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Seattle Now & Then: The Times’ Automatic Football Player, circa 1925

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THEN: From the Hotel Rainbow at the northwest corner of Steward Street and Fifth Avenue, a Times photographer records a crowd of Husky fans following their team on The Times Automatic Football Player during the team’s visit – most likely in 1925 – to Berkeley, California for a game with the league-leading Bears. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: The Times Building, far right, and the Times Square Garage, far left, survive, as does the landmark Medical Dental Building, right-of-center, and its contiguous neighbor to the south, the five floor northwest corner of what was built in 1916-1919 as the Frederick and Nelson Department Store.

With a longing for television, a medium they did not yet know, or a train ticket to California, the thousands of Husky fans squeezed here within the limits of Seattle’s Times Square, settled instead for the The Times Automatic Football Player.  Displayed to the masses from a hut attached to the northeast corner of the Times Building, the Player was a creation of this newspaper’s Sports Section.  It showed the vital statistics of a game on a gridiron – somehow. Variations of the player were also used for baseball, prizefights and elections.

This photo is dated 1927.  ;Note that construction on he Orpheum Theatre on the right is nearly completed.   The Automatic Football Player is holding to the Times building on the left.

On the far-right of this week’s featured Webster and Stevens Studio photograph (at the top), you can see a cross-section of the Player’s “projection booth” (we will call it) attached to the elegant terra-cotta tiles of The Times Building,  The year is either1923 or 1925. We are not yet sure.  Both the candidate games were with the California Bears, and played on the University of California’s Berkeley campus.  The Seattle Times for November 16, 1923 promised with a banner headline across the paper’s front page that witnessing the “big game reproduced play by play on the Times Automatic Football Player” would be “the next best thing to going to Berkeley.”

For the November 14, 1925 game with the Bears, The Times estimated that “an estimated 80,000 Seattle fans crowded to listen as the key plays were shouted from an upper window of the Seattle Times Building.”  With this report the newspaper also provided a photograph of “a young woman using a megaphone to describe the game to the Seattle fans.”  That doesn’t seem so “automatic.”  The detail of a panorama of Times Square under the crush of Husky fans seems similar enough to the pan featured here that we will now choose 1925 with something resembling confidence.   (Just now in media res our dancing diplomatic advisor Gavin MacDougal advises us, “Further evidence that today’s ‘then’ is from 1925, not 1923, would be in this column:  Nov. 20, 2010.   There the first line says that the Medical Dental Building (which dominates the “then”) was completed in 1925.)

Cliff Harrison, the Sports Page Editor, did not see the game from a newspaper window, but rather from the Bear’s stadium. When the Huskies won Harrison was more than excited.  He concluded his report, “Tears roll down my check, but I can’t help it.” In the next day Sunday Times Harrison rejoiced, “The Golden Bear is no longer the champion of the West, the uncrowned king of football.  On top of the world tonight sits a silver-tipped husky, the grandest of all dog kind, the symbol of a football leadership for the University of Washington, which today defeated California 7 to 0.”  The editor played with the purple part of the team’s colors.  “They are supreme in the West, great, big-hearted strong-muscled men of the Northwest, men who broke the heart of what was once the champion, men who knew no defeat, who knew no fear as a great hostile crowd booed them for deeds they never did.”  The Times recommended that it would soon be time for Eastern Teams – like Dartmouth and Harvard – to “BOW DOWN TO WASHINGTON.”

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?

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: 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: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill. Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner. (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

THEN: This rare early record of the Fourth and Pike intersection was first found by Robert McDonald, both a state senator and history buff with a special interest in historical photography. He then donated this photograph - with the rest of his collection - to the Museum of History and Industry, whom we thank for its use. (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: Looking west on Pike Street from Fourth Avenue, the variety in the first block of this retail district includes the Rhodes Bros. Ten Cent Store, Mendenhall’s Kodaks, Fountain Pens and Photo Supplies, Remick’s Song and Gift Shop, the Lotus Confectionary, Fahey-Brockman’s Clothiers, where, one may “buy upstairs and save $10.00”. (Courtesy, MOHAI)

THEN: The row house at the southwest corner of 6th Avenue and Pine Street in its last months, ca. 1922-23. (Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Looking east on Pike Street from Fifth Avenue early in the twentieth century. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

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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: 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.)

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: 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)

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A Rogue’s Christmas, 2018

Please join Paul and me for our 12th annual gathering of the rogues! Also in the mix are Kurt Beattie, Julie Briskman, Bill Radke, and our house band Pineola!

A slight change up this year: we’re asking our audience for stories of mishap, mayhem, and mistletoe mischief. Please submit your holiday tales of woe – 500 words or less – for consideration. If selected, it will be performed live at the show by Bill Radke or Julie Briskman, and later be aired on the KUOW ‘Speaker’s Forum’ Christmas edition! Submit your stories to holidaydisasters@townhallseattle.org.

A Rogue’s Christmas 2018

Seattle Now & Then: Northgate Mall, 1950

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THEN: Looking north on Northgate’s “Miracle Mile” in 1950 the year the Mall first opened. Courtesy: Museum of History and Industry
NOW: The open avenue between Northgate’s first retailers was partially covered with “skyshields” in 1962, and fully enclosed in the 1970s.

Perhaps the date, May 16, 1950, scribbled on the unsigned note accompanying this early portrait of Northgate’s “Miracle Mile”, may be slightly off.  The view looks north from the center of Seattle’s first shopping mall during its, it seems. late work-in-progress.  On the far left a temporary footprint map of the center is propped up to face east across the center’s ‘Main Street’ to the Bon Marche, largest and most polished of the malls structures.   Built for three million dollars, the Bon was the new shopping center’s ‘anchor’ retailer. Most of the Mall’s lesser, but still large, parts kept to Quonsets, one of World War 2’s architectural preferences. Pre-fabricated Quonsets that could be easily assembled as pre-fabricated huts or expanded to the size of warehouses like the future Nordstrom Shoes, here on the left.  Northgate’s superlative Bon was never a Quonset.

Historylink, Washington State’s non-profit webpage encyclopedia of our state’s history, has the retail magnet opening on April 21, nearly a month before the photograph’s date claim.  “Designed by John Graham Jr., Northgate was the country’s first regional shopping center to be defined as a mall.”  The opening was shown on KING TV, then on the air for less than a year.  A Cadillac was given as a prize.  Some of the stores startled their shoppers with electric-eye doors.  A Christmas tree of world’s record size – it was claimed –  was raised above this Bon-fronting part of the mall.  It’s 212 feet were featured in Life Magazine.  The tree was captured with both day and night recordings for the Ellis studio’s state-wide distribution of “real photo” postcards. Ellis’s other Northgate Christmas card was captioned “World Largest Santa Claus – North Gate Shopping Center – Seattle Washington.” This Santa’s glorification does not seem to have been so truthful as that of the tree. Ron Edge, a frequent aid to this feature’s repeating, remembers, “Kids are still probably having nightmares from Northgate’s oversized Santa. With its menacing eyes it looked like a maniac.”

