Category Archives: Seattle Now and Then

Seattle Now & Then: ‘Pacific Coast, Seattle’s Own Railroad’

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: A Seattle-bound train boards passengers at the Black Diamond depot in 1910. While these rails were mainly dedicated to transporting coal, in its heyday, three passenger trains a day made the trip to the big city. (Courtesy, Black Diamond Historical Society)
NOW: Kurt E. Armbruster, at center with his new book, “Pacific Coast: Seattle’s Own Railroad,” poses with rail fans following his lecture at the remarkable Black Diamond Museum, opened in 1982 after years of loving restoration. Many in the audience were the descendants of coal miners.
By Jean Sherrard

My great-grandfather, Arthur Manvel Dailey, arriving in Seattle in 1888, soon found work in the coal mines northeast of Renton. His sweetie (my future great-grandmother Agnes Johnson) was a schoolteacher in distant Ballard. Family lore tells of the arduous round trip from Newcastle to Ballard each Sunday, but for an ardent young suitor a few hours of travel were fair exchange for the weekly allotment of kisses.

And yet, were it not for a 40-mile stretch of “small, grimy, seemingly insignificant” pioneer railway, asserts historian Kurt E. Armbruster in his colorful latest book, “Pacific Coast: Seattle’s Own Railroad”, my ancestors’ romance – not to mention a growing young city’s fortunes – may have been much dampened.

Kurt E. Armbruster on the platform of the former Black Diamond depot, with a copy of his latest book.

From their arrival in 1851, early settlers knew that hopes for a profitable future rode an iron horse. Arthur Denny said he located on Puget Sound believing “that a railroad would be built across the continent to some point on the northern coast within … 15 or 20 years.”

Over the next two decades, however, those expectations were dashed by a number of obstacles, including conflict with native peoples, slumps of the economy, and the U.S. Civil War. In 1873 came more bad news. To Seattle’s dismay, the Northern Pacific Railroad sited the terminus of its cross-country line in Tacoma, leaving the Queen City isolated on her Elliott Bay throne.

But as railroads languished in King County, another economic engine built up steam. Immense seams of coal, pushed up by the Seattle Fault, had been discovered by the mid-1850s, and the foothills east of Lake Washington soon became teeming hives of activity. “In the nineteenth century,” says Armbruster, “coal was king … and Seattle had coal” – indeed, one of the largest coalfields on the west coast.

Coal miners proudly mark Labor Day, 1907, with a group portrait spread across Railroad Avenue. The old depot stands on the right. (courtesy, Black Diamond Historical Society)

Vast shipments of “black gold” were readily snapped up by energy-hungry San Francisco to support its industry and transportation. But the convoluted, Herculean transport from coalface to waiting sailing ships in Elliott Bay took long days and cut deeply into profits.

Seattle’s citizens, stung by the rebuff of big rail, conjured an ingenious solution: build a railway that incidentally provided King Coal with a profitable route to market. And on May 1, 1874, thousands of eager Seattleites assembled to do just that. On that single day, a mile-long stretch of rail bed was cleared along the base of Beacon Hill for the somewhat presumptuously named Seattle & Walla Walla Railroad, eventually renamed the Pacific Coast Railroad.

In the end? Rails that, although never extending much further east than Black Diamond, shortened the mine-to-dock transport from days to mere hours. As a result, Seattle – and Grandpa Dailey – realized benefits that endured for decades to come.

WEB EXTRAS

Click through for a narrated 360-degree video of our Black Diamond ‘then’ photo, shot from the ‘now’ location.

Also, check out a video of Kurt E. Armbruster’s lecture at the Black Diamond Museum.

Anything to add, rail fans?

Seattle Now & Then: Neil Armstrong Dial, 1969

(click once and twice to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Held by his mom, Patricia, and eyed by his masked dad, Dallas, the hours-old Neil Armstrong Dial poses July 20, 1969, in a Northwest Hospital room. Décor included a model lunar module made from an inverted Styrofoam cup, with Q-tips for legs. (Bruce McKim, Seattle Times)
THEN2: Nearly 18, Neil Dial visits the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, 1988. (Courtesy Neil Dial)
THEN3: Dial (left) meets his namesake at the Washington Athletic Club, 2007. (Courtesy Neil Dahl)
NOW1: Neil Dial stands beside the Apollo 11 command module Columbia at the “Destination Moon” exhibit on display through Sept. 2, 2019, at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Neal Dial stands in front of a “Destination Moon” display at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW3: Neil Dial stands at the entrance of Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, now operated by University of Washington Medicine. (Jean Sherrard)
‘Living with honor’ in the shadow of his hero
By Clay Eals

Where were you and what were you doing when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon?

For many, the moment is etched deeply in memory.

My own recollection of July 20, 1969, is indelible. On the eve of my 18th birthday, my girlfriend took us to see “Oliver!” at the Magnolia Theater (now razed), but the auditorium was empty. Instead, we all crowded together in the lobby, craning our necks to peer at Armstrong’s “giant leap,” broadcast on a tiny black-and-white TV set perched on a chair next to the popcorn counter.

