Category Archives: Seattle Now and Then

Seattle Now & Then: Looking East from Ninth and Pike

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This 1939 glimpse east from Ninth Avenue follows Pike Street to the end of the about three-quarter mile straight climb it makes on its run from the Pike Place Market to its first turn on Capitol Hill.
THEN: This 1939 glimpse east from Ninth Avenue follows Pike Street to the end of the about three-quarter mile straight climb it makes on its run from the Pike Place Market to its first turn on Capitol Hill.  [CLICK to ENLARGE and so on]
NOW: A swath of landscaped concrete first poured and planted in the 1960s has replaced the row of former hotels and shops that once lined Pike Street in its ascent of Capitol Hill. Jean Sherrard has put his back to the window-arched tunnel that distinguishes Pike Street where it passes beside the Washington State Convention Center.
NOW: A swath of landscaped concrete first poured and planted in the 1960s has replaced the row of former hotels and shops that once lined Pike Street in its ascent of Capitol Hill. Jean Sherrard has put his back to the window-arched tunnel that distinguishes Pike Street where it passes beside the Washington State Convention Center.

The featured look east on Pike Street from Ninth Avenue is dated May 21, 1939.  In about two decades more this neighborhood would be cut, crushed, and cleared for the construction of the Seattle Freeway. Through these two blocks between Ninth Avenue and Boren Street, Pike’s mixed neighborhood of cafes, hotels, barbershops, and furniture upholsterers would be revamped into a concrete ramp over a concrete ditch.  That this part of Pike was once an “upholstery row” surprised me.  In 1938 (I have a city directory for 1938 but not 1939) there were five furniture upholsterers listed in the few blocks between Eighth and Melrose Avenues.  It is at Melrose that Pike begins its turn east to conform to the more recently platted street grid on the ridge.  The jog’s directional change is indicated with an adjustment in the name to East Pike Street, which in 1939 was one of Seattle’s principal “auto rows.” East Pike also marks the subjective – and by now traditional – border between the First and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.

Another same day snap by the billboard rangers, Foster and Kleiser, on Pike Street, but here one block east at Terry Street. The hotels here include the William Penn, far left,
Another same day snap by the billboard rangers, Foster and Kleiser, on Pike Street, but here one block east at Terry Street. The hotels here on the south side of Pike include the William Penn, far right, Hotel Crest, left of the power pole, and the Wintonia, which I remember for its wild tavern in the 1970 with bad manners contesting with good music.  Across Pike and a block east is the Villa Hotel at the northeast corner of Boren and Pike..

Also with the help of the Polk City Directory for 1938 I have counted four hotels in these two blocks between Ninth Avenue and Boren that were lost to the Seattle Freeway (Interstate Five): the Stanley, here at Ninth Avenue, the William Penn and the Crest near Terry Avenue, and the five-floor Hotel Alvord, on the left.  (Jean Sherrard’s repeat also reveals a survivor. The Villa Hotel at the northwest corner of Pike and Boren can stands out in the photo above.  It cal also be glimpsed directly above the trolley in this Sunday’s “then.”  It is more difficult but not impossible to find in the “now.”)  

A Times clip from December 8, 1924
A Times clip from December 8, 1924
A Seattle Times clip from March 3, 1933
A Seattle Times clip from March 3, 1933
A Seattle Times clip: Oct. 23, 1936.
A Seattle Times clip: Oct. 23, 1936.
Sprinkled throughout most hotel and apartment house histories are true crime stories of many sorts. This one was published in The Times for July 23, 1930.
Sprinkled throughout most hotel and apartment house histories are true crime stories of many sorts. This one for the Alvord was published in The Times for July 23, 1930.

The Alvord’s publicity stream begins in 1924, the year of its construction, and reaches its most sensational height around midnight on March 1, 1933. Mildred Russell, the 24-year-old bride of violinist and orchestra leader Jan Russell, opened a window in search of fresh air and used all five of the hotel’s floors to fall to the ground below.  The Times qualified the ground as “soft earth.”  From her merciful bounce, Mildred received only a few bruises and a cracked skull.  “I had just lit a cigarette,” she said. Only three years later, Margaret Thaanum fell from the Alvord’s third floor to her death.  The trained nurse was trying to walk the three-inch ledge outside her window. 

The single and double fees for the Alvord Hotel a few weeks before the economic crash of 1929. And below: a few weeks more than one year following the crash.
The single and double fees for the Alvord Hotel a few weeks before the economic crash of 1929. And below: a few weeks more than one year following the crash.
From The Times classifieds for Feb. 21, 1931.
From The Times classifieds for Feb. 21, 1931.

Returning now to the trolley heading east on Pike Street, on this spring day there was a growing sense that these often rattling common carriers were about to lose out to the busses and trackless trollies promoted by internal combustion and “big rubber.”  Two years more and most trolley tracks in Seattle were pulled up and the disrupted brickwork patched with asphalt and/or concrete.   

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COMING UP - This Spring the 50th ANNIVERSARY of the FOUNDING of HELIX. We hope to completed the scanning of every page - by then. Keep watch. The above was printed on a back cover of one of the (very roughly) 130 weekly (for the most part) tabloids.
COMING UP – This Spring the 50th ANNIVERSARY of the FOUNDING of HELIX. We hope to completed the scanning of every page – by then. Keep watch. The above was printed on a back cover of one of the (very roughly) 130 weekly (for the most part) tabloids.

On this Sunday, May 21, 1939, we learn from The Times that while Hitler and Mussolini were preparing a military alliance with their Rome-Berlin pact, Seattleites were anticipating in the week the grand Potlatch Pageant and its big parade.  (Hitler and Mussolini vented that “Germany and Italy have no intention of using any country as a tool for egotistical plans, which is happening only too clearly on the other side.”)  Two days later Boeing’s Yankee Clipper inaugurated the first commercial airway service between the Unites States and Europe. Perhaps playing it safe at the start, other than the crew of fifteen, the clipper carried only mail, four tons of it. 

The Boeing Clipper at Matthews Beach, its testing harbor on Lake Washington.
The Boeing Clipper at Matthews Beach, its testing harbor on Lake Washington.

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WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, blokes?  Blokes but not bullies we will find some links and other decorations and put the UP.

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

THEN: A circa 1923 view looks south on Eighth Avenue over Pike Street, at bottom left.

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

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THEN: First dedicated in 1889 by Seattle’s Unitarians, the congregation soon needed a larger sanctuary and moved to Capitol Hill. Here on 7th Avenue, their first home was next used for a great variety of events, including a temporary home for the Christian Church, a concert hall for the Ladies Musical Club, and a venue for political events like anarchist Emma Goldman’s visit to Seattle in 1910. (Compliments Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Built in the mid-1880s at 1522 7th Avenue, the Anthony family home was part of a building boom developing this north end neighborhood then into a community of clapboards. Here 70 years later it is the lone survivor. (Photo by Robert O. Shaw)

THEN: The Ballard Public Library in 1903-4, and here the Swedish Baptist Church at 9th and Pine, 1904-5, were architect Henderson Ryan’s first large contracts after the 20 year old southerner first reached Seattle in 1898. Later he would also design both the Liberty and Neptune Theatres, the latter still projecting films in the University District. (Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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

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

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

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

THEN: The brand new N&K Packard dealership at Belmont and Pike in 1909. Thanks to both antique car expert Fred Cruger for identifying as Packards the cars on show here, and to collector Ron Edge for finding them listed at this corner in a 1909 Post-Intelligencer. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry.)

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

THEN: Swedish Lutheran (Gethsemane) Church’s second sanctuary at the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Steward Street circa 1920, photo by Klaes Lindquist. (Courtesy, Swedish Club)

THEN: The city’s north end skyline in 1923 looking northwest from the roof of the then new Cambridge Apartments at 9th Avenue and Union Street. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: We are not told but perhaps it is Dora and Otto Ranke and their four children posing with their home at 5th and Pike for the pioneer photographer Theo. E. Peiser ca. 1884. In the haze behind them looms Denny Hill. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

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

THEN: In this April morning record of the 1975 “Rain or Shine Public Market Paint-in,” above the artists, restoration work has begun with the gutting of the Corner Market Building. (Photo by Frank Shaw)

THEN: The Hotel York at the northwest corner of Pike Street and First Avenue supplied beds on the American Plan for travelers and rooms for traveling hucksters. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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A detail from the 1912 Real Estate Map. Note the two brick structures (including Seattle Taxi) in block 108 on the right.
A detail from the 1912 Real Estate Map. Note the two brick structures (including Seattle Taxi) in block 108 on the right.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

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Seattle Taxi is on the left in this look south 9th Ave. from Pike Street.
Seattle Taxi is on the left in this look south 9th Ave. from Pike Street.

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The buildings on Ninth Avenue south of Pike Street, including the Seattle Taxi, are still standing in this aerial of the neighborhood photographed sometime before it was cut through by Interstate-5.  Compare to the photo below.