The Seattle Times for February 22, 1948 first reported that the “curtain of secrecy which has enveloped the mammoth project was pulled aside” revealing “the biggest suburban development of its type in the U.S.”   The term “mall” was most often used for the north-and-south center-line of the development.  In the early 1980s when I first began delivering freshly published now-then books to Seattle bookstores, I was thrilled to learn that running below the mall – the north-south center line of the by then lavish development – was an austere tunnel designed for speedy deliveries to Northgate’s many retailers, which then still included both chain and independent book stores.

From its start in 1950 Northgate showed an often wild popularity that stuffed its surrounding parking lots with thousands of visitors. It was a retail flood that would soon pain the established shops in the University District, Northgate’s competing retail neighborhood to the south.   Northgate’s many remodels created a covered and heated expanse of attractions. Besides the shoppers its comforts were used by seniors for winter walks, and exploring groups of teenagers practicing consumer – and human – development.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, shoppers?

THEN: Before it became a city park, Licton Springs was run as a health spa. The distant home, left-of-center, at the northeast corner of N. 97th Street and Densmore Avenue N., survives in Jean Sherrard’s repeat. It can be found on the left above the Y in the Licton Springs Park pathway. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

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Seattle Now & Then: Occidental Avenue, ca 1920

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THEN: From mid-block between Washington Street and Yesler Way, looking north on Occidental Avenue to the south façade of the Seattle Hotel. Courtesy, The Museum of History and Industry
NOW: Jean Sherrard and I have embraced this opportunity to also feature Parisian photographer Berangere Lomont in the contemporary repeat. I have known “BB” since the 1970s when she first visited Seattle. Jean used Berangere’s contributions both inside and on the back cover or our new book, Seattle Now and Then, The Historic Hundred. Many thanks to and for BB.

There’s some arterial tension in this “then.”  Is the open and yet covered pick-up van on Occidental Avenue pausing with a full stop or advancing toward Yesler Way?  Is the driver trying to encourage the clutter of pedestrians to “move it” onto the Seattle Tacoma Interurban cars parked at their Seattle terminus?

LOOKING south thru the same block on Occidental between Yesler Way (behind the photographer) and Washington Street.

This is nearly the center of Seattle’s skid road district.  It was a manly neighborhood and here in the fetured photo at the top it seems that it is all men who are boarding the parked common carriers about to head for Tacoma or some suburban stop on the way.

A Skid Road labor protest on Octobert 6, 1930. The view looks northwest thru the intersection of Wasington Streete and Occidental Avenue.
Later – “Sixty’s” demo in Occidental Park.

Skid Road was originally named for the greased logs that were laid to shoot timber off First Hill to Seattle’s waterfront mills. There survives remarkably – or distressingly – little pioneer evidence on where Seattle’s first skid road was constructed.  A convivial scholars’ debate endures between those choosing Washington Street and the more popular Mill Street, aka Yesler Way.  Whichever, the sliding log delivery most likely came close to crossing over this part of Occidental, a popular name for European immigrants who immigrated west to America from somewhere between Moscow and

Hand-colored and in repose, here’s an early catch of Occidental – from the late 70s or so – looking north from near King Street.

Galway. Originating at Yesler Way, Occidental Street ran south into the then not yet reclaimed tidelands beyond King Street. By the time this busy street scene was shot, the neighborhood was long free of its slippery salmon oil and log deliveries.  (Again, we confess to not knowing the date for the featured snapshot from the circa 1920s,)

Members of the Communist Party demonstrate for a Six-Hour Day. The view looks northwest from Occidental.

Many Asian merchants serviced the Skid Road district.  Seattle’s first Chinatown was just around the corner, east on Washington Street.  There were loan shops, barbers, oyster bars, and plenty of bar-bars where a free lunch might come with whatever drink one ordered – usually beer – and many of them.  Here professional bar bands competed for audio space and “keep the faith” souls with parading ensembles of Salvation Army brass players and drummers.  Adding to the percussion, the corner to the left rear (southwest) of the photographer was Seattle’s “Hyde Park” platform for protest, polemics and the occasional police riot.

Besides the Interurban cars, this cityscape is limited to two pioneer landmarks. The one that obviously survived on the right side of Jean Sherrard’s repeat, is the Interurban Building, the 1892 creation of the English-born architect John Parkinson who arrived fortuitously in Seattle six months before its Great Fire of June 6, 1889.  This red brick and sandstone Romanesque landmark was built for the Seattle National Bank, but after the Interurban’s completion from Tacoma to Seattle in 1901-02 it became the ticket office and waiting room for the Puget Sound Interurban Railway.

The Seattle Hotel facing south on Occidental from the north side of Yesler Way on February 7, 1961, recorded by Lawton Gowey. (Whom we hope to ever remember and thank.) 
Gowey returns on February 20, 1967.

The wide façade facing south to Occidental Ave. from across Yesler Way is, of course, the still-mourned Seattle Hotel.  Like Parkinson’s bank it too was built soon after the city’s great fire of 1889. Seventy years later it was lost to the modern urges that preluded the Seattle Century 21 World’s Fair.  By comparison the strikingly puny “Sinking Ship Garage”, that replaced, it survives.

Lawton returns again on November 14, 1972,

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, mes amis?   Weee

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GOOD MORNING to RON EDGE

 

Previous features of interest:

THEN: Seen here in 1887 through the intersection of Second Avenue and Yesler Way, the Occidental Hotel was then easily the most distinguished in Seattle.  (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: The Lebanon aka Jesse George building at Occidental and Main opened with the Occidental Hotel in 1891.  Subsequently the hotel’s name was changed first to the Touraine and then to the Tourist.  The tower could be seen easily from the railroad stations.   It kept the name Tourist until replaced in 1960 with a parking lot.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN:  In Lawton Gowey’s 1961 pairing, the Smith Tower (1914) was the tallest building in Seattle, and the Pioneer Square landmark Seattle Hotel (1890) had lost most of its top floor.  (by Lawton Gowey)

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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: At Warshal's Workingman's Store a railroad conductor, for instance, could buy his uniform, get a loan, and/or hock his watch. Neighbors in 1946 included the Apollo Cafe, the Double Header Beer Parlor, and the Circle Theatre, all on Second Avenue.

THEN: With the clue of the ornate Pergola on the right, we may readily figure that we are in Pioneer Square looking south across Yesler Way.