An Auburn attorney also knows where he was that day but has no memory of it. The very minute the lunar module Eagle touched the moon, he emerged on Earth, feet first, from his mother’s womb.

His birth, at Northwest Hospital near Northgate, became a media sensation because of his given name. Among many options, his parents considered Buzz, for Armstrong’s fellow astronaut Aldrin, and Apollo, for the space program. What stuck was the ultimate personal salute: Neil Armstrong Dial.

Turning 50 this month, Dial enjoys pondering how a quirk of timing gave him a guiding shadow he has always embraced.

While growing up in Richmond Beach, in seventh grade he gravitated to wrestling, which, he reflects, “taught me a lot about discipline and hard work.” Inspired by his namesake, he became an Eagle Scout and toyed with entering flight school to become an astronaut. Instead, he was drawn to the law. A husband and father of three, he works in the Tacoma firm founded by Ed Eisenhower, older brother of former president Dwight.

Wrestling remains a touchstone. He is head coach for about 20 wrestlers at Thomas Jefferson High School in Federal Way, where he advises against “showboating or doing things in a way that would make you more important than the team. That’s kind of how I am. Doing things right and living with honor have been important to me.”

A dozen years ago, Dial encountered those qualities first-hand when Armstrong, passing through Seattle, met with him for 15 minutes at the Washington Athletic Club. Dial found him humble, unassuming. “He really didn’t want to talk about himself. He wanted to know about me.”

Five years later, Armstrong died. Today, Dial, with gentle lawyerly humor, perceives in his hero some universality amid the uniqueness:

“He had an opportunity that came to him. It could have been many people in the program, and it fell that way for him. In some respects, that’s how it’s worked out for me. Anybody could have been born at that moment. It’s nothing I did. I don’t even remember the event, so everything I could tell you is hearsay.”

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then” photos, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below is a 14-minute interview of Neal Armstrong Dial from July 9, 2019, in which he reflects on how he was given his name, meeting his famous namesake and how the Neil Armstrong legacy has affected his life. To see the video, click the photo or here.

Video, July 9, 2019, Neil Armstrong Dial interview

Below are two photos and, in chronological order, four clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that among many others were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer front page, July 21, 1969
Seattle Times front page, July 21, 1969
This is the July 20, 1969, Seattle Times article that documented the birth of Neil Armstrong Dial.
Magnolia Theatre ad, July 20, 1969, Seattle Times
Nov. 7, 1974, Seattle Times
July 17, 1977, Seattle Times

Seattle Now & Then: Are these five streetcars in Interbay or Belltown?

(click once and twice to enlarge photos)

THEN: This view, probably looking southeast at five streetcars heading north, dates from 1890, 17 years before Ballard annexed to Seattle. (Boyd and Brass photo, Ron Edge Collection)
NOW1: In this southeast-looking view, Ron Edge stands in Belltown near the intersection of Cedar and Western Avenue, one of two possible locations of our “then.” (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Also looking southeast, this view shows Ron warily dodging traffic in Interbay near the busy intersection of West Boston Street and 15th Avenue West, the other possible location of our “then.” (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on July 4, 2019,
and in print on July 7, 2019)

Somewhere on the line between Ballard and Seattle
By Paul Dorpat

We begin our installment with indecision – is it Interbay, or is it Belltown? – and hope that one or more of Seattle’s rail fans eventually will expose which of our two “now” images comes closer to repeating this week’s featured historical photograph.

Ron Edge appears in both of our “nows” because he first introduced the “then” to us. He acquired this slumbering classic of five early Seattle streetcars from an internet dealer in Austin, Texas. It would be interesting to know the travels of this cabinet card over the last 129 years and how many hands it passed through before returning home.

You may know by now that Ron frequently contributes to this weekly feature. An impassioned collector-cartographer, he has become familiar with Seattle’s history through clues found in its artifacts and ephemera. These may include artists’ panoramas and the calculations, sketches and maps held in private hands throughout the world – all of them awaiting researchers.

Such efforts often are revealed to us with the uncovering of an old photograph like this one. Although this is clearly a Seattle classic, after a half-century of looking I had never seen it. Surely many more unknown historic images of Seattle have been distributed to the four winds and are slowly reappearing for sale on the internet.

For our two “now” images, Ron put his safety in the clicking hands of Jean Sherrard, who posed him near the centerlines of two Seattle arterials, Western Avenue in Belltown and 15th Avenue West in Interbay.

In 1890, the likely year for our “then,” both streets were sections of then-new West Street and served by North End Electric Railway Company’s fresh franchise between its suburban terminus in the new and burgeoning Ballard and the Seattle waterfront near West (now Western Avenue) and Madison Street. For evidence of the line’s Ballard origin, note the “Salmon Bay” sign painted on the front car.