Courtesy, Ron Edge
Courtesy, Ron Edge

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RETURN to a detail of the neighborhood pulled from the 1912 Baist Real Estate map
RETURN to a detail of the neighborhood pulled from the 1912 Baist Real Estate map

Seattle Now & Then: Seattle’s First Chinatown

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Phoenix Hotel on Second Avenue, for the most part to the left of the darker power pole, and the Chin Gee Hee Building, behind it and facing Washington Street to the right, were both built quickly after Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. (Courtesy: Museum of History and Industry.)
THEN: The Phoenix Hotel on Second Avenue, for the most part to the left of the darker power pole, and the Chin Gee Hee Building, behind it and facing Washington Street to the right, were both built quickly after Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. (Courtesy: Museum of History and Industry.)
NOW: The Phoenix Hotel was destroyed with the 1928-29 Second Avenue Extension. The hotel was replaced with the new street’s intersection, while the surviving Chin Gee Hee Building, originally behind it, was reshaped for the new northeast corner of Washington Street and Second Avenue.
NOW: The Phoenix Hotel was destroyed with the 1928-29 Second Avenue Extension. The hotel was replaced with the new street’s intersection, while the surviving Chin Gee Hee Building, originally behind it, was reshaped for the new northeast corner of Washington Street and Second Avenue.

Public historian Kurt E. Armbruster, one of our sensitive explorers of Seattle’s cityscapes, recently sent me his snapshot of the Chin Gee Hee Building at the northeast corner of Washington Street and the Second Avenue Extension.  Kurt regards it as “a little gem” and, it seems, it is the last remaining piece of architecture to survive from Seattle’s First Chinatown, in the neighborhood of Washington Street and Second Avenue.  It was a community of the mostly single men who help build the region’s earliest railroads, labored as domestics and on the pick and shovel gangs that helped dig, for example, the canal between Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

Kurt Armbruster's snapshot of
Kurt Armbruster’s snapshot of the “little gem.”    Thanks Kurt.

Chin Gee Hee arrived in Seattle in the mid-1870s and soon prospered as a labor contractor, a merchant and a builder.  Partnering with Chin Chun Hock, another and even earlier Chinese contractor-merchant, Hee and Hock hired Seattle’s earliest resident architect, William E. Boone, to design two commercial buildings for them in Chinatown.  Although both were consumed by the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, they were quickly replaced by the two

Chinese labor contractor at his desk.
Chinese labor contractor at his desk.
Chin Gee Hee
Chin Gee Hee
Seattle Times clip from Feb. 15, 1927 comparing Chin Gee Hee to the Great Norther Railroad's Jim Hill.
Seattle Times clip from Feb. 15, 1927 comparing Chin Gee Hee to the Great Northern Railroad’s Jim Hill.

grander three-story hotels featured in the featured photo at the top.  The greater part of Chin Chun Hock’s Phoenix Hotel is to the left of the darker power pole in the photo’s foreground, and the full front façade of the Chin Gee Hee Building, facing Washington Street, is to the right of the pole.  Boone styled both as orthodox Victorians.  It is claimed that Chin Gee Hee’s hotel was the first brick building completed following the ’89 fire, however, we may be permitted to show some reservation about this claim as we do many other “firsts” in local history.  The thirty-plus blocks of the business district was a cacophony of construction following the fire with the builders’ general racing urge to open first.

The Phoenix Hotel on the right with the
The Phoenix Hotel on the right with the Chin Gee Hee building out-of-frame to the right., ca. 1912.  Long ago we did a now-then feature using the above and blow photos.  When we find it we will insert it.

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A clip from The Seattle Times for August 25, 1897.
A clip from The Seattle Times for August 25, 1897.

Judging from news coverage, the Phoenix was the seedier of the two hotels.  On August 11, 1905, the hotel’s manager W.A. Morris was charged with robbing one of its drunken guests of $45.00.  While the manager confessed his innocence, the police told the Seattle Times that “Morris conducts one of the worst dives in the city.”  Earlier that summer the police had made an opium raid on the Phoenix, noting that the hotel had “developed into a full-fledge opium den and in the last month a half-dozen smokers have been caught there.”  Meanwhile, also in 1905, the Phoenix’s neighbor, Chin Gee Hee, left Seattle to build a railroad in China.  He was subsequently awarded by the last emperor with the honor of a peacock feather and a retinue of servants and soldiers, presumably to help him guard the rails.    

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THE SECOND AVENUE EXTENSION as seen from the SMITH TOWER.  Above before: March 14, 1928.  Below after: June 11, 1929.   The Phoenix Hotel at the former northeast corner of Second Avenue and Washington Street can still be seen (below the center) near the bottom of the 1928 photograph.  The Chin Gee Hee Building  is behind it, to the left.   In the 1929 photo below, the Phoenix has been sliced away and the southwest corner of the Chin Gee Hee clipped.

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A detail from the 1908 Baist Real Estate Map, still twenty years prior to work on the Second Avenue Extension. Our choice intends to feature at the top the intersection of Washington Street and Second Avenue with the Phoenix Hotel named at its northeast corner. And please not the green marked park at the top.
A detail from the 1908 Baist Real Estate Map, still twenty years prior to work on the Second Avenue Extension. Our choice intends to feature at its top the intersection of Washington Street and Second Avenue with the Phoenix Hotel named at its northeast corner. And please not the green marked park at the top.  We will show more of it below.  
A detail of the same intersection (upper-left) from 1912. Later an owner of the bound Baist map drew through the detail the borders of the Second Avenue Extension, which cuts through the Fire Department Headquarters at the northwest corner of Main and Third Avenue.
A detail of the same intersection (upper-left) from 1912. Later an owner of the bound Baist map drew through the detail the borders of the Second Avenue Extension, which cuts through the Fire Department Headquarters at the northwest corner of Main and Third Avenue.   In the photograph that follows directly below the extension work is underway with a remodel of the building at the southwest corner of Main Street and Third Avenue.  The doomed fire station is directly across Main Street, and behind and above it the transcendent Smith Tower inspects it all like an adolescent  hall proctor.  It’s fifteen years old.  
Looking south on Second Avenue S. over Yesler Way and the Fortson Square park and trolley stop. The Phoenix Hotel can be found on the left.
Looking south on Second Avenue S. over Yesler Way and the Fortson Square park and trolley stop. The Phoenix Hotel can be found on the left.  A feature clip about Fortson Square is include with the line of features placed at the bottom of this feature.  [CLICK TO ENLARGE]
Looking south on Second Ave. S. during an early Potlatch Parade. Note the Phoenix Hotel upper-left.
Looking south on Second Ave. S. during an early Potlatch Parade. Note the Phoenix Hotel upper-left.

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Most likely hard to read but still revealing of the early hopes for the Second Avenue Extension. The Seattle Times clip dates from Oct. 18, 1925. And far right is part of a clip on Ye Old Curiosity Shop founder Pop Standley's curios-congested West Seattle home.
Most likely too hard to read but still revealing of the early hopes for the Second Avenue Extension. The Seattle Times clip dates from Oct. 18, 1925. And far right is part of a clip on Ye Old Curiosity Shop founder Pop Standley’s curio-congested West Seattle home.
The completed extension.
The completed extension.
A detail from the citiy's 1936 mapping aerial. The completed Second Ave extension leaves several sliced structures including the Chin Gee Hee Building. Can you find it?
A detail from the city’s 1936 mapping aerial. The completed Second Ave extension leaves several sliced structures including the Chin Gee Hee Building. Can you find it?  Note the Smith Tower, upper-left, and across Yesler Way from it the triangular park  named for Fortson, a Spanish American War volunteer – a heroic one.

The Phoenix’s transgressions were fixed forever in 1928 when it was razed with the “improvement” of the Second Avenue Extension, a 1,413-foot cut through the neighborhood between Yesler Way and Jackson Street.  It was hoped that the extension would make Second Avenue a ceremonial promenade leading to and from the train depots. The Chin Gee Hee Building was saved with only its west end sliced away.  This eccentric reduction, combined with the recessed gallery cut into the third floor above Washington Street, surely heightened the building’s gem-like charms.   Martin Denny, the proprietor of the Assemblage, the Chin Gee Hee’s principal commercial tenant, shared the greater neighborhood’s underground mystery that the Phoenix Hotel’s basement may well survive under the intersection.

THREE OTHER GLIMPSES OF THE CHIN GEE HEE BUILDING

A 1963 tax photo looking north over Main Street and the Second Ave. Extension to the shining southwest facade of the Chin Gee Hee Building.
A 1963 tax photo looking north over Main Street and the Second Ave. Extension to the shining southwest facade of the Chin Gee Hee Building.
The Central Business District with Chin Gee Hee near the center of this record from the Great Northern tower., ca. 1930.
The Central Business District with Chin Gee Hee near the center of this record from the Great Northern tower., ca. 1930.  [CLICK TO ENLARGE]
Rubble from the 1949 earthquake. The subject looks south on the Second Avenue Extension from its southwest corner with Yesler Way. The southwest facade of the Chin Gee Hee Building rises with its six windows above the damaged swept-back auto parked on the right.
Rubble from the 1949 earthquake. The subject looks south on the Second Avenue Extension from its southwest corner with Yesler Way. The southwest facade of the Chin Gee Hee Building rises with its six windows above the damaged swept-back auto parked on the right.

WEB EXTRAS

Here’s detail of the Chin Gee Hee Building, which Kurt adores:

The Chin Gee Hee building
The abbreviated Chin Gee Hee building

Anything to add, les mecs?   Certainly Jean, first a long list of features pulled  by Ron Edge from the last eight years or so of Now-and-Then, and then a few more and earlier features.

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

When compared to most city scenes relatively little has changed in his view west on Main Street from First Avenue South in the century-plus between them. (Historical photo courtesy of Lawton Gowey)

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

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

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

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

THEN: In the older scene daring steel workers pose atop construction towers during the 1910 building of the Union Depot that faces Jackson Street.