Then: The Pacific House, behind the line-up of white-gloved soldiers, might have survived well into the 20th Century were it not destroyed during Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889. Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry

THEN: 1934 was one of the worst years of the Great Depression.  This look north on Third Avenue South through Main Street and the Second Avenue South Extension was recorded on Thursday, April 19th of that year.  Business was generally dire, but especially here in this neighborhood south of Yesler Way where there were many storefront vacancies.  (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: This view looking east from First Avenue South on Jackson Street in 1904, is still four years short of the Jackson Street Regrade during which the distant horizon line near 9th Avenue was lowered by more than 70 feet. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: The Phoenix Hotel on Second Avenue, for the most part to the left of the darker power pole, and the Chin Gee Hee Building, behind it and facing Washington Street to the right, were both built quickly after Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. (Courtesy: Museum of History and Industry.)

 

Seattle Now & Then: The Metropolitan Theatre, 1911

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THEN: The Metropolitan Theatre was among the many structures designed by Howells and Stokes, the New York architectural firm for the Metropolitan Tract.
NOW: For his repeat Jean needed to move to the sidewalk on the north side of University Street.

For forty-three years – 1911 into 1954 – this elegant box of bricks and tiles, the Metropolitan Theatre, was among Seattle’s favorite attractions, a venue for many sorts of shows.  It was named for the Metropolitan Building Company, which held the lease on the University of Washington’s original campus. Pioneers first referred to the property as “Denny’s Knoll” for Arthur Denny, their founder-merchant-politician, that helped organize the giving of the knoll to Washington Territory for its first campus, and the state still owns its ten-plus acres.

Denny Knoll with Territorial University, looking southeast from Denny Hill ca. 1878.
Denny Knoll topped by the Territorial University, photo taken from Denny Hill (looking south) ca. 1885.  Beacon Hill is on the right horizon. 

Many of you are familiar, by photographs, with another ‘box’, the university’s first school building built in 1861 on this site.  It was adorned with a bell-fitted cupola for the waking of students and calling of classes. The façade was fronted with four classical ionic columns that looked west to Elliott Bay from its elevated knoll. You can still visit the original columns, which are preserved in the present UW campus’ outdoor Sylvan Theatre.  (Some may also wish to carry a flute, light incense and dance around them.)

After the University moved to its new and present Interlake Campus in 1895, the knoll waited another decade for the state to begin sharing its old campus with the expansion of the business district – for rents.  Many activist students joined nostalgic alums then pushing to save the school’s first multifarious hall, aka, the box.  The schoolhouse might have been saved with a move to the new campus or preserved at its original place on the old campus,  If the latter, it would have hindered Stone and Webster’s 1911 construction of the Metropolitan Theatre.  The northeast corner of the school’s first “box” overlapped the plans southwest corner of the Metropolitan Theater.  The fact is that in 1909, with a little moving of the theater’s footprint by its New York architects, Howells and Stokes, there was still enough room on the campus for both the elegant brick box and the cherished clapboard one.

Members of a troupe playing at the Met. pose for Max Loudon in the alley at the rear of the theater before what Olympic Hotel was built round it in 1924. 

This Webster and Stevens Studio portrait of the theatre at the top of this week’s feature is easy to date – within four days.  The clues, of course, are the posters pasted to the front of the theatre for promoting “Spring Maid,” a Viennese-inspired operetta on its west coast tour. Of course, It first stopped in San Francisco. While it was a light opera, the “Maid” was not a light haul, with a company of 94 and an orchestra of 35.  Tickets ran from 50 cents to $2.00.  The “Spring Maid” opened its four-day Metropolitan run on October 19, 1911. While it was the largest early performance to touch the Met stage, it was not the first event held there.  On October 12, a Columbus Day show was staged by the local Knights of Columbus, and aided by history professor Edmond S. Meany, surely the most prolific public speaker in the history of the UW.

History Prof. Edmund Meany poses for a most appropriate portrait As yet the artist is not identified.
Swedish film, The Girl and the Devil.

Any sample of the international talents that took to the Met’s stage would include many plays and foreign films. The Swedish movie “The Girl and the Devil” was projected at the Met in 1946. Tennessee Williams’ play “Summer and Smoke” was produced in 1950.  Also that year, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America performed at the Metropolitan.  Many members ate and slumbered at the Olympic Hotel that since its construction in 1924 had a grip on the theater (as shown in last week’s “Now and Then.”)  Byron Fish, the Times screwball humorist and reviewer, instructed the newspaper’s readers that “The S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.” was founded thirteen years before the bomb.  Its members are “pioneers in the nostalgic wish to return to pre-atom bomb days.”

Humorist Byron Fish when still a Ballard Boy.

The Met was torn down in the fall of 1955 to enlarge the Olympic Hotel’s ballroom and build a better front entrance on the hotel’s University Street side. After its demise, the Metropolitan began receiving a long line of nostalgic citizen press coverage.

Victory Square on University Way, between 4th and 5th Avenue. The pylon lifted behind the small temple lists the local losses during WW2.
Byron Fish’s signature used during his years as a columnist for The Seettle Times and also when he was Ivar Haglund’s first companion huckster. Between them, they originated “Keep Clam” Ivar’s identifying command. 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Sure Jean.  While we are on the edge of exhaustion we know – at least by your reports – that you work even harder.   And here’s more of the same.   (We may proof-read later.)

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THEN: As explained in the accompanying story the cut corner in this search-lighted photo of the “first-nighters” lined up for the March 1, 1928 opening of the Seattle Theatre at 9th and Pine was intended. Courtesy Ron Phillips

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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: The Metropolitan Tract's Hippodrome was nearly new when it hosted the A.F. of L. annual convention in 1913.

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)

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: Long thought to be an early footprint for West Seattle’s Admiral Theatre, this charming brick corner was actually far away on another Seattle Hill. Courtesy, Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

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THEN: Capitol Hill’s Society Theatre first opened its doors in 1911. This record of it most likely dates from 1920, the first year in which the theatre could have shown the four films promoted with sensational posters near its front doors: the comedy “Mary’s Ankle,” “The Sagebrusher,” a western, “Silk Husbands and Calico Wives,” and “Everywoman,” a feminist allegory appropriately filmed in 1919, on the eve of women’s suffrage in the United States. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Lawton Gowey looks north through the tail of the 1957 Independence Day Parade on Fourth Avenue as it proceeds south through the intersection with Pike Street. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: This “real photo postcard” was sold on stands throughout the city. It was what it claimed to be; that is, its gray tones were real. If you studied them with magnification the grays did not turn into little black dots of varying sizes. (Courtesy, David Chapman and otfrasch.com)

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P.I. GLOBE

Seattle Now & Then: Olympic Hotel Construction, 1924

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THEN: An instance in the 1924 construction of the Olympia Hotel recorded from the roof of the Cobb Building. Included, upper-left, among the First Hill landmarks are, on the horizon at Madison St. and Terry Ave., the Sorrento Hotel, and, far left, the brilliant terra-cotta clad Fourth Christian Science Church, now Town Hall, at 8th and Seneca. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Jean Sherrard advises “I couldn’t move closer to the original prospect because the southeast portion of the roof is now the Cobb Building’s penthouse garden.”

