Category Archives: Fair and Festival

Seattle’s 2018 Folklife Festival

Still quite glorious in its diversity and wide appeal, Folklife is surely one of the planet’s great festivals. As Baby Gramps reflected on Sunday evening, in the Newport Folk Festivals heyday, it drew a respectable crowd of 50,000 –Folklife brings out five times that many. A few snaps from my all-too brief visit yesterday evening and this afternoon.

(as always, click to enlarge photos)

The view from atop the Fisher Green Pavilion
The Saints Come Marchin’ In…
A sure sign of summer in Seattle – Fountain follies….

Baby Gramps, waiting for a sound check….

Near Broad Street, a gathering of the tribes…

The Mad Robins a cappella contradance chorus. From left: Michael Karcher (caller); Amy Hanson Wimmer, Abigail Hobart, Diana Herbst, Anita Anderson, Isaac Sarek Banner, David Kessler, Melissa Coffey, and Brandon Ananias Martin-Anderson
Capoeira on display…
A southern view up the Center’s dappled walkway
A brass band plays next to a sign reading, “No Loud Busking here”
Last night’s full moon…

Fair and Festival – No. 23: Return to the Eaton Apartments

For this “Fair and Festival” installment we repeat a Pacific feature we printed earlier in  , but now additions to help you, dear reader, find the spot more easily with aerial photographs and other points of view.   The Eaton Apartments were set at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Thomas Street and so kitty-korner from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, once it lost its parish on 6th and Bell in 1928 to the last of the Denny Regrades.  The long sky-lighted pavilion built there for Century -21 was named, for the fair, the Domestic Commerce and Industry Building (aka Hall of Industry.)   It faced the Plaza of States (aka Flag Plaza).  After the fair the building got a new and sensible name: The Flag Plaza Pavilion.  It was home in 1978 for King Tut’s first lucrative visit to Seattle.  The Eaton Apartments covered about one-third of the Flag Plaza footprint – the most westerly third.  We will point it out again below in a 1928 aerial photograph and also in Frank Shaw’s colored slide of the apartment’s back or north facade during its last months before being razed for the fair.

Above: Looking kitty-corner across Thomas Street and Second Ave. North to the Eaton Apartments, ca. 1940.  It is a rare recordings of Seattle Center acres before their make-over for the 1962 Century 21.  Below: Jean Sherrard visited the intersection during the recent playing of the Folklife festival 2012, and “captured” folk-jazz artist Erik Apoe, with his guitar, leaving the festival after his performance.  Bottom: During the 2012 Bumbershoot Jean returned to the corner which included then – for the duration of Bumbershoot – one of the escape gates from the ticketed festival.  With his press credentials hanging from this next (although this year they were merely stuck to his shirt) Jean could easily come and go.


(First appeared in Pacific, Aug. 8, 2010)

I know nothing about the provenance of this photograph, except that it showed up as a thoughtful anonymous gift on my front porch among a small bundle of negatives.  Still with the help of a tax card, a few city directories, and a scattering of other sources we can make some notes.

With his or her back to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, an unknown photographer looked northeast through the intersection of Second Avenue North and Thomas Street.  The Eaton Apartment House across the way was built in 1909 – in time perhaps for the city’s first world’s fair.  It held 19 of everything: tubs, sinks, basins, through its 52 plastered rooms.  In the 1938 tax assessment it is described as in “fair condition” with a “future life” of about 13 years.  In fact, it held the corner for a full half century until it was leveled to build Seattle’s second worlds fair.

The Eaton and its nearby neighbor, the Warren Avenue School, were two of the larger structures razed for Century 21.  However, the neighborhood’s biggest – the Civic Auditorium, Ice Arena, and the 146th Field Artillery Armory – were given makeovers and saved for the fair.  Built in 1939, the old Armory shows on the far right.  Although not so easy to find it is also in the “now” having served in its 71 years first as the Armory, then the ’62 fair’s Food Circus, and long since the Center House.

This is part of David and Louisa Denny’s pioneer land claim, which Salish history explains served for centuries as a favorite place to snag low-flying ducks and hold potlatches.  The oldest user of the Eaton Apt site was even more ancient.  The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) brought King Tut, or at least parts of his tomb, to the Flag Pavilion in 1978.  It was about then that Andy Warhol also showed up to party with SAM in the old pavilion, which in 2002 was replaced and greatly improved with the Fisher Pavilion.