THEN: On his visit to the Smith Tower around 1960, Wade Stevenson recorded the western slope of First Hill showing Harborview Hospital and part of Yesler Terrace at the top between 7th and 9th Avenue but still little development in the two blocks between 7th and 5th Avenues. Soon the Seattle Freeway would create a concrete ditch between 7th and 6th (the curving Avenue that runs left-to-right through the middle of the subject.) Much of the wild and spring fed landscape between 6th and 5th near the bottom of the revealing subject was cleared for parking. (Photo by Wade Stevenson, courtesy of Noel Holley)

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

THEN: The address written on the photograph is incorrect. This is 717 E. Washington Street and not 723 Yesler Way. We, too, were surprised. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

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First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 9, 2003
First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 9, 2003

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First appeared in the Times, Feb. 28, 1999.
First appeared in the Times, Feb. 28, 1999.

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First appeared in The Times, March 14, 1999
First appeared in The Times, March 14, 1999

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Evidence that Jean visited Pioneer Square during our recent flurry.
Evidence that Jean visited Pioneer Square and the Chief during our recent flurry.

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Above, and continued below, a July 2, 1929 clip from The Seattle Times.
Above, and continued below, a July 2, 1929 clip from The Seattle Times.

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First appeared in Pacific, May 9, 1999
First appeared in Pacific, May 9, 1999

Seattle Now & Then: The Last of Denny Hill, Part 2

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN 1: Recorded on April 14, 1928, about sixth months before the Denny Hill Regrade No. 2 began, the last of the scarred Denny Hill rises to the right of Fifth Avenue. Denny School (1884) tops the hill at the northeast corner of Battery Street and Fifth Avenue. On the horizon, at center, Queen Anne Hill is topped by its namesake high school, and on the right of the panorama, the distant Wallingford neighborhood rises from the north shore of Lake Union. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)
THEN 1: Recorded on April 14, 1928, about sixth months before the Denny Hill Regrade No. 2 began, the last of the scarred Denny Hill rises to the right of Fifth Avenue. Denny School (1884) tops the hill at the northeast corner of Battery Street and Fifth Avenue. On the horizon, at center, Queen Anne Hill is topped by its namesake high school, and on the right of the panorama, the distant Wallingford neighborhood rises from the north shore of Lake Union. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)  DOUBLE-CLICK TO ENLARGE
THEN 2: The pre-Regrade No.2 brick business buildings on Fifth Avenue survived the cutting, which otherwise turned the last of Denny Hill into undeveloped land that resembled a sprawling parking lot. The photo was taken on September 22, 1931. Like the 1928 panorama and Jean Sherrard’s late 2016 repeat, the “after” shot was taken from the roof of Hotel Andra, formerly the Claremont Hotel (1926), at the northeast corner of Virginia Street and 4th Avenue. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)
A modern crop roughly matching the borders of the two ‘Thens’
NOW: Jean Sherrard’s repeat unfolds a lifting of the neighborhood with high-rises that far reverse the 110 feet of glacial dirt cut and dumped in Elliott Bay during the combined Denny Regrades.

I came upon this week’s revealing pair of historical photos in the mid-1970’s during my initial visit to the Seattle Engineering Department’s photo-lab at City Hall. Both were given curt captions at their bottom-left corners, identifying this public work as Denny Hill No.2 Regrade.  The diptych reveals with “before” and “after” panoramas the final humbling of Denny Hill between 1928 and 1931.  (Last week’s feature gave another point of view on that last regrade.) The digging for Denny Hill Regrade No. 1 began in 1903.  In 1911 the cutting paused for seventeen years before resuming in 1928 with Denny Hill Regrade No. 2.  By pulling a lever, Seattle Mayor Frank E. Edwards scooped the last electric shovelful in the forenoon of December 9, 1930.   Both the 1928 and 1931 pans include the south facade of the Windham Apartments at the northwest corner of Fifth Ave. and Blanchard Street.  With its 1925 brick facade intact, the Windham still serves but is now, from the Claremont’s roof,  for the most part hidden behind the chisel-shaped glass curtain at the southwest corner of Fifth and Blanchard.  

WEB EXTRAS

Thanks to Hotel Andra (nee Claremont) for hosting our trip to their rooftop. Also, big thanks to Brian Cunningham, Chief Engineer, for his assistance on high.

Chief Engineer Brian Cunningham on the roof
Chief Engineer Brian Cunningham on the roof

He related a Hotel Andra secret, which can only now be revealed! If you examine the photo below, note the twin architectural details high above the hotel’s Fourth Avenue entrance. The grenade-shaped protuberances at the top of each feature seem to be intact…but, no! The one on the right went missing at least a decade ago.

Twin architectural features (or are they?)
Twin architectural features (or are they?)

Brian discovered that a Nerf football, scribed to approximate the lines of the original, painted gray and glued into place would suffice, certainly from a distance. I think it looks pretty fine close up as well (click to enlarge to see for yourself).

Not concrete but Nerf!
Not concrete but Nerf!
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Gull looking west

Finally, a shot of the Space Needle from the rooftop:

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The only remaining view of the Needle from the old Claremont. For French film buffs, I dedicate this photo to the film Jacques Tati’s ‘Playtime’ (not ‘Holiday’)

Anything to add, lads?  

Yes Jean, but first thanks for the roof architecture atop the old Claremont.   I too love “Hulot’s Holiday” and saw it first at the Harvard Exit in the early 1970s.  But you have me puzzled how that trip from Paris for a holiday on the Normandy Coast (I assume) with a stay in a waterfront hotel filled with eccentric guests relates to your textured reflection of the Needle off Garth Vader’s glass skin.  Will you explicate, please?

Yes, Paul, my mistake – I meant to say ‘Playtime’ – the 1967 film which featured Monsieur Hulot wandering through glass and steel skyscrapers, unable to find the Eiffel Tower or the  Arch de Triomphe, except in the glass reflections. A marvel of the cinema (which, was unappreciated at the time, and bankrupted Hulot creator Jacques Tati).

Second, we hope our dear readers will key word our blog for “Denny Regrade” or any other key.  For instance, our Illustrated History of the Seattle Waterfront (found here under the “books bug”) has a thumbnail history of the Denny Regrade.

I snapped this look west through an upper-floor window in the Muni-Building sometime in the 1970s when I was editing through the nitrate negative collection in the Engineering Department's photo laboratory. Some of it was cooking-bubbling and needed to be tossed.
I snapped this look west through an upper-floor window in the Muni-Building (City Hall aka a Texas Hotel) sometime in the 1970s when I was editing through the nitrate negative collection in the Engineering Department’s photo laboratory. Some of it was cooking-bubbling and needed to be tossed.   All of its was illegal, but protected, so to speak, inside city hall and decades of neglect.
A comedic interruption of The Times serious news flow for March 15, 1930, about the time of this week's regrade pans.
A comedic interruption of The Times serious news flow for March 15, 1930, about the time of this week’s regrade pans.
Can the still serving Windham Apts (1925) at the northwest corner of Fifth and Blanchard be glimpsed in any of Jean's shots from the roof?
Can the still serving Windham Apts (1925) at the northwest corner of Fifth and Blanchard be glimpsed in any of Jean’s shots from the roof?

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MY FIRST INTIMATE GLIMPSE OF THE PRE-REGRADE DENNY HILL NEIGHBORHOOD.    The text here is copied from Seattle Now and Then Volume One, the Fifty-Second story.  An earlier version was first printed in The Seattle Sun.  It was that tabloid exposure that, I believe, persuaded The Seattle Times to take me on as a suffering free-lance contributor in the winter of 1981-82.  I discovered the historical photo, which looks south on Second Avenue from its intersection with Bell Street, in a stack of prints that John Hannawalt – still of the Seattle Paperworks in the Pike Place Market (lower level)-  purchased from Loomis Miller, the last keeper of the Webster and Stevens Studio.  It was an exciting moment for me.  I had by then plenty of exposure to regrade pictures, and distant portraits of Denny Hill long before the lowering began, but none of the intimate neighborhood.   They are still rare.   One of the best was featured recently  in “Too High and Too Steep”, David B. Williams historical study of the several natural upheavals that have come with making Seattle.  Our review of David’s well-illustrated study of the “reshaping of Seattle topography” is included here below illustrated with the Anson Burwell House at Denny Hill’s high point the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Blanchard Street.   You will find it below, second from the top with the Edge Clippings,

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CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE FOR READING
CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE FOR READING
You may recognize the three-gabled row house that survives at the southeast corner of Second and Bell. Note please the detail of the hotel above it, and find it below
You may recognize the three-gabled row house, on the left,  that survives at the southeast corner of Second and Bell. Note please the detail of the Blanchard Apartments above it, and find it again twice in the triptych printed below.
The Blanchard Apts appear here to the left of the power pole. Cutting on the east side of Second Ave. begins to take its temporary shape as a cliff.
The Blanchard Apts appear here to the left of the power pole. Cutting on the east side of Second Ave. begins to take its temporary shape as a cliff.
We first published this in The Times sometime after the popularity of the movie with "Pond" in the title. It escapes me for the moment.
We first published this in The Times sometime after the popularity of the movie with “Pond” in the title. It escapes me for the moment.
A minimal Potlatch parade floats poses on the south side of Blanchard across from the Blanchard Apartments after its lowering. The intersection with Second Ave. is on the left. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)
A minimal Potlatch parade floats poses on the south side of Blanchard across from the Blanchard Apartments after its lowering. The intersection with
Second Ave. is on the left. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)
The Blanchard Apartments appear to be occupied during their lowering to the north side of Blanchard Street, between Second and Third Avenues.
The Blanchard Apartments appear to be occupied during their lowering to the north side of Blanchard Street, between Second and Third Avenues.