Here is another offering from the Webster and Stevens collection, held in the library of the Museum of History and Industry.  Early in the twentieth century Webster and Stevens moved their studio into the Seattle Times Building and handled the newspaper’s editorial photography. Consequently, I had some hope that I’d be able to date this contribution by finding it printed in The Times. (As I have noted before, The Times can be searched online through the Seattle Public Library.)  Nevertheless, while enjoying the pleasures of looking, I failed to find this photograph.  Perhaps Webster and Sevens recorded it for the Community Hotel Corporation, which successfully hustled the Olympic’s 1924 construction with bonds

invested by more than 3,000 citizens.  This local enthusiasm reminded some genuine old-timers of the ‘Seattle Spirit’ they had known in the late 1870s that supported Seattle’s struggles with what locals considered the neglect of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the competition with its company town, Tacoma.

The Olympic Hotel photographed by Lawton Gowey from the front lawn of the Federal Courthouse on 6th Avenue, March 13, 1963.

Once the bonds started selling, the Italian Renaissance landmark went up with remarkable speed on acres that had been the first home for the University of Washington.  The Times enjoyed its coverage on what it called “the hotel of Seattle’s dreams.”  The construction began in earnest on April 1, 1923, on the 450-guest-room “hotel of its dreams.” The Olympic Hotel was built around the city’s by then cherished theatre The Metropolitan, seen at the top in the featured photograph.

Clearing the old university grounds around the Metropolitan Theatre for the construction of the hotel.  First Hill is on the right horizon.  On right Sprint Street is momentarily blocked by a sizeable building moved off of the impending hotel’s footprint, the part of it at the northwest corner of Spring Street and Fifth Avenue.
The Olympic Hotel’s wing along 5th Avenue was completed in 1929. It shows here on the left with the hotel-surrounded Metropolitan Theatre on the right, and the new Northwest Insurance tower upper-right,   Now renamed the Seattle Tower, it was completed in 1928..

The theatre was constructed in 1911 and closed in 1954 for the Olympic’s enlargement between its two wings. With its hurried construction, the hotel took on the elegant “dress of terra cotta tiles” near the end of February 1924, and by December 6, 1924, a dinner dance celebrated the opening of the Olympic, the city’s ‘grand hotel.’

The Olympic Hotel’s lobby – when new.
The Olympic’s spiral staircase inside the hotel’s Fourth Avenue entrance.

I ordinarily travel with a sleeping bag and frankly know little of hotels.  For an informed opinion on the now Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s status among local hostelries, I asked Tamara Anne Wilson, a friend who is also widely experienced in the professional virtues of local hospitality.  From 1997 to 2003 Tamara kept several offices of her PR firm on the hotel’s twelfth floor. After naming and complimenting several other Seattle hotels, she concluded “there will never be anything like Seattle’s Olympic Hotel again. Valet, doormen and concierge that understand discretion, perfect classic martinis, comfortable seating areas that aren’t ‘trying too hard to be hip’.”

The Olympic Hotel’s Georgian Dining Room (when new).

Finally, in the interest of ‘full disclosure,’ Tamara continues and concludes that in January 1960 when her father Lieutenant William Critch was preparing to ship to Okinawa with his bride of three months, Marlene Prosser, they got the order to leave instead for a preferred station in Hawaii.  The couple celebrated with dinner at Rosellini Four-10 and a night at “the” hotel.  The appropriate months later Tamara was born in Honolulu.  “The Olympic was conceived for the carriage trade.  I’m grateful I was conceived there.”

The Olympic’s Venetian Room used here for classes in the preparation of meats.

WEB EXTRAS

The creation of this column was documented by KOMO-TV’s Eric Johnson in an installment of his long running series, Eric’s Heroes. Thanks, Eric!

Anything to add, compadres?  Yes heroic Jean for you and your admiring platoon of fellow recorders (aka shutterbugs) we will pull free from the archive a few more features from the neighborhood often on the key subjects (hotels and theaters.)

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: 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: The Metropolitan Tract's Hippodrome was nearly new when it hosted the A.F. of L. annual convention in 1913.

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)

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: Plymouth Congregational Church barely reached maturity – twenty-one years – when it was torn down in 1913 for construction of the equally grand but less prayerful Pantages Theatre, also at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and University Street. (Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Lawton Gowey looks north through the tail of the 1957 Independence Day Parade on Fourth Avenue as it proceeds south through the intersection with Pike Street. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Seen here in 1887 through the intersection of Second Avenue and Yesler Way, the Occidental Hotel was then easily the most distinguished in Seattle. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

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Seattle Now & Then: Lake Union from Denny Hill, early 1890s

A note to readers: just a reminder that our new book, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred, is available for pre-order now. Just click here, or tap the pre-order button on the right! Now back to our scheduled program…

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The prolific Seattle pioneer photographer Frank LaRoche recorded this panorama of Lake Union from near the summit of Denny Hill in the early 1890s. LaRoche looks north across Fourth Avenue mid-block between Stewart and Virginia Streets. (Courtesy: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections)
NOW: The south summit of Denny Hill, which was less than a block behind LaRoche’s prospect in the “then” photograph, was lowered by nearly 100 feet during the Denny Regrade of the early twentieth century.

The first photograph of Lake Union recorded from Denny Hill was one of the many shots the famous itinerant Californian photographer Carlton Watkins made during his visit to Puget Sound in 1882. In spite of building an elevated platform on top of the hill to help him see and shoot the lake, only a glimpse of it is seen through a forest both selectively cut for the best lumber but also ravaged by a wind storm that flattened many of the trees on Denny Hill in 1879.

The better known Watkins pan from his 1882 visit was recorded from Beacon Hill.

This Sunday’s feature (at the top) , was photographed in the early 1890s, looks north from Denny Hill to a Lake Union landscape dappled by a mix of virgin timber and pioneer construction. The Western Lumber Mill, the lake’s largest development, can be seen smoking at the south end of the lake. Built in the early 1880s, the mill escaped Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889 and overnight became the city’s principal supplier of the lumber that rebuilt what was already the largest town in Washington Territory.