A MILDLY ANXIOUS CALL FOR READERS’ REPORTS

So which “now” is it, dear reader? Eventually, Ron persuaded Jean and me that these trolleys, along with two-dozen hatted motormen and gentleman passengers, are posing on Western Avenue, somewhere near Cedar Street in Belltown. To make this claim, Ron compared the relative inclines of Denny Hill (then still standing) above Western Avenue and the still-steep Queen Anne Hill ridge above 15th Avenue West.

There are, however, other “considerations.” For the curious among you, we might have elaborated them in our blog, listed below. But we shall not. The last word here (in the printed feature) is the liberal suggestion from Ron. He advises, “Perhaps we are all wrong.”  Riding this reluctance, we will wait on your our readers’ calculation.  It this Western Avenue or 15th Avenue West? Jean assures Clay and me that you readers know how to respond, and so we will expect your selections — Western or 15th — and in a week or three  share the accounting with our first “readers’ report.”

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then,” and to hear this column read aloud by Paul Dorpat, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Anything to add, fellas?  Sure, and easy, too — a few past links that touch on Ballard or approach it.

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

Seattle Now & Then: 100th anniversary of Fred Hutchinson’s birth

(click once and twice to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Mayor Allan Pomeroy is at the microphone, and Seafair Queen Carol Christensen stands center stage at this April 18, 1955, rally. Left of center, behind team owner Emil Sick and his trademark bowler, Fred Hutchinson peeks out. For IDs of others onstage, see “extra” photo below. (David Eskenazi collection)
THEN2: Fred poses in the 1955 Seattle Rainiers uniform, from the cover of the April 17, 1955, edition of the Seattle Times Pictorial magazine. To salute the 100th anniversary of Fred’s Aug. 12, 1919, birth, the Seattle Mariners will present Hutch bobble heads to the first 10,000 fans on Sunday, July 7, at T-Mobile Park. For the bobblehead itself, see “extra” photo below. (Josef Scaylea, Seattle Times)
NOW: Family and fans of “Hutch” –- (from left) Clay Eals, Jason Barber, David Eskenazi, Fred’s grand-nephew Brock Reed, Connor O’Shaughnessy, George La Torre, Fred’s niece Charlee Hutchinson Reed, Josh Belzman, Charlee’s husband Paul Reed, Jill Christensen, Tom Kim, Tara Palumbo-Egan, Dan Kerlee, Dave Kolk and Olin Gutierrez –- cross University Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues at the Metropolitan Theatre rally site, now the drive-through entrance of the Fairmount Olympic Hotel. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on June 27, 2019,
and in print on June 30, 2019)

Where’s Fred? 100th anniversary for birth of baseball hero ‘Hutch’
By Clay Eals

Time was, the name Fred Hutchinson stood for baseball excellence. You couldn’t grow up here and escape the “Hutch” legend. Often as a child, long pre-Mariners, I stood in the cavernous foyer of Sicks’ Seattle Stadium (now a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in the south end), looked up and admired Fred’s photographic portrait high on the wall in the Seattle Rainiers Roll of Honor.

Today, “Hutch” signifies cancer research and the pioneering Seattle center, founded by his surgeon brother Bill, that has borne Fred’s name for 44 years. Employing 2,700 scientists and staff, “the Hutch” memorializes Seattle’s first baseball star of national stature. If he were alive, this hometown hero would turn 100 on Aug. 12.

In late 1999, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer named him Seattle’s Athlete of the 20th Century. The Seattle Times rated him second only to a recent phenom, Ken Griffey Jr.

Fred’s deep local significance is disproportionate to his short stints here in professional uniform, and minor league at that. One year was as a pitcher (his Cinderella season of 1938, post-Franklin High, when he went 25-7 for the new Rainiers), and one year plus half of another as a manager (again for the Rainiers, in 1955 and early 1959).

Still, he was the classic local boy made good. His big-league success (notching 95 wins as a pitcher, managing Cincinnati to the 1961 World Series), plus the respect accorded his alternately gentlemanly and fiery persona, gave him a lasting impression. The perseverant Fred also could turn a phrase. “Sweat is your only salvation,” he once told columnist Emmett Watson.

After his lung-cancer death in 1964, sportswriters created the Hutch Award. It didn’t hurt that the namesake’s nickname felt both informal and virile. (One original criterion for recipients, long ago discarded, was “manliness.”) The award grew into one of the Seattle center’s biggest fundraisers.

Our first “then” captures Fred at a peak of popularity, the day before the Rainiers’ 1955 home opener. This 1:30 p.m. rally at World War II-themed Victory Square – in front of soon-to-be-razed Metropolitan Theatre (circa 1911) on University Street – celebrated Fred’s return after 11 years in Detroit. Even the most hopeful fans could not have forecast his craftiness in shepherding a team with no .300 hitter in the regular lineup for the full season or 20-game-winning pitcher to the 1955 Pacific Coast League crown.