Readers who have old photographs of this neighborhood from before the 1962 fair (they are rare) or of the fair itself might like to share them with historylink.  That non-profit encyclopedia of regional history is preparing a book on the fair, one that will resemble, we expect, its impressive publication on the recent Alaska Yukon Pacific Centennial.  As with the AYP book, the now hard-at-work authors are Paula Becker and Alan Stein.  You can reach them by phone at 206-447-8140 or on line at

This Pierson Photo looks northeast over the future fair grounds late in July, 1928. It was printed with caption in the Seattle Times on the 29th of July, with the header for the caption reading "Look, Seattle, at Your Own Civic Center From Air!" The aerial is, obviously, filled with attractions. Our Eaton Apartments site at the northeast corner of Second Ave. and Thomas Street, is easily found centered at the bottom of the aerial. One block north of Thomas is Harrison street, and where it meets Second Ave is the spot where the Coliseum's (aka Keyarena) western anchor or primary strut or beam (or what?) is anchored. Below we will visit the corner, again before the '62 fair.
Here thirty-two years later is another aerial that was printed in The Seattle Times on July 13, 1960 - or near it - and photographed by Times photographer Paul Thomas. This one also looks northwest towards Lake Union, and shows the clearing the center well underway for C-21. The Times has helpfully attached identifying numbers, which we will now list. (1) Cleared of the Warren Avenue School and being prepared for the "state-financed Century 21 Coliseum." (2) Civic Auditorium from 1928; (3) Ice Arena (1928); (4) High School Memorial Stadium (ca. 1948); (5) National Guard Armory (soon to be renamed the Food Circus); (6) Nile Temple (kept for the fair and used then as the exclusive Club 21 where VIP's could relax and refresh while escaping the populace horde.) (7) Part of the future site of what the paper names "the five-unit federal Hall of Science" and we know as the Pacific Science Center. Just below and right of the circles "No.5" is the corner of the here razed Eaton Apartments.
Frank Shaw's pre-fair coverage of the neighborhood shows here the back side of the Eaton - its north facade. The view looks south and a little east from the north line of Harrison Street, a few feet west of Second Ave. Shaw's photo was, of course, photographed sometime before Thomas 1960 aerial above it. Since 1961 standing here and taking the same aim as Shaw would show that west support for the Keyarena. (Which is more likely the Key Arena.) The next view - one from the Space Needle - in 1962 - marks the spot with a red arrow.
The red arrow marks the spot - or near it - where Frank Shaw shot the photo that is placed above this one.
That western beam, strut, support, noted here. Photographers have climbed it for the prospect of astronaut John Glenn during his morning visit to the fair. The view looks west somewhat in line with Harrison Avenue, which would put out-of-frame the International Fountain on the right and the Plaza of States (with the state flags) on the left. This is another Times shot - one by their long-time photographer Vic Condiotty. I met Vic in 1982, my first year contributing the weekly "now-and-then" to the paper.

We will wrap No. 23 with another Frank Shaw photo.  This one, we figure, looks north and a little east from what would become the Pacific Science Center.  The Catholics, at the southeast corner of Second and Thomas, are here right-of-center, which is also often the position of its clerics if not always the parishioners.  Far-right, is the yellow strut, beam, girder, stanchion, transverse on the east quadrant of the Coliseum and here  under construction. It appears above where the Eaton Apartments would be standing – if they still were.   Queen Anne Hill is on the horizon.


Fair and Festival – No. 22: Looking West past the Space Needle's West Foot

To help orient what follows, bottom left, two "fairliners" (the name escapes me) avoid collision as the intersection of Thomas Street and Nob Hill Avenue. We life the view from a popular chapbook published at Fair time. It is filled with Worlds Fair subjects and titled "Worlds Fair Pictorial Panorama" (page 21). This looks east and a little south from the roof of the Food Circus (Center House) to the west leg of the Space Needle. It was from a few feet east of the foot of that leg that the fair and festivals repeating subjects published next were recorded. The Bell Telephone building, seen in part at the bottom-right corner, and the "General Electric Living Exhibit", at the center below, and the "Hydro-Electric Utilities Exhibit," standing like a starched collar on the far right, all make limited appearances in the Fair photo printed next.