 

Third Avenue, looking north from near Virginia Street. The Blanchard Apartments, left-of-center, may be approaching their regrade - or may not. What do you think?
Third Avenue, looking north from near Virginia Street. The Blanchard Apartments, left-of-center, may be approaching their regrade – or may not. What do you think?

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THE EDGE CLIPPINGS

THEN: Steel beams clutter a freshly regraded Second Avenue during the 1907 construction of the Moore Theatre. The view looks north toward Virginia Street.

THEN: The northeast corner of Belltown’s intersection of Blanchard Street and Fourth Avenue was about 100 feet higher than it is now. The elegant late-Victorian clutters of the Burwell homes’ interiors are also featured on the noted blog. (Courtesy John Goff)

THEN: An early-20th-century scene during the Second Avenue Regrade looks east into its intersection with Virginia Avenue. A home is being moved from harm's way, but the hotel on the hill behind it would not survive the regrade's spoiling. Courtesy of Ron Edge.

THEN: Before this the first shovel of the last of Denny Hill was ceremonially dropped to the conveyor belt at Battery Street, an “initial bite of 30,000 cubic yards of material” was carved from the cliff along the east side of 5th Avenue to make room for both the steam shovel and several moveable belts that extended like fingers across the hill. It was here that they met the elevated and fixed last leg of the conveyor system that ran west on Battery Street to the waterfront. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

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

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THEN: Thanks to Pacific reader John Thomas for sharing this photograph recorded by his father in 1927. It looks north across Times Square to the almost completed Orpheum Theatre. Fifth Avenue is on the left, and Westlake on the right.

THEN: Thanks again and again to Lawton Gowey for another contribution to this feature, this ca. 1917 look into a fresh Denny Regrade and nearly new “office-factory” at 1921 Fifth Avenue. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey.)

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THEN: In 1910, a circa date for this look north on First Avenue across Virginia Street, the two corners on the east side of the intersection were still undeveloped – except for signs. The Terminal Sales Building, seen far right in Jean Sherrard’s repeat, did not replace the billboards that crowd the sidewalk in the “then” until 1923. (Seattle Municipal Archive)

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

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

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

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

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In the late 70's, if memory serves . . .
In the late 70’s, if memory serves . . .

Seattle Now & Then: The Last of Denny Hill, Part 1

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking west (not east) on Battery Street from Seventh Avenue, approaching the end of the last of Denny Hill’s six regrade reductions. The dirt was carried to Elliott Bay on conveyor belts like the two shown here. (courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)
THEN: Looking west (not east) on Battery Street from Seventh Avenue, approaching the end of the last of Denny Hill’s six regrade reductions. The dirt was carried to Elliott Bay on conveyor belts like the two shown here. (courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)
NOW: The two forty-one story Insignia Towers now dominate the skyline and help fulfill the long stalled expectation of the original Denny regraders that when the hill was removed, it would be replaced with skyscrapers.
NOW: The two forty-one story Insignia Towers now dominate the skyline and help fulfill the long stalled expectation of the original Denny regraders that when the hill was removed, it would be replaced with skyscrapers.

One of the Nevada Construction Company’s four “great electric power shovels” is at work on the right digging away to the north on what little is left of Denny Hill by March 15, 1930.  Both the date and prospect are captioned bottom-left in the featured photo, most likely by James Lee, a photographer for the Seattle Engineering Department who by 1930 had been capturing our public works with both negatives and 16mm film for about two decades.

Battery Street looking east from the rear balcony of the Bell Hotel at the southeast corner of Front Street (First Ave.) and Battery Street ca. 1887-88. Denny School (1884) stands in the distance at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Battery. Photo by Mumford.
Battery Street looking east from the rear balcony of the Bell Hotel (shown in the next photo below) at the southeast corner of Front Street (First Ave.) and Battery Street ca. 1887-88.  Denny School (1884) stands in the distance at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Battery. Photo by Mumford.
The Bell (aka Bellview) Hotel at the southeast corner of Battery Street and Front Street (First Ave.). The look up Battery street, above, was photographed from its rear. The Austin A. Bell building stands beside it.
The Bell (aka Bellview) Hotel at the southeast corner of Battery Street and Front Street (First Ave.). The look up Battery street, ( the photo above this one), was photographed from the back of the hotel.  The Austin A. Bell building stands beside it.
This detail from the 1929 aerial survey of Seattle shows the line-up or spread then of the regrade's moveable conveyors and how the join at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Battery Street.
This detail from the 1929 aerial survey of Seattle shows, bottom-right, the line-up or fan-shaped spread of the regrade’s moveable conveyors and how they meet at the main Battery Street conveyor about one block northeast of the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Battery Street. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive and Ron Edge)  CLICK TO ENLARGE
Looking south to the Central Business District from the cliff left in 1911 when the regrading stopped at Fifth Avenue. This public works shot is date March 8, 1929. Battery Street is behind the city photographer.
Looking south to the Central Business District from the cliff left in 1911 when the regrading stopped at Fifth Avenue. This public works shot is date March 8, 1929. Battery Street is behind the city photographer.  C LICK TO ENLARGE
Fifth Avenue, the border between the regrade completed to 1911 and then resumed in 1929 can be found
Fifth Avenue, the border between the regrade completed to 1911 and then resumed in 1929 can be found by studying the building stock in the low-rise neighborhood the runs over the top-half oF this aerial from 1928-29.    It seems to rise at a slant from the roof of the medical-dental building near the center of the subject.  Frederick and Nelson is at the bottom-center. CLICK TO ENLARGE – MAYBE CLICK TWICE!

James Lee, it seems, was occasionally compass-challenged, as am I. (Jean is generally without flaw.)  Both Lee and Jean are here looking west on Battery Street in the featured photographs at the top, and not east as is mistakenly hand-printed at the lower left corner of Lee’s print No. 8297.  Seventh Avenue, however, is confident.  It is a two-block walk – or ride on the regrade conveyor belts – to reach the low-rise business district that begins on the west side of Fifth Avenue.  It was at Fifth that the Denny Regrade stalled

The same scrape-scape as that in the featured photo only here seen early (Nov. 6, 1929) looking south from a prospect near Fifth Avenue and Battery Street.
The same scrape-scape as that in the featured photo at the top only here seen earlier (Nov. 6, 1929) and looking south from a prospect near Fifth Avenue and Battery Street.  Note St. James Cathedrals twin towers on the horizon, far right.
Fifth Avenue where the main conveyor belt began its run west on Battery Street to Elliot Bay. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
Fifth Avenue where the main conveyor belt began its run west on Battery Street to Elliot Bay, both of which are out of frame to the right.  The photo is dated May 17, 1929. . (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
The main conveyor running the length of Battery Street from Fifth Avenue to the waterfront. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
The main conveyor running the length of Battery Street from Fifth Avenue to the waterfront. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)

in 1911 for seventeen years. To the east of Fifth, a cliff was exposed – or created – that rose to a pie-shaped remnant of the hill, referred to as the “Old Quarter.”  It was generally filled with homes – some of them large – that received few repairs and probably no restorations. The effect was that it got older, cozier and cheaper: a mix of rentals and family-owned homes, a neighborhood inclined to bohemian pastimes and street games.  Regrading was expected to be completed eventually, but not so far-fetched as seventeen years later.

The "Old Quarter" is easily distinguished in this ca. 1917 rendering of the then "apartment house district." CLICK to ENLARGE
The “Old Quarter” is easily distinguished from the Denny Regrade  in this ca. 1917 promotional rendering of  what it calls the “apartment house district.” CLICK to ENLARGE
On the left, the "Old Quarter" looking north on Westlake from the Medical-Dental Building. The green acres of Denny Park are at the top, on the north side of Denny Way.
On the left, the “Old Quarter” looking north on Westlake from the Medical-Dental Building. The green acres of Denny Park are at the top, on the north side of Denny Way.  Compare this with the cleared neighborhood showing two photos down.
Fifth Avenue, the north-south dividing line between the regrade and the "Old Quarter" runs to this side of the temporary bluff. The view looks north toward Lake Union.
Fifth Avenue, the north-south dividing line between the regrade and the “Old Quarter” runs to this side of the temporary bluff. The view looks north toward Lake Union.   The corner of Third Avenue and Virginia Street is at the bottom of the subject.    Queen Anne High School stands up from the hill’s horizon, upper-left.  CLICK-CLICK to ENLARGE
In preparation for the last of the Denny Regrades the "Old Quarter" east of Fifth Avenue has been mostly cleared away.
In preparation for the last of the Denny Regrades the “Old Quarter” east of Fifth Avenue has been mostly cleared away.   Fifth Avenue – of course – is on the left.  
The Immaculate Heart tower topples at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Bell Street - with the help of explosives.
The Immaculate Heart tower topples at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Bell Street – with the help of explosives.