In this photo, before a sea of adoring fans (mostly male, mostly fedoraed) and on a stage crowded with business-suited players, the Barclay Girls can-can troupe and the Jackie Souders Orchestra, Fred is a “Where’s Waldo” figure. Try to find him. If you give up, we’ll help you in the first “then” caption and in the “extra” photos below.

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then,” and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are three additional photos, plus, in chronological order, seven clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that among many others were helpful in the preparation of this column.

In the interest of public disclosure, I should note that I worked at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as a curriculum writer and publications editor from 1990 to 2003. From 1999 to 2001, I conducted more than 100 interviews with family, friends and professional baseball figures, with the intent of writing a biography of Fred Hutchinson. I still nurture that intention. –Clay

This photo is a crop of the first “then” above, with a more complete accounting of those who are onstage (names are in maroon). The IDs are courtesy of David Eskenazi, from whose collection the photo originates. Double-click on the photo to make the names legible.
Here is a closer-in photo of the same scene depicted in our first “then.” Fred Hutchinson (center right) is waving. Looking on are (from left) pitcher Elmer Singleton, catcher Bob Swift, infielder Gene Verble, catcher Joe Ginsberg, coach Alan Strange, owner Emil Sick, pitcher Bill Kennedy and one of the Barclay Girls. (David Eskenazi collection)
This is the Fred Hutchinson bobblehead that will be given to the first 10,000 fans attending the Seattle Mariners game on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at T-Mobile Park. It depicts Fred in 1938, when he went 25-7 in his only season as a pitcher for the Seattle Rainiers. Note that the photographer, Ben VanHouten, positioned the oval on the stanchion to create the illusion that the ball that Fred has just thrown is heading toward you. As the photo depicts, Fred also appears in mid-pitch on the end of each 100-level seat stanchion at the ballpark. (Ben VanHouten)
Feb. 23, 1911, Seattle Times, page 19
Nov. 7, 1911, Seattle Times, page 22
Dec. 26, 1915, Seattle Times, page 18
April 28, 1942, Seattle Times, page 26
Dec. 6, 1954, Seattle Times, page 25
Dec. 7, 1954, Seattle Times, page 25
April 10, 1955, Seattle Times, page 55
April 17, 1955, Seattle Times, page 36

 

April 18, 1955, Seattle Times, page 28
February 13, 1956, Seattle Times, page 34

 

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, 1909

(click once and twice to enlarge photos)

Count the flags, big and small, strewn throughout this glimmering 1909 “then.” We calculate at least 75. For detailed maps, engaging narrative and stunning photos on the A-Y-P, check out a centennial book by Alan J. Stein, Paula Becker and the staff of HistoryLink. (MOHAI Panorama Collection)
This vantage, slightly higher than the A-Y-P Ferris wheel, looks north from atop the Unversity of Washington Physics-Astronomy Building. Rising in the foreground is the new UW Population Health Facility, set to open in late 2020. Peeking to its right is a portion of the UW Architecture Building, formerly Fine Arts Building. It, along with the UW Cunningham Building – formerly the Washington Woman’s Building, which was moved north in 2009 to a spot just left of the construction crane in this view – are the only remaining public structures on the  A-Y-P fairgrounds. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on June 20, 2019,
and in print on June 23, 2019)

A fairly wide view of the A-Y-P from 110 years ago
By Clay Eals

Back in 1962, the glitz of the Seattle World’s Fair filled my 11-year-old eyes with wonder. I still treasure its curios, including a souvenir tabloid with a custom banner headline, printed on the spot, employing the six-month show’s crowning landmark to convey whimsy: “Clay Eals Jumps Off Space Needle.”

I’m grateful it was fake news.

At no time, in visits that summer, did my child’s mind grasp that this was the city’s second world’s fair. But a nod to its precursor lay in the final word of its alternate name: the Century 21 Exposition.

Fifty-three years before, in 1909, Seattle’s – indeed, Washington state’s – first world’s fair embraced the sprawling title of Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition to salute the 1897 Gold Rush and what today we call the Pacific Rim. The A-Y-P opened 110 years ago this month at the University of Washington, which had relocated from downtown 14 years prior, in 1895.

The fair transformed the campus. With attractions from fine art to lowbrow amusements, it also instigated neoclassical (if largely temporary) architecture, Olmsted Brothers gardens, a new statue of the UW’s namesake and a stately promenade and fountain pointing to Mount Rainier.

The sweep was as wide as our “then,” taken atop the A-Y-P Ferris wheel by official photographer F.H. Nowell. It looks north and east, the western border of 15th Avenue slicing by at far left. But this panorama holds irony. While it conveys the fair’s grandeur, it covers only a fraction of its grounds.

Visible are the main entrance at 40th Street, off 15th. A short walk east reveals the George Washington statue (today one block north) and an array of gleaming structures: the Fine Arts Building (center-left), the domed U.S. Government Building, the Alaska Building (center), the smaller Washington Woman’s Building, the Klondike Circle, the Agriculture Building (behind a foreground spire of the Swedish Building) and an unintended presage of World War I, the Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama (“War! War! War! Replete with the Rush, Roar and Rumble of Battle”).