(Click to Enlarge)

Sighting west from the foot of the Space Needle nearly three blocks to the tower for the Sacred Heart of Jesus sanctuary at the southwestern and off-campus corner of Thomas Street and Second Avenue. (The church tower is somewhat hidden behind the tree.) To the left of that distant tower sits a portion of the flamboyant roofline of the Christian Witness Pavilion (which we visited yesterday), the rear of Paul Horiuchi's Seattle Mural, at its northern end, and, far left, part of the nearby Hydro-electric Utilities Exhibit. Just left of the Space Needle's foot is part of the General Electric Living Exhibit, and to its left the south facade of the Bell Telephone Systems Exhibit, which resembles an oversize chassis or chamber for a self-inking rubber stamp. Also note the sign post pointing the way to several fair destinations.
In Jean's Bumbershoot repeat the Center House (Food Circus) is no longer hidden behind Bell Telephones sprawling "systems exhibit." Note how the Space Needle with its remodel - by now a few years back - covered its ankles then with a skirt, above.

Fair and Festival – No. 21: The Official Information Center

The next attraction south of yesterday’s Christian Witness, the Safeco (or General Insurance) sponsored Official Information Center, was also squirreled into the southwest corner of the future Seattle Center.  Jean needed only a short walk south on Second Avenue from the Christians to reach the former site of the  open-aired booth with a roof spread low like a turkey’s wings protecting her chicks.  It was another eccentric Century-21 roof, in this instance suggesting a Japanese temple.  The open inside was staffed with a few female fair polymaths who could – it was expected – answer every questions asked.  The place was torn down in 1981 after nearly 20 post-fair years of service as a picnic shelter.  Behind it (to the west) behaving like an eccentric tent or a very large box kite was set the Seattle-First International Bank “building.”  Design by  the fair’s lead architect, Paul Thiry, the bank’s box was destroyed following the fair.

The site is now home for part of the Children’s Garden.   Jean Sherrard’s two examples, below, of youthful vigor resting their feet after a day of hide-and-seek are Ron Edge and myself.

An early spring snow on March 3, brought out a Seattle Times photographer to record the chilled fair grounds about six weeks before the fair opened.
This "aerial" from the Space Needle reminds us of the bright Salmon-pink coloring of the large Information booth. To the right of Safco is plopped the potato-pocket shape of the Nalley's Space Age Theatre. The Pacific Science Center is on the left, and much of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the upper-right corner.

Fair and Festival – No. 20: Christian Witness Pavilion

In their golden celebration of Century 21 titled “The Future Remembered,” authors Paula Becker and Alan Stein give a touchstone history of the Christian Witness Pavilion (not to be confused with either the Christian Science Pavilion or the nearby Sermons From Science Pavilion.)   “Two-thirds of the Christian Witness Pavilion was devoted to a children’s center, where children aged 3 to 7 got childcare mixed with evangelism.  A 40-foot stained glass window [see here one the right] in the building’s facade was a major focal point, as was a 16-foot mosaic of 60,000 wooden blocks designed by Stanley Koth.  [After the fair, Gethsemane Luther Church restored the blocks in their sanctuary’s narthex, while a Catholic church in St. Paul purchased the stain glass window.]  The adult portion of the exhibit consisted of a small theater where visitors experienced a 10-minute sacred sound and light exhibition that employed a rocket launch countdown as metaphor for the journey through life.”  By resembling, somewhat, one of the early satellites, the four-armed cross that topped the structure picked-up on the rocket metaphor.  We learn as well from historylinkers Paula and Alan that 19 Protestant denominations and 14 Christian-centered agencies paid for this pavilion.  The pavilion site is now part of the Center’s Children’s Garden but without the evangelism.

Looking south from the helipad on top of the Food Circus and over the shoulder, bottom-left, of the Bell Telephone Pavilion, to the Pacific Science Center and the Christian Witness Pavilion on the right.
A Seattle Times photographer looks through the same block as the above subject taken from the roof of the Food Circus, but here from the "front steps" to the Pacific Science Center and looking north on Second Ave, not south. The by now familiar roof-lines of the Christian Witness Pavilion are on the left. This scene - and many others - were photographed by the newspaper for its April 21 "first day" coverage of the fair.