In his caption on top at lower-left, photographer Frank LaRoche includes the name of his intended subject where he positioned his camera, and the address of his studio. With the help of other photographs, maps, and directories, it is possible to determine within a shout where LaRoche set up.  The best clue to LaRoche’s location is the Gothic one, right-of-center: the Norwegian Danish Baptist Church

Looking east on Virginia from near 5th Avenue, before the regrade. The Gothic Norwegian Baptist sanctuary at the northeast corner of Virginia Street and Sixth Avenue is on the left.

at the northeast corner of Virginia Street and 6th Ave.  The city’s Sanborn Real Estate Map for 1893 gives footprints for the city’s structures, including the church and the homes to this side of the Baptists.  From these footprints we may deduce that LaRoche was overlooking Fourth Avenue to the east.  While behind him, gleaned from other sources, early construction proceeds on the 400-room grand Victorian hotel, The Denny named for the city’s principle pioneer founder Arthur Denny.

On the evidence of another photograph, taken about 1904 by Asahel Curtis from nearly the same spot, but higher, possibly from a ledge or window in the Denny Hotel looking east over Fourth Avenue, the considerably more developed neighborhood sits in a late afternoon shadow cast by the hotel.  In three years the hotel

On the right the Westlake Ave. regrade looking north from Pike St. and 4th Avenue, 1906. Fourth Avenue, on the left, still climbs Denny Hill.  Some of the structures up the hill can also be found in the A.Curtis photo above this one.   Taken from the Denny Hotel  it shows its shadow.

would be razed, along with much of Denny Hill.  By the result of another regrade that straightened Westlake Avenue between the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street as far as Denny Way in 1906-7, the Baptist’s tidy sanctuary, threatened by public works pruning, was sold to George J. Hodge, a developer who razed the Gothic landmark. Hodge paid the congregation more than $7,000 for their exposed corner.  Some of the largesse was used to build a new sanctuary near Denny Way and Yale Avenue, which I remember from the 1960s, in its last incarnation, as the BFD a pop music palace that sometimes featured psychedelic rock and roll.

The home of the Baptist Norwegian Danish Church with its red roof and white walls shows below and to the left of the panorama’s center. The photo was most likely taken by Robert Bradley from Capitol Hill.   Denny Way is lower-right. 

 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Because you asked.

THEN: The home at bottom right looks across Madison Street (out of frame) to Central School. The cleared intersection of Spring Street and Seventh Avenue shows on the right.

THEN: We give this panorama from the roof of the Washington Athletic Club a circa date of 1961, the year that Horizon House, a First Hill retirement community, first opened its doors to residents at Ninth Avenue and University Street. The high-rise L-shaped Horizon stands top-center. (Lawton Gowey)

THEN: William O. McKay opened show rooms on Westlake in July of 1923. After fifty-seven years of selling Fords, the dealership turned to the cheaper and more efficient Subaru. Now reconstructed, the old Ford showroom awaits a new tenant.

THEN: A.J. McDonald’s panorama of Lake Union and its surrounds dates from the early 1890s. It was taken from First Hill, looking north from near the intersection of Terry Avenue and Union Street. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

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

THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: The five buildings shown here on the west side of Third Avenue south of Virginia Street have endured with few changes since the ‘then’ photo was snapped in 1936. The exception is the smallest, far-right, the Virginian Tavern now stripped for an open garage at Third’s southwest corner with Virginia Street. The six-story Hardon Hall Apartments, at the center of the five, was renovated in 2006 for low-income housing by the Plymouth Housing Group.

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: 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: Photographed from an upper story of the Ford Factory at Fairview Avenue and Valley Street, the evidence of Seattle's explosive boom years can be seen on every shore of Lake Union, ca. 1920. Courtesy of MOHAI

THEN: Pioneer Arthur Denny's son, Orion, took this photo of popularly named Lake Union John and his second wife, Madeline, sometime before the latter's death in 1906.

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THEN: Looking west down Ewing Street (North 34th) in 1907 with the nearly new trolley tracks on the left and a drainage ditch on the right to protect both the tracks and the still barely graded street from flooding. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)

THEN: Long-time Wallingford resident Victor Lygdman looks south through the work-in-progress on the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge during the summer of 1959. Bottom-right are the remnants of the Latona business and industrial district, including the Wayland Mill and the Northlake Apartments, replaced now with Ivar’s Salmon House and its parking. (Photo by Victor Lygdman)

THEN: From 1909 to the mid-late 1920s, the precipitous grade separation between the upper and lower parts of NE 40th Street west of 7th Ave. NE was faced with a timber wall. When the wall was removed, the higher part of NE 40th was shunted north, cutting into the lawns of the homes beside it. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

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THEN: Looking east on Pike Street from Fifth Avenue early in the twentieth century. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill. Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner. (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

THEN: William O. McKay opened show rooms on Westlake in July of 1923. After fifty-seven years of selling Fords, the dealership turned to the cheaper and more efficient Subaru. Now reconstructed, the old Ford showroom awaits a new tenant.

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: The 1906-07 Gas Works at the north end of Lake Union went idle in 1956 when natural gas first reached Seattle by pipeline. In this photo, taken about fifteen years later, the Wallingford Peninsula is still home to the plant’s abandoned and “hanging gardens of metal.” (Courtesy: Rich Haag)

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)

Seattle Now & Then: The Rhodes 10 cent Store

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THEN: Harlan Thomas, architect for the Rhodes Building, is remembered with his surviving local landmarks including the Sorrento Hotel, with its own grand entrance, the Chelsea Hotel, the Corner Market Building, Harborview Hospital and the Chamber of Commerce building. Thomas we also head of the U.W.’s Department of Architecture from 1926 to 1940. (Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Now the high-rise Century Square fills the northwest corner of Pike St. and Fourth Avenue.

Surely among those who take time to shape their opinions on architecture this façade of the Rhodes Store will excite some and alienate others.  For the latter, the building’s five-floor front may be too congested with ornaments.  I like them and have felt an enduring affection –- for a long as I’ve had a copy of the photograph —  for the playful front of this 10 Cent Store.  From 1924 to 1931 it faced east from the west side of Fourth Avenue where it sat two lots north of Pike Street. The store was named for four Rhodes brothers: Albert, Henry, William and Charles, mid-western farmers who moved to Puget Sound around 1890 to quickly become sibling-entrepreneurs in both Tacoma and Seattle. By 1900 they were flaunted as Seattle’s “leading tea and coffee house,” a success which should feature the Rhodes family in any history of Seattle’s preferred tastes.