This was the last of the six regrades humbling Denny Hill.  For the first two, in the mid-1880s and late 1890s, First Avenue was regraded initially for the horse cars, and later for the electric trolleys heading to and fro between Seattle and North Seattle, which was then Belltown and Lower Queen Anne.  The remaining four regrades were all serious about eliminating Denny Hill as an obstruction to what the forces of regrade promoted as the “natural northern growth” of the city.  Beginning in 1903, Second Avenue was brought to the grade we now know.  In 1906 there followed the lowering of the south, or front, summit of the Hill between Pine and Virginia Streets and the razing of the grand Denny Hotel perched upon it.  The lowering of the slightly higher north summit followed until 1911

The Denny Hotel with its last developer, James Moore (of the theatre too) scrambling to save it for the regraders.
The Denny Hotel with its last developer, James Moore (of the theatre too) scrambling to save it from the regraders.  (See the same photo with the “extras” below and the short essay that accompanied it in Pacific for May 15, 2000.)
Circa 1910, cliff formation to the east side of Fifth Avenue. The surviving center-section of Denny School appears to the right of the couple working at the cliff-top. The view looks north.
Circa 1910, cliff formation to the east side of Fifth Avenue. The surviving center-section of Denny School appears to the right of the couple working at the cliff-top. The view looks north.
The Klean-Rite Auto Cleaners garage at the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Battery in 1929 with the first section of the main conveyor crossing 5th Ave. for the start of its journey to the waterfront.
The Klean-Rite Auto Laundry Co.  garage at the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Battery in 1929 with the first section of the main regrade conveyor crossing 5th Ave. near the start of its journey to the waterfront.

when, as noted, all cutting stopped, leaving a cliff on the east side of Fifth Avenue.  The cliff was just to this side of the white-faced one-story building at the center of the featured photo, at the southwest corner of Battery and Fifth Avenue.  It is signed the “Klean-Rite Auto Laundry Co.”  Spread out behind the laundry is the grand 1920-21 fire station No. 2 at the southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Battery Street.  (See next clip below.) On the  afternoon that Public Works recorded this scene, more than two-hundred-and-fifty fire chiefs and municipal fire officials from around the state were meeting in No. 2’s big auditorium (on the left) for a three-day “fire-prevention convention.”

Appeared first in The Times, Aril 2, 1995.
Appeared first in The Times, Aril 2, 1995.
A clip from The Times for December 9, 1930.
A clip from The Times for December 9, 1930.

Most of Denny Hill was eroded with water cannons, but not this last of the regrades.  The “Old Quarter” was lowered with steam shovels that dumped their catches on to several moveable conveyor belts. The multiple belts led to a master conveyor that carried the last of Denny Hill west on Battery Street to be dumped into Elliott Bay.  As it turned out, the deposits created an underwater Denny Hill, which for the safety of shipping ultimately required dredging. 

A topped-off barge heading into the bay from the terminus for the Denny Regrade's main conveyor Belt.
A topped-off barge heading into the bay from the terminus for the Denny Regrade’s main conveyor Belt.

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WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, boys? Of course we do Jean, although we will need a second day to completed the laying in of more clips.  Again and again it will be more past features from the neighborhood and now as well la recommendation for how to use this blog to find more about the Denny Regrade.  First in the Illustrated History of the Seattle Waterfront included in our books “file” we have illustrated a history of the regrade.  Key word it.  And under the same file there will be more features about the regrade shared out of Seattle Now and Then, Volumes One, Two and Three.  You could spend the rest of this Sunday on it.  We suggest, however, the the reader begin with the first link below, “The First Shovel.”

THEN: Before this the first shovel of the last of Denny Hill was ceremonially dropped to the conveyor belt at Battery Street, an “initial bite of 30,000 cubic yards of material” was carved from the cliff along the east side of 5th Avenue to make room for both the steam shovel and several moveable belts that extended like fingers across the hill. It was here that they met the elevated and fixed last leg of the conveyor system that ran west on Battery Street to the waterfront. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

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

THEN: Thanks again and again to Lawton Gowey for another contribution to this feature, this ca. 1917 look into a fresh Denny Regrade and nearly new “office-factory” at 1921 Fifth Avenue. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey.)

THEN: In 1910, a circa date for this look north on First Avenue across Virginia Street, the two corners on the east side of the intersection were still undeveloped – except for signs. The Terminal Sales Building, seen far right in Jean Sherrard’s repeat, did not replace the billboards that crowd the sidewalk in the “then” until 1923. (Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: A circa 1912 look at the Wall Street finger pier from the foot, not of Wall, but Battery Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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THEN: Sometime between early December 1906 and mid-February 1907 an unnamed photographer with her or his back about two lots north of Pike Street recorded landmarks on the east side of Third Avenue including, in part, the Washington Bar stables, on the right; the Union Stables at the center, a church converted for theatre at Pine Street, and north of Pine up a snow-dusted Denny Hill, the Washington Hotel. (Used courtesy of Ron Edge)

THEN: St. Vincent de Paul’s first storefront opened in 1926 in Belltown’s grand clapboard hostelry at the corner of First and Battery. Originally the Bellevue Hotel, it’s reduced here to the “house keeping and transient rooms” of the Bay State Hotel. (MOHAI)

THEN: In this April morning record of the 1975 “Rain or Shine Public Market Paint-in,” above the artists, restoration work has begun with the gutting of the Corner Market Building. (Photo by Frank Shaw)

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THEN: While visiting Seattle for some promoting, silent film star Wallace Reid shares the sidewalk at 4th and Olive with a borrowed Stutz Bearcat. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)

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

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

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

THEN: Seattle Architect Paul Henderson Ryan designed the Liberty Theatre around the first of many subsequent Wurlitzer organs used for accompanying silent films in theatres “across the land”. The Spanish-clad actor-dancers posed on the stage apron are most likely involved in a promotion for a film – perhaps Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925) or Douglas Fairbanks’ The Gaucho (1929) that also played at the Liberty. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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

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Courtesy of Louise Lovely, star of the One Reel Vaudeville Show.
Courtesy of Louise Lovely, star of the One Reel Vaudeville Show.
First appeared in The Times May 14, 2000.
First appeared in The Times May 14, 2000.

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(Above: Looking south on the Wagon Road near Fifth and Virginia, ca. 1886. )

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Appears in The Times, October 27, 2002.
Appeared in The Times, October 27, 2002.

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Appeared first in The Times, June 25, 2000
Appeared first in The Times, June 25, 2000

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Appeared first in The Times, October 20, 2002.
Appeared first in The Times, October 20, 2002.

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First appeared in The Times, June 3, 2007.
First appeared in The Times, June 3, 2007.

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Seattle Now & Then: The Butler did it!

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Adding a sixth floor to its first five in 1903, the Hotel Butler entered a thirty-year run as “the place” for dancing in the Rose Room, dining at the Butler Grill, and celebrity-mixing in the lobby. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: Adding a sixth floor to its first five in 1903, the Hotel Butler entered a thirty-year run as “the place” for dancing in the Rose Room, dining at the Butler Grill, and celebrity-mixing in the lobby. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Never lost, the Butler Hotel’s first floor of brick and stone from 1890 survives under eight floors of parking.
NOW: Never lost, the Butler Hotel’s first floor of brick and stone from 1890 survives under eight floors of parking.

There are few artifacts from Seattle history so well fitted with worthy stories as the Hotel Butler.  This five-or six-story brick and stone block was built on the northwest corner of James Street and Second Avenue almost immediately following the Great Fire of 1889.  The first of its worthy stories describes rotund developer Guy Phinney (of the Ridge) meeting with the slender young English architect John Parkinson in the cooling ashes at the James and

Early adver for the Butler. The art was completed before the building, which was finished without a tower.
Early adver for the Butler. The art was completed before the building, which was finished without a tower.

Second corner property, which Phinney had purchased earlier from pioneers Hiram and Catherine Butler.  Phinney challenged Parkinson with a big order: a business block plan to be delivered in twenty-four hours.  The architect managed to answer the call with a rendering for a structure that survives, at least in its first floor, 125 years later.

Guy Phinney's real estate tent stands on a scaffold near the northwest corner of Second Ave. and James Street, and the future front door to the Butler Hotel. The view of early construction following the Great Fire of June 6, 1889 looks east from Pioneer Square, near the center of the block between James and Cherry Streets.
Guy Phinney’s real estate tent stands far right on a scaffold near the northwest corner of Second Ave. and James Street, about where the future front door to the Butler Hotel will face Second Avenue.. The view of early construction following the Great Fire of June 6, 1889 looks east from Pioneer Square, near the center of the block between James and Cherry Streets.  The featured text that accompanied the above photo for its 2002 Pacific printing follows.  
First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 29, 2002
First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 29, 2002

The widespread economic panic of 1893 transformed Phinney’s business block into a hotel with new owners, Dietrich Hamm and Ferdinand Schmitz.  Through the tough times of the depression that followed, the new partners still hired “the highest priced chef in town,” and sometimes made special arrangements with paying guests of many sorts, such as the grandiose “Christ-like power” of Herrman the Healer. The Times on June 15, 1896, played along, surely for a fee, with Herrman’s promotions.  “Nearly all chronic diseases quickly yield to animal magnetism in the hands of this wonderful magnetist.”  The Butler’s “private parlors” 19 thru 26 were set aside for Herrman’s laying on of hands, but with the warning that “Those unable to pay must not come to the hotel, but to the theatre, where free tickets, free seats and free treatment on the stage will be given. Consultation, with full diagnosis of your disease, in all cases, is $1.00.”

Anders Wilse's early citty-korner record of the Butler Hotel on the northwest corner of Second Avenue and James Street.
Anders Wilse’s early kitty-corner record of the Butler Hotel on the northwest corner of Second Avenue and James Street.
The engineer-photorgrapher and Norwegian immigrant Anders Wilse recorded this look north on Second Avenue from Yesler Way in the mid 1890s. The Butler Hotel appears in the left, left-of-center. It is still at its original height. The Seattle Hotel is submerged in the shadows on the left.
The photographer and Norwegian immigrant Anders Wilse recorded this look north on Second Avenue from Yesler Way in the mid 1890s. The Butler Hotel appears  in the light left-of-center. It is still at its original height. The Seattle Hotel is submerged in the shadows on the left.
Two Seattle Times clips - above and below - from May 3, 1903.
Two Seattle Times clips – above and below – from May 3, 1903.