Perhaps the serendipitous promotion for the Christian Witness Pavilion was its best public relations.  It’s hardwood substitute or variation on the Protestants favorite portrait of Jesus Christ, the one by the artist Solomon, arrived more than two months late.  (Every Sunday-Schooler should remember it.)

The Solomon sub was lost twice by airlines but when it at last arrived in July it was met with rejoicing and press coverage at least in The Times.


Fair and Festival – No. 17: Paul Horiuchi's Mural

By now one of Seattle’s most cherished landmarks, the Seattle Mural is Paul Horiuchi’s daring glass tile departure from the exquisite collages he constructed from soft and translucent materials like rice paper.  While it is now called simply “The Seattle Mural” I imagine it as the Buddhist’s “well-packed region” that is everything – eventually.   Follow any line through the mural and eventually – or ultimately – you will end up where you began, and then keep going.  Have you sat in the grass for a concert there and wound up wondering through the mural?


During Bumbershoot 2012 the Seattle Mural was mostly covered by adverts, stage decorations, and large built out video screens like the one showing here at the center. Jean's view repeats Frank Shaw's detail below from the fair.
These puff-ball erections that were part of the fair's appointments seem makeshift - or make-do - by now. Part of the Bell Telephone Pavilion shows on the left. It sprawled between the Food Circus (the Center House) and the Seattle Mural, and was one of the fair's clumsier designs. We will see a larger depiction of it later in this fair-festival project and elaborate there.
Shaw's 1962 puffs two-up remind me of artist-friend Fred Bauer's capture of this small pruned tree, which holds its own against the ivy that once climbed the exterior wall of one of the structures that the Seattle Center inherited from Century 21. I remember it but by now can now longer claim with confidence, which it was. However, I'll venture this: it may have been the east facade of the Flag Plaza Pavilion directly across Third Ave. (or Boulevard East) from the southwest entrance to the Food Circus. Who knows?
Catching Jean Capturing a Glimpse of Horiuchi


Fair and Festival – No. 16: Fountain of Creation

[Click the PIXS TWICE to ENLARGE Them]

For No. 16 we have move from No. 15 south across Republican Street through a portal between two fair buildings that have survived as parts of the Northwest Rooms of Seattle Center, which were once-upon-a-time home for much of Bumbershoot’s now largely lost Literary Arts program – both the readings and the book fair.  For some of us this was the most evocative corner of Bumbershoot.   While there is some literary art in rock it is not so varied or sustained as it was with Bumbershoot’s Literary Arts part or program.

Opened in 1903 and razed for Century 21, the Warren Avenue School crowded the southeast corner of Republican Street and Warren Ave. This put part of its north end, here on the left, in the Northwest room that was home during Century 21 to the Canadians, and during many Bumbershoots, to the festival's Literary Arts.
While the streets are not named in this detail lifted from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, it is easy to identify them. Left-of-center in the green block there is the named Warren Ave School, still crowding both Republican Street, above it, and Warren Avenue, to the left of it. The school's footprint held where now, to repeat, are parts of the Northwest Rooms, the Fountain of Creation, and the Coliseum. This detail also shows the by now familiar Sara Yesler Home, aka Wayside Hospital, aka apartment house, at the northwest corner of Republican and Second Avenue, now home of the Rep. The undeveloped block here at the center, a playfield for the school, is now awash with the International Fountain. Mercer Avenue is at the top; Queen Anne Ave, far left; 4th Ave. far right.
The section of interest, Section No. 2, is ponderously named the World of Century 21. It concentrates on the Coliseum, and can be compared to the Baist map above. The look down on it all from the Space Needle in 1962 that follows may also be compared to the Baist Map and this Ron Edge sandwich. The International Plaza, Seattle sculptor Everett DuPen's Fountain of Creation and just above or north of the fountain, Century 21's long rooms used as pavilions for, among others, the Canadians, Mexico, Denmark and Japan.
Looking northwest from the Space Needle during Century 21. The subjects of both yesterday's No. 15 and today's No. 16 can be readily found below.