The brothers’ first little Seattle storefront at 1325 Second Avenue, took a small part of the block-big Arcade Building. William was the manager of its bargain department although he was quick to explain, “We brothers have always worked together, pulled together financially and in business managements. Of course, we all look upon (up to) the big store Seattle knows as ‘Albert’s Store.’”  The oldest brother Albert and his wife Harriet managed the “big store” which with its organ in the lobby will certainly still be remembered by many locals. The big department store was built in the late 1920s with an enlargement of the Arcade Buildings’ north half, the part facing Union Street, between First and Second Avenue

Earlier while dreaming of dimes, and preparing to open the family’s economy bazaar, William promised “We will even sell a good brand of tea and coffee for ten cents a pound on our opening day.”  The door on Second Avenue first opened to the store’s10 cent assortment of dry goods, notions, furnishings, confectionary, china, glasses, kitchen needs and thousands of knickknacks on the morning of June 6, 1903.  Twenty-one years later the second Rhodes 10 Cent Store, pictured here, opened on the fifteenth of December, 1924. The Times liked it, reporting “The building presents some new ideas in the design of Seattle retail establishments . . . The exterior of the building is of Italian Renaissance Style, and is faced in glazed terra cotta.  One of the most striking features is the 24-foot arch recessed above the Fourth Avenue entrance, for scenic displays.”

The fair-weather mural framed here is one of only two photographs I’ve found of this ironically sumptuous 10 Cent store.  The other appears in this newspaper and shows the arch fitted not with a beach scene but a Christmas tree.  The Rhodes brothers second 10-cent store was short-lived perhaps from a combination of changing retail tastes, the sudden slam of the Great Depression in 1929 and an offer the brothers could not refuse.  In the late fall of 1931 the Seattle Gas Company signed a one million dollar twenty year lease to turn this ornate show box into the Gasco Building. The ensuing remodel stripped the Rhodes building of its ornamental pleasures (for some) to become the gas company’s center for billing and exhibiting modern appliances.  It first opened to the public in the spring of 1932.  The official housewarming party started at noon with KOL radio’s Kiddies’ Hour and the then “well-known Negro entertainers, the Deacon Jones Quartet.”

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, guys?

THEN: The ‘Seattle showplace’ Rhodes mansion on Capitol Hill, ca. 1916. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

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

5th-ave-car-barns-then-mr

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)

Montana-Horse-Meat-MR-THEN

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: The “then” photo looks southeast across Union Street to the old territorial university campus.  It was recorded in the Fall of 1907, briefly before the old park-like campus was transformed into a grand commercial property, whose rents still support the running of the University of Washington.  (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

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: This rare early record of the Fourth and Pike intersection was first found by Robert McDonald, both a state senator and history buff with a special interest in historical photography. He then donated this photograph - with the rest of his collection - to the Museum of History and Industry, whom we thank for its use.  (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: Looking west on Pike Street from Fourth Avenue, the variety in the first block of this retail district includes the Rhodes Bros. Ten Cent Store, Mendenhall’s Kodaks, Fountain Pens and Photo Supplies, Remick’s Song and Gift Shop, the Lotus Confectionary, Fahey-Brockman’s Clothiers, where, one may “buy upstairs and save $10.00”.  (Courtesy, MOHAI)

THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Looking east on Pike Street from Fifth Avenue early in the twentieth century. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

 

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

Much of this Sunday’s Seattle Times Pacific magazine is devoted to our new book. You may notice our pre-order button just to the right, upon which all readers are welcome to click! Or our many events, to which all are, of course, invited! Also, check out our many illustrious blurbers, who seem to like us very much!

Paul and Jean discuss Seattle’s past, present, and future at the old MOHAI (Photo: Berangere Lomont)

To  celebrate its upcoming launch – next Sunday, October 28th, which is also Paul’s 80th birthday! – we’re reprinting our senior editor Clay Eals’ lovely introduction and, as always, click to enlarge photos: 

Photo by Berangere Lomont

The Seattle Now & Then story:
from simple pleasures to the truth

By Clay Eals

The late Seattle newspaper pundit and historian Emmett Watson once said it is fitting for a flourishing city to have a “sense of itself.”

“I’m not even sure what I mean,” he wrote in 1984, “but it has something to do with a feeling for its past, a curiosity about its origins, a pride in its present.”

Emmett’s sage advisory resounds today amid our city’s tangle of construction cranes, pricey digs and teeming tech jobs — a veritable frenzy of future-focused development.

So, what is Seattle’s “sense of itself”? People of all stripes likely would agree that it derives from the city’s unique lay of the land — the lyrical, physical contours that created a natural stage for urban beauty and demanded ingenuity for the shaping of a prosperous port.

A 2018 view from Smith Tower

In the bustling “now” days of our city, hordes of newcomers may give these enduring qualities only fleeting thought. But longtimers, with visions of “then” dancing through their experience, have a more deep-seated grasp.

They summon formative years when the post-World War II maxim was the glory of growth. A prominent case in point: the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair — drawing nearly 10 million to a gleaming Jetsons view of the future  — trumpeted the trend. “Take a way-ahead look at tomorrow, just as if you were there,” crooned its catchy theme song.

“We Come In Peace”

But it didn’t take long, as baby boomers reached their 30s and 40s, for a generation clamoring for peace, equality and the environment to reach back in time to embrace and protect local icons and characteristics targeted by the business bulldozer.

Evidence in the 1970s and 1980s was undeniable. Seattle voters saved the Pike Place Market. The city council crafted a tough landmarks law. Grassroots heritage groups sprouted like spawning salmon. The past was becoming palpable.

Enter Paul Dorpat.

Paul after a public shave at his 40th birthday party in 1978

Today he is known as the indefatigable purveyor of what has become, over the past nearly 37 years, a beloved citywide optical institution entitled “Seattle Now and Then.”

Back in 1966, however, the 28-year-old was a newcomer to our city. Raised in Spokane by a father who commanded a preacher’s pulpit and a mother who devoted herself to public service, Paul was anything but resolute about his future.

Paul, 37, poses with his father, the Rev. Theodore E. Dorpat, in about 1975
Paul’s mother, Cherry Dorpat

He had considered the cloth while bouncing around Northwest colleges, but once here he applied his insistent conscience to the counterculture, founding the Helix underground newspaper near the University of Washington and launching the (pre-Woodstock) Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair in rural Sultan.

Paul, 30, talks with Seattle author Tom Robbins in 1968 at the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair in Sultan

A freelancer throughout the 1970s, he was gravitating toward a life of painting and film when, as he puts it, a “serendipitous spin” gave him an immersive entrée into local history. As is typical in the tracing of Paul’s trajectory, this biographical juncture owed to the bidding and support of a friend.

College buddy Dick Moultrie was seeking to reopen the Merchants Café, reputed to be Seattle’s oldest bar, in downtown’s oldest and most fabled district, Pioneer Square. He asked Paul to investigate the backstory of the business. Unwittingly, a die was cast.

Paul found himself diving into classic Seattle history tomes by Murray Morgan, Bill Speidel and others. Soon, projects that pointed to the past and piqued his native intelligence and inquisitiveness began to spiral.

Paul poses with Seattle’s Murray Morgan, author of Skid Road, mid-80s

While assisting the groundwork of a sculptor, Paul became intrigued by the lowered hills of the Belltown district north of downtown, and he prepared a detailed article for the alternative weekly Seattle Sun on the city’s massive, early 20th-century regrades.