“It’s the greatest cultural event that has ever taken place in the city’s history,” asserts Magnolia’s Dan Kerlee, A-Y-P researcher and collector who runs aype.com, an educational website. He says the 3,740,551 people who attended over 138 days enjoyed a uniquely inspiring, even elegant experience. “If people could walk the A-Y-P today, they would be beside themselves.”

World’s fairs, a prolific phenomenon of the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries, have fallen out of fashion here, the most recent U.S. fairs being 45 years ago in Spokane (Expo ’74) and in Knoxville and New Orleans in the early 1980s. A few hours north, Vancouver, B.C., put on Expo ’86, the last world’s fair in North America. Still, we can smile that Seattle hosted a spectacular pair.

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then,” and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below, in chronological order, are clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that among many others were helpful in the preparation of this column.

These are just five of the 54 stories in the Seattle Times that mentioned the A-Y-P during the six-month 1962 fair. Of course, I wish I had paid more attention to these stories back then! Click on any clipping to enlarge it. –Clay

April 21, 1962, Seattle Times, page 1
April 22, 1962, Seattle Times, page 105
June 22, 1962, Seattle Times, page 2
Sept. 14, 1962, Seattle Times, page 52
Oct. 19, 1962, Seattle Times, page 24

Anything to add, fellas?

Seattle Now & Then: Judkins panorama, 1880s

(click to enlarge photos)

Careful readers may spot clothes hanging on two backyard lines at lower center of this 1885 or 1886 cityscape. This could narrow the time of year Judkins made his recording, but I remember my mother hanging clothes in the backyard during the winter in Spokane. (Paul Dorpat collection)
This prospect looks south from above the entrance to the alley on the south side of Stewart Street between Second and Third Avenues. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on June 13, 2019,
and in print on June 16, 2019)

Stacking up evidence of Seattle’s growth in the 1880s
By Paul Dorpat

This week’s “then” photo looks south toward early downtown Seattle from halfway up the southern slope of then-Denny Hill. With his extension pole, Jean Sherrard lifted his “now” camera to approximate the prospect used by pioneer photographer David Judkins for his panorama – close but, Jean and I agree, still a few feet below Judkins’ roost.

After studying the crowd of clues showing in Judkins’ prospect, Ron Edge, our feature’s frequent sleuth, agrees that Judkins’ photo was recorded in 1885 or 1886. That was three or four years before the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889, destroyed about 30 city blocks, including almost everything shrouded here behind the industrial smoke ascending from the right (west).

In early photographic cityscapes, stacks were frequently embraced as the most obvious signs of a community’s industrial success. They stood as booming pillars of pride, and a study of Seattle’s demographics from that time – city directories, tax records and such – confirms it.

In his typewritten “Chronological History of Seattle from 1850 to 1897,” Thomas Prosch, the owner/editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the city’s busiest booster, included a panegyric to the growth of his city, which since the 1880 national census was the largest town in Washington Territory, surpassing Walla Walla by a few hundred citizens.

“The boom that began in 1886 and grew in volume and force in 1887 continued with unabated activity and vigor in 1888,” Prosch wrote. “It was manifested in a thousand ways, but particularly with real estate speculation, in the platting of additions to the city, hundreds of new buildings, scores of graded streets, the new railways, banks, hotels, stores, factories, shops and people.

“The inhabitants of Seattle, who numbered 3,533 in 1880 and 9,786 in 1885, increased in number to 12,167 in 1887 and to 19,116 in 1888. Much as this great increase signified, it was dwarfed by that of the next two years, for the census of 1889 showed Seattle to have 26,740 inhabitants and that of 1890, 42,837.”

(Such rapid growth some 130 years ago should excite a “Wow!” from some of our readers. Want more? Our blog features a complete copy of Prosch’s thick chronology from the mid-1890s.)

The most striking aspect of this “then” photo may be the two hand-drawn Mount Rainiers, the result of merging the panorama’s two halves, each of which sported a peak. Did Judkins believe anyone would fall for his manufactured substitutes? In 1885, it was still difficult to photographically record bright, snow-covered icons such as “The Mountain That Was God” (title of a 1910 guidebook self-published by John H. Williams).

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “now” prospect and compare it with the “then,” and to hear this column read aloud by Paul Dorpat, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Anything to add, fellas?

This morning Jean it will be alas and good night, aka nighty-bears (copy write: Bill Burden).  That is we will soon  again climb the stairs to our small bed resting beside a full-wall reflection – a ballet practice mirror.  (The sometimes frightening effect some early mornings is to awaken with sunrise and face myself.  At eighty it is not a flattering confrontation.)  Now Jean reminds me that this week we promised something more about the Thomas Prosch’s sustained contribution to recording Seattle history.  That will need to wait for later this week.  Now, I’ll be climbing the stairs, again to nighty-bears.  At eighty I use two canes.  Below, as a consoling custom we will again attach some relevant clips.

