Category Archives: Seattle Now and Then

Now and Then Challenge winner: Alan Stein!

Remember this photo from a couple of weeks ago?

14th and E Roy!

Well, for those paying attention, historylink’s Alan Stein found the exact spot using GoogleEarth. As promised, we joined Alan for a photo session on site. Here’s a shot of Alan taking his own repeat:

The house in the upper center left is the same as in the old photo.

Watch this space for more Now and Then Challenges – soon to be a regular feature at DorpatSherrardLomont.

Today's Seattle Now & Then: 'Militia at Main Street'

When these soldiers were photographed, the distinguished Pacific House behind them was nearly new.  Listed as a “commercial block,” it appears in the city’s 1884 birds-eye drawing, although those artist’s renderings were smart to include structures that were only in the planning stage.

The scene looks southwest through the intersection of Main Street and what then was still named Second Avenue (Occidental). The guard may be one of the several militia groups formed in 1884-85 by locals anxious about their boom town filling up with strangers, especially after the transcontinental Northern Pacific was completed late in 1883 and made it much easier to reach Puget Sound.

Or these may be regular soldiers from Fort Vancouver sent here twice: first briefly in November 1885 to prevent action against the about 400 Chinese living for the most part in this neighborhood, and then again in February 1886 to secure the town under martial law.  In between these visits an organized mob – variously rowdy, racist, and resentful – with the help of the city’s chief of police, rounded up the “Celestials” and pushed 197 of them on board one steamship while waiting for another to take away the remainder.

When the courts and local militias intervened, a riot followed one block west of this intersection at First and Main.  One of the mob’s leaders was shot to death. The Governor who again packed the regulars and their rifles north from Vancouver quickly locked the town down.  Some part of them was kept here into August.

A brief reminder: this revelatory story is told beautifully in Murray Morgan’s classic Skid Road, the Seattle history he left with us.

(click to enlarge)

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 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, MOHAI.
NOW: Completed in 1893, the extremely robust Union Trust Building was one of the first buildings in our most historic neighborhood to be restored by the architect-preservationist Ralph Anderson.  Photo by Jean Sherrard
NOW: Completed in 1893, the extremely robust Union Trust Building was one of the first buildings in our most historic neighborhood to be restored by the architect-preservationist Ralph Anderson. Photo by Jean Sherrard

For a complementary story, looking east on Main from 1st Avenue, please visit this Now & Then from early 2005.

TODAY'S Seattle Now & Then: 'FOODLAND' (2009-02-08)

Scrambling to the classical roof of Interlake School (now the Wallingford Center), a photographer from the old North Central Outlook recorded the intersection where Wallingford Ave. crosses 45th Street with a jog.  Besides a fine depiction of the game circles painted onto the blacktop of the school’s playfield, bottom-right, the photo shows above that across 45th the brand new grocery with a mighty ambitious name: Foodland.

Foodland’s grand opening – a sign is in the window – began on Nov. 17th 1950, with a spotlight and a great orchid give-away: 500 of them. However, not everything was ready including the neon sign on the roof – seen here – and Van de Kamps bakery, which took a few days to move in.   Although still medium-sized, Foodland acted like a super store.  The shelves gleamed with products.  There were 14 feet of self-defrosting food cases and 34 feet of self-service clear-wrapped meat.  You could pick it up, squeeze it, and examine it.   And most fascinating, the doors opened to electric eyes.

By the end of its first prosperous decade the shining new grocery was razed for a parking lot to service a truly “super market” directly behind it with the wonderfully silly name Food Giant.  For 40 years the big red neon block letters spelling FOOD GIANT extended nearly the length of the roof.  It and the Grandma’s Cookies sign on Wallingford’s part of 34th Street were the neighborhood’s principal pop symbols.

When QFC bought the store in the late 1990s and tried to ditch the symbol for its own, a protest from the store’s neighbors brought the compromise we see in Jean Sherrard’s “now.”  By recycling seven of the old signs big letters, a new and blue sign of equal grandeur and iconic appeal took its place.  It named the neighborhood.