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Above and Below: Ross Cunnngham’s feature on the Butler published in The Times for July 15, 1977  (click to enlarge)

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The Yukon gold rush of 1897 and after gave the Butler and every other hotel in Seattle its own rush.  It was with this affluence that the Hotel Butler became “the place.” A short list of its famous guests included Buffalo Bill, Presidents Cleveland, McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt (not together), Gen. John Pershing, Lillian Russell, and the Great Northern Railroad’s James Hill. In an effort to lead good-time-yearning guests through the Jazz Age, the bands playing in the hotel’s popular Rose Room included Jackie Sounders, the smooth clarinetist Nicholas Oeconomacos, and during five of the prohibition years, Vic Meyers and his Brunswick Recording Orchestra, which parodied failed police raids with playings of “How Dry I Am.”

[The next clip – with 2 parts – is Don Duncan’s take on the Butler’s mostly happy life.  Don wrote for the Times for decades.  CLICK TO ENLARGE]

[DUNCAN'S feature on the Butler appeared in The Times on March 14, 1971. It continues and concludes below.)
[DUNCAN’S feature on the Butler appeared in The Times on March 14, 1971. It continues and concludes below.)
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QUIZ: Part of the Second Avenue facade can be found in this ca. 1910 look from the front lawn of the King Country Courthouse on First Hill's Seventh Avenue. Hint: The skyscraper is Seattle's first - the Alaska Building (1904) at the southeast corner of James and Second Avenue. The steeple on the right tops Our Mother of Good Help Catholic Church at the southeast corner of Jefferson and Fifth Avenue.
QUIZ: Part of the BUTLER’S  Second Avenue facade can be found in this ca. 1910 look from the front lawn of the King Country Courthouse on First Hill’s Seventh Avenue. Hints: The skyscraper is Seattle’s first – the Alaska Building (1904) at the southeast corner of James and Second Avenue. The steeple on the right tops Our Mother of Good Help Catholic Church at the southeast corner of Jefferson and Fifth Avenue.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

During the depths of the Great Depression, the Hotel Butler closed in 1933, the year prohibition was reversed. The following year the Phinney-Parkinson creation was reduced to two stories for parking above and shops at the sidewalk.  Now with added stories it has parking for 427 vehicles so long (or short) as they are not over 6 feet 8 inches tall. 

The Butler in February 1993.
The Butler in February 1993.

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The Times report on the Butler's bust with the vision of its past in a cartoon above the feature. Appeared Sept. 10, 1933.
The Times report on the Butler’s bust with a cartoon vision of its illustrious past.   Appeared Sept. 10, 1933.
Frank Shaw's capture of the Smith Tower reflected in a pool on the moss-covered roof of the Butler Hotel.
Frank Shaw’s capture of the Smith Tower reflected in a pool on the moss-covered roof of the Butler Hotel.

The Seattle Times has done well in cherishing the hotel’s stories, both when they were being ‘written,’ and also later as told by the hotel’s staff and guests.  Four of The Times still appreciated columnists, John Reddin (Face of the City), Emmett Watson (This Our City), Byron Fish (By Fish, His Mark), and Don Duncan (Driftwood Diary), have dedicated a feature or more to the Hotel Butler. Most recently, in 1971, Duncan described it as “the most famous hostelry and nightspot in our city’s history . . . Under its roof were quartered prima donnas and Presidents, gold-rush promoters and railroad magnates, cigar-puffing politicians and the glittering stars of touring vaudeville shows.”  For much of its life it was “the place” – Seattle’s ‘Grand Hotel.’  

Mayor Brown welcoming theatrical ensemble on tour here to city hall.
Mayor Brown welcoming theatrical ensemble on tour here to city hall.

BELOW: A November 20, 1924 printing of a letter to The Times from Seattle’s then somewhat Thrumplike mayor, the showboat Dentist Edwin J. Brown, complaining about the behavior of the Seattle police during a raid made on the BUTLER HOTEL on August 10, 1924.  [click to enlarge]

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WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, compadres?   Ron Edge has put down a few links from the neighborhood, and as time permits I’ll pull a few more from old files.  I remember buying some Butler Hotel ephemera long long ago.  I’ll scan of it what I can find.  I’m hoping that the hotel postcard will surface.  It includes a message from a customer that is the opposite of what is expected – deriding rather than swooning over its celebrated cuisine.

THEN: Between the now lost tower of the Pioneer Building, seen in part far left, and the Seattle Electric Steam Plant tower on the right, are arranged on First and Railroad Avenues the elaborate buzz of business beside and near Seattle’s Pioneer Square ca. 1904.

THEN: The Terry-Denny Building, better known in its earlier years as Hotel Northern, was part of the grand new Pioneer Place (or Square) neighborhood built up in the early 1890s after the old one was reduced to ashes by Seattle's Great Fire of 1889.

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

THEN: For the first twenty years of his more than 40 years selling tinware and other selected hardware, Zilba Mile's shop looked south across Yesler Way down First Ave. S, then known as Commercial Street.

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

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

THEN: In the late afternoon and evening of Seattle’s Great Fire day, June 6, 1889, Leigh and Lizzie Hunt’s home at the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street was, within a few hours, arranged to accommodate the family’s business, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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

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

THEN:

THEN: The original for this scene of a temporary upheaval on Mill Street (Yesler Way) was one of many historical prints given to the Museum of History and Industry many years ago by the Charles Thorndike estate. Thorndike was one of Seattle’s history buffs extraordinaire. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry.)

THEN: A half-century after they reached the top of First Hill, electric streets cars and cable cars prepare to leave it. (Courtesy, The Museum of History and Industry)

MORE NEIGHBORHOOD LINKS FROM PAST PACIFICS

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Seattle Now & Then: The Corgiat Building near Pioneer Square

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THEN: Built in 1900 the Corgiat Building lost its cornice and identifying sign to the 1949 earthquake. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: Built in 1900 the Corgiat Building lost its cornice and identifying sign to the 1949 earthquake. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: When it was sold in 1953, the building was still in the hands of the Corgiat family. The purchaser was its neighbor, the distinguished furniture dealers, the Masin family.
NOW: When it was sold in 1953, the building was still in the hands of the Corgiat family. The purchaser was its neighbor, the distinguished furniture dealers, the Masin family.

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It would be a mistake to tack to the Hotel Main the setback tower rising from its roof.   Rather, the Italianate tower is set next door atop Firehouse No. 10.  It was used to connote the firemen’s high calling to smoke out hot spots in the Pioneer Square neighborhood

Fire Station at the northwest corner of Third Ave. S. and Main Street briefly before the 1928-29 Second Avenue Extension razed it. The work on the left reveals the new corner cut for the same intersection's southwest corner. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
Firehouse No. 10 at the northwest corner of Third Ave. S. and Main Street briefly before the 1928-29 Second Avenue Extension razed it. The work on the left reveals the new corner cut for the same intersection’s southwest corner. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
Looking north on Third Ave. So. with a glimpse of the fire house on the left across Main Street at the northwest corner.
Looking north on Third Ave. So. ca. 1911 with a glimpse of the fire house on the left across Main Street at the northwest corner.

and also to dry hoses. The hotel was constructed in 1900 to the plans of Architect R. L. Robertson and the Firehouse with its tower was lifted above the northwest corner of Third Avenue and Main Street three years later.  The station was stopped at two stories – plus the tower – but a third floor was added in 1912 for the department’s new Fire Alarm Office.  A mere sixteen years later the public works 1928-29 Second Avenue Extension – a straightening between Yesler Way and Jackson Street – cut directly through No.10 and just missed the hotel.

A 1900 ad for Hambach Co.
A 1900 ad for Hambach Co.

In 1900 architect Robertson was fresh from completing the nearby Hambach Co.’s similarly sized business block (now the parking lot on First Ave. S., one lot south of Main Street) when early in the summer of 1900 he submitted plans for this three-story brick structure, but somehow with walls of “insufficient thickness.”  It was W.N.G. Place, a city building inspector with a fitting name, who spotted Robertson’s code cutting trim and arrested him.  Perhaps John Corgiat, the architect’s client, paid the fine as part of the $9,500 it took to complete his namesake building. Once expanded to code, the walls soon reached their decorative cornice where centered above the Main Street façade both Corgiat’s name and the date, 1900, could be easily read from the street.   

J. Corgiat's obituary in The Seattle Times.
J. Corgiat’s 1935 obituary in The Seattle Times. [Cllick to Enlarge for Reading] (Courtesy, Seattle Public Library, Seattle Room)

Corgiat arrived in Seattle from California before the Great Fire of 1889, to which he lost his restaurant, the Louvre, Seattle’s first Italian-French eatery.  The garrulous Corgiat founded Italian Lodge No. 1 of Seattle.  Not surprisingly, his 1935 obituary described him as having been “much in demand as a public speaker.”  The obit for the 78-year-old Italian immigrant also shared the irony that he had once sold forty acres near Green Lake to Seattle’s founders, the Dennys.  Sometimes the glad-handering Corgiat could turn bellicose.  After the Great Fire, he helped form a vigilante committee to help protect Seattle from the expected infusion onto its ruins of opportunist pickers and “bad egg bums.”  While paying and collecting his accounts then, Corgiat had the habit of walking the streets of the business district with a bag of cash in one hand and a revolver in the other. 

