self-evident even in the midst of the smoking regrade’s unfiltered commotion.


Closed to the featured photo’s prospect – about a half-block to the east – the corner of Second Avenue and Pine Street in 1884. Beacon Hill is on the horizon.  (click to enlarge)

Many more intimate subjects — like polluting steam shovels and spraying water cannons — are also readily found in several of the photographs. In our “Then” photo, there is a wagon on the left and a cadre of regrade watchers gathered far left at the southwest corner of Second and Pine.

You would, of course, be correct to treat the Ice Age remnant standing like a wedge of chocolate cake at the center of the scene as its oldest part. This monolith is part of the pioneer claim marked by Arthur Denny, one of the city’s first founders, as his Third Addition to Seattle. During its regrading years, standing remnants of the hill were sometimes described as “spite mounds” that were kept free of development — including cutting — by owners objecting to the special taxes levied for the regrade’s public works improvements.

We are left with the bookends of our “trinity” on Pine Street. The Griffith Hotel, far left, was an early and impressive addition to what would become the city’s retail district. It is depicted lifting its four stories at the southern base of Denny Hill in the 1891 bird’s-eye view of Seattle. The four floors of the landmark brick Colonnade Hotel, showing far right, were first built in 1900. They survive, reaching west of Jean Sherrard’s “Now” photo to the corner of Pine Street and First Avenue.

Should you care to play hide and seek with all 13 of Edge’s Denny Regrade prints dated Jan. 17, 1905, you will find them below, along with additional captions and other photos from the same “corner” of the Denny Regrade that have reached us through other collections.


Anything to add, lads?  JEAN this Ron Edge and I now hope – still hope – late in the morning.   Check back – perhaps.











(A reminder from above.)  1884 SECOND AVE. LOOKIN SOUTH from Pine Street, and so a few feet (half-a-block) east of the featured photographer’s prospect.






Parade looking north from Fourth and Pine on May 30, 1953.



LOOKING SOUTH on Second Ave. OVER THE HILL from Bell Street.


below; PARISIAN DOPPERLGANGER by B. LOMONT (please indicated number and size and what you are willing to pay.)

Related N&T features.

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: Before this the first shovel of the last of Denny Hill was ceremonially dropped to the conveyor belt at Battery Street, an “initial bite of 30,000 cubic yards of material” was carved from the cliff along the east side of 5th Avenue to make room for both the steam shovel and several moveable belts that extended like fingers across the hill. It was here that they met the elevated and fixed last leg of the conveyor system that ran west on Battery Street to the waterfront. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

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: 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: 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: While visiting Seattle for some promoting, silent film star Wallace Reid shares the sidewalk at 4th and Olive with a borrowed Stutz Bearcat. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)

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: Louis Rowe’s row of storefronts at the southwest corner of First Ave. (then still named Front Street) and Bell Street appear in both the 1884 Sanborn real estate map and the city’s 1884 birdseye sketch. Most likely this view dates from 1888-89. (Courtesy: Ron Edge)

THEN: Werner Lenggenhager's recording of the old St. Vinnie's on Lake Union's southwest shore in the 1950s should remind a few readers of the joys that once were theirs while searching and picking in that exceedingly irregular place.

THEN: The scene looks north through a skyline of steeples toward the Cascade neighborhood and Lake Union, ca. 1923.

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: Thanks again and again to Lawton Gowey for another contribution to this feature, this ca. 1917 look into a fresh Denny Regrade and nearly new “office-factory” at 1921 Fifth Avenue.  (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey.)

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

THEN: With the stone federal post office at its shoulder – to the left – and the mostly brick Cobb Building behind, the tiled Pantages Theatre at Third Ave. and University Street gave a glow to the block.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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: 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: First dedicated in 1889 by Seattle’s Unitarians, the congregation soon needed a larger sanctuary and moved to Capitol Hill.   Here on 7th Avenue, their first home was next used for a great variety of events, including a temporary home for the Christian Church, a concert hall for the Ladies Musical Club, and a venue for political events like anarchist Emma Goldman’s visit to Seattle in 1910. (Compliments Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Looking west (not east) on Battery Street from Seventh Avenue, approaching the end of the last of Denny Hill’s six regrade reductions. The dirt was carried to Elliott Bay on conveyor belts like the two shown here. (courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)

THEN 1: Recorded on April 14, 1928, about sixth months before the Denny Hill Regrade No. 2 began, the last of the scarred Denny Hill rises to the right of Fifth Avenue. Denny School (1884) tops the hill at the northeast corner of Battery Street and Fifth Avenue. On the horizon, at center, Queen Anne Hill is topped by its namesake high school, and on the right of the panorama, the distant Wallingford neighborhood rises from the north shore of Lake Union. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)


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