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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEB EXTRAS

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

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: Chehalis County Building at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, 1909

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THEN: Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition visitors stroll past the Chehalis County Building in 1909 on the University of Washington campus. At left is a portion of the Spokane County Building. The 112th anniversary of the fair’s opening will be June 1. Find many more A-Y-P photos at Dan Kerlee’s website, AYPE.com. (University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, AYP448)
NOW: Near what had been the entrance to the Chehalis County Building, University of Washington students Rachel Kulp (left) of Washington, D.C., and Kaya Dunn, of Vancouver, Wash., walk along the backside of present-day Miller Hall, home of the UW College of Education. Kulp majors in environmental studies and history, while Dunn majors in political science. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 20, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 23, 2021)

In today’s online world, will you ever again ‘Meet me at the fair’?
By Clay Eals

Betcha can’t name the last world’s fair held in North America. Thirty-five years ago, it was Expo ’86 in Vancouver, B.C.

Today, as technology brings nearly every aspect of the planet to our fingertips, eyeballs and eardrums, the appeal of another in-person, all-in-one extravaganza on this continent seems elusive.

Even so, we in Seattle revere our pair of world’s fairs past. They assembled multitudes in real time and concrete space and left enduring legacies and ambience.

The six-month 1962 fair drew nearly 10 million and gave us the well-used Seattle Center. Touchstones included the Space Needle, International Fountain, Pacific Science Center and now-named Climate Pledge Arena (I’ll always call it the Coliseum).

Less known today was the direct predecessor, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. It yielded the spectacular University of Washington promenade known as Rainier Vista while fostering a steadfast locus of learning. In four-and-a-half months, 3.7 million AYPE visitors encountered an endless array of cultural and commercial offerings, both high and low of brow.

Dan Kerlee (Clay Eals)

This and other fairs constituted “the internet of the early 20th century,” contends Magnolia’s Dan Kerlee, a leading AYPE researcher. “You could come to the A-Y-P and ‘click on’ most anything you wanted.”

Among myriad examples is the dominant hall in our “Then” photo. Promoting “the greatest timber belt in the world,” the Chehalis County Building faced southeast near the UW’s northeast corner.

Above the columns of this temporary structure, a 3D frieze of a log trailer, locomotive, mill and other figures depicted what the Seattle Post-Intelligencer called the “pretty legend of travels of the tree from the forest to the building,” along with the pursuits of livestock, dairy and farming.

This building would give the county (six years later renamed for Grays Harbor) worldwide recognition “in capital letters with indelible ink,” predicted its executive, H.D. Chapman. He signaled hopes for a harbor-based “metropolis” to export timber that he labeled “the finest on God’s footstool.”

Cover of “Boosting a New West” by John C. Putman (Washington State University Press, 2020)

Such AYPE zeal also pervaded three other expositions of the era: in Portland in 1905 and in San Francisco and San Diego in 1915. The book “Boosting a New West” (Washington State University Press, 2020) says the coastal fairs sought to outstrip the backwoods imagery of dime novels and “Wild West” shows to lure new settlers and investments.

Will we ever again see such a one-off, global smorgasbord?

An AYPE ad from the book whets my yearning for common physical ground:

You ought to see Seattle,
And the Fair she plans on giving;
’Twill put new notions in your head,
And make life worth the living.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to Dan Kerlee, as well as Caryn Lawton of Washington State University Press, for their assistance with this installment.

Below are a second “Now & Then” comparison, a map and five additional photos. Also, we present, in chronological order, 14 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

THEN2: An unnamed visitor to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition prepares to take a photo just southeast of the University of Washington’s Frosh Pond. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
NOW2: A view from the same prospect southeast of Frosh Pond, renamed in 1961 as Drumheller Fountain to honor regent/philanthropist Joseph Drumheller. (Clay Eals)
A red arrow shows the location of the Chehalis County Building on the grounds of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
Detail of the frieze atop the Chehalis County Building at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
A period postcard depicting the same elements of the frieze. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
Another image promoting the industries of Chehalis County during the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
An ad for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. (from “Boosting a New West,” credited to University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections)
Postcard for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. (from “Boosting a New West”)
Oct. 23, 1907, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
June 25, 1908, Tacoma Daily News, page 10.
Aug. 2, 1908, Seattle Times, page 26.
Jan. 26, 1909, Seattle Times, page 3.
Feb. 17, 1909, Seattle Times, page 9.
Feb. 18, 1909, Seattle Times, page 16.
Feb. 21, 1909, Seattle Times, page 28.
March 19, 1909, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
May 4, 1909, Seattle Times, page 15.
Aug. 7, 1909, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 13.
Aug. 24, 1909, Seattle Times, page 10.
Sept. 15, 1909, Seattle Times, page 4.
Sept. 16, 1909, Seattle Times, page 7.
Sept. 17, 1909, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16.