A Seattle Times reported example of
A Seattle Times reported example of Corgiat’s  sometimes disputive temper.

John Corgiat’s name held to the top of his business block until it was severally rattled by the earthquake of April 13, 1949.  The removal of the cornice was then ordered by one of Building Inspector Place’s many successors. Through its years as a hostelry, the tenants of the Main Hotel were largely fixed-income single-room occupants.  One of these, John E. Clark, was also a victim of the ’49 quake.  Clark, a napping tenant, was awakened when part of the Main Hotel’s roof fell on him.  It injured his head.  The tenants of the two sidewalk storefronts to either side of the hotel’s keyhole front door included the Millionair Club in the late 1920s, and John Danz, Seattle’s long-lived motion picture scion who started as a clothier and haberdasher, perhaps here on the left at “The One Price Store.”   In

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1909 the Saloon on the right, then like the hotel still named for the street it faced, was ticketed for selling spirits on Sunday.  Thirty-Four years later in 1944 the Main Hotel was accused of violating war-time rent regulations.  In ten years more the hotel was sold by the Corgiat family estate to its neighbor, the Masin Realty Company. 

The Main Hotel's manager caught and find for charging excessive rentals. A Times clipping from January 28, 1946.
The Main Hotel’s manager caught and fined for charging excessive rentals. A Times clipping from January 28, 1946.
A clip from The Seattle Times on Nov. 21, 1954.
A clip from The Seattle Times on Nov. 21, 1954.
From The Times for December 18, 1934.
From The Times for December 18, 1934.

We wonder, are the bricks stacked on the sidewalk, on the right, in front of The Loop Saloon, headed for Firehouse No. 10’s 1912 third-floor addition? A circa 1911 date is, we figure, ‘about right.’ 

WEB EXTRAS

To answer curious readers definitively, here is a blow up of the signage on the right side of the modern photo:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Happy New Year, lads! Let’s add a couple of photos from the Woodland Park Zoo, which I visited yesterday with my fifth/six graders from Hillside Student Community:

Hillside students fascinated by a playful otter
Hillside students fascinated by a playful otter
Otter at play
Otter at play
HSC kids suggest - you really otter visit
HSC kids suggest – you really otter visit
And if the otter isn't to your taste, try the Komodo dragon - at 8 feet long representative of the largest lizards on earth
And if you’d rather notter, check out the Komodo dragon – this one near 8 feet long and representative of the largest lizard species on earth

Anything to add, lads?  Nothing Jean so singularly impressive as your playful otter or our hulking Komado dragon, but with sheer numbers we may make an impression.   Ron Edge has put up a flock of relevant (from the neighborhood) features.  Open each and discover many more links within – some inevitably repeated.  We add bless Ron, redundancy, and our dogged decades of hunting and gathering. Damn, that is a fine dragon Jean!

When compared to most city scenes relatively little has changed in his view west on Main Street from First Avenue South in the century-plus between them. (Historical photo courtesy of Lawton Gowey)

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

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THEN: Sitting on a small triangle at the odd northwest corner of Third Avenue and the Second Ave. S. Extension, the Fiesta Coffee Shop was photographed and captioned, along with all taxable structures in King County, by Works Progress Administration photographers during the lingering Great Depression of the late 1930s. (Courtesy, Washington State Archive’s Puget Sound Branch)

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

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

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

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

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THEN: In the older scene daring steel workers pose atop construction towers during the 1910 building of the Union Depot that faces Jackson Street.

THEN: The Freedman Building on Maynard Avenue was construction soon after the Jackson Street Regrade lowered the neighborhood and dropped Maynard Avenue about two stories to its present grade in Chinatown. (Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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

THEN: The Terry-Denny Building, better known in its earlier years as Hotel Northern, was part of the grand new Pioneer Place (or Square) neighborhood built up in the early 1890s after the old one was reduced to ashes by Seattle's Great Fire of 1889.

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

THEN: The original for this scene of a temporary upheaval on Mill Street (Yesler Way) was one of many historical prints given to the Museum of History and Industry many years ago by the Charles Thorndike estate. Thorndike was one of Seattle’s history buffs extraordinaire. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry.)

THEN: Frank Shaw’s pre-preservation visit to First Avenue South on February 26, 1961. He looks north from Main Street. (photo by Frank Shaw)

THEN: For the first twenty years of his more than 40 years selling tinware and other selected hardware, Zilba Mile's shop looked south across Yesler Way down First Ave. S, then known as Commercial Street.

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

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

THEN: Looking northwest from the 4th Avenue trestle towards the Great Northern Depot during its early 20th Century construction. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

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

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First appeared in Pacific, June 1, 2008
First appeared in Pacific, June 1, 2008

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First appeared in Pacific, June 29, 1997
First appeared in Pacific, June 29, 1997
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE

Seattle Now & Then: The Ballard Fire Station ca. 1903

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THEN: Ballard’s short-lived fire station at the southwest corner of Broadway (NW Market Street) and Burke Avenue (Russell Ave. NW) circa 1903. Looking northwest the view includes, above the horses, a glimpse of Sypher’s Hall, a rentable venue for playful and/or political events. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: Ballard’s short-lived fire station at the southwest corner of Broadway (NW Market Street) and Burke Avenue (Russell Ave. NW) circa 1903. Looking northwest the view includes, above the horses, a glimpse of Sypher’s Hall, a rentable venue for playful and/or political events. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: In addition to his photo of the 1911 Ballard Fire Station No. 18, Jean Sherrard has widened his repeat to include Ballard’s Carnegie Public Library (1904) across NW Market Street.
NOW: In addition to his photo of the 1911 Ballard Fire Station No. 18, Jean Sherrard has widened his repeat to include Ballard’s Carnegie Public Library (1904) across NW Market Street.  Other snaps of these front doors are featured with gear near the bottom of this short essay.  

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On the back [above] of the original print of this Ballard subject, preserved in the Museum of History and Industry’s Sophie Bass Frye Library, is written the MOHAI print number “1042.”  It continues with a sparse description of the subject:  “Ballard Fire Dept. 1903, Market St. wooden bldg.”  Ballard, then commonly tagged the “Shingle Capitol of the World,” was still its own city with its own fire department in ca. 1903.

Detail from te 1904 Sanborn map of Ballard showing the fire station on Burke Street.
Detail from te 1904 Sanborn map of Ballard showing the fire station on Burke Street.  Market St. is on the left, although not market in this detail.    
Above: Judge on a walk downtown and not in Ballard. Below: A year's worth of recording looking north on Burke Street from N. 44th Street, shot during my Wallingford Walks of 2006 to 2010, or about as long as my knees lasted.
Above: Judge on a walk downtown and not in Ballard. Below: A year’s worth of recording looking north on Burke Street from N. 44th Street, shot during my Wallingford Walks of 2006 to 2010, or about as long as my knees lasted.
A year at Burke and 44th, looking north.
A year at Burke and 44th, looking north.

The caption writer’s claims for “Market St.” are slightly off, for the address of the station, with the hose and chemical wagon posing here, was set on Burke Street.  Admittedly, that is a bit fussy, for while looking northeast from the station’s footprint on its flatiron block’s irregular southwest corner, the station faced both Burke and Market Streets. Before annexation Market was named Broadway and was truly as broad then as it is now.  The street fronting the station was also trespassed.  It had been named in honor of Thomas Burke, one of the Pioneer bounders who first developed Ballard in the late 1880s.  With annexation the founder’s name was changed to Russell, another Ballard pioneer, on the principle of “First come first serve.”  In 1907 Seattle already had a Burke Ave., running north from Lake Union through Wallingford.

A clipped (at the top) clipping from the Seattle Times for Octobert 1, 1905 posing and naming the members of the Ballard Fire Department, with Chief H. Roberts third from the right. We have placed below this a letter from Roberts to Ballard's mayor and council that they fire Assistant Chief L. Roberts (no relation) for violating the rules and regulations, of the department we assume. The letter is dated Nov. 10, 1903, and we can find no posing L. Roberts in the 1905 crew portrait, nor the recommended successor M.G. Mabbuth (spelling?)
[CLICK to ENLARGE] A clipped (at the top) clipping from the Seattle Times for October 1, 1905 posing and naming the members of the Ballard Fire Department, with Chief H. Roberts third from the right. We have placed below this a letter from Roberts to Ballard’s mayor and council requesting that they fire Assistant Chief L. Roberts (no relation) for violating the “rules and regulations,” of the department we assume. The letter is dated Nov. 10, 1903, and we can find no posing L. Roberts in the 1905 crew portrait, nor his recommended successor M.G. Mabbuth (spelling?)

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The original photo offers nothing in the way of names for the firemen, or for the horses or the station’s mascot, who. we assume, is a Dalmation, the traditional fire station breed.   When I suggested this to Galen Thomaier, the director of Seattle’s Last Resort Fire Department, in Ballard, and its Museum in Pioneer Square, he smarty replied, “Where’s the spots!”  I answered that the want of them was no fault of the dog, but of the print’s highlights, which after about 111 years are washed out.  (Thomaier added that fire stations in Seattle rarely chose Dalmations.)  As for the uniformed men in the featured photo, posing in a line as straight as their buttons, we can feel confident that their names survive in “Archival Ballard,” the many boxes of letters, minutes, ordinances, proposals, plans, ledgers that, following the 1907 annexation, were carted to Seattle’s City Hall, then popularly named “Katzenjammer Kastle” for its battery of odd clapboard additions.  The Ballard archive remains in the caring hands of what has become Seattle’s Municipal Archives, now overseen by Seattle’s newest City Archivist, Anne Frantilla.