After learning of the thesis of a UW graduate student in architecture who was digging into Seattle projects that were never pulled off, Paul assembled a “Then, Now and Maybe” exhibit of photos and visionary sketches for a June 1980 event called CityFair at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.

The true turning point, however, came in fall 1981. Drawing from his budding collection of old images, Paul produced for the Mayor’s Small Business Task Force a sepia-toned booklet that displayed photographic collages of Seattle’s past. The charmingly titled publication, 294 Glimpses of Historic Seattle, sold for a clever $2.94, one penny per “glimpse.”

The response in that pre-internet era was phenomenal. Spotlighted in a column by the Seattle Times’ Erik Lacitis, the initial printing of 3,000 copies sold out in a flash. Eventually, 40,000 were snapped up, with proceeds going to charity.

It was the tangible beginning of an endearing pattern for Paul: He was simultaneously fueling and riding the wave of local interest in heritage.

There was no secret to his strategy. It was the photos — the city’s visual “sense of itself” coming alive.

“Each of these images is in some way quite precious, precious because of what it tells about the city,” Paul told Erik in 1981. “When I show this little book … to people who’ve never experienced the pictorial history of Seattle, … they are completely amazed. There is a sense of wonder that creeps across their faces. It spurs their imaginations, and they smile. … There are always new discoveries. Sometimes you see values that have been lost. But, happily, you see examples of things improved. It makes you respect the human effort that went into this city.”

With Erik’s help, Paul pitched a continuation of this concept to the Seattle Times. The paper’s Sunday magazine editor, Kathy Andrisevic, agreed, and the inaugural “Seattle Now and Then” appeared on Jan. 17, 1982.

A screenshot of Paul’s first column – updated for the book

That first weekly column showcased a formula that persevered through more than 1,800 installments and continues to this day:

  • Find a long-ago, well-composed “then” photo taken in the Seattle area.
  • Juxtapose it with a “now” image taken from an angle close to the original — a venerable art form known as repeat photography.
  • Add a brief, well-researched essay telling a story about the visual pair.

A key word in this recipe, a journalistic one, is “story.” In Paul’s lexicography, the story invariably centers on the common man and everyday life — and, not insignificantly, is leavened with gentle humor and layered with irony.

Presentation of the weekly feature has waxed and waned over the decades. Several dozen times, the magazine deferred the column for other priorities. In early years, “Seattle Now and Then” covered a generous two full pages but later shrank to one page and occasionally to two-thirds of a page. Thankfully, in recent years it has rebounded to a full page, sometimes more,. It consistently graces the magazine’s inside back cover, and all of the “nows” appear in brilliant color.

Through all the variations, the heartening constant is that those reading the 300,000 copies of the Sunday Seattle Times count “Seattle Now and Then” among its most popular features.

The column also maintains a fortified online presence transcending the Seattle Timessite to Paul’s own blog, pauldorpat.com, which allows magnified views of the “nows,” “thens” and countless other related images.

The launch of the blog 10 years ago also marked the full bloom of Paul’s partnership with Seattle teacher, actor and photographer Jean Sherrard, who has taken nearly all of Paul’s recent “now” photos and is the “now” photographer (and editor and production manager) for this commemorative tome.

Jean and Paul pose in 2011 at the entrance to a Now and Then compilation of their work, the
final exhibit of the Museum of History & Industry at its former location in Montlake. (photo: Berangere Lomont)

Jean’s formidable skills, imagination, artistry, tenacity and equipment (not to mention a tall frame) have let him create captivating present-tense pictures. But his greatest asset may be the dedication and joie de vivre that he brings to his friendship with Paul. Recognizing this, Paul altered the voice of many of his later columns from “I” to “we.”

Jean atop the Space Needle (photo: Berangere Lomont)

The dynamic of the Paul/Jean relationship is noteworthy yet typical. Though Paul jokes that his friends are few and “long suffering,” his basso-voiced personality is nothing if not mesmerizing and magnetic. This results in ties with many that reflect uncommon loyalty and affection.

Jean takes a “now” photo of native descendants Mary Lou Slaughter and Ken Workman in May 2018 atop Post Alley. (Clay Eals)

Such bonds contributed to the persistence and appeal of “Seattle Now and Then.” Paul’s resulting stature led him into myriad offshoots, including countless regional talks and installations, three book-length column compilations (1984, 1986 and 1989) and other publications both slim (on First Avenue and the University Bookstore) and behemoth (the public-works epic Building Washington, 1998, with his wife, Genny McCoy, and Washington Then and Now, 2007, with Jean). He also produced a panoramic, two-hour video tour of 90 years of city history (“Seattle Chronicle,” 1992) and a one-hour KCTS-9 documentary on the first 30 years of the Bumbershoot Festival (“Bumberchronicles,” 2001, with Catherine Wadley and Jean).

Paul with his Building Washington collaborator, Genny McCoy, in 2011 on their porch in the Wallingford neighborhood.

At the core of Paul’s persona, however, is “Seattle Now and Then.” The “best of” volume that you hold in your hands is a culmination — a subjective selection and updating of the most compelling and essential of the 1,800 columns. By definition, it celebrates Paul’s lifetime contribution to inspiring all of us to both enjoy and champion the history of our city.

The occasion of this anthology is also personally momentous. It salutes a prolific track record that has required of Paul considerable initiative and fortitude.

Yet today, well into his 80th year, he doesn’t see it all as profound. He describes himself as merely “a sentimental guy” who long ago stumbled upon a vehicle to provide the “simple pleasure” of allowing people to imagine a visit to the past.

“It’s like hide and seek,” he says. “That’s a really deep motive in all of us, to figure out how things are hidden, where things have changed, what things are revealed.”

Next to Pioneer Square’s Pergola in May 2018, Paul ponders downtown Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. (Photo: Clay Eals)

Of course, Paul is grateful for the popularity of “Seattle Now and Then” and the many doors it has opened for him. He also comprehends and revels in the societally therapeutic virtues of comparative history. How could he not?

“History is delightful,” he says. “It’s understanding. It’s actually the truth if you do it right, and the truth is progressive. It always is.” To that end, he cautions that elevating an old scene does not always make it more treasured than its more recent counterpart: “I don’t mind some things being knocked down.”

But lifting up the city’s heritage, Paul allows, is inherently altruistic. It also feeds his “pretty radical” personal politics, which he knows he can’t tout every week to a mainstream readership. “To some extent, I toe the line,” he says. “I don’t express what I really feel about the usury and avarice and stinginess of the 1 percent.”

Paul keeps other avocations in his sights, including his younger pursuits of painting and film editing. A hope he holds dear is to complete a mammoth online biography of the beloved Seattle folksinger, restaurateur and self-promoter Ivar Haglund.