During the fair looking east through the Fountain of Creation with the International Plaza’s pavilions on the left – future home for much Jazz and Literary Arts at Bumbershoot.
Jean’s “repeat” put him up against the wall.  He remarked “things have been moved.”
Catching a wading Jean getting his shot of the Fountain of Creation from the pool.
The Canadian mark can be read in this twilight look over Everett DuPen’s fountain during the fair.
After the fair as a sign that the Century 21 campus was being turned into a working Seattle Center, this sketch of the fountain and its surrounds appeared in the times. We reprint the caption.         FOUNTAIN: The World’s Fair Fountain near the Coliseum designed by Everett DuPen, Seattle sculptor, serves as the foreground for a newly remodeled exhibit-banquet hall occupying the former Canada Pavilion at the Seattle Center. The former Denmark Pavilion, right, will be inclosed and used as a permanent restaurant. (Seattle Times, March 9, 1964)




Fair and Festival – No. 15: The Northwest Corner / The International Mall

Ron Edge's now familar superimposition of Century 21 - its outline - and Seattle Center from space, ca. 2007.

(Click TWICE to Enlarge)

Named the “World of Commerce and Industry” and numbered “3,” the northwest corner of Century 21 was only a small sampler of the things it’s ambitious titles* claimed.  Included – and here we consult the numbers on the map – were, at least, the United Nations, the African Information Center, Thailand, Philippines, India, Korea, San Marino, Peru and the City of Berlin, all of it west of Boulevard West (2nd Ave.) and north of Freedom Way (Republican Street).  While the fair had its share of quasi-democracies – how could one have a worlds fair in 1962 without such fakers – there were, it seems, no Commies.  And yet, and as well, how in 1962 could one have a worlds fair without commies.  Now they would be welcomed investors.  Long since this northwest corner is pretty much filled with the Bagley Wright Theatre. [*The buildings that nearly framed No. 3 were wrapped around the International Mall.]

Titled by its unnamed provider - and perhaps by the anonymous photographer too - "view from Philippines Pavilion," the subject looks south thru the fair's International Mall to the open stage fit with seats to this northern side of the northwest terminus of the fair's Union 76 Skyride.
With his back watching out at Mercer Street and with Second Avenue out of frame to the left, Jean's repeat looks along the eastern front of the Bagley Wright Theatre, home for Seattle's Rep. If memory serves me, this was the last "repeat" shot during our three Bumberdays.



Fair and Festival – No. 13: La Balcone

Except for the temporary money gate at Bumbershoot, which with our press passes we had not need to either climb over or bust through, this repeat was pretty easy to figure.  Jean and I both took repeats of the sunny Century 21 record of the southeast corner of the Food Circus.  Jean in the full light, I in the twilight.  His, I think, is the more accurate.  In ’62 a stairway here then led up to something named La Balcone.  Once inside, perhaps the stairs continued to the wrapping balcony that nearly circles the big hall.  It may have been French food – perhaps Freedom Fries, named for liberty, equality and fraternity.

First CLICK TWICE to Enlarge. Then seek the southeast corner of the Big No. 11 or the little No. 36.


Fair and Festival – No.12: The Ford Pavilion

(Click TWICE to Enlarge)

More than their latest models the Ford company’s Century-21 pavilion was about space, influenced by Sputnik and Buckminster Fuller – a geodesic cap or crown for thinking about space.  On its “An Adventure in Outer Space” one flew through the close universe of planets and satellites.  I did not visit it, but imagine that it was by today’s simulated trips a passive journey – like TV more than Disneyland.  (Neither have I “visited” video games.)  Even on Ford’s budget such a trip would be hard to create convincingly in 1962.  But with a willing suspension of one’s critical faculties who needs to be convinced?  Well, you and I do.  This reminds me of the Great Fire of 1666 kinetic diorama at the Museum of London History, which Jean and I visited with a trot in 2005.  For a recreation of the fire that flatted much of London one stood in a darkened closet and really suspended one’s disbelief while watching a jerky version of the fire grow through a window, as if seeing it across the Thames.

The Ford Pavilion was at the south end of Nob Hill beyond John and nearly up against Denny Way.  Jean’s “now” is adjusted by a few feet to the east in order to include sculptor Alexander Liberman’s assemblage of industrial cylinders, some 40 feet long and sixty-four inches in diameter.

(Click TWICE to Enlarge)

Look for No. 69 on Boulevard 21. Or find the southeast corner of the Food Circus, aka Center House, and look south towards Broad Street.