City Hall, aka the "Katzenjammer Kastle," at the southeast corner of Third Ave. and Jefferson Street, ca. 1897, with the Yesler Mansion beyond it at the northeast corner.
City Hall, aka the “Katzenjammer Kastle,” at the southeast corner of Third Ave. and Jefferson Street, ca. 1897, with the Yesler Mansion beyond it at the northeast corner.

Last Resort’s Director Galen Thomaier served twenty-six years as a fireman for the Seattle Fire Department.  For eight of those he was stationed in Station No. 18, the brick Ballard landmark that in 1911 replaced the “wooden bldg.” featured here. Thomaier and his colleagues have many more photographs of both stations, brick and board, preserved in the Last Resort Fire Department’s collections. 

ABOVE and BELOW two looks at the "new" brick Ballard station No. 18 and its rolling stock from horses to horsepower.
ABOVE and BELOW two looks at the “new” brick Ballard station No. 18 and its rolling stock from horses to horsepower.

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The Last Resort Fire Department also cares for eighteen antique fire engines, sixteen of them road-worthy.  The Department’s collections are kept and shown in two locations: the Pioneer Square Museum at 301 2nd Ave. S., and the Ballard site at 1433 MW 51st Street.  Call first at 206 783-4474 and/or consult lastresortfd.org.  

Before building its own quarters Ballard's Burke Avenue, the Shingle Capitol's fire department was lodged in its brick City Hall. Here volunteers (mostly) pose with two of the department's hose reals. On August 25, 1902 the Ballard hose team won an invitational race and $124 on Firemen's Day. Running on Union Streeet between fourth and Seventh Avenues they made a run of 300 yards, laid a line (of hose), and had water running in forty-one seconds. The Columbia Cityi team was second in forty-nine seconds. At two extremes, the Seattle Team did not run, and the Hoquiam team ran too well. It easily made the best run, but went oo far, passing the first fire plug entirely. Hence no record of their run could be taken.
Before building its own quarters on Ballard’s Burke Avenue, the Shingle Capitol’s fire department was lodged in its brick City Hall., where volunteers (mostly) here pose with two of the department’s hose reals. On August 25, 1902 the Ballard hose team won an invitational race and $124 on Firemen’s Day.  Performing on Seattle’s Union Street between fourth and Seventh Avenues they made a run of 300 yards, laid a line (of hose), and had water spurting in forty-one seconds. The Columbia City team was second in forty-nine seconds. At two extremes, the Seattle Team did not run, while the Hoquiam team ran too well. It easily made the best run, but went too far, passing the first fire plug entirely. Hence no record of their run could be taken.  The Firemen’s Day contests and parade stirred some civic interest months later.  A clip from The Seattle Times for January 30, 1903 reads, “INFO as to where the Ballard Fire Department can secure photographs taken of the Firemen’s parade and race, August 25, 1902.. Address W. Baker, Secretary, Ballard.
Ballard Avenue fire alarm perhaps showing off for a crowd already in place or near it for a parade on Ballard Avenue - unless they heard the alarm. The pointed tower of Ballard's city hall is seen in the distance, just to the left of the racing apparatus.
Ballard Avenue fire alarm perhaps showing off for a crowd already in place or near it for a parade on Ballard Avenue – unless they heard the alarm. The pointed tower of Ballard’s city hall is seen in the distance, just to the left of the racing apparatus.
Looking northwest on Ballard Ave thru the slight jog at its intersection with 22nd Ave. N.W., with what was City Hall (before the 1907 annexation into Seattle proper) standing above the corner.
Looking northwest on Ballard Ave thru the slight jog at its intersection with 22nd Ave. N.W., with what was City Hall (before the 1907 annexation into Seattle proper) standing above the corner.  The cornerstone had been laid on May 17, 1899.  

A detail from the 1904 Sanborn map of Ballard before its 1907 annexation into Seattle. Here the future 22nd Ave. N.W. is still numbered Third Avenue. The City Hall footprint holds the pointed corner.
A detail from the 1904 Sanborn map of Ballard before its 1907 annexation into Seattle. Here the future 22nd Ave. N.W. is still numbered Third Avenue. The City Hall footprint holds the pointed corner.

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WEB EXTRAS

We interrupt our usually scheduled program on behalf of the public interest. Today, a short memorial was held on the steps of Blanchet High School for our neighbor Donelle “Nellie” Yelli, who died a few days ago in a hit-and-run.

Donelle "Nellie" Yelli (Courtesy of Michael McIntosh)
Donelle “Nellie” Yelli (Courtesy of Michael McIntosh)

Nellie was a pretty extraordinary woman, ‘mother hen’ at Greenwood House, a shelter for women in need – a fierce advocate and gentle supporter. I snapped a few photos of the event.

In memorium at Blanchet
In memorium at Blanchet
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L-R Lee Bruch, organizer; Gordon Padelford, policy director, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways; Pastor Nick Steinloski, Bethany Community Church
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“Remember Nellie” – and make our street safer
Lynn DeMarco,Low Income Housing Institute area manager spoke tearfully and with great affection for Nellie
Lynn DeMarco,Low Income Housing Institute area manager, spoke tearfully and with great affection for Nellie

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Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, spoke passionately of the need to strictly enforce impaired driving laws and improve public safety
Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, passionately addressed the need to strictly enforce impaired driving laws and save lives
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Flowers and a tribute at the corner of 82nd and Wallingford
A memorial silhouette posted above the flowers honoring Nellie; one of twenty recently placed around the city by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways at sites where pedestrians have died.
A memorial silhouette posted above the flowers honoring Nellie; one of twenty recently placed around the city by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways at sites where pedestrians have died.

Anything to add, gents?  Sure Jean.  We will start with a few relevant clips placed by Ron Edge.   We call them, you know, Edge Clips.   Then we’ll string along a few old clips with Ballard subjects, and conclude with some photos of a few friendly and brawny Ballardians.

THEN: A Seattle Street and Sewer Department photographer recorded this scene in front of the nearly new City-County Building in 1918. The view looks west from 4th Avenue along a Jefferson Street vacated in this block except for the municipal trolley tracks. (Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: Captioned Salmon Bay, 1887, this is most likely very near the eastern end of the bay where it was fed by Ross Creek, the Lake Union outlet. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan Vintage Posters and Photographs)

THEN: James Lee, for many years an official photographer for Seattle’s public works department, looks south over Ballard’s Salmon Bay a century ago. Queen Anne Hill marks the horizon, with a glimpse of Magnolia on the far right. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: A circa 1908 look northeast through the terminus of the Loyal Electric Street Railway line at the corner of now Northwest 85th Street, 32nd Ave. Northwest, and Loyal Way Northwest. (Courtesy, the Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: With his or her back to the original Ballard business district, an unnamed photographer looks southeast on Leary Way, most likely in 1936.

THEN: Looking east from the roof of the still standing testing lab, the Lock’s Administration Building (from which this photograph was borrowed) appears on the left, and the district engineer’s home, the Cavanaugh House (still standing) on the center horizon. (Photo courtesy Army Corps of Engineers at Chittenden Locks)

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

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

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

THEN: Frank Shaw’s late winter composition of waterfront landmarks at the foot of Madison Street in 1963. (Photo by Frank Shaw)

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THEN: Built in 1910, Ballard’s big brick church on the northwest corner of 20th Avenue NW and NW 63rd Street lost the top of its soaring tower following the earthquake of Nov. 12, 1939.

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clip-ballard-brdge-rail-removal-5-31-39-web

clip-ballard-bridge-tracks-removeal-web

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First appeared in Pacific, July 15, 1984.
First appeared in Pacific, July 15, 1984.

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Appeared first in Pacific, June 24, 1984.
Appeared first in Pacific, June 24, 1984.

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Ballard's bascule bridge on 15th Ave. n.w. seen over the masts & stacks of Fishermen's Terminal.
Ballard’s bascule bridge on 15th Ave. n.w. seen over the masts & stacks of Fishermen’s Terminal.

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First appeared in Pacific, January 29, 1987
First appeared in Pacific, January 29, 1987

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First appeared in Pacific, August 19, 2001.
First appeared in Pacific, August 19, 2001.

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First appeared in Pacific, June 26, 1992.
First appeared in Pacific, June 26, 1992.

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First appeared in Pacific, May 6, 2001
First appeared in Pacific, May 6, 2001

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First appeared in Pacific, March 9, 1986.
First appeared in Pacific, March 9, 1986.

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First appeared in Pacific, October, 10, 2004.
First appeared in Pacific, October, 10, 2004.

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First appeared in Pacific, March 10, 1996.
First appeared in Pacific, March 10, 1996.

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First appeared in Pacific, December 11, 1988.

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Ballard preparing, it seems, to make American great again.
Ballard preparing, it seems, to make American great again.

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The Ballard Marching Band following a performance in Wallingford's* Meridian Park. (" Wallingford, "The Gateway to Ballard."
The Ballard Marching Band following a performance in Wallingford’s* Meridian Park.  *Wallingford, “The Gateway to Ballard.”

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Friends of Ballard and/or Ballardian friends at sea, or near it.
Friends of Ballard and/or Ballardian friends at sea, or near it.