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

=====

=====

Seattle Now & Then: The Great Seattle Fire, Part II – Out of the Ashes

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Built in 1883, the luxurious Occidental Hotel covered the flatiron block bounded by Second, Yesler and James. In our “then,” its three-story stone monolith looms over a crew of weary firemen. Locals rated the Occidental “the largest and best equipped house north of San Francisco.” Destroyed in the Great Fire, it was succeeded by the Seattle Hotel, which held court for 70 years.
NOW: Erected in 1961, the “sinking ship” garage proves a dismal replacement. Dismay at the loss of the Seattle Hotel incited a passionate preservationist movement in Seattle. It might be said that it was the “sinking ship” that launched a thousand faces.

(Published in Seattle Times online on June 6, 2019,
and in print on June 9, 2019)

From ‘the hideous remains’ of the Great Fire, a new and improved Seattle rises
By Jean Sherrard

Thirty eight years after its founding, Seattle catapulted to worldwide attention via reports of catastrophic destruction.

The June 6, 1889, fire that incinerated more than 120 acres and nearly 30 blocks of downtown occurred on what might be called a slow news day. Only one week earlier, a burst dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, had swept away more than 2,200 lives, shocking the nation (in response, generous Seattleites pledged $576 for flood relief). The fire that leveled the wooden business district of our pioneer town – although it caused no fatalities aside from a Panglossian “million rats” – was also featured in newspapers across the country.

Within days, a New York Times headline read: ‘The Great Seattle Fire … It May Be a Blessing in Disguise.” Seattle land tycoon Henry Dearborn, visiting the East Coast, predicted: “The fire has cleaned out all these [tinder boxes] which were a constant menace to the city” but soon would be replaced “by fine, fire-proof structures.” Seattle residents enthusiastically agreed.

At first, however, hometown papers adopted a gloomier tone. The morning after the fire, the Seattle Daily Press succumbed to purple prose: “Besides the smoking, tomblike ruins of a few standing walls … people are left living to endure with sheer despair … blackness, gloom, bereavement, suffering, poverty, the hideous remains of a feast of fire.”

A spectacular Ron Edge find and stitch. The brick foundations on the right are the remains of the Frye Opera House, pictured in last week’s ‘Then’ photo just before it burned to the ground.

Yet the same morning, 600 citizens gathered at the surviving Armory on Union Street between Third and Fourth avenues in a display of civic gratitude and confidence. The crowd cheered the news that arch-rival Tacoma had offered aid and succor, as had San Francisco and other cities and towns. When some suggested that aid pledged to the Johnstown homeless be diverted for Seattle use, the crowd shouted, “To Johnstown! Let it go to Johnstown!”

Echoing through the Armory was a commitment to “pull all together” and “rise like a phoenix” while constructing a new city of brick and stone. Streets would be widened and leveled, while a fervent appeal was made to “Seattle Spirit.” On Saturday, June 8, Post-Intelligencer headlines affirmed: “A New Seattle Will Arise … Sweet are the Uses of Adversity.”

Another Ron Edge special. In this panoramic view, Front Street (1st Avenue) is being rebuilt. The Pioneer Building foundation is being lain on the left. The corner of the same building appears on the left in our ‘Now’ photo above.

Operating from tents, local businesses prepared to rebuild. Impresario John Cort, having reopened his burned-out Standard Theater under a canvas big top, featured a joke that brought down the house: “How’s business?” asked the straight man. The comic replied, “Intense!”

The pun proved prophetic. In less than two years, Seattle’s population nearly doubled to almost 45,000, and 3,500 new buildings arose, mostly in the devastated core. Voters authorized a more dependable city water system, and a municipal fire department formed. Thus, just in time for the 1897 Gold Rush, a small pioneer town reintroduced itself as an ambitious young city.

WEB EXTRAS

For a good time, click on through to our spoken word 360 video.

Anything to add, firebugs?   A few off fires.  We will be restrained.

======

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

Seattle Now & Then: The Great Seattle Fire, 1889

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Only a handful of images exists of the actual fire — taken by professional photographer William Boyd, whose studio was lost to the flames. Shot from the corner of Spring and Front streets, our “Then” photo looks south to smoke billowing up from Madison Street, where the fire began. The grand pioneer landmark Frye’s Opera House looms large (upper left), just after catching fire. None of the visible structures survived. (courtesy, Wayne Pazina)
NOW: Every building in our current prospect manifests Seattle’s postfire (and oft-voiced) cri de coeur: “We want a city of brick and stone!”

(Published in Seattle Times online on May 30,, 2019,
and in print on June 2, 2019)

130 years ago, poor planning added fuel to Seattle’s Great Fire
By Jean Sherrard

Great cities often have burned to the ground, some over and over again until they got it right. New York, Boston, Chicago and London were reduced to cinders yet repeatedly rebuilt. The cruel lesson: Invest in incombustible masonry and stone, or pay the fiery piper.