(as always, click on the photos to see full size)

THEN: A look down on Wallingford’s principal business corner in the fall of 1950 (Courtesy Stan Stapp)
NOW: Using his pole Jean reaches lifts his camera higher than Ron Petty’s 18’foot bronze “Animal Storm”, the dark “totem” right-of-center.  It is the sculptor’s celebration of the 28 varieties of animals that can be found in Wallingford.  Across 45th Street is QFC’s landmark Wallingford sign.
NOW: Using his pole, Jean lifts his camera higher than Ron Petty’s 18-foot bronze “Animal Storm”, the dark “totem” just right-of-center. It is the sculptor’s celebration of the 28 varieties of animals that can be found in Wallingford. Across 45th Street is QFC’s landmark Wallingford sign.

More from Jean:
Whenever I use the extension pole to attempt a repeat, I start with a wide angle lens. This allows for a bit more leeway in framing the shot – later, I can adjust and crop to match the ‘Then’ photo in Photoshop. Below is an example of the wider angle image I start with.

Jean's uncropped wide angle of the same scene
Jean's uncropped wide angle view of the same scene. It includes the red walls of the Wallingford Center, far right, now filled with shops & restaurants. The upper floor is now divided into apartments.

Paul goes into great detail:


It is now – at this writing early in February 2009 – a decade and a few months (for those doing the calculations, that is a little more than ten years) since Wallingford’s commercial landmark, the supermarket named FOOD GIANT, was sold to QFC not only for a name change but also a polished make over. FOOD GIANT was more “funk and getting on” than polish. For a few – myself not included – it remains hard to imagine Wallingford without its ambitious FOOD GIANT.

Even now it would not be proper to print FOOD GIANT without using all caps. This is in lingering respect for the independent supermarket’s oversized neon sign, with letters that hollered “cornucopia.” Indeed the letters were so large that they are exactly the same size as those in the “Wallingford” sign put up by QFC in its place. As the reader already knows from the story at the top, QFC recycled many of the old letters while, without missing a patriotic step, changing the color of the neon gas from red to blue. To do so was something of a citizen-pressured compromise by the food corporation – surrendering its principal blandishment, the roof top sign, to the neighborhood rather than to itself. But then it is best to get along with even the most willful of those who will buy your meat.

As you also know, before there was the FOOD GIANT there was, briefly, a Foodland. But first there was Wald’s Market.

Wald's Market, ca 1949

Frank Wald learned to cut his meat in North Dakota. A nasty fall there with a side of beef kept him out of World War II and landed him in Seattle, where he hauled stove oil to gun-emplacement camps at South Park, Sandpoint and Fort Lewis.  It was important to keep the guns warm. But after the war Wald returned to meat and in 1948 opened his market here at the northeast corner of 45th Street and Wallingford Avenue. His sign was about as big as his market, which he stuffed inside a converted residence. In merely two years, he moved the house off the lot and built Foodland.

In this expansion Wald partnered with a Safeway dropout named Leo Haskins and together they quickly opened three more Foodlands, which they soon divided between them. Haskin’s got Wald’s old home site here at the center of Wallingford and in the Jan 26, 1956 issue of the North Central Outlook announced his name change to Food Giant. The rest is pop-art history.

A neighborhood classic. FOOD GIANT!

Soon Haskins was knocking on the doors of his neighbors. He offered them prices they declined to refuse. The grocer purchased more than half the block in order to expand yet again, and this time into a plant that at least approached the sized of its name. But really the stock inside the beloved GIANT was not nearly so extended as that which would later be shelved by the “invaders” from Quality Foods. Since its take over, QFC has also been sold and perhaps even resold. We stopped counting.

QFC now with 'WALLINGFORD' sign

The accompanying photos are approximately dated. The view of Wald’s Market must be from the two years, 1948 to 1950, when it was open. The grainy snapshot of the Food Giant I took sometime in the 1980s with Tri-X film. For some reasons we liked the grain.

The first reader who knows car models and can convincingly date this photograph within 16 months wins a free portrait of themselves with the Wallingford Signs behind them, which we see in the third photograph. We will publish it in this blog – with permission, of course.

The one with the Wallingford sign I snapped this afternoon of Feb. 7, 2009.

We will also attach the free portrait prize to anyone – we mean the first dozen persons – who can identify any of those posing in the free groceries promotion near the Food Giant checking stands. We cannot date this one either, although it comes originally from Stan Stapp, the long-time editor of the North Central Outlook. If any of those in the picture step forward we will publish here in our blog a now-then of them standing at the QFC checkout stand and being handed from us a free copy of the weekly tabloid The Wallingford Journal, which we must disclose is free anyway – more the reason to enjoy the ceremony.