His most substantial aim, however, is to secure the professional storage and cataloging of his enormous archive, so that citizens one day will be able to access everything in it, including all of the “Seattle Now and Then” columns, free of charge.

Underlying this archival quest is Paul’s yearning to inspire others throughout the region to likewise share their own local photos, films and ephemera — his version of vox populi (the voice of the people).

Through it all, “Seattle Now and Then” abides. Though Paul laments his flagging energy (“It doesn’t cook as quickly — my cuisine is always resting on simmer”), he has no plan to pull back from his weekly dispatch.

That’s fortunate for all of us navigating the seemingly relentless change of the city’s latest boomtown ethos, a time when each “now” threatens to become a “then.” We need Paul “now” for as long as humanly possible.

“I love Seattle,” he says. “It’s the multifarious topography, it’s all my friends I’ve made over the decades, it’s my knowledge of it — they’re the kinds of reasons we do all these things. This is my home.”

What better guide could we have to discover, and rediscover, Seattle’s “sense of itself”?

West Seattle journalist and author Clay Eals has been active with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society in West Seattle since its founding in the mid-1980s, when he was fortunate to begin his own collaborations and friendship with Paul Dorpat.

Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: Does this make him an Oral Historian?

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking east across Front Street (renamed First Avenue) at its northeast corner with Cherry Street, most likely in the early 1880s. (Courtesy: Wayne Pazina)
NOW: Standing beside the First Avenue façade of the Scheuereman Building, Laurie Mycon Pazina and Wayne Pazina repeat the ca. 1884 pose of hardware store owners Frederick Wald and James Campbell.

Standing side-by-side in the “now” for Jean Sherrard’s Nikon “repeater” are Laurie and Wayne Pazina, a couple that has been married and working together for nearly forty years. Laurie and Wayne met on a blind date arranged and given vision by a friend with good judgment. Wayne Pazina is a graduate of the UW’s School of Dentistry, the class of 1977.  The couple renders its dentistry in a North Seattle clinic.

As anyone who has needed a dentist will know or suspect the DDS profession is fraught with stress. Understandably dentists may be affected by the trembling nerves in the chair beside them. But Docter Pazina has developed a unique assuaging way that helps him settle himself while also soothing the patients’ anxious hand-wringing ways.  He tells them stories.  Not always, of course, but when it seems called for. By now some of his returning patients make requests.

The frequent subject in the Doctor’s repertoire is Northwest history, the early part of it that runs from 1853 the year that Washington Territory was founded to the declaration of Washington’s statehood in 1889.  An avid reader of northwest history, Dr. Pazina also pulls many of his narratives from the territorial ephemera that he collects: the newspapers, correspondences, photographs and art.  With the art, for instance, he has a collection of paintings by Mark Richard Meyers, a Californian whose skilled paintings of Puget Sound pioneer schooners and maritime events are collected world-wide.  Meyers long ago moved to England to help build a replica of Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde and stayed.  He married a consulting historian’s daughter and became president of the Royal Society of Marine Artists.  Appropriately, Prince Philip has one of Meyers paintings while our dentist from King County has several.  That in brief is one of Pazina’s shared stories.

This week’s territorial “then” is another.  It was scanned by Ron Edge from the collection that Dr. Pazina has been assembling  – and narrating – nearly as long as he has been tending to teeth.  He explains that Seattle’s first hardware store had several owners before it was razed in the city’s Great Fire of 1889. Most likely this vested pair posing alt the front door were owners, but which ones?  Pazina found his answer signed on the board propped on the sidewalk to the right of the front door.  With magnification the

Sitting on the boardwalk, a revealing detail.

observant doctor discovered that the hardware store’s initials, “W & C” for the owners Wald and Campbell, were written there.  Pazina concluded that the photo was most likely taken between 1880 and 1886, the years that Frederick Wald and James Campbell owned and ran the store together.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, blokes?   The blokes, neither of whom either smokes or uses snuff,  did poke about their stuff and found some things that are old and not sold and yet could have a price.

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: 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:In late 1855 the citizens of Seattle with help from the crew of the Navy sloop-of-war Decatur built a blockhouse on the knoll that was then still at the waterfront foot of Cherry Street. The sloop’s physician John Y. Taylor drew this earliest rendering of the log construction. (Courtesy, Yale University, Beinecke Library)
THEN:In late 1855 the citizens of Seattle with help from the crew of the Navy sloop-of-war Decatur built a blockhouse on the knoll that was then still at the waterfront foot of Cherry Street. The sloop’s physician John Y. Taylor drew this earliest rendering of the log construction. (Courtesy, Yale University, Beinecke Library)

THEN: For the first twenty years of his more than 40 years selling tinware and other selected hardware, Zilba Mile's shop looked south across Yesler Way down First Ave. S, then known as Commercial 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: The Terry-Denny Building, better known in its earlier years as Hotel Northern, was part of the grand new Pioneer Place (or Square) neighborhood built up in the early 1890s after the old one was reduced to ashes by Seattle's Great Fire of 1889.

THEN: With the clue of the ornate Pergola on the right, we may readily figure that we are in Pioneer Square looking south across Yesler Way.

THEN: A winter of 1918 inspection of some captured scales on Terrace Street. The view looks east from near 4th Avenue. (Courtesy City Municipal Archives)

THEN: Local candy-maker A.W. Piper was celebrated here for his crème cakes and wedding cakes and also his cartoons. This sketch is of the 1882 lynching from the Maple trees beside Henry and Sara Yesler’s home on James Street. Piper’s bakery was nearby (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: During the few years of the Klondike Gold Rush, the streets of Seattle’s business district were crowded with outfitters selling well-packed foods and gear to thousands of traveling men heading north to strike it rich – they imagined. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: In Lawton Gowey’s 1961 pairing, the Smith Tower (1914) was the tallest building in Seattle, and the Pioneer Square landmark Seattle Hotel (1890) had lost most of its top floor. (by Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Adding a sixth floor to its first five in 1903, the Hotel Butler entered a thirty-year run as “the place” for dancing in the Rose Room, dining at the Butler Grill, and celebrity-mixing in the lobby. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

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A FEW OTHER HARDWARES

Early Seattle Hardware at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street.
Show window for Seattle Hardware in the Colman Building at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Marion Street, with the post-fire landmarks at the facing corners reflecting in the plate glass window.  (Can you identify the reflections.  None are yet standing.)

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Woodlawn Hardware in East Green Lake.

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Here is hardware man Campbell’s home at the southeast corner of James Street and Boren Avenue. The photograph was given to me in the early 1980s by Carrie Campbell Coe the girl sitting on the far right and, perhaps, recoiling from the family dog Lee Hung Chang. I visited with Lucy several times in her Washington Park home in the early 1980s. Below is a photo of this couple sitting for tea in her home.