One of the few shots of the fire in progress (courtesy, MOHAI)

Young, aspiring Seattle learned that lesson at 2:30 p.m. June 6, 1889, when Swedish immigrant John Back, 24, overheated a glue pot in a cabinet shop in the basement of the wooden Pontius building at Front Street (now First Avenue) and Madison Street.

From the Post-Intelligencer: “I was about 40 feet away,” said Mr. Kittermaster, a fellow employee, “and I saw Back seize a pail of water to throw upon it. I shouted for him not to do it, but [he] seemed excited and danced about with the pail before he dashed the water.” The hapless Back recounted, “I run and took the pot of water … and poured it over the pot of glue, which was blazing up high. When I throw the water on, the glue flew all over the shop into the shavings, and everything take fire.”

Firefighters battle on with rapidly diminishing resources! (courtesy, MOHAI)

In minutes, Seattle’s first steam fire engine arrived but had trouble finding the source of the flames through the billowing smoke. In a miscalculation of planning, downtown hydrants had been planted at two-block intervals, with hoses a block too short. Led by Mayor Robert Moran, crews fought a valiant but losing battle. Overburdened city water mains lost pressure. Streams from the abbreviated hoses eased to a trickle.

At First and Marion, in the basement of the Dietz and Mayer Liquor Store, whiskey barrels exploded, fueling the flames, which spread quickly to nearby saloons. By late afternoon on this hot, blustery day, the entire Denny block was a raging inferno.

Against a cacophony of steam whistles and pealing church and fire bells, homeowners and business owners raced frantically to save possessions, loading up wagons and retreating up to First Hill, south to the tidelands and even out onto the doomed docks.

Post-Intelligencer editor Thomas Prosch wrote, “For a couple of hours after the fire crossed Yesler, the spectacle was a magnificent one, the flames rising high in the air … while the noise of falling walls, the crackling, the occasional explosions, the shouts, added to the flare and heat in making the scene a memorable one.”

Seattleites watched that scene with horror and fascination as their firetrap of a city burned. In 12 hours, the downtown business district — 29 blocks and nearly a square mile — had gone up in smoke.
Amazingly, no one died, though it’s estimated the fire did $20 million worth of damage, in 1889 dollars.

Next week: the aftermath, and the phoenix arising from its ashes — a Seattle that rapidly learned the lessons of brick, sandstone and an abundant water supply.

WEB EXTRAS

Please click on through to our 360 video of the current location plus a spoken word version of the column.

Anything to add, les pompiers?

As usual dear captain – a jumble or a farrago of fire – a few more repeats from the time and/or the event.

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

======

WE RETURN NEXT WEEL WITH MORE FIRES (scattered) & RUINS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: DAR Rainier Chapter House, 1930

(click once and twice to enlarge photos)

Five years after the Rainier Chapter House was built, nearly 90 women pose on its portico, illustrating the age-old photographer’s challenge of getting everyone to face the same direction. In the middle, can you also spot a costumed George Washington? (Rainier Chapter House)
Beneath the cupola (unfortunately sliced from the top of our “then”), 34 chapter members attending their annual spring brunch emulate the pose of their ancestors. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on May 23, 2019,
and in print on May 26, 2019)

Registering a replica in honor of George and Martha
By Clay Eals

If you have flown to America’s Other Washington and taken the popular tourist trip 10 miles south to Mount Vernon, your mind’s eye can see the mansion of our first president and first lady, George and Martha Washington. Though its construction and expansion coincided with the beginnings of our egalitarian democracy, the manor overlooking the Potomac River was, and remains, majestic – 10 times the size of the average home in mid-1700s colonial Virginia.

We needn’t trek 2,800 miles to get an in-person approximation of the experience. Here we have what the Seattle Times once called “Seattle’s Own Mount Vernon,” embodied in the 94-year-old Rainier Chapter House of the Daughters of the American Revolution. A faithful reproduction of George and Martha’s famed residence, it simultaneously salutes its eastern counterpart and our state’s namesake.

When this replica was dedicated on April 11, 1925, in a ceremony attended by Gov. Roland Hartley, the Seattle Times favorably compared it to the original, “lacking only its water border and great expanse of grounds.” Today it retains a striking stature while surrounded by a city streetscape bearing three other treasures: the Loveless Building, the Cornish School and the Women’s Century Club (site of the former Harvard Exit moviehouse), all part of the Harvard-Belmont Landmark District atop Capitol Hill.

It also recently scored a coveted countrywide standing. On March 20, the Rainier Chapter House became listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is not merely a promotable honor. It also paves the way for valuable tax credits and grants. To celebrate, the 167 chapter members are inviting the public to a plaque unveiling on Sunday afternoon, June 2.

These women, all descendents of Revolutionary warriors who struggled for independence from Britain, embrace an inspiring legacy. Their ancestors formed the chapter in 1895 and raised money after World War I to build their elegant local headquarters. They even scoured attics to find items to sell at Pike Place Market. As a result, Seattle’s DAR chapter was the only one in the nation, at the time, to own the ground for its building.

Daniel Huntington, coming off nine years as Seattle’s municipal architect, infused a classical design, with wood siding grooved to resemble stonework. The edifice was erected in just four months, after which chapter members filled it with period furniture, dishes, art and historical objects. They also began an enduring tradition – renting the facility, including its second-floor ballroom, to groups that seek immersion in a sumptuous past.

If George and Martha themselves were to appear on its doorstep today, they might momentarily mistake Rainier Chapter House for their home. Their clue otherwise would be our urban milieu.

WEB EXTRAS

For even more great history, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Here, in chronological order, are a flier for the June 2, 2019, public celebration, plus three clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column. Click on any clipping to enlarge it. –Clay

Flier for June 2, 2019, public celebration of National Register of Historic Places recognition
April 5, 1925, Seattle Times, page 52
April 12, 1925, Seattle Times, page 19
April 12, 1925, Seattle Times, page 48

Anything else to add, gents?

 

Seattle Now & Then: Seattle Transfer, 1893

(click to enlarge photos)

In this 1893 image showcasing Seattle Transfer Company, a few steeds are blurry, oblivious to the need to stand still for the exposure. (Ron Edge collection)
South of the Chinatown International District, cars replace horses in this westerly view along South Charles Street from Seventh Avenue South. Rising from where tideflats used to wash are the tan Inscape building (formerly U.S. immigration) and, behind it, CenturyLink Field. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on May 16, 2019,
and in print on May 19, 2019)

How to haul goods in the 1800s? By horse, of course
By Clay Eals

Today, we think nothing of hauling boxes, baggage and all manner of business and household goods with motor vehicles. But 130 years ago, a mere blink of an eye in the world’s history, vehicle power was of the four-legged variety.

One firm providing equine infrastructure, founded in 1888, was the Seattle Transfer Company. Its barn and warehouse stood at the edge of southern tideflats that soon would be filled by the city’s massive regrades and dredging, a process that took decades.

To burnish its reputation, Seattle Transfer probably could have fared no better than to pose its fleet, staff and stock for the camera of Frank La Roche. In 1893, the year of our “then,” the city was four years on either side of arguably the two most momentous events of its early days – the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and the 1897 onset of the northern Gold Rush, for which Seattle served as the jumping-off point. La Roche, arriving in Seattle after the fire, would earn fame by traveling more than 100 times to Alaska and the Yukon to capture 3,000 images of Klondike fever.

Here, in La Roche’s warm sepia, we look west to find 57 gents (and five tykes) with an equal number of top hats, bowlers and other chapeaux, even a straw skimmer. Most of the men sit on 27 lanterned rigs pulled by at least 33 horses.

By 1900 and fueled by the Gold Rush, Seattle Transfer employed 79 men and 85 horses. In Seattle and the Orient/Souvenir Edition, a 184-page book published by The Seattle Times and sold for 25 cents, the firm elicited praise: “The company has the right – in fact, are the only people in Seattle who have it – of boarding all incoming vessels and trains and soliciting baggage.” With no intended distaste, the book also noted how the firm dispatched the waste of its charges: “All the refuse is carried to the rear of the building and from there dumped into the Sound, the waters of which rise with each succeeding tide.”

Seattle Transfer did garner attention for more savory, constructive deeds. In 1898, when New York Evening Telegram readers balloted with nearly 300,000 coupons to proclaim firefighter F.A. Louis and rail conductor R.C. Dodge “the most popular men in the American metropolis,” their prize was a celebrated trip through Seattle to the Klondike. Seattle Transfer handled their 16 pieces of excess baggage.

One year later, in what The Seattle Times termed “a most peculiar accident,” two horses fell into and were imprisoned for nearly 10 hours inside a sewer excavation at Pike Street and Broadway. Who rode to the rescue with a block and tackle to extricate the steeds? Hi ho, Seattle Transfer!

WEB EXTRAS

For even more great history, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Here, in chronological order, are eight clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Seattle and the Orient/Souvenir Edition that were helpful in the preparation of this column. Click on any clipping to enlarge it. –Clay

Dec. 11, 1895, Seattle Times, page 11
April 27, 1897, Seattle Times, page 2
Feb. 23, 1898, Seattle Times, page 10
May 28, 1899, Seattle Times, page 23 (juxtaposed with “Manhood Restored” ad)
Sept. 17, 1899, Seattle Times, page 5
1900 “Seattle and the Orient” excerpt
April 7, 1904, Seattle Times, page 14
Jan. 30, 1905, Seattle Times, page 12

Anything else to add, gents?

Here’s a few more from the general neighborhood.  Oh have so many more to pull and share – after we complete our first vacation in 38 years.  It is a vacation we hope to survive.

======

======

======

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

=====

(ABOVE:  Pouch in Pompei – by Genevieve McCoy)