Supermarket sweepstakes: shopper wins free bag of groceries

Finally, we include a portrait of someone who may well be Frank Wald. It accompanied the picture of the market when Stan first loaned them to us. The practice of enclosing the face in a white field was once commonplace for newspapers. Of course, the rest of the photograph was then normally clipped away. Keeping the total photo intact makes the one enclosed in the mask resemble a sinful peasant or puritan being punished in the stocks. We print this to share another side of newspaper production, which all of us know is experiencing its own restrictions.

Possibly Frank Wald, cropped for the newspaper

A Now & Then Challenge!

Yes, YOU can help us solve a mystery, and be featured in Paul’s column as a Now & Then Maven!

The photo below was taken, Paul guesses, of a Capitol Hill street probably to the east and south of Volunteer Park. He suggests any search begin on 16th & 17th Avenues.

capitol-hill-st-romans-mr If you think you know the spot, drop Jean a line and he’ll come out and snap the repeat with you in the picture.

Visit our SEATTLE NOW & THEN Archive

Paul Dorpat, Historian Without Portfolio

Since 1982, Paul has written his popular column for the Seattle Times Sunday magazine.

We will be archiving them here, starting with a handful of more recent contributions and continuing to add more as time and effort permit.  Several elements ensure this will be an intriguing feature of our blog.

First, clicking on the photos will provide viewers with a much larger size than the Times can accommodate.  Delight can be found in the details. Second, we will post our ‘Now’ photos in living color.  Lastly, it allows us to swing the camera around and show wider and alternative shots from different perspectives.

So click onward and enjoy!

Another rare treat from 1916

Here’s a contribution from reader Nancy Johnson: a gorgeous photo of the 1916 Big Skate at Greenlake.

Nancy writes:

This [photo] was taken  on Jan 16th 1916 at Greenlake by my great grandfather Theodore Ramm; they lived on Greenwood Ave near 60th.  I think it was taken near the area that is now the rowing center.

Fascinating shot, filled with action and relationships. Note the threesome at lower left, also, the exuberant skaters lower center and right, narrowly avoiding the parents and child on a sled. A small mystery…just what elevated structure was the photo taken from? Nancy’s guess: a lifeguard tower. The elongated shadows suggest the photo was snapped late in the afternoon. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing this marvel with us!

(please click on photo to enlarge)

Photo by Theodore Ramm, Green Lake 1916


[This updated and expanded history was written by Paul Dorpat & edited by Sally Anderson]

Can We Really Believe What We Read About Snowfall?

1880 Big Snow, looking east on Cherry Street from Front Street (First Ave.
1880 Big Snow, looking east on Cherry Street from Front Street (First Ave.)

Some of us do not trust snow reporting.  Many of us do not trust snow.  When even a merciful snow is dropped upon us, persons and performances we looked forward to meeting or attending are missed.  But a snowfall that stays put brings opportunities.  For instance, while missing events, especially those we were not particularly keen for or even dreaded, we can clean our room or attend to other neglected projects, like relationships at home. Most often we feel fortunate to live beside our comfortable Puget Sound.  But the unexpected — a brimming snow like this Big Snow of 2008 — may enliven us.

Here at DorpatSherrardLomont we are are pepped up to write a history of all our big snows.  Frankly, there have not been that many.  So we will also add some other oddities that have appeared out of the sky or merely rolled in and then out again since that “night of shock” when Seattle founder Arthur Denny discovered that the barrel of pork he purchased and stored high on the waterfront disappeared into the freezing dark of the settlers’ first really “big weather” – the winter of 1852-53….

(For more of this fascinating story, click here)

SEATTLE NOW & THEN – Gliding on Green Lake

Each week we will post images from the current Times’ ‘Seattle Now and Then’ article.

Just mouseclick on the photos below to see them in larger format with greater detail.

The Freeze of 1916
Taken on a sloppy Christmas day in 2008, just before melting began in earnest

Below, here are a few more from that same snow taken on the other side of the lake. And while it didn’t freeze over this time round, it certainly provided an unusual playground.

(repeat click on photos to see full size)

green-lake-snow-2 green-lake-snow-3 green-lake-snow-4 green-lake-snow-5 green-lake-snow-7 green-lake-snow-6