April in Paris 2021, second lockdown

The method, this time, was to close all “non-essential” stores, cafés, restaurants, all places of culture : cinemas, theatres, museums, except schools and parks.

Paris became silent, disembodied.

The originality was to be “confined to the outside”.

The parks, gardens and banks of the Seine became incredible places of life, the blossomed trees enlighted our melancholic souls and helped us to resist.

Avril à Paris 2021, deuxième confinement

La méthode, cette-fois-ci, fut de fermer tous les magasins “non essentiels”, cafés, restaurants, tous les lieux de cultures : cinémas, théatre, musées, sauf les écoles et les parcs.

La ville est devenue silencieuse, désincarnée, déserte.

L’originalité a été de se trouver ainsi “confinés à l’extérieur”.

Les parcs, jardins et bords de Seine sont alors devenus des endroits de vie incroyables, les arbres en fleur ont illuminés nos âmes mélancoliques et nous ont aidés à résister.

The famous Sakura tree in Jardin des Plantes, Paris 5th

Parc Monsouris, Paris 14th

Jardin du Vert-Galant Paris 1st

Place Dauphine, paris 1st

Quai d’Orléans, Paris 4th

Place des Vosges, Paris 4th

Seattle Now & Then: The Naval Reserve Armory (aka MOHAI), a 1949 Aerial

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THEN1: On March 2, 1949, the Naval Reserve Armory anchors Lake Union. The USS Puffer, a legendary submarine, peeks out from its slip. Further north, the Seattle Gas Company’s gas plant puffs out smoke. Interstate 5 is a mere gleam in a planner’s eye. (courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW1: On the morning of Feb. 27, MOHAI holds pride of place in B. Marcus Priteca’s reinforced concrete masterpiece. Next door, the Center for Wooden Boats stands where destroyers once berthed. On Lake Union’s north side, Gas Works has become one of Seattle’s favorite parks. (Jean Sherrard)
THEN2: On its Sept. 29, 2012, opening day in the remodeled Armory, MOHAI sparkles. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Recently re-opened as pandemic prohibitions ease, the museum welcomes cautious but eager visitors. The Grand Atrium features Boeing’s original B-1 float plane, the Lincoln Toe Truck and the original neon Rainier Beer “R” that once shone at Exit 163 of Interstate 5. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW3: Jasper Stewart impatiently waits his turn at the MOHAI periscope while brother Tristan scans for enemy vessels. At right, sister Kathryn absorbs waterborne history in the McCurdy Family Maritime Gallery. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 13, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 16, 2021 )

To salute childhood memories of MOHAI, we go high
By Jean Sherrard

French novelist Marcel Proust famously described dunking madeleines — scallop-shaped cookies — in lime blossom tea, opening a sensory gateway to the lost world of childhood.

Our 69-year-old regional treasure, the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI, pronounced by locals as if inversely greeting one of the Three Stooges) also evokes such transport.

To jog my memory, I recently posted a question on social media: “What do you recall from school field trips to MOHAI?”

The result: hundreds of citations from adults once bused as students to MOHAI’s original Montlake building. The top 10:

  • The fully furnished Victorian dollhouse.
  • The 10-by-24-foot painted mural of the Great Seattle Fire.
  • The actual glue pot that sparked the fire.
  • The hydroplanes (specifically Slo-Mo-Shun IV).
  • The diorama depicting the Denny Party’s arrival and Duwamish welcome at Alki.
  • The stuffed gorilla Bobo, formerly of Woodland Park Zoo (and an Anacortes home).
  • The 43-foot-long working periscope.
  • Suspended by wires, Boeing’s unique B-1 wooden float plane, built in 1919.
  • The original Rainier Beer neon “R.”
  • Carved figureheads from wooden ships.

Honorable mentions included a 5-inch deck gun from the USS Colorado, a J.P. Patches exhibit and ex-President Warren G. Harding’s pajamas.

Pulling back from the intimacy of memory to vertiginous spectacle, our twin aerial photographs —separated by 72 years — afford us a north-facing, bird’s-eye view of present-day MOHAI and its surroundings.

Our 1949 “Then” image, from photo historian Ron Edge, features MOHAI’s current home, the Naval Reserve Armory on Lake Union’s south shore. Designed by Seattle architects William R. Grant and B. Marcus Priteca (best known for his majestic Art Deco movie palaces),* the Armory was dedicated on July 4, 1942, during the uncertain months following the U.S. entry into World War II.

Post-war, its campus aided recruiting, training and mustering. Sometimes it served as a community dance hall. Docked in its slips might be decommissioned minesweepers, destroyers and the occasional submarine — significantly the USS Puffer, survivor of a record 38 hours of depth-charging and a perennial tour magnet until 1960, when it was sold for scrap.

MOHAI moved to the former Armory in 2012 after its original Montlake building, which opened in 1952, was shuttered to accommodate the expanding State Route 520 floating bridge.

In our aerial repeat, snapped from 1,200 feet, the museum is blooming in morning light just north of booming South Lake Union. Amid MOHAI’s imaginative redesign and relocation, many of its beloved treasures remain in rotation, fostering continued recollections for Seattleites young and old.

To revisit (and maybe add) your own MOHAI memories, join us at PaulDorpat.com.

WEB EXTRAS

To see our spectacular 360 degree video of this week’s column, click here. It includes the now and then photos as well as video of our extraordinary aerial adventure (shot by Clay). Jean narrates.

*A gentle correction from friend of the column historian Larry Kreisman: “I have to correct your mention of Priteca’s movie palace architecture because, apart from the Hollywood Pantages, his theater designs are primarily Greco-Roman classical (Coliseum and most of his work for Pantages) or Renaissance Revival (Orpheum). The Admiral and others he did in the 30s and 40s we’re streamline moderne and we’re neighborhood movie houses, not palaces.”

We blush and offer thanks, Larry!

Seattle Now & Then: from the air, West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail, 1920

UPDATE:

Co-authors Judy Bentley and Craig Romano will lead a free Zoom launch of the expanded Hiking Washington’s History at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 3, 2021, For more info and to register, click here.

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(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: With the Duwamish Waterway in the foreground, this 1920 photo shows, in superimposed green lines, the route of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. It is among 44 hikes in the expanded “Hiking Washington’s History” by Judy Bentley and Craig Romano (University of Washington Press). For book events, visit JudyBentley.com and CraigRomano.com. (The Boeing Company)
NOW1: A century later, the First Avenue South Bridge and a filled-in oxbow dominate the industrial foreground while green lines trace today’s West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail above. For videos and closer aerials of the trail, visit PaulDorpat.com. For trail maps and more info, including plans for a new Ridge to River Trail emanating from the Duwamish Longhouse on West Marginal Way, visit WDGTrails.com. (Jean Sherrard, via Helicopters Northwest)
NOW2: Four former and current staff of nearby South Seattle College walk the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail: (from left) guidebook co-author Judy Bentley, Randy Nelson, Monica Lundberg and Colby Keene. (West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 6, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 9, 2021)

From up in the air, we get down to the Duwamish earth
By Clay Eals

It’s fitting, perhaps spiritual, that our first use of aerial photography for “Now & Then” showcases the wooded walkways above our city’s only river — a waterway named for the Native American tribe whose early chief is our city’s namesake.

An established public trail lets us walk this hillside and imagine the homeland of the Duwamish people, whose name means “the way in” and who once numbered 4,000 along the river and its tributaries. This, of course, was before Euro-American immigrants brought dominance and disease that decimated the tribe, even burning some members out of their shoreline dwellings.

You can find this path, called the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail, along superimposed green lines in our “Then” and “Now” photos.

The older view, from 1920, provides a stunning glimpse of the eastern ridge of West Seattle, fronted by the Duwamish Waterway and precursors of West Marginal Way and the First Avenue South Bridge. At right swirls a U-shaped oxbow created by the river’s recent widening, deepening and straightening. Standing at center is Plant 1 of the fledgling Boeing Airplane Co. (sign on roof). Intruding at far right is the wing of an early biplane, from which the photo was taken rather courageously.

Book