Category Archives: Seattle Now and Then

Seattle Now & Then: Jimi Hendrix plays Sick’s Stadium, 1970

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Little did 16-year-old Dave DePartee, standing near the front of the centerfield stage, know that he would be snapping one of the few surviving photos of Jimi Hendrix’s final Seattle concert on July 26, 1970. Over Hendrix’s shoulder, apartments with a view into Sicks Stadium stand atop Tightwad Hill. At upper right, a corner of the stadium scoreboard advertises Chevron gas. Jimi’s orange-red outfit provides the sole splash of color on a gray day. (Courtesy Dave DePartee)
THEN2: Erected in 1938 by Rainier Brewing Company owner Emil Sick for his Pacific Coast League baseball team the Seattle Rainiers, Sick’s (then Sicks’, then Sicks) Stadium stood between Rainier Avenue and today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Way. This view looks west from Tightwad Hill on June 15, 1938, when the Seattle Rainiers played their first home game in the new stadium. (Courtesy David Eskenazi)
NOW: In a southeast section of Lowe’s Home Improvement on Rainier Avenue, Dave DePartee, playing air guitar with an axe, and local sports historian David Eskenazi pose near the original location of Hendrix’s stage. Eskenazi is also an artist and Hendrix fan. In 1980, while attending the University of Washington, his original pencil drawing was made into a poster by Tower Records to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hendrix’s death. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on July 22, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 25, 2021)

Jimi Hendrix makes his final home run at Sick’s Stadium
By Jean Sherrard

On Sunday, July 26, 1970, it was a typical outdoor Seattle scenario, rainy but right.

In our early teens, my friends and I hunkered on Tightwad Hill, the steep and legendary bluff across Empire Way (today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Way) from Sicks Stadium. Generations of baseball fans had preceded us there, finding catbird seats for minor-league games in Rainier Valley.

Today, however, rock was the draw. Two groups, Cactus and Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, opened the show. But we were there for the headliner — Seattle’s own Jimi Hendrix, playing his fourth-ever hometown concert.

Raised in the Central District, the throbbing heart of Seattle’s Black community, self-taught Hendrix had never learned to read music. Left-handed, he turned his guitar and the world upside-down. In just four years, he’d become a superstar, astounding audiences with revolutionary (sometimes incendiary) musicality. At 27, he was one of rock’s greatest instrumentalists, though the pressures of his meteoric rise were mounting.

Inside the post-Rainiers, Angels and Pilots ballpark, thousands of eager fans including today’s “Then” photographer, 16-year-old Dave DePartee, were watching from the muddy infield. This column’s founder, Paul Dorpat, then a concert promoter and underground newspaper publisher, stood backstage.

From Tightwad Hill, the stage was a postage stamp, but the loud rock pummeled us. Fans repeatedly tried to sneak over chain-link and wood-slat fences, painfully confronted by rent-a-cops spraying mace from catwalks. Barriers were breached only once, by a trio who lifted a fence and slid under to Tightwad huzzahs.

Just before Hendrix began, harder rains fell from a steel-wool sky. The mix of water and electric instruments was worrisome, but after rubber mats were installed, the show resumed.

And here’s where the narrative flips. Consider, if you will, an exhausted, moody Hendrix playing before a home audience, the backstage jammed with family, friends and obligations. What followed was a note of generosity echoing from Jimi’s youth.

On Sept. 1, 1957, Elvis Presley had played Sicks’ Stadium for an ecstatic crowd of 16,000. Short the buck-fifty admission, 14-year-old Hendrix watched the show perched atop — you guessed it — Tightwad Hill.

Thirteen years later, Hendrix instructed the stadium crew to throw gates open and let in hundreds of young cheapskates, including me, from the same bluff. Roaring approval, we scrambled down the incline and inside, thumbing our noses at the defanged rent-a-cops.

Tragically, this was Hendrix’s last concert in the continental United States. Less than two months later, on Sept. 18, he died in London of an accidental drug overdose. His sonic earthquake continues to shake and inspire to this day.

WEB EXTRAS

A handful of treats, including Jean’s 360 degree video accompanying this column, recorded on location at Lowe’s Home Improvement (not far from the stage in Sick’s centerfield), click right here.

Also, check out David Eskenazi’s artwork for the poster printed by Tower Records on the 10th anniversary of Hendrix’s death.

Tower Record sold many hundreds of these posters. Dave recounts that Jimi’s brother Leon and father Al Hendrix stopped by and added their own signatures at a signing event
A Seattle Times article about David’s poster scribed by rock critic Patrick MacDonald
More original art by David Eskenazi
There must be some kind of way outta here / Said the joker to the thief…

And if we ask nicely, Clay Eals may relate the story of his letter which appeared in Life magazine. (Happy birthday, Clay!)

Clay here: Yes, Jean, I’ll relate the Life magazine story complete with photos, but it’ll have to wait a few days while I focus on my daughter Karey’s visit to Seattle this week from Philly. Please return to this post in a few days to see what I add. For those of a certain age, Life magazine was a big deal. (GREAT Hendrix art, Mr. Davedeman Eskenazi!)

Seattle Now & Then: Second Ave post-fire, 1889

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THEN: This photo looks north along Second Street (now Avenue) north of Spring Street in July 1889, just weeks after the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889. Though a 1912 notation appears with the name McManus on the photo, that credit amounts to an appropriation of the work of prolific post-fire photographer John P. Soule. A cropped postcard of this image originally came to “Now & Then” from Woodinville Heritage Society. (John P. Soule, courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW: Today, 132 years after the Great Seattle Fire, this tree-lined section of Second Avenue from the same vantage has become largely a high-rise canyon. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on July 15, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 18, 2021

Downtown broke out in tents after Seattle’s most disastrous fire
By Clay Eals

These days of human-made climate change, we steel ourselves for summertime forest fires that bring vile smoke to our air and lungs.

All the more reason to renew our awareness of Seattle’s most devastating fire, not from the wild but from an overturned glue pot in the heart of downtown.

The toughest aspect of that storied June 6, 1889, blaze may not have been its widespread destruction, but rather the arduous restoration of the city’s core. Our “Then” photo reflects the immediate emergence of a “multitude of tents,” many quite substantial, as headlined in the July 24, 1889, Seattle Post Intelligencer, which dispatched a reporter to count all 454 of them.

Detail from our “Then” showing “TENTS SIGNS” and in smaller print “PAINTED ANYWHERE.”

We look north to then-Denny Hill (pre-regrade) along Second Avenue (then Street) north of Spring Street, a section that escaped the more southern flames. A rippled banner at far left hints that the need for tents and signs “painted anywhere” was in itself urgent.

Among 11 make-do structures on this block is one on the west side sheltering Doheny & Marum Dry Goods, purveyor of women’s wear, drapery and linens. “Forty Cases New Goods Opened Yesterday,” the firm bellowed in the July 17, 1889, P-I. “Every department in our canvass establishment is now fully complete.”

Arthur Letts, 1886. (Tye Publishing)

Across the street, English émigré Arthur Letts hawked menswear from a lean-to. Seven years later, he moved to Los Angeles, reviving one famed department store, the Broadway, and creating another, Bullock’s.

A posthumous assist in researching these businesses came from citizen historian W. Burton Eidsmoe, a Seattle-area accountant who spent several years before his 1996 death at 81 typing up listings from the 1889 Polk directory and elsewhere. This resulted in his massive, 730-page report, “They Watched Seattle Burn,” available online via Seattle Public Library.

“He could get focused and single-minded,” says Eidsmoe’s son, Craig, of Mountlake Terrace. “He was a cross between (Sinclair Lewis’ fictional) Babbitt and H.L. Mencken, that American spirit of doing it on your own.”

Much, apparently, like the intrepid merchants who took to tents to lift downtown back onto its feet.

For contemporary resonance, here’s a coda: Of the 454 tents, 100 were small sleepers on a hillside block southeast of downtown, sent across the Cascades by the U.S. Army’s Fort Spokane.

“They are yet occupied for the distressed, under direction of the general relief committee,” the P-I reported. “These tents are all occupied nightly by men lately in want, who now get daily employment and will soon be out of need. No families are there. It is expected that this camp will be broken ere long and the tents turned over to the government.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to Phyllis Keller of Woodinville Heritage Society, who first brought the “Then” postcard to our attention!

Below are W. Burton Eidsmoe’s massive report, five additional photos and, in chronological order, three historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Cover of “They Watched Seattle Burn,” a 1996 compilation by W. Burton Eidsmoe. Click image to see pdf of this 730-page report.
The original “Then” postcard, cropped from the photo provided by Ron Edge, as forwarded to this column by Phyllis Keller of Woodinville Heritage Society.
Second Avenue further north, post-fire, July 1889. (John P. Soule, courtesy Ron Edge)
Tents post-fire, July 1889. (John P. Soule, courtesy Ron Edge)
Tents post-fire, looking west, July 1889. (John P. Soule, courtesy Ron Edge)
Tents post-fire, looking west, July 1889. (D.T. Smith, courtesy Ron Edge)
July 21, 1889, Doheny & Marum ad, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
July 24, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
Dec. 3, 1996, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.

Seattle Now & Then: puppeteer Aurora Valentinetti turns 100!

UPDATE: Remember the “Now & Then” column on puppeteer Aurora Valentinetti from two years ago? This Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Wenatchee, she celebrates her 100th birthday! Here’s a photo with her “100” crown. And read the Aug. 14, 2019, column and “web extras” (below) to learn more about her incredible life!

Aurora Valentinetti wears a “100” crown in honor of her 100th birthday on July 14, 2021. (Joanne Bratton)

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THEN: Much as Aurora Valentinetti asked children to do in her puppet shows, transport yourself to a different realm – in this case the drama department in the basement of Denny Hall at the University of Washington where, in this view from the late 1940s/early 1950s, the new professor coaxes the personality of her handmade Pip marionette for a production of “The Shoemaker and the Elves.” (James O. Sneddon, Aurora Valentinetti collection)
NOW: In a vestibule of Meany Hall, Valentinetti poses with the same seat prop and Pip marionette prior to her June 13, 2019, receipt of the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award. To see more of her and her students’ original creations and puppets of all kinds, from tiny to life-size, visit the Valentinetti Puppet Museum in downtown Bremerton. (Clay Eals)

(Published in Seattle Times online on Aug. 1, 2019,
and in print on Aug. 4, 2019)

A distinguished lifetime of bringing puppets to moppets
By Clay Eals

It all might seem rather simple, maybe childlike. But concocting, constructing and bringing to life an inanimate object to stir emotions and imagination is complex, profound business.

Just ask Aurora Valentinetti, winner of the University of Washington’s 2019 Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award, who as this column appears has reached her 98th birthday.

Propelling a walker as she strode across the Meany Hall stage June 13 to receive the award medal, the pint-sized honoree drew a roaring ovation while mirroring the fortitude that she carried from her West Seattle upbringing to the UW in the fall of 1939 and that helped her forge a lifetime persona – that of puppeteer.

From the early 1940s to her retirement in 1992 and beyond, this puppetry professor and promoter took her hand, rod and string creations seemingly everywhere – from the Showboat Theatre to the Metropolitan Theatre (both long gone), from St. Mark’s Cathedral to First African Episcopal Church, from Bainbridge to Bumbershoot, from Fremont to Federal Way, from statewide tours to national festivals, from the beloved Christmas windows of the old Frederick & Nelson department store downtown to her own “Puppet Playhouse” show on KCTS-TV, Channel 9.

Though her productions sometimes targeted adults by exploring themes from operatic to existentialist, Valentinetti’s deepest impact – and love – lay in her shows for children, tapping into worldwide cultures and using puppets that each took 200 hours to build.

She wasn’t a recognizable kids’ TV icon like Wunda Wunda or Brakeman Bill because her work, by definition, was behind the scenes. “You have to become the soul of that figure, and you don’t count,” she says.

Nonetheless, she mesmerized moppets, no doubt because most of the time, their eyes wide open, mouths agape and minds “still in touch with fantasy and magic,” they were reacting to the escapades of her puppets in person and in real time.

Such engagement, she says, validates a universal, desperate need for artistic endeavor.

“Without the arts, we are going to be robots or back to the level of animals,” she says. “Real learning happens through all of the arts, particularly for young children. That’s where they grow and expand. That also is where children can be individuals.”

Since college days, she lived in Wallingford to be close to her classes. She never married or drove a car, instead bidding rides from students. “They knew that if they drove me home, I’d feed them.”

To live closer to a niece, Joanne Bratton, she moved in 2016 to Wenatchee. There, she keeps several of her puppets close by. “They have a power all their own,” she says. “I just treat them like human beings.”

Perhaps she’s imparting a deeper lesson to us all.

WEB EXTRAS

This week, instead of a 360-degree video, we are providing links to several video interviews of Aurora Valentinetti from which quotes were drawn for this column.

Aurora Valentinetti, one month shy of 98, receives the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award June 13, 2019, at Meany Hall. This award presentation is at the end of this video, preceded by a “now” photo shoot for the Seattle Times “Now & Then” column and an interview of Aurora by Clay Eals.
Aurora Valentinetti,, 97, the legendary puppetry professor at the University of Washington for 50 years, received the Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award from the University of Washington Alumni Association on April 12, 2019, in a ceremony at her home in Wenatchee, Washington. This video depicts the ceremony only. It was emceed by Grant Kollett, UW assistant vice president for alumni and stakeholder engagement. Speakers were nieces Katy Larson and Joanne Bratton.
This is the same video as above but includes an interview at the end, starting at 37:10. Aurora Valentinetti,, 97, the legendary puppetry professor at the University of Washington for 50 years, received the Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award from the University of Washington Alumni Association on April 12, 2019, in a ceremony at her home in Wenatchee, Washington. This video depicts the ceremony, as well as displays and greetings beforehand from well-wishers and Aurora describing some of her favorite puppets afterward. The ceremony was emceed by Grant Kollett, UW assistant vice president for alumni and stakeholder engagement. Speakers were nieces Katy Larson and Joanne Bratton.
In this 1992 interview, “Upon Reflection” host Marcia Alvar speaks with Aurora “The Puppet Lady” Valentinetti, puppeteer and professor emeritus at the University of Washington School of Drama. Valentinetti examines the history of puppetry around the world. While Americans have regarded puppets as little more than a childish amusement, she highlights the importance of puppets in other cultures and recognizes the efforts of Jim Henson in gaining a wider acceptance for puppets as a viable form of theater.

Also, below are two additional photos, plus, in chronological order, several clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and one from the Mercer Island Reporter that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

In the early 1950s, Aurora Valentinetti displays seven of her marionettes at the University of Washington. (Aurora Valentinetti collection)
Aurora Valentinetti displays her University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award medal minutes after she received it on June 13, 2019. (Clay Eals)
Oct. 19, 1947, Seattle Times, page 63
July 20, 1948, Seattle Times, page 9
Dec. 18, 1950, Seattle Times, page 21
Dec. 31, 1950, Seattle Times, page 54
Dec. 13, 1951, Seattle Times, page 62
Dec. 17, 1951, Seattle Times, page 27
June 20, 1952, Seattle Times, page 20
Jan. 25, 1959, Seattle Times, page 69
March 29, 1959, Seattle Times, page 109
April 14, 1959, Seattle Times, page 39
Feb. 4, 1962, Seattle Times, page 144
June 24, 1962, Seattle Times, page 62
Jan. 24, 1963, Mercer Island Reporter
April 3, 1963, Seattle Times, page 21
April 7, 1963, Seattle Times, page 16
Nov. 10, 1963, Seattle Times, page 16
March 16, 1964, Seattle Times, page 141
March 29, 1964, Seattle Times, page 130
July 5, 1964, Seattle Times, page 41
Aug. 18, 1965, Seattle Times, page 21
Oct. 27, 1968, Seattle Times, page 206
Oct. 27, 1968, Seattle Times, page 211
Dec. 8, 1968, Seattle Times, page 53

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: Luna Park and Queen Anne Hill at night, 1907-1913

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THEN1: Shining lower left in this 1907-1913 postcard is Luna Park. With more than two-dozen amusement rides and other “attractions,” as well as concerts and a natatorium (saltwater pool), it advertised itself in 1908 as “the Nation’s Greatest Playground on the Pacific Coast.” The park was outlined in Westinghouse “A” lamps, deemed the top bulbs of the day. “Brilliant Electrical Displays Every Evening,” ads promised. (Courtesy Aaron J. Naff, “Seattle’s Luna Park.“)
NOW: Perched above Hamilton Viewpoint Park at a similar prospect to the vintage postcard are Kerry Korsgaard, holding a framed version of the poem she requested, and typewriter poet Sean Petrie, with his “Listen to the Trees” book and his 1928 Remington Portable No. 2. A state ferry stands in for the postcard’s steamer Kennedy. Petrie returns from Texas to create poetry in West Seattle this weekend, including for the Junction Sidewalk Sale. For details, visit SeanPetrie.com. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on July 8, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 11, 2021)

Illustrated, impromptu poetry is just this author’s type
By Clay Eals

If I were Sean Petrie, I might be able to write this column in two minutes.

Petrie, 50, is a thaumaturge with a typewriter. And no, he won’t send you to the dictionary like I just did. He specializes in down-to-earth poetry, clacked out impromptu on his manual 1928 Remington Portable No. 2.

In West Seattle, home away from home for the University of Texas law lecturer, several times a year you’ll find him escaping legalities at a festival, on a street corner, basically anywhere people are walking by. His sign, “Free Poems: Any Topic,” lures them in. After a brief chat and a few moments of focused rat-a-tat-tat, they leave with a piece of personalized verbal art.

Petrie has collected 45 of his creations and, like a relative of this column, combined them with historical and present-day photos in a charming book: “Listen to the Trees: A Poetic Snapshot of West Seattle, Then & Now” (Documentary Media, 2020).

THEN2: Sean Petrie’s poem, “Nightowls,” created in 2018. Kerry Korsgaard, requester of the poem, is a longtime board member of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Because of images and assistance lent him in the publishing process, Petrie credited the historical society as co-author of his book. (Sean Petrie)

Which brings us to our “Then” photo, used in the book to augment a poem he wrote for West Seattleite Kerry Korsgaard about her favorite local creatures, the nightowls. For her theme, he conjured a 15-line tribute in the voice of the critters “Who shine / When that sun dips down” in the “shimmering / Soft darkness.”

The illustrative image is a roughly 110-year-old, hand-colored postcard of “Seattle at Night, from West Seattle.” The peaceful scene is illuminated by the lights of twin-mounded Queen Anne Hill and the moon, shimmering indeed over dark Elliott Bay while the Mosquito Fleet steamer Kennedy slices the reflection.

In the West Seattle foreground are the lamps of a small yacht and the famed Luna Park, which operated at Duwamish Head from 1907 to 1913. In our repeat, taken at a slightly higher point, atop the Sunset Avenue stairclimb above Hamilton Viewpoint Park, trees obscure today’s teeming Harbor Avenue waterfront, including bike paths, Don Armeni Boat Ramp and (out of frame) the King County Water Taxi.

The poems and photos in “Listen to the Trees” encompass neighborhoods, businesses, parks and people peninsula-wide — an expansive result from a deceptively spare form.

For eight years, Petrie and others in a national writers group called Typewriter Rodeo have nurtured this approach, earning raves from the likes of cinematic thaumaturge Tom Hanks, a typewriter aficionado. “You QWERTY Cowboys,” Hanks wrote (typed). “Thank you … for keeping the sound and fury of typewriting available to all.”

In case you didn’t look it up, thaumaturge is defined as “a worker of wonders and performer of miracles; a magician.”

Almost a poem in itself.

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, 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, a video link and, in chronological order, 15 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Cover for “Listen to the Trees: A Poetic Snapshot of West Seattle, Then & Now” (Documentary Media, 2020). Sticker indicates the book won a silver medal from the Independent Publishers Association. (Courtesy Sean Petrie)
VIDEO: Click the image above to see a one-hour presentation on Luna Park by documentary filmmaker Paul Moyes, including a screening of his “Location, Layout and Attractions of Seattle’s Lost Luna Park.” The presentation took place June 30, 2021, and was sponsored by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
The downtown skyline and the moon over Elliott Bay on March 28, 2021. (Clay Eals)
Endorsement letter from actor Tom Hanks, May 2, 2018. (Sean Petrie)
May 9, 1908, Seattle Times, page 5.
Jan. 31, 1911, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Oct. 29, 1911, Seattle Times, page 50.
April 29, 1912, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
April 30, 1912, Seattle Times, page 19.
Feb. 27, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
March 15, 1913, Seattle Times, page 2.
April 20, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 77.
June 4, 1913, Seattle Times, page 3.
June 8, 1913, Seattle Times, page 15.
June 18, 1913, Seattle Times, page 9.
June 23, 1913, Seattle Times, page 8.
June 27, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
Aug. 9, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
Aug. 12, 1913, Seattle Times, page 11.

Seattle Now & Then: Vicarious vacations, way back in 1953 & 1962

Readers, in tune with the theme of this week’s column, we encourage you to submit your own photos of early-day, treasured vacation moments. We’ll feature them on this blog and select several to appear in this column at summer’s end. Email them to VicariousVacationPix@gmail.com. As with our own vacation snaps, we’ll track down photographers from around the world to reshoot “Nows” of your “Then” vacations!

= = = = =

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN (Clay): Flanked by his parents Virginia and Henry, 2-1/2-year-old Clay Eals straddles a tourist “zonkey” circa Christmas 1953 and New Year’s Day 1954, likely on Avenida Revolución in Tijuana, Mexico. (Clay Eals collection)
NOW (Clay): Scott Koenig, a San Diego food blogger, graphic designer and marketing specialist who conducts “taco tours” in northern Mexico, poses with a “zonkey” in 2014 on Tijuana’s tourist boulevard, Avenida Revolución. Painting donkeys for tourist photos has declined due to animal-rights concerns. Koenig has been told they are out only on weekends, partly because of a COVID-induced drop in tourists. (Courtesy Scott Koenig)
THEN (Jean): Posing on the banks of Venice’s Grand Canal in 1962 are (from left) 5-year-old Jean Sherrard, his grandmother Dorothy Randal, brother Kael and mother Edith. In the distance is the Ponte degli Scalzi, one of only four bridges crossing the Grand Canal. The stone arch footbridge was completed in 1934. (Jean Sherrard collection)
NOW (Jean): Several staff members of the three-star Hotel Antiche Figure pose at the identical location on the Grand Canal. From left, Ecaterina Madan, Hana Bohusevich, Ivano Tagliapietra, Francesca Zambotto, and Majid Kokalay. Hotel Manager Alessandro Fornasier graciously offered to retake our “Now” photo, in which little seems to have changed. (Alessandro Fornasier)

Published in the Seattle Times online on July 1, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 4, 2021

Oh, the places we won’t go — but photos can take us there
By Jean Sherrard and Clay Eals

JEAN: This Fourth of July, we at “Now & Then” mark the occasion with a declaration of interdependence. In a time riven with political and viral strife, we call upon you, dear readers, to unite with us in recalling and celebrating past joys and anticipating future pleasures.

CLAY: We all have places we’d like to go, but the complications and risks have been formidable. It’s only natural for our thoughts to drift to places we’ve visited and would like to experience again.

JEAN: Sometimes the places we long to revisit exist only in the pages of old photo albums when our memories were unformed. You’ve got one of those.

CLAY: I’ve long pondered a photo of my parents and me in Tijuana near the end of 1953 when I was 2-1/2. I’m astride a donkey, painted to look like a zebra for visibility, called a “zonkey.” Background signs tell more of the story.

JEAN: Talk about a photo and caption all in one!

CLAY: I never asked my parents about it while they were alive. It might have been taken when we visited my dad’s sister in Los Angeles. It’d be fun to try to find the spot again, but I’ve not been to Mexico since. (Playing Herb Alpert records doesn’t count.) What example comes to your mind?

JEAN: First, a bit of backstory. The U.S. Army drafted my dad in 1960, right out of the University of Washington Medical School. His young family ended up in a little town just outside Stuttgart, Germany, where we lived for the next three years. Every summer, we tooled around Europe in a VW van, from Greece to Norway, once with my grandparents in tow. And dad took thousands of color photos, including this one in Venice, with his trusty Zeiss-Ikon.

CLAY: Hmm, you’re making me think of Paul Simon.

JEAN: Right on: “Kodachrome”!

CLAY and JEAN (singing together): “Give us those nice bright colors / Give us the greens of summer / Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day.”

JEAN: It’s been a gas enlisting photographers to shoot “Now” photos in roughly the same spots. In-person visits may not be possible in coming months, but these repeat images fire the imagination and anticipate our return to “normal.”

Readers, we encourage you to submit your own photos of early-day, treasured vacation moments. We’ll feature them on this blog and select several to appear in this column at summer’s end. Email them to VicariousVacationPix@gmail.com. As with our own vacation snaps, we’ll track down photographers from around the world to reshoot “Nows” of your “Then” vacations!

WEB EXTRAS

No 360-degree video for this installment, for obvious reasons. But we do have another vicarious-vacations photo pair from Jean:

THEN2 (Jean): Striking a pose in front of Notre-Dame de Paris in September 1963 are Jean Sherrard’s paternal grandmother Marion and parents Don and Edith. Like most medieval cathedrals, Notre-Dame was a labor of spiritual love built over centuries, begun in 1163 and largely completed in 1345. (Jean Sherrard collection)
NOW2 (Jean): On April 15, 2019, Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire, narrowly averting complete destruction. The enormous job of reconstruction likely will conclude before the 2024 Summer Olympics to be held in Paris. Two masked Parisians certainly hope for a return to normal. (Berangere Lomont)

We also present a couple of additional Tijuana-based photos contributed by Scott Koenig, shown above posing with a “zonkey.”

Signage in 2018 at Food Garden Plaza Rio, Tijuana,  reflects that the city has evolved to become a world-class dining destination. (Scott Koenig)
Tijuana’s iconic arch as viewed from Plaza Santa Cecilia. (Scott Koenig)

Seattle Now & Then: Puffed-up Wayfarer, 1921

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THEN1: Visual chicanery to match verbal puffery for “The Wayfarer” came in the lavish program sold at the 1921 shows. Across its center spread sprawled this east-facing photo depicting the stage surrounded by a jam-packed crowd at University of Washington (now Husky) Stadium. Trouble is, the crowd in the doctored photo is the one that attended the stadium’s inaugural football game the previous Nov. 27, when the UW fell 28-7 to Dartmouth. (Pierson & Co. courtesy Dan Kerlee)
THEN2: This is one of the few findable photos accurately placing the massive “Wayfarer” stage in its venue in 1921. It likely depicts a daytime rehearsal for the Christian passion play, touted as Seattle’s answer to a similar show in Oberammergau, Germany, that has been performed about every 10 years starting in 1634. (Cowan photo, Museum of History & Industry, 1980.7005.5)
THEN3: Also from the 1921 “Wayfarer” program is this depiction of the grand finale, in which all bow to Christ. (Pierson & Co., courtesy Dan Kerlee)
THEN4: This southeast view shows the Wayfarer stage under construction at University of Washington Stadium. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
NOW: From the same vantage at Husky Stadium, this Nov. 18, 2017, image shows a hefty football audience watching the Washington Huskies defeat the University of Utah Utes, 33-30. Originally, unlimited by a stage, the stadium held 30,000. Today, with a 1936 addition and new grandstands in 1950 and 1987, the capacity is 70,083. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 24, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 27, 2021)

In 1921, a passion play of ‘reverential grandeur’
shone brightly, if bitterly, at UW
By Clay Eals

Believe it or not, Seattle once possessed “the largest stage in the world” for an event “second to nothing that the world has ever seen.”

From promoters and newspapers, such superlatives flowed to biblical proportions for “The Wayfarer,” a Christian passion play whose Seattle centennial is next month.

The production rented eight-month-old University of Washington (Husky) Stadium and erected a stage covering its east end, with a massive 100-by-75-foot proscenium. The six-night show ran at 8 p.m. July 23 and July 25-30, 1921, drawing a total of 88,285 who bought $1.10-$3.30 tickets ($16-$49 today, with inflation) to see 100 paid performers and 5,000 local volunteers present a three-hour musical tribute to Christ, culminating in his allegorical, global coronation.

“Never, perhaps, in the 1,921 years since was born the Babe ‘that in a manger lay’ has humanity witnessed such a spectacle of reverential grandeur,” stated one ad.

THEN5: From a 2016 doctoral dissertation on Northwest pageantry for the University of California at Riverside by Chelsea Kristen Vaughn, curator of the Clatsop County Historical Society in Astoria, is this portrait of the Rev. James Crowther, originally of Seattle’s First United Methodist Church and author of “The Wayfarer.”

To counter the “horrible nightmare” of the just-completed Great War (World War I), “The Wayfarer” had inspired awe since its 23-show debut in 1919 in Columbus, Ohio, and five-week run in 1919-1920 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The fanfare intensified when its author, the Rev. James Crowther, formerly of Seattle’s First United Methodist Church, pressed a button in Philadelphia to electrically launch Seattle’s opening performance.

On its front page, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer predicted “The Wayfarer” would become “the most important civic enterprise ever undertaken here.” Five nights in, the show legitimized the tall talk when attendance hit the event’s 24,000 capacity and 3,000-plus were turned away. “Stadium Too Small!” trumpeted a front-page Seattle Times headline.

Crowther had projected, and many locals had assumed, that “The Wayfarer” would become an annual affair here. Civic leader C.T. Conover vowed it would “make Seattle a Mecca for spiritual uplift and regeneration.” But cracks quickly shattered the sheen.

After closing night, the troupe’s manager, Edgar Webster, clumsily declared the pageant “strictly a business proposition” that would use half its $125,000 Seattle proceeds to — as implied by its foot-traveling name — stage it wherever it wished.

“COMMERCIALISM!” cried a Times editorial, accusing Webster of breaching public trust. “Bitterly disappointed,” the paper said it “resents this playing upon the normal religious feeling of the tens of thousands who … went away confident that Seattle would become the home of the greatest spectacle of its kind in the world.”

Immediately, Webster’s board walked back his affront. “The Wayfarer” returned to the stadium, but just twice, in 1922 and 1925. Of course, the generations to come supplied us further evidence that transcendent visions often fail to sustain the heights of their hype.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to Magnolia historian Dan Kerlee as well as  Chelsea Kristen Vaughn for her informative doctoral dissertation (see below). Both provided invaluable assistance with this installment.

Below is an additional photo, a doctoral dissertation and, in chronological order, 56 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

A view of University of Washington Stadium on July 23, 1923, showing the visit of President Warren G. Harding. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
To view a pdf of the 2016 doctoral dissertation by Chelsea Kristen Vaughn, “Playing West: Performances of War and Empire in Pacific Northwest Pageantry,” click the cover page above. The chapter on the Wayfarer in Seattle begins on page 73.
April 16, 1920, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Nov. 7, 1920, Seattle Times, page 7.
Jan. 14, 1921, Seattle Times, page 5.
May 2, 1921, Seattle Star.
July 2, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
July 2, 1921, Seattle Times, page 7.
July 3, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
July 6, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
July 9, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
July 9, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
July 15, 1921 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
July 16, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 20, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
July 20, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
July 21, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
July 23, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 23, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 38.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 25, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
July 24, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 38.
July 25, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 25, 1921, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 26, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
July 26, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
July 26, 1921, Seattle Times, page 8.
July 27, 1921, Seattle Times, page 13.
July 28, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 12.
July 28, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
July 28, 1921, Seattle Times, page 13.
July 29, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 29, 1921, Seattle Times, page 9.
July 29, 1921, Seattle Times, page 13.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 30, 1921, Seattle Times, page 12.
July 31, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
July 31, 1921, Seattle Times, page 7.
July 31, 1921, Seattle Times, page 14.
Aug. 1, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
Aug. 1, 1921, Seattle Times, page 2.
Aug. 1, 1921, Seattle Times, page 6.
Aug. 2, 1921, Oregonian.
Aug. 2, 1921, Seattle Star.
Aug. 2, 1921, Seattle Times, page 1.
Aug. 2, 1921, Seattle Times, page 7.
Aug. 5, 1921, Seattle Times, page 2.
Aug. 7, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 60.
Aug. 10, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
Aug. 23, 1921, Seattle Times, page 11.
June 21, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 46.

Seattle Now & Then: Failed Gold Rush rescue, 1898

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: In Edward Curtis’s hand-tinted lantern slide, twenty-one would-be government rescuers line the rails of the Lucile at Schwabacher’s Wharf in 1898, ready to bring food and supplies to starving miners in the frozen north. Reports of privation did not deter an estimated 100,000 Argonauts (70,000 of whom passed through Seattle) from heading to the Klondike by 1900. Of those, only 300 struck it rich. (Courtesy Scott Rohrer and Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: Framed by the Seattle Wheel and the Aquarium, a 70-foot yacht owned by Sailing Seattle and called the Obsession, returns from an evening journey past the former Schwabacher’s Wharf. The dock, which survived the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, was renamed Pier 58 after World War II. Removed in the 1960s, it was replaced by Waterfront Park until its collapse and demolition in 2020. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 17, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 20, 2021)

In 1898, all that glittered wasn’t gold — or a rescue expedition
By Jean Sherrard

It’s said that success has a hundred fathers. Failure, on the other hand, is an orphan best ignored and forgotten.

On July 17, 1897, seven months before our “Then” photo was taken, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer trumpeted: “Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold! Sixty-Eight Rich Men on the steamer Portland. Stacks of Yellow Metal!”

On that misty Saturday morning, thousands at Schwabacher’s Wharf on the downtown waterfront cheered the haggard returnees who lined the steamer’s decks bearing at least a ton of “golden fruit.”

The Seattle Times listed the 10 wealthiest miners, starting with Seattle bookseller William Stanley, worth a reported $112,000. “Now is the time,” The Times allowed, “to go to the rich Klondike country, where … gold is as plentiful as sawdust.” The P-I predicted: “There will no doubt be a great rush for the new discoveries, and the majority will outfit in and leave from Seattle.”

Such news of a bonanza was most welcome amid Seattle’s economic depression. It sparked a stampede known as the Gold Rush.

Lured were the jobless and gainfully employed, from bums to bankers, con men to carpenters. Heeding the siren song was Seattle Mayor W.D. Wood, who immediately resigned, along with a dozen Seattle cops. Within 10 days of the Portland’s arrival, more than 1,500 latter-day Argonauts headed north.

Of course, the smart money played it safe and stayed home. Downtown merchants and shipping firms ramped up services while Chamber of Commerce boosters insisted that only Seattle could serve as a jumping-off point and fanned the rallying cry: “Klondike or bust!”

Contrarians — from returning miners to newspapers — immediately sounded notes of caution. “Winter has set in at the frozen north,” the Tacoma Daily News reported Sept. 10, 1897. “Those who have been seeking gold must now seek for food or starve.”

News of impending famine in the Yukon soon reached the halls of government. In December, an alarmed U.S. Congress funded a “relief expedition.” Accordingly, the sailing ship Lucile (subject of our “Then” photo) docked in Seattle, fully loaded with 1,200 tons of supplies, 110 mules, and 22 government packers, all commanded by two Army lieutenants.

On Feb. 15, 1898, the morning the expedition departed, “an immense crowd” lined docks to cheer the would-be rescuers. Photographer Edward S. Curtis, whose brother Asahel already was mining the Yukon for gold and photos, captured the Lucile and its crew on what should have been an auspicious day.

Mysteriously, however, the three-masted schooner never completed its mission. Sparse and cryptic accounts indicate only that after weeks of delay, it was towed into Skagway. Its efforts never bore fruit — or delivered it.

WEB EXTRAS

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

 

Seattle Now & Then: Inglewood Golf Club, 1921

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Members gather Aug. 6, 1921, at the grand opening of the Inglewood Golf Club clubhouse, two years after the club formally organized itself. To learn more, consult “Inglewood Golf Club Centennial,” a 200-page coffee-table history book by veteran newsman Dan Raley, great nephew of the course’s midcentury owner, aided by longtime club historian Kent Ahlf. The book is available at the club. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW: Twenty-eight leaders and members of Inglewood Golf Club pause in front of its clubhouse, which replaced the 1921 original in 1925. The club plans a members-only event on Friday, Aug. 6, to salute the grand opening from 100 years ago. More info: InglewoodGolfClub.com. Those pictured are (standing, from left) Kenny Miller; Don Lo; Roxanne Koch; Keith Bosley, building engineer; Rank Baty; Marshall Moon; Marilyn Ward; Alexia Roberts, human-resources manager; Dottie Perkins (in hat); Mike Lally; Steve Camp; Leo Moen, communications; Steve Byrne; Lou Novak; Sue Ann Riendeau; Larry Christensen; Mike Gove, director of golf; Chuck Lockhart; Kerry Koch; Dave Riendeau, centennial chair; Don Olson, controller; and (kneeling, from left) Doug Collins; Craig McCrone, general manager; Michael Colagrossi; Bob Reeves; David Arista; Benny Im; and David Harrison. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 10, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 13, 2021)

Conversations are par for Inglewood clubhouse at its centennial
By Clay Eals

The word “golf” originates with a Dutch word for “club.” But if it were an acronym, it might stand for “good old longtime friends.”

That’s what you might hear from leaders of century-old Inglewood Golf Club, where the Sammamish River empties into northeastern Lake Washington. While acknowledging that golf feeds a universal desire to compete, they also assert that the sport — especially at their well-aged course — fosters vital interaction.

“Look at all the people who are out here,” says Dave Riendeau, centennial chair, gesturing to players deep in conversation while teeing up at the driving range. “Most of them know each other.” With a course swathed in hilly holes that require 14,000 footsteps to cover a full round, the club aims to be as much about talk as walk.

This emerges in our “Then” photo, taken at the Aug. 6, 1921, opening of Inglewood’s original clubhouse, attended by 350 enthusiasts, 225 of whom played the course. “The lawn,” reported The Seattle Times, “was an animated scene.”

Detail from our “THEN” photo, showing the golf bags. (Ron Edge)

The setting is so filled with chatty coteries that it’s hard to spot clues, other than a dozen dark bags leaned in a row against a distant wall at right, that the gathering had anything to do with golf.

It took determined collaboration for the club to survive and thrive over the decades. Challenges began four years after the it opened, when faulty wiring triggered an Oct. 23, 1925, blaze that leveled its $25,000 building. Within two days, members had erected large tents to serve as a temporary hub. Just 10 months later, a stately, 50,000 square-foot replacement had risen in its place. Renovated and expanded, it stands today.

While the secluded Inglewood was designed to be a prestige course second to none, through the years it faced bankruptcies and teetered on collapse, during the Depression and again when the Coast Guard leased it as a receiving station during World War II. But members repeatedly rescued it with funds and commitment.

The Arnold Palmer stone at Inglewood Golf Club. (Clay Eals)

The hosting of top tournaments and big names didn’t hurt. Inglewood has drawn celebrities from Bob Hope to Jack Lemmon, sports heroes from Michael Jordan to Roger Clemens and an endless array of golf stars from Chi Chi Rodriguez and Ruth “Jitterbug” Jessen to Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, who famously shot his age there on Sept. 10, 1995, his 66th birthday.

Membership at Inglewood is capped at 403, and the privilege isn’t cheap. The initiation fee alone is $39,500. But the real riches derive from historical connections. “We have a unique old course,” says Paul Haack, former Inglewood president. “It’s like stepping back in time.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to Dave Riendeau, Kent Ahlf and Craig McCrone of Inglewood Golf Club for their assistance with this installment. Also, a tip of the hat to aces journalist and author Dan Raley for his comprehensive book on the club!

Below are, in chronological order, 17 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Nov. 30, 1919, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 47.
March 14, 1920, Seattle Times, page 31.
March 6, 1921, Seattle Times, page 2.
May 29, 1921, Seattle Times, page 5.
Aug. 7, 1921, Seattle Times, page 35.
Aug. 7, 1921, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 23, 1921, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 42.
April 30, 1922, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
May 5, 1922, Seattle Times, page 3.
Jan. 15, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
Oct. 23, 1925, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 25, 1925, Seattle Times, page 23
Oct. 24, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Oct. 24, 1925, Seattle Times, page 8.
Oct. 26, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Oct. 26, 1925, Seattle Times, page 19.
March 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 29.

Seattle Now & Then: Olympic Hotel lobby, 1924

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: This east-facing view shows the ornate lobby of the Olympic Hotel upon its opening in 1924. To learn more, seek out the book “The Olympic: The Story of Seattle’s Landmark Hotel” (2005/2014, HistoryLink). (Photo: Paul Dorpat Collection)
NOW: Sunny Joseph (left), general manager, and Victoria Dyson, sales and marketing director, stand on the new marble floor of the Olympic Hotel’s newly restored and transformed lobby on April 30, the day it reopened to the public. To see time-lapse videos of the lobby work, visit the Fairmount Olympic Hotel channel on YouTube. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 3, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 6, 2021)

‘Where the magic begins’: Olympic Hotel restores its 1924 lobby
By Clay Eals

On Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1924, boomtown Seattle awakened to an appetizing analogy in an editorial cartoon atop The Seattle Times front page.

THEN2: An editorial cartoon by Thomas Thurlby from the Dec. 7, 1924, front page of The Seattle Times lauds civic enterprise and the grand unveiling of the landmark Olympic Hotel. (The Seattle Times online archive)

A flapper, symbol of freewheeling youth, sat at a sumptuous table, applauding an older, tuxedoed steward who opened a cloche platter revealing a miniature, 12-floor Italian Renaissance edifice.

As inscribed in her hair feather, the flapper embodied “Seattle.” As drawn on his lapel ribbon,  the steward personified “Civic Enterprise.” The edifice, named on the platter’s bell-shaped cover, was the Olympic Hotel.

Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Times, front page of 32-page rotogravure section on the Olympic Hotel. (The Seattle Times online archive)

On five news pages, and in a whopping 32-page rotogravure section, stories and photos celebrated the previous night’s dedication of the $4.6 million luxury hostelry, which had arisen on the downtown block between Fourth and Fifth avenues and University and Seneca streets, original site of the University of Washington.

More than 4,500 citizen bond-buyers had helped finance the Olympic, so it was fitting that the inaugural dinner and dance events drew 2,100 revelers. The Times proclaimed the hotel “second to none in America.”

Through the years, amid astounding citywide growth and change, the Olympic (now managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts) hosted presidential visits, business travelers and lavish weddings, losing none of its preeminence. That is due in part to a building-wide renovation in 1981-82, followed 40 years later by a new $25 million project to restore and transform its elongated lobby and public spaces.

“The lobby is the heart and soul, where the magic begins,” says Sunny Joseph, the India-born general manager whose disposition matches his given first name. “It’s where our guests get the feel of turning moments into their memories.”

Uncovered, after decades under carpets, are original terrazzo and marble floors. Two 300-pound chandeliers have been moved and rehung. Original woodwork has been refurbished. A “history walk” of vintage ephemera adorns the mezzanine. Subdued lighting throughout aims at warmth and intimacy.

A striking addition is an enormous, largely wooden kinetic sculpture, with 400 parts, including seven wheels, emulating the nautical theme of the hotel’s original sailing-ship logo. Hanging above a central bar, the sculpture has no name but doubtless will acquire an informal one.

Of course, today’s milieu differs from the Twenties that roared. An entire printed newspaper often falls short of 32 pages now. Downtown and tourism face a slow rebound from COVID-19, not to mention nearly ubiquitous tent encampments.

But the appeal of the Olympic Hotel endures. Much like its namesake mountain range, this grand inn perpetually brings awe to the psyche of locals, whether or not they have the privilege to step inside. As Joseph says, “It’s about happiness, joy, happenings.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to Kristy Mendes of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel for her assistance with this installment. To see fascinating, time-lapse video of the renovation, visit the YouTube channel of the Fairmont Olympic.

Below are five additional photos and four press releases. Also, we present, in chronological order, 24 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

The text above references a 32-page rotogravure section in the Dec. 7, 1924, edition of the Seattle Times. The section is accessible via the Times online archive. Below, for variety, we present the similarly extensive post-opening coverage in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from the same day.

Olympic Hotel employees cut a red ribbon on May 1, 2021, to formally open the renovated lobby. Manager Sunny Joseph applauds at front right. (Jean Sherrard)
The new bar in the renovated Olympic Hotel lobby is topped by a kinetic sculpture that expresses a seafaring theme. (Jean Sherrard)
A piano and a moved chandelier grace the foyer outside the Spanish Ballroom off the renovated lobby. (Jean Sherrard)
This 1960s view of the Olympic lobby shows an interior skyway that has been removed. (Courtesy Alan Stein)
Cover of “The Olympic: The Story of Seattle’s Landmark Hotel.”
Olympic press release on installation of the kinetic sculpture. Click to read entire pdf.
Olympic press release on lobby unveiling. Click to read entire pdf.
Olympic press release on lobby and bar. Click to read entire pdf.
Olympic press release on historic elements of renovated lobby. Click to read entire pdf.
June 13, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
Oct. 23, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
Oct. 23, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
Dec. 5, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 32.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 33.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 45.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 46.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 47.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 49.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 50.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 51.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 52.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 53.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 54.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 55.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 56.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 57.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 58.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 59.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 60.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Times, page 1.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Times editorial, page 6.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Times, page 34.

Seattle Now & Then: An A-Y-P Aerial, 1909

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN1: From his lofty perch in the A-Y-P’s “captive balloon” (at least as high as the Space Needle’s 605 feet), photographer Vern Grinnold captured the central hub of the fair. Geyser Basin dominates at lower center. The UW’s Parrington Hall, built in 1902, can be seen at top, partly cropped above the U.S. Government building’s imposing dome. (courtesy MOHAI)
THEN2: The “captive balloon” was tethered southeast of the main A-Y-P grounds. (courtesy Dan Kerlee)
THEN3: The balloon’s basket provided tight quarters and certainly was not for the faint of heart. (courtesy Dan Kerlee)
NOW: Squared off by dignified structures of academia, Drumheller Fountain today is a central feature of Rainier Vista, a long walkway of wide lawns and cherry trees. At top, just left of center, Parrington Hall still can be seen through greenery. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 27, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 30, 2021 )

Up, up and away in our AYP Balloon
By Jean Sherrard

To mark this week’s return to the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held on the University of Washington campus, we must give credit where credit is due — to French ingenuity. From coq au vin to kitesurfing, movie cameras to motorcycles, France has perennially delighted the world with marriages of innovation.

The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne, had launched the first piloted aeronautical ascent in 1783 (to this day, hot air balloons in France are called montgolfières). Meanwhile, Louis Daguerre, creator of the daguerreotype photographic process, had captured the earliest cityscape portraits in 1838.

In 1858, an inspired Paris photographer, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (known by the sobriquet “Nadar”), wedded the two technologies. Leveraging unwieldy equipment into a hot-air balloon basket, he singlehandedly invented aerial photography. Fifty-one years later, this came in handy at Seattle’s first world’s fair.

Our A-Y-P aerial, though not high-tech for its time, offered breathtaking spectacle, showing off the exposition’s Beaux Arts structures (merci again, France) that partially encircle Geyser Basin. Looking northwest, this view features the imposing, domed U.S. Government Building, while the ornate, curved structures on both sides of the basin focused on mining and agriculture.

The UW’s Drumheller Fountain (aka Frosh Pond, where first-year students once were dunked in ritual initiation) later was constructed on the watery footprint of the 1909 basin. But few other A-Y-P artifacts endured. Meant to be as ephemeral as a stage set or a wedding cake, the A-Y-P’s gleaming “white city” soon gave way to the more permanent and austere structures of Collegiate Gothic architecture.

A wider version of this panorama appeared Sept. 19, 1909, in The Seattle Times, filling the front page below a banner headline, “Remarkable View of Exposition Taken from Captive Balloon.” A subhead explained, “After Many Futile Attempts Camera Artists Succeed in Getting Fine Bird’s-Eye View of Exposition Grounds.”

At first, the weather had refused to cooperate, ruining hundreds of negatives. But finally, the Times reported, “the haze which has been hanging over the grounds for the last month lifted, and atmospheric conditions for aeronautical photographs were ideal.”

The balloon’s cramped basket accommodated no more than two photographers outfitted with bulky cameras (sans tripod) and must have supplied equal parts claustro- and acrophobia. Augmenting that anxious mix, “the great gas bag,” the Times said, “pulled heavily on the retaining wire and shifted about in the wind.”

A single exposure turned out “particularly fine.” Snapped just 30 minutes before rains resumed, the photo was “as distinct as if it had been taken from the ground.” Despite the difficulties, proclaimed one photographer, “we are more than satisfied with the result.”

WEB EXTRAS

To see our 360 degree video featuring Geyser Basin/Drumheller Fountain — and hear Jean narrate the column, click right here.