Category Archives: Seattle Now and Then

Seattle Now & Then: The Ice Arena

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THEN: The Mercer Arts Arena’s last hurrah was the exposure of the building’s four original front door Gargoyles. Two were saved and removed. (Courtesy: Museum of History and Industry, and its Post-Intelligencer Collection)
NOW: With its new building on the Ice Arena’s old site, the Seattle Opera will have room for offices, storage, scene assembly, practice and whatever else beckons.
This would probably be from the 1950s with considerable confidence if I had retained the “expert” status I had in high school on the names and years for all American-made autos. Surely some smart reader who has not let this aptitude slip will be able to name the year here from such a crowd of cars.

Jean Sherrard’s and my plans to photographically repeat the inside of Seattle Center’s Mercer Arts Arena (originally the Ice Arena) were interrupted by the recent decision to tear it down.  The arena would seat about 5000 – when not flooded for skating.  It was dedicated in 1928, and so by antiquarian standards did not qualify as “antique.”   And yet in its mere 89 years, the Arena did manage to live within two skins.

This 1927 aerial shows the Civic Auditorium and Arena completed (more or less) and the Civic Field a work-in-early-progress. (Courtesy Ron Edge)  CLICK CLICK to ENLARGE

The birthday suit of concrete dated from 1927 and showed some “Minimal Romanesque” ornaments like arched windows, decorative trim, and four gargoyles that faced Mercer Street above the Arena’s entrance.  These adornments were subdued with Century 21’s architect Paul Thiry’s 1961-2 wrapping (also minimal) with bricks.  They were laid for a modern polish thought more fitting for the “forward thrusting” Fair.  The changes of course were not necessary for the Fair’s performers using the arena like Lawrence Welk, the Century 21 Horse Show, the Mormon Pageant, the Ringling Bros and Shrine Circuses, and the Ice Follies, to name a few.

David and Louisa Denny with their first two daughters.

The immigrant history for the future Seattle Center began in the 1850s with pioneers David & Louisa Denny. By the 1870s the young couple had nurtured a garden to feed their growing family and also much of Seattle.  Beginning in the late 1920s Seattle’s Civic Center grew atop this garden. Its three largest structures, a sports field with covered bleachers, the Arena and the Auditorium – all of them labeled as civic – were bunched south of Mercer Street in what were formerly the Denny’s garden acres.

The Ice Arena on the right, the Civic Auditorium at the center, and Civic Field mostly hidden in the athletic pit beyond the wall on the north side of Harrison Street. (Note the man on the far right who appears to be looking at the lack of action on the field through a hole in the wall. Fourth Avenue is in the foreground.  The PACIFIC published text for the above photo (the clip) is included below, just above Jean’s question “Anything to ad lads?”   We put it there in anticipation of his question.  (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)

The Center’s larger parts had all been nurtured from a modest grant bequeathed in the early 1880s when the Denny’s were still tending their gardens.  The gift to the city was made by a gregarious bar owner named James Osborne. Over nearly a half-century this spirits’-borne endowment gathered a cash pile high enough to raise what the public house owner had wished for, a public hall owned by the public.  The bonus legacy of the Arena was fitted with a floor for the center’s many “Ice Events.” These included amateur and professional hockey, gala ice shows, and extended hours of public skating like that recorded in this week’s featured photograph. Of course, there were skates to rent, instruction to be had, and organ music to accompany nearly a half-year of public gliding.   At the start the floor was frozen five months a year.

The Arena offered skates for rental and expert help for the fitting. Courtesy The Times

The recent razing of the Arena did not raise much commotion.  In his KIRO radio commentary, Feliks Banel, the station’s zestful historian, quote’s Seattle historian David Rash characterization of the Arena as something of an “orphan.”  Rash points out what many others have sensed since Century 21, that the mix of the Arena’s uses – for the most part pop concerts and for the Seattle Opera convenient practice space – with storage – the Arena has had “no built-in constituency of regular users or devoted fans to speak up for it.”  Banel notes, “It’s been offline for so many years.”

The Seattle Times caption for this reads, “Civic Arena, Skating for Charity – Verna Miles, left, of the Connaught Club, Vancouver, B.C., and Gloria Patrick, daughter of Frank Patrick, president of Pacific Coast Hockey League, in a skating number at the ice carnival given at Civic Arena last night for benefit of Children’s Orthopedic Hospital.


Let me provide a close-up detail from the ‘Now’ photo – above the arm of the yellow tractor, a last glimpse of the original seating:

Last view of the last arena seats

Anything to add, lads?  Coitenly and silly too, Jean.

First published in The Times on November 14, 1993.

THEN: Looking west from the southwest corner of 6th Ave. N. and Mercer St. to the trolley barn and yards for the (renamed in 1919) Seattle Municipal Railway in 1936. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: This portrait of the Seattle Gas Company’s storage tank dates from the spring of 1907, which explains its somewhat steeper topography. Between 1908 and 1911, both Republican Street, here on the right, and 9th Avenue N. were lowered to a grade close to that of Westlake Avenue, which is behind the photographer.

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: We imagine that the photographer A.J. McDonald waited for one of his subjects, the cable car to Queen Anne Hill, to reach the intersection of Second Ave. N. and Aloha Street below him before snapping this panorama in the mid-1890s.

THEN: For his May Day, 1901 portrait of the Seattle City Council, the photographer, Anders Wilse, planted them, like additions to the landscape, on the lawn somewhere in the upper part of Kinnear Park. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

THEN: James P. Lee, Seattle’s busy public works photographer of the early 20th century, recorded this 1922 look north from near the west end of Denny Way on the bluff above the then-forming Elliott Way. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)



THEN: Pier 70 when it was still Pier 14, ca. 1901, brand new but not yet "polished." Courtesy, Lawton Gowey


THEN: Photographed in the late 1950s, the floating restaurant’s huge on deck hooligan got no competition as yet from the Space Needle (1962) in breaking the horizon.

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.

THEN: In 1913, or near to it, an unnamed photographer recorded this view southeast across the Lower Queen Anne corner of Denny Way and First Avenue North. Out of frame to the left, the northeast corner of this intersection was home then for the Burdett greenhouse and gardens. By its own claim, it offered plants of all sorts, “the largest and most complete stock to choose from in the state.” Courtesy, the Museum of North Idaho.

THEN: Like violence in a classic Greek play, the carnage suggested by this 1934 crash scene on the then new Aurora speedway was kept off stage, either behind the city’s official photographer, or in the county morgue. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive.)



When Ivar Haglund closed his aquarium on Pier 54 in 1956 he consoled those who wish it were not so with the reminder that one could always visit the Port of Seattle’s Frozen Fish Museum on the Port’s Spokane Street wharf.


Ice skating on what remained of the captive pools on the tideflats.


New skating rink for the Coliseum – minus the ice.


Bitter Lake skating, January 15, 1930.


Green Lake skating in 1903. South end with Woodland Park on the far shore.


Masthead for Diamond Ice and storage at the waterfront foot of Union Street.


Hopefully some of you will remember “Our Daily Sykes” the daily series of picturesque west coast Kodachromes snapped by Horace Sykes, a fire insurance claims adjuster and lecturer on fire safety. This subject, which he titled “Ice left after Columbia Cold Storage Fire, April 5, 1944.” is a rare instance of a work-related subject to be found among the thousands of mostly picturesque slides he left of the American West. You might, we hope, wish to find Sykes here again or for the first time. The daily series ran for 499 days. We stopped there so that we could later fulfill our promise for 500.


On the church towers clue, far right, this ice house was once somewhere in the Rainier Valley.


Union Ice Wagons (which, we suspect, means run exclusively by union teamsters, lined-up on Pike Street’s 200 block early in the 20th-Century. The numbers at the bottom may key to the drivers names, which, we assume (without seeing them) are written on the back of the original stiff-card professional photograph.   


While Puget Sound and much of the Pacific Northwest prepared for its Big Snow of 1916, these visitors to Juneau aboard the steamer North Western, were already ice-wrapped in Alaska. The date, January 25, 1916, is captioned on the face of the “real photo” postcard.


Another Frank Shaw 2&1/4 slide, this of the Pacific Science Center when it was ice-arrayed sometime in the 1960s.


Back in Wallingford. Ice at QFC aka the old Food Giant.   Ice Doors Open and . . .




Lighting ICE in my American Meter Machine studio in the late 1970s. It was a COOP with about a dozen artists with spaces on the top floor – at the southwest corner of Lake Union, across Westlake from the seaplanes.  CLICK TO ENLARGE


Seattle Now & Then: Pier 56

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THEN: The Japanese barque, Nippon Maru, visited Seattle during the summer of 1965. Here it shares the slip on the south side of Pier 56 with vessels of the Seattle Harbor Tours. (Photo by Lawton Gowey)
NOW: The waterway between Piers 55 and 56 has been elaborately arranged to accommodate the growing fleet of Argosy Cruises (meaning “fleets of ships”), Harbor Tours’ name since 1994.

Intermittently, Kodachrome slides by Lawton Gowey may be expected with this weekly feature.  Lawton was a good friend with whom I often compared and shared photographs.  He began his clicking with his father before the second World War and continued exploring Seattle with his camera until his death in the mid-1980s.  Lawton was both a creator and a collector, and Jean’s and my illustrated lectures – what we used to call “slide shows” – are elaborately enriched due to Lawton’s many interests, including this one of Seattle’s waterfront and its diverse navy.

ABOVE AND BELOW: Lawton Gowey’s enterprising records of an earlier visit of the Nippon Maru to Elliott Bay.  In the top photo the sky seems to have sorted itself, a cloud for every sail. This and the front-lit exposure of the Nippon Maru that follows, Lawton dates June 20, 1962. Note the colors of the infant Space Needle to the right in the expansive portrait of the bark above.

Lawton Gowey has captioned this “bark Nippon Maru forward deck, June 28, 1965.” So the bark is about to leave the port.
A clipping from The Times for June 22, 1965.
The Times clipping showing directly above of this Alaskan Way subject makes note of four Nippon-Maru visits to Seattle, but dates only the Worlds Fair visit of 1962 in addition to the featured portrait from 1965. Here, it seems at least, is one more of the four.  The top of the barque’s masts are seen reaching high above Pike Street Pier No.59 (now home for the Waterfront Aquarium), in 1957.

Lawton worked as an auditor for Seattle City Light, at the northwest corner of Third Avenue and Madison Street, about five blocks east up First Hill from this Elliott Bay slip between Piers 55 and 56 at the foot of Seneca Street. His office was an excellent prospect from which to keep an eye on the waterfront. It was Lawton’s helpful practice to consistently and clearly name and date his subjects on the borders of his slides; for the featured photo at the top the caption reads “The Nippon Maru, Pier 56, June 29, 1965.”  It was the last full day of the Japanese training barque’s visit to Puget Sound before it returned to Tokyo by way of Honolulu.  Capt. Isao Kieda, the ship’s master, thanked the 29,849 persons (by his count) who had boarded his ship during its stay.  “My young cadets have been deeply impressed by your good will and kindness.”

The welcome-spouting fireboat Duwamish, can be seen out in the Bay here above the bow of the Harbor Tourist, Lynn Campbell’s waterfront tour boat.  To of left the fireboat the Nippon Maru heads straight for Pier 56, the likely prospect for Lawton Gowey.   Lawton dates this Kodachrome, June 22, 1965.
A clip from The Times for June 30, 1965.
The Harbor Tourist navy has here added The first (I think) of the Lynn Cambell’s Goodtime boats. Note the Seattle Aquarium sign (with the neon whale) at the end of Pier 56, and at the side of the warehouse the then very popular import shop, Trident. Take some time to read here below Trident’s curious promotion of its exotic service to the kitsch consumer.
An intimate Greeting from Trident and October 9, 1962,

Parked to the reader’s side of the Nippon Maru in the featured photo at the top are two vessels belonging to Lynn Campbell’s Harbor Tours, long since renamed Argosy.  Campbell was stocked with zest, and long-lived.  Self-taught, he lectured his passengers on waterfront history or anything else that came up.  Following WWII, he started a tugboat business hauling logs across Puget Sound that soon developed into the popular showman’s affordable and interpreted floating tours, most of them around Elliott Bay and/or between it and Lake Washington. Campbell’s daughter Charlotte, a wharf rat, was often aboard.  She recalled that in the early 1950s, “This was a working waterfront.  Train cars backed into docks.  The bows of great ships loomed over our heads.” That soon changed.

The Seattle Times introduction of Campbell’s Harbor Tourist, from a 1953 clip, June the fourteenth.  [CLICK CLICK ot ENLARGE]
The bay-side end of Pier 56 showing the Marine Aquarium’s optimistic identification with the whale – any whale – before the 1965 capture of Namu.
An early look to Pier 56 access to the Marine Aquarium and the waterfront’s helicopter pad.

By 1965, the year of the Nippon Maru’s visit, Seattle’s waterfront was well into its metamorphosis from traditional maritime work into a midway of cafes like the Cove and import curio shops like Trident – both seen here on the south side of Pier 56. Ted Griffin’s Waterfront Aquarium had opened on the bay-end of Pier 56 for the 1962 Century 21 World’s Fair. The general scramble hereabouts to fill the entertainment holes left by the Fair when it closed in the fall of 1962, included the ambitious Griffin’s aquarium followed in 1965 by his Namu.  Griffin’s well-reported convoy pulled Namu, a net-caged killer whale captured in Alaska, down the inside passage to a new pen at the water end of Pier 56.  Griffin paid for the prized critter out of a gunnysack filled with $8,000 in loose change he had gathered from friends and businesses on the Seattle waterfront. Along the way, news of Namu spread rapidly (and professionally), and an excited flotilla of naturalists, reporters, and happy hour celebrities formed, with nothing more pressing on their schedules than to follow a killer whale to Seattle.

Namu tanked at the water end of Pier 56.
With Namu (and others) caged at the water end of Pier 56, the sidewalk beside Alaskan way became a promenade for protests, here against both the exploiting of whales and the indictment of the Seattle 7. (If you have forgotten the Seattle 7 you may wish to take it with you for keyword visit to Historylink, our state’s on-line encyclopedia of its history. Also the Washington State Press is on the verge of publishing a history of the Seattle 7. I read and loved a prep-copy of the book and learn much.  


Anything to add, guys?  Dearest Jean Randal Sherrard, and hoping I have got the spelling for you middle name correct.  Ron Edge, I, and our readers – I’m confident – wish  you a happy 60th Birthday – so Young!   And so fit.  Here we will insert a late photo of Elvis Presley that dates surely from before his death at the age of 42 in 1977.   We will also hang from (or below) Elvis a photo of you about seven  years ago (so around age 54) we’ve pulled from a promotional card for one of the many Rogue’s Christmases you have produced at Town Hall.  And let the reader know that you look even better now, having lost many pounds at the hands of no one or nothing but your own diet that includes some nearly magic low-cal jello. And now you exersize as well – exploring the city for …

The late Elvis
Jean ca. 2010

… pictures at an exuberant and often enough joyful pace as you repeat – and re-repeat – 100 locations for the “Seattle Now and Then, Best Of” book that we hope to have completed and delivered to its readers sometime this coming October.   And yet Dear Jean feel confident that should some other concern press upon you at school or somewhere else off the Cougar Mountain Campus of Hillside (dear reader, the school is described in a bug near the top)  we can always postpone for a season or even a year.  For now, though, we pause at the waterfront.  Stay happy , healthy and salty – enough.

Here’s the topper – another happy mass of Edge Clippings of apt and old features.

THEN: From boxcars and rooftops to the planks of Railroad Avenue, excitement builds for the ceremonial re-enactment of the S.S.Portland’s 1897 landing with its “ton of gold” on the Seattle waterfront, the city’s first Golden Potlatch Celebration. [Courtesy, Michael Maslan]

THEN: The S. S. Suveric makes a rare visit to Seattle in 1911. (Historical photo courtesy of Jim Westall)

THEN: About a year after he recorded this fashionable throng on Second Avenue celebrating the visit of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet in the spring of 1908, Frank Nowell became the official photographer for Seattle’s six-month-long Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exhibition in 1909.

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)




Seattle Now & Then: North End of Fremont Bridge

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NOW: An uncredited photographer looks north on Fremont Street from its original intersection with Ewing Street (N. Northlake Way).
NOW: Members of the Fremont Historical Society pose on the Fremont Bridge, prudently to the side of the busier northbound lane and also well ahead of the traffic advancing south from the 34th Street intersection behind them. Member Judie Clarridge, who helped arrange the “shoot,” stands on the far left side. She also advises that Valarie Bunn, far right, “does a good job about finding things” and was especially helpful in researching the featured photo. We should also note that Heather McAuliffe, the Society’s founder in 2004, is present and dressed in yellow and blue on the left. The Fremont Historical Society’s website is

In line and alert, members of the Fremont Historical Society stand for Jean Sherrard’s “repeat” on the southbound lanes of the Fremont Bascule Bridge. The FHS members have just adjourned from their April meeting (the second Saturday) in the nearby conference room of the Fremont Public Library.  The historians met in part to consider where to stand for the “repeat” of this week’s featured “then” and together study the inviting jumble of meanings included in the older photograph.  The leading goals are, of course, to discover or uncover the “where” and “when” of the photograph, which, judging from the shadows, was recorded around noon.  Although it came with no caption, the members easily knew, and in unison, that his was Fremont Avenue.  They were less secure regarding its uncertain elevation.  That will take more time.

Early during the members joint research someone noticed the sign exhibited, upper-left, in the second floor corner window of the clapboard business block.  It reads “Mabel Canney, Piano”.  Searches of city directories revealed that Mabel, and probably her piano, were located here in 1908 and 1909 but were then followed in 1910 by her younger sister Ella Mae.  This, of course, strongly suggests that the Canneys were a musical family, but also that this subject looking north on Fremont Avenue was photographed sometime when one, or both, of the sisters was in residence there.

Details of downtown Fremont in details from the 1908 and 1914 (left and right) real estate maps of Seattle. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)
The low Fremont Bridge looking north from the Queen Anne side in 1903
A “real photo postcard” by Oakes looks north from the south slope of Queen Anne Hill (on 4th Ave.) to the Fremont Bridge at its old “low” level. Compete the retail storefronts lower-right to those in the later and first “high bridge” print that follows.
An look across the temporary Fremont “high” Bridge on March 18, 1915. The attentive and/or clever eye will find here the top of the brick retaining wall that was built along the south side of 34th Street,  It can be found between the two poles and one mill smokestack on the right and the bright white puff of steam right-of-center.   There is also a larger and brighter part of the wall to be found on the left.  Also the keen reader might wish to compare the grade of the businesses right-of-center with those in the earlier “low” bridge photo placed above this one.    This is the “high” bridge repaired after the the center of its predecessor was swept away in 1914 when the dam at the Lake Union outlet broke, and lowered the lake by seven feet.  
The site of the broken dam seen from the temporary “high” Fremont Bridge in 1914. The pilings supporting the Stone Way bridge in the distance are awkwardly exposed by the sudden lowering of the lake.
The low Fremont Bridge seen from the pedestrian bridge that crossed the Lake Union outlet at its dam ca. 1908.
The Fremont dam and pedestrian bridge seen from the Fremont Low Bridge, probably in 1907. Note the distant standpipe, top-center, (near the subject’s center) of the Seattle Gas Company. It was brand new in 1907 and i\s now the site (of course) of Gas Works Park.
The Fremont Bridge, looking southeast  from the Fremont side in 1907.  A pile-driver stands at the center.
Looking southeast from the Fremont end of the “high” bridge repaired after the 1914 gush. The photo is dated March 3, 1915.
The 1903 reconstruction of the outlet dam.  Note that there is a yet no gas works on the Wallingford Peninsula. 
Dredging a Ross Creek Lake Union Outlet in 1903. Fremont’s lumber mill in on the left and Capitol Hill on the horizon.   On might play hide-and-seek with the mill’s landmark stack.  It can be easily found in several of the photographs above this one.  

With the help and confirmation of other photographs, plus city maps – especially the real estate maps of 1908 and 1912 (as seen for inspection eleven photographs above) – and directories, the deliberating FHS membership could eventually calm the uncanny feeling that something was a kilter here.  Through the years of building the Lake Washington Ship Canal, 1911-1917, there were big grade changes here.

A now-then feature looking north from the south side of Fremont Bridge in 1911. CLICK TO ENLARGE!!!
First appeared in Pacific on June 22, 2003

In the featured photograph at the top in this first block south of the intersection of Fremont Avenue and Ewing Street, now 34th Street, Fremont Avenue was cut off and dropped below a retaining wall.  In the process, both the mercantile building with the Canney piano on the left, and the mill warehouse on the far right, were settled to rest below the deck of the new but short-lived Fremont Bridge constructed in 1911-12.  That was not the bascule bridge, which opened in 1917, but its penultimate span that reached N. 34th Street and the Fremont Business district at the new and still holding elevation.   The investigating Society also discovered that the railroad track, which curves across the bottom of the subject, was kept to pass below the new Fremont Bridge.  It was the Seattle and International Railroad spur that reached Fremont’s main employer, the Bryant Lumber Mill, to the right and behind the unnamed photographer.

Looking north along the north wing of Fremont’s bascule bridge on April 18, 1939.


Anything to add, lads?   Yes Jean, those directly below that Ron Edge put up earlier this evening, and eventually a few more relevant features that I’ll pull from the archive after breakfast.   It is 5:19 AM Saturday morning now, and I’m going to bed.  Remembering  now and in honor of Bill Burden its parent the kind good night “Nighty-Bears.”  I climb the stairs.


THEN: This panorama could have used a tower (or drone) to better survey the size of the June 1, 191l, crowd gathered in Fremont/Ross to celebrate the beginning of construction on the Lake Washington Ship Canal. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: If I have counted correctly this ca. 1930 Fremont Baptist Orchestra is appointed with three cellos, eleven violins and violas, two saxophones, two clarinets, one coronet, one oboe, one flute and two members who seem to be hiding their instruments. (courtesy Fremont Baptist Church)

THEN: From the Fremont Bridge, this subject looks northwest across the torrent that followed the washout of the Fremont Dam in the early afternoon of March 13, 1914. Part of the Bryant Lumber and Shingle Mill appears left-of-center. The north end of the Stone Way Trestle appears in the upper right corner. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

THEN: One of a few photographs recording from different prospects the Fremont trolley car barn on Dec.11, 1936. North 35th Street, on the right, was originally named Blewett for Edward and Carrie Blewett. In 1888 the couple, fresh from Fremont, Nebraska, first named and promoted Fremont as a Seattle neighborhood. That year Fremont also got its lumber mill. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: The rear end of the derailed trolley on N. 35th Street appears right-of-center a few feet east of Albion Place N. and the curved track from which the unrestrained car jumped on the morning of August 21, 1903. (Courtesy, Fremont Historical Society)


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: 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

Built for the manufacture of a fantastic engine that did not make it beyond its model, the Fremont factory’s second owner, Carlos Flohr, used it to build vacuum chambers for protecting telescope lenses. Thirty feet across and made from stainless steel the lens holders were often mistaken for flying saucers. (photo courtesy Kvichak marine Industries.)


THEN: Like violence in a classic Greek play, the carnage suggested by this 1934 crash scene on the then new Aurora speedway was kept off stage, either behind the city’s official photographer, or in the county morgue. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive.)

THEN: This look west from the West Woodland neighborhood toward Ballard comes by way of the Museum of History and Industry, with some help from both Ron Edge and West Woodland historian Susan Pierce.


Seattle Now & Then: Westlake, ‘The Big Funnel’

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THEN: A few of the landmarks revealed in this mid-twenties look north from the roof of the Medical Dental Building include Queen Anne High School, “Wilson’s Wood Row” of unused WW1 freighters camped in Lake Union, the Seattle Gas Company’s big holder at 9th and Republican, the Ford Assembly Plant and Denny Park. Can you find them? (Courtesy: MOHAI)
NOW: The fenestration (window arrangement) of the glass curtain on the nearly new skyscraper at the northwest corner of Westlake and Virginia Street (to the left), is a fine expression of the growing revolt from the more minimal modern, like that used decades ago for the Plaza 600 Building at the center of this “repeat.” By comparison the new post modern – or post-post-modern – façade is psychedelic.

From his climb to the cornice of the eighteen-story Medical Dental Building, Jean Sherrard has thoughtfully returned with some frosting, one of the building’s crowning terra-cotta ornaments.  Peeking at the bottom-right corner of Jean’s repeat, resembling a lampshade, it is one small part of the building’s elegant skin.

A 1925 clip from The Times

First imagined by its mix of professional (physicians and dentists) developers as a “real medical center in Seattle,” the polished and ornate Medical Dental Building was dedicated in 1925.  With its ceramic tile cladding and more, the tower would be interpreted as an example of the late Gothic Revival, which, as it turned out, was a style about to lose its popularity.

In 1962, the Medical Dental Building rises behind the then new Monorail. The view looks north of 5th Ave. from mid-block between Virginia and Steward Streets.  Photo by Frank Shaw

Looking north, from its tower, Westlake Avenue can be followed to Denny Way, where it elbows slightly to the northeast to complete its arterial duty to both Westlake and eventually Eastlake at the south shore of Lake Union.  Westlake was sided by the triangular blocks and buildings fashioned in 1906-7 when it was cut through from Pike Street to Denny Way.  Its landlords briefly named this new and direct approach to the north “The Big Funnel”.

North on Fifth Avenue from near Virginia Street and the front or south summit of Denny Hill, ca. 1886. The towered structured on the horizon is Central School (the largest in Washington Territory when it was built in 1884) facing Madison Street from its south side.

Jean’s thoughtful inclusion of the decorative ornament encourages us to extend our short review of the architectural history of this retail neighborhood at the north end of Seattle’s central business district.  It began in earnest in the early 1880s with a few retailers scattered about the slopes of the by then clear-cut Denny Hill.  The businesses were mixed with modest residences – some in rows – and tenements, all made from lumber milled on the shores of Elliott Bay and Lake Union. Aside from the built-for-show blocks around Pioneer Square and on Front Street (First Avenue N.) the fancier construction of this  metropolis began only after its cinder-scrubbing by the Great Fire of 1889.  Seattle began then to earnestly boom and build, often with bricks and the encouragement of better insurance rates for those who embraced both the new ordnances and bricks.

Capitol Hill from Denny Hill ca. 1893 about fourteen years before Westlake Avenue was cut through the grid here on its way from 4th and Pike to South Lake Union.

As for grace and style, terra-cotta tiles became nearly a necessity for any proud developer in the new twentieth century, until the expense of it became forbidding in the thirties with the Great Depression and/or too fussy for the more functional modernist tastes.   One sizeable resister to modernity, “the Old Quarter,” appears here in the featured photo on left of Westlake and to this side of Denny Park’s greenbelt, also on the left.  This is the last of the Denny Hill neighborhood.  In 1911 it was left to molder when the Denny Hill Regrade reached Fifth Avenue and stopped.  It remained dormant until 1929 when everything in this triangle was razed, including the low rents, just in time for the Great Depression.

A circa 1928 aerial of “old quarter – right-of-center – and the nearly new Medical Dental Building standing bright at the bottom-center with its own terra cotta tiled skin and Frederick and Nelson’s beside it to the south. Note the Civic Center’s construction scar upper right between Harrison and Mercer Streets and west of Fifth Avenue. (Courtesy, Ron Edge}

South on Fifth through Virginia Street.  We don’t promise that the above now-and-then are perfect for repeating, but they are close.

Click to ENLARGE for Reading.
The Medical Dental building endures on December 7, 1968 with protestors marching below it and the Monorail for citizens to “Remember the Pueblo.” Do you?


Anything to add, boyos? Sure Jean and by now we know the march.  Ron Edge and I put up a sturdy parade of part features that relate to the week’s primary subject or concern or thereabouts.   (Here I had hoped to include the original latin for “Repetition if the Mother of  All Learning” but my computer has lost my “Google Translate” capacities.    For the moment.)

THEN: The Seattle Central Business District in 1962. I found this panorama mixed in with the Kodachrome slides photographed by Lawton Gowey. It was most likely taken by my helpful friend Lawton, who died in 1983, or Robert Bradley, Lawton’s friend in the then active Seattle Camera Club. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

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.

THEN: Both the grading on Belmont Avenue and the homes beside it are new in this “gift” to Capitol Hill taken from the family album of Major John Millis. (Courtesy of the Major’s grandchild Walter Millis and his son, a Seattle musician, Robert Millis.)

THEN: The Dog House at 714 Denny Way was strategically placed at the southern terminus for the Aurora Speedway when it was new in the mid-1930s. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archive, Bellevue Community College Branch.)


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)

Great railroad signs, theatre signs and ranks of neon were still the greatest contributors to night light at 4th and Westlake in 1949. (Photo by Robert Bradley compliment of Lawton and Jean Gowey)


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

THEN: 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: 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: A motorcycle courier for Bartell Drugs poses before the chain’s Store No. 14, located in the Seaboard Building at the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street, circa 1929. (Courtesy Bartell Drugs)

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)

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)



First printed in Pacific, February Sixth, 2000


click to enlarge


First appeared in The Times Feb. 14, 1999.










Seattle Now & Then: Lower Roosevelt Way, 1940

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Roosevelt Way in 1940, looking north from E. 41st Street. (The named direction was later changed to N.E. 41st. Street)
NOW: The fire-prevention hydraulics seem to have kept their same tie to the corner, although with a newer hydrant.

Lower Roosevelt Way is an arterial that aside from the bascule bridge it is attached to, was, it seems, developed without distinguished landmarks.   For the fetured photograph above,  it was recorded on the afternoon of March 14, 1940, a year remembered, perhaps, by many of us, myself included. I was born in 1938  – late ’38.

The featured intersection of Roosevelt Way and NE 41st Street is near but not exactly at the north end of the University Bridge, seen here on the right of an aerial indicating the intended path of the Seattle Freeway. We will included some other photos of the close-in neighborhood around E. (or Northeast) 40s and 41st and 10th Ave. (Roosevelt Way)  at the end of the feature’s primary text or before the attached Edge Clippings – about 40 of them, some also revealing of the immediate neighborhood.
From near the University Bridge’s bascule spans, looking north to the were arterial make a gentle curve through N.E. 40th Street, photographed on June 10, 1940.
The photo’s original caption refers to the business to the sides of the Krao Syrup billboard at the northeast corner of 10th Ave. N.E. and Roosevelt Way in 1931.  If you check back a week or two or three you’ll find another Kato Syrup billboard on Roosevelt Way.  Immediately below (aka next) we’ll insert an old feature that gives more space to the Van de Kamp bakery’s windmill seen here on the far right. 
A municipal pubic works photo from March 9, 1933 following the rebuilding of the originally wooden University Bridge with concrete pilings.  Below is another Van de Camp windmill on Roosevelt at 64th Avenue.  It was featured here about three years ago and can be found again below among the crowd of linked features.
Another bakery, another windmill, this one in 1946 and the northeast corner of Roosevelt and NE 64th Avenue. (See the links below for the story featured with the same photograph.)

The featured view at the top looks north on Roosevelt Way (10th Avenue N.E.) from its northeast corner with NE 41st Street.  Seventy-seven years later, hardly anything survives for Jean Sherrard to repeat except the nearby utility pole and the fire hydrant at the bottom-right corner.  They are, at least, nearly the same. A temporary seven feet-or-so of whitewash has been applied below the street sign on the 1940 pole.  The sign reads “E. 41st St.” but not yet “Northeast.”  Actually, transcending our prejudice, we notice a string of landmarks here in 1940: the syncopated clutter of the long line of tall power poles competing and/or cooperating for our attention above the narrow parking strip on the east side of Roosevelt Way.

Portage Bay from the future north end of the Eastlake aka Brooklyn aka University Bridge. (This was first featured in Pacific on February 7, 1993.)
First printed in Pacific on July 18, 1999.
The last days of the Latona Bridge, photographed in the “then” from the construction site of the new bridge, circa 1919 – we here confidently speculate but directly propose in the feature’s attached caption/text.  Who can you trust?  Not always yourself?)

When the bascule bridge that crossed the narrow passage between Lake Union and Portage Bay was first opened in 1919, it briefly held to its forebear’s name, The Latona Birdge, but was also called the Eastlake Bridge after its south end tie, and other times the Brooklyn Bridge for the name of its north end Brooklyn Addition, but most often, and perhaps inevitably, the University Bridge for its nearby and dominant campus landmark.  By the time its north feed, Tenth Avenue Northeast, was renamed in 1933 for two popular presidents, one passed and one brand new, Roosevelt Way was well along with its development into one of Seattle’s auto rows, with several dealerships, garages, used car lots and full-service filling stations.

A De Soto adver. in The Times for March 25, 1934.
Miss Roosevelt District helps apply or install the one way sign for 11th Ave. N.E in early 1960. She shares the page with Bridget Bardot, her new baby, and flamboyant permanent.

Here follows a few more Roosevelts.

Gathering signatures for the renaming of 10th Avenue to Roosevelt Way. Another Times clip. This one from May 24, 1933.


Another tax photo, this one showing part of Roosevelt Way’s car culture circa 1937.
Liberal City Council streets committee from 1933 gives  Roosevelt Way its OK.
Five blocks north looking south through NE 45th on May 8, 1933.

Checking The Seattle Times archive for March 14, 1940, (the day for the featured photo at the top) we find that while celebrating his 61st birthday in Princeton with the press, Albert Einstein was asked if he had any plans in the “immediate future” to go public with any new discoveries for his “unified theory.”  The cosmologist answered “No, no.  I’m having difficulty there.”  Meanwhile that afternoon with a

Albert Einstein watches over (or under) me throughout the days from beneath my transparent desk mask.

less cosmic attitude, the deliberating Seattle City Council voted to revoke the license of the Rialto Theatre after sampling the theatre’s rum-flavored toffee and peeking into its “view-boxes.”  For the politicians’ edification and distraction, the Rialto’s manager projected into its ordinarily bawdy boxes lush transparencies of Far

Without sampled evidence from the Rialto’s test before City Council we substitute this riotous piece of bas relief from a ancient Cambodian temple.

East pagodas and exotic stone monuments, and not “nudes in a variety of poses,” or other First Amendment-testing titillations that the theater’s late night customers – mostly older men – paid tens cents to watch and/or sleep the night through from the comforts of the heated theatre’s cushioned seats.

Failing for the moment to find an interior look at the Rialto Theatre with its early morning clients, we substitute another exhibition, the rugged Supreme Court Justice William Douglas’ way out in front leading a group hike along Rialto Beach.

Upon reflection, I must correct the introductory point about a lack of landmarks on lower Roosevelt Way.  There is, at least, one grand exception.  At the northeast corner of NE 42nd Street and Roosevelt Way, which is one long block north of the historical photographer’s prospect, spreads the creative clutter of Hardwick’s Swapshot, “Seattle’s coolest emporium since 1932.”  It is hidden here behind the clutter of the parking strip. This helpful stockpile of long aisles is packed with both new and used hardware that can be enjoyed, studied and procured.  On top of it all, original framed art is arranged salon-style in the spaces that climb the walls above the tools.  Much of it is “forsaken art” found in estate sales and the rummage market.  Forsaken, and yet precious, it is NOT for sale.

Above and Below: Not examples of Hardwick’s exhibit but something to take its place until we can get around to snap the evidence. Still these are nearby in Wallingford, parts of a recent Halloween exhibit on Northeast 42nd Avenue.

The Roosevelts at Hyde Park



A Times late Depression-time cip from March 14, 1940, same day as our featured photo at the top.
A Seattle Times clip, March 15, 1940.


Anything to add, fellahs?

THEN: sliver of the U.W. campus building called the Applied Physics Laboratory appears on the far right of this 1940 look east towards the U.W. campus from the N.E. 40th Street off-ramp from the University Bridge. While very little other than the enlarged laboratory survives in the fore and mid-grounds, much on the horizon of campus buildings and apartments still stand. (Courtesy, Genevieve McCoy)

THEN: The Latona Bridge was constructed in 1891 along the future line of the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge. The photo was taken from the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway right-of-way, now the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail. The Northlake Apartment/Hotel on the right survived and struggled into the 1960s. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: The historical view looks directly south into the Latona addition’s business district on Sixth Ave. NE. from the Northern Pacific’s railroad bridge, now part of the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Roosevelt Way bustling after the war. This subject first appeared in The Seattle Times on July 7, 1946. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

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.

THEN: With great clouds overhead and a landscape 45 years shorter than now, one vehicle – a pickup heading east – gets this part of State Route 520 to itself on a weekday afternoon. (courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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: On March 25, 1946, or near it, Wide World Photos recorded here what they titled “University Vet Housing.” It would soon be named the Union Bay Village and house the families of returning veterans. The first 45 bungalows shown here rented for from $35 to $45 dollars a month. It would increase to a “teeming conglomerate of 500 rental units.” With housing for both married students and faculty. The view looks north over a street that no longer exists. The homes on the right horizon face the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail on N.E. Blakeley Street near N.E. 45th Place. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: The Gothic University of Washington Campus in 1946 beginning a seven-year crowding with prefabricated dormitories beside Frosh Pond. In the immediate background [on the right] is Guggenheim Hall. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: The first house for Delta Gamma at N.E. 4730 University Way. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

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)


4719 Thackeray Place NE. The 1938 WPA tax photo.

THEN: Like violence in a classic Greek play, the carnage suggested by this 1934 crash scene on the then new Aurora speedway was kept off stage, either behind the city’s official photographer, or in the county morgue. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive.)

THEN: When the Oregon Cadets raised their tents on the Denny Hall lawn in 1909 they were almost venerable. Founded in 1873, the Cadets survive today as Oregon State University’s ROTC. Geneticist Linus C. Pauling, twice Nobel laureate, is surely the school’s most famous cadet corporal. (courtesy, University of Washington Libraries)

This rare glimpse of the rapid Ravenna Creek’s fall through Cowen Park was photographed not long before the stream that had had “topped off” Green Lake into Lake Washington’s Union Bay for thousands of years was shut off in 1911. (Photo courtesy of Jim Westall)

THEN: When it was built in 1902, this box home, with classic Ionic pillars at the porch, was set above the northwest corner of the freshly graded Brooklyn Avenue and 47th Street in the University District. (Courtesy, John Cooper)


The Gasworks and beyond it the University District in 1910, photographed from Queen Anne Hill. CLICK CLICK CLICK to read.  (Courtesy of Museum of History and Industry, from their Webster Stevens Collection.)


First appeared in Pacific, July 7, 2002
Appear in Pacific, April 6, 2003
First appeared in Pacific, December 28, 2003



First appear in Pacific on May 11, 2008


The approaches of the original University Bridge from the late teens were built of wood. The planKs and pilings were replaced with concrete in 1932. Here’s the Temporary two lane bridge used by traffic during the main spans reconstruction.  CLICK TWICE to READ

Seattle Now & Then: Independence Day at 3rd and Yesler

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking east up Yesler Way with the Seattle Police Department during the city’s celebrations for the 1899 Independence Day.
NOW: The construction disruption at Third Avenue and Yesler Way includes City Hall Park, once home for the Seattle City Hall with the nickname “Katzenjammer Kastle.”

With both muncipal landmarks – the one on the hill and the other at the southeast corner of Jefferson Street and Third Avenue  – aka the Katzenjammer Kastle –  one may compare the photograph above with the Baist map detail above it.


The reader will easily note that with few exceptions the featured photo’s line-up of Seattle Police on the north side (left) of Yesler Way, between Second and Third Avenues, are looking east at the long parade float that is either crossing Yesler Way or standing in its intersection with Third Avenue. The rooftop banner that runs the length of the float names the sponsor, the “National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.”  The flip side for at least one of the four MOHAI prints covering this Independence Day scene, holds a type-written sticker that reads “taken July 4, 1898, before the Spanish American War veterans returned.  Picture made in front of police headquarters.”  A hand-written addition to the sticker reads “3rd and Yesler,” and the gray-blue back of the print itself concludes the captioning with “Called ‘Electric Float’ Taken by W.T. Milholland.”    

Another record of the Electricians float (Courtesy, MOHAI)

The inscribed date, 1898, is very inviting.  The Independence Day weekend that year included the sensational news that America’s revenge for the February 15th unexplained sinking of the USS Battleship Main – “Remember the Maine!!!” – in the Havana harbor was at hand.   On the third of July, with the American navy in pursuit, the Spanish Caribbean fleet fled the Santiago, Cuba harbor.  In the days that followed the Spanish dreadnaughts that were not destroyed, surrendered.  Certainly this waxing war news was on the minds of nearly every one among the estimated 75,000 citizens and visitors that crowded downtown Seattle on the 4th for 1898. One year later this patriotic party was remembered by The Times reporter covering the 1899 Independence Day festivities as “the biggest celebration that the city ever had.”   However, and almost certainly, this Yesler Way scene was not part of that record-setting event.  The caption was incorrect by one year.  The float named “Electric” won second place in the 1899 – not 1898 – parade competition.

Read the left column for a partial description of the 1899 Independence Day parade. Pulled from the Times for July 5,1899.  CLICK to ENLARGE

In The Times 3 O’clock Edition for July 5, 1899, [SEE ABOVE] the float is described as a “dynamo in full operation.”  The electricity was generated by steam from a boiler flaunted on the float.  It powered a “call system of the Postal Telegraph Company, a phonograph and a telephone” and was also wired to a printing press carried on the Metropolitan Printing and Binding Company float was next in line. On the far-right end of the float a tower of steam shoots from its roof.  Most likely the hissing noise of escaping steam also attracted the attentive white-gloved police. 

Standing beside the sidewalk on the east side of Third Avenue, the photographer looks northeast at the Seattle Police Department’s first motorized paddy wagon in 1907. posed beside the entrance to the garage it still shared with horses and at the front steps to City Hall, aka the Katzenjammer Kastle.  

Independence Day for 1899 was a wet one, and many outdoor events were either canceled or avoided.  The fireworks, however, were not expunged but rather admired for their reflections off the low clouds.  In the featured historical photo, the gray sky offers little contrast with the scene’s two famous towers, both of them serving for part of their careers, as King County Court Houses.  In 1890, the top-heady tower on the First Hill horizon, replaced the frame one rising far left on Third Avenue. With King County moved up the hill, its abandoned home at Third Avenue and Jefferson Street served as Seattle’s City Hall from 1890 to 1909, and was famously nicknamed the Katzenjammer Kastle for its Rube Goldberg collection of additions, which included the police department. 

From July 30, 1898, the first clip was could find covering news about Union No. 77 of the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers of Seattle.

Below: ANOTHER TIMELY INTERRUPTION with PALMISTRY from in-with-and-under the Late-19th Century (the clip is from July 5, 1898) and its claim to have broken or penetrated the barriers between the PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE and so ALSO of or between NOW and THEN, or if your prefer THEN and NOW.   (Note that scheduled sittings with a “reader” are required.)

A Clip from The Seattle Times for July 5, 1898.


A Yesler mess…

Anything to add, boyos?  Yes Jean the kids on the block have a few past features to adjoin.  Some of these will be like growing chestnuts to some of the reders.   (Note: a careful or curious eye will find blog contributor Ron Edge posing in one of them, but only after clicking) May we ask that the mother of all learning is what?   May our mothers answer, “REPETITION.”)

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: 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

THEN: Looking north-northeast from the corner of Main Street and Occidental Avenue two or three weeks after the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. (Courtesy the Museum of History and Industry – MOHAI)

THEN:Ruins from the fire of July 26, 1879, looking west on Yesler’s dock from the waterfront. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

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 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: 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: Built in 1900 the Corgiat Building lost its cornice and identifying sign to the 1949 earthquake. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)THEN: The original for this scene of a temporary upheaval on Mill Street (Yesler Way) was one of many historical prints given to the Museum of History and Industry many years ago by the Charles Thorndike estate. Thorndike was one of Seattle’s history buffs extraordinaire. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry.)

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: The Sprague Hotel at 706 Yesler Way was one of many large structures –hotels, apartments and duplexes, built on First Hill to accommodate the housing needs of the city’s manic years of grown between its Great Fire in 1889 and the First World War. Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey

THEN: Harborview Hospital takes the horizon in this 1940 recording. That year, a hospital report noted that "the backwash of the depression" had overwhelmed the hospital's outpatient service for "the country's indigents who must return periodically for treatment." Built in 1931 to treat 100 cases a day, in 1939 the hospital "tries bravely to accommodate 700 to 800 visits a day."

THEN: Pioneer mailman Dutch Ned poses on his horse on Cherry Street. The ca. 1880 view looks east over First Avenue when it was still named Front Street. (Courtesy: The Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI)

tHEN: An unidentified brass band poses at the intersection of Commercial Street (First Ave S.) and Main Street during the 1883 celebration for the completion of the transcontinental Northern Pacific Railroad.

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)

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.)

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: 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: When it was built in 1864 Charles and Mary Terry’s home was considered the finest in Seattle. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)


First appeared in Pacific on June 1, 2008.

















KNIGHTS TEMPLAR parade up Yesler Way during national convention or something similar.
THEN: Looking east up Yesler Way with the Seattle Police Department during the city’s celebrations for the 1899 Independence Day.

Seattle Now & Then: Queen City Florist at 13th & Union

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: I speculate that in order to lift the photographer for this elevated look south over Union Street and the nearly new Queen City Floral Co.’s nursery, the photograph was recorded from the top of a Madison Street Cable Car. In the mid 1890s, the German-born John Holze got his Seattle start as a florist-gardener for the Madison Street Cable Railway Company. His residence then was at Madison Park. (Courtesy, Dan Eskenazi)
NOW: With a fortunate fate for Jean’s repeat photography, the southwest corner of 13th Ave. East and Union Street was recently cleared revealing most of the row of seven frame houses north of Spring Street that in 1900 were squeezed together on four lots on the east side of Thirteenth Avenue. The large green home survives in the ‘now’ although without its pointed tower that was “remodeled” away. The green home can be discovered in the “then” above the florist’s home.

Here’s looking south and a little east to the Queen City Florist Co.’s verdant nursery at the southwest corner of Union Street and 13th Avenue.   The Florist’s names were John and Sophia Holze. Most likely they are standing at the gate, bottom-center, posing for the unnamed photographer.  (We speculate on whom the photographer might be in the “then” caption.)

John and Sophia’s marriage certificat, June 22, 1898.

The couple – John, 36 and Sophia, 21 – had a June 22 wedding in Seattle 1898.  John was thirty-six and Sophia twenty, which was John’s age when he first immigrated to the U.S.A. in 1883.  It is, I think, probable that the German couple’s nuptials were conducted in German.  Sophia’s parents emigrated from Germany, although she was born and raised in Wilson, Kansas, a railroad town with its own enclave of Pennsylvania Dutch, and so also a German-speaking community. The mid-west was then well stocked with them. (Leaning on the analogy and evidence of the Dorpats and my mother’s family, the Christiansens, all my mid-western grandparents spoke German and/or Danish more comfortably than English.)

In this detail from the 1908 Baist Real Estate Map, Union Street is at the top and 13th Avenue runs up-down the middle of the detail. Madison Street cuts through the upper-left (northwest) corner. The Floral enterprise fills lots 8,9 and 10 of Block 9. The row of four lots holding seven structures on the east side 13th Ave. appears in the featured photos above the florists home on Union Street. Most of these homes survive.
A detail of blocks 9 and 16 from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map.
Block 9 and 16 from the 1929 aerial survey of Seattle. Again, note the endurance of the seven homes running north on the east side of 13th Avenue from Spring Street.   Can you find it in the greater or larger detail included below?
A larger detail of our blocks from the 1929 aerial survey. CLICK TWICE to ENLARGE – (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)]
Blocks 9 and 16 between 12th Ave. on the left, 14th on the right, Union at the top and Spring at the bottom. (Courtesy, Goggle Earth)

In 1909, about seven years after they opened their nursery, the Holze’s ran a classified in The Times seeking “Girl for General Housework; two in family; German preferred, 1223 E. Union.”  In the 1910 federal census, Emily L. Taylor is listed as living with the Holze’s, but at age 57, the “cook and servant” Emily was hardly a girl.  Herman Andrews, the 63-year-od “laborer, gardener,” also living with them, was also born in Germany.  Keeping track of the Germans on Union Street, the “wage worker” Ernestine Mohr, age 62, and listed in the 1920 federal census, was born in Germany and naturalized here.  Like the widower Andrews, Mohr was a widow. 

The Seattle Florist Association’s ad for its 1905 Chrysanthemum Show in Christensen’s Hall in the Arcade Bldg., on Second Avenue.

In 1912 the Holze’s added a store to their nursery: a “nicely fitted glass structure.” The Florist’s Review for Nov. 14, 1912 reported, “The company has the satisfaction of knowing that the place is now thoroughly up-to-date. The stock is all looking first-class … and everything is in condition for a large business.”  And as it grew the couple and their flora did well.  In 1905, soon after they moved into their Union Street quarters, John served as assistant secretary for the Seattle Florist Association’s flower show, which, the Times reported, was not only an artistic success, but paid for itself.”  It was Seattle’s first big flower show, and The Times concluded that it went a long ways towards proving something “not to be so … the flippant saying that the men and women of Seattle are so busy making money that they have no time for the finer things.”  Meanwhile Sophia did the accounting. 

Longer open hours for munitions workers during World War One. A clip from the Seattle Times for January 18, 1918.
“Respectable” florists promoting softer sales “in the time of bereavement.” A Times clip from October 20, 1914.

For their first adventure after retiring the Union Street enterprise in 1927, the German-American couple vacationed in Germany.  Sophia was 49 and John an appropriate 65.  They stayed involved.  From the 1929 Northwest Florist Association Show they won first prize for Maroon Carnations. 


A detail from the 1904-5 Sanborn Real Estate Map showing our two featured blocks between 12th Avenue, on the left, and 14th Avenue, on the right, and with E. Union Street on the top and E. Spring Street at the bottom.  

At the northeast corner of Spring and Thirteenth the first of seven 1900 homes built on the east side of Thirteen on the first four lots north of Spring Street. [CLICK TO ENLARGE] (Courtesy, Washington State Archive, kept at the branch on the Bellevue Community College Campus.)WEB EXTRAS
Another of the seven, this at 1118 13th Avenue.
The most northerly of the seven, and resting beside the Zelma Apartments, on the left and below.
Jean’s featured NOW repeated. The Zelma Apartments are across Thirteenth Avenue on the far left
One of hundreds of apartment house snapshots taken by The Seattle Times for its Real Estate Pages in the 1930s. This is the same Zelma Apts that appears on the far left of the photograph above this one. The Times explains this photo so.  “The Zelma Apartments, located at 1128 13th Ave., are among the most popular on First Hill. According to Mrs. Pearl Jensen, owner, the apartment rental situation [in the great depression] is much in favor of tenants. Although operating costs, she says, have advanced, rentals have remained the same.” Reports and advertisements for the Zelma begin in the 1920s and with a different name, the Solana Apartments. The name change came soon after the “Great Crash” of 1929 that began the shattering of the economy.  A pre-crash Times classified for May 25, 1928 reads “Under New Management Solana Apts., 1128 13th Ave. near Union. Overstuffed furniture, free ice, gas, light, phone service, linen, dishes, silver. Large sunny rooms, shower bath. Outside dress-room, corner apartment , accommodate 3, $50 to $65.”

WEB EXTRAS – Anything to add, lads?   Yup Jean.  Thirty-four featured links from the neighborhood loosely conceived, and whatever they hold of other links.  Surely many of these will be familiar to our most dedicated readers, who I imagine accept my mother’s wisdom – which we repeat again and again – that “Repetition is the Mother of All Learning.”



THEN: In the 32 years between Frank Shaw's dedication picture and Jean Sherrard's dance scene, Freeway Park has gained in verdure what it has lost in human use.

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: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.



THEN: First Hill’s distinguished Old Colony Apartments at 615 Boren Avenue, 1910.

THEN:The front end damage to the white Shepherd Ambulance on the right is mostly hidden behind the black silhouette of either officer Murphy or Lindberg, both of whom answered the call of this morning crash on Feb. 18, 1955.

THEN: Constructed in 1890 as the Seattle Fire Department’s first headquarters, these substantial four floors (counting the daylight basement) survived until replaced by Interstate Five in the 1960s. (photo by Frank Shaw)

THEN: Built in 1887, the Minor-Collins Home at the northeast corner of Minor Avenue and Cherry Street was one of the grandest and longest surviving pioneer mansions on First Hill. (Courtesy Historic Seattle)

THEN: Looking west on Madison Street from Seventh Avenue circa 1909. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)

THEN: We have by three years or four missed the centenary for this distinguished brick pile, the Littlefield Apartments on Capitol Hill. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Beginning with the Reynolds, three hotels have taken tenancy in this ornate three-story brick block at the northeast corner of Boren Avenue and Pike Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Built quickly in the winter of 1906-07, the Prince Rupert Hotel faced Boren Avenue from the third lot north of Pike Street. About fifty-five years later it was razed for the I-5 Freeway. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: This Seattle Housing Authority photograph was recorded from the top of the Marine Hospital (now Pacific Tower) on the north head of Beacon Hill. It looks north to First Hill during the Authority’s clearing of its southern slope for the building of the Yesler Terrace Public Housing. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Faced, in part, with brick veneer and stucco, and opened in 191l, the Comet Apartments at 170 11th Avenue have made it nicely through their first century. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: This detail from the prolific local photographer Asahel Curtis’s photograph of the Smith/Rininger home at the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue dates from the early twentieth century when motorcars, rolling or parked, were still very rare on the streets of Seattle, including these on First Hill. (Courtesy, Historic Seattle)


THEN: Built in the early twentieth century at the northeast corner of Jefferson Street and Boren Avenue, Bertha and Frank Gardner’s residence was large but not a mansion, as were many big homes on First Hill. (Courtesy Washington State Museum, Tacoma)


THEN: Built in 1909-10 on one of First Hill’s steepest slopes, the dark brick Normandie Apartments' three wings, when seen from the sky, resemble a bird in flight. (Lawton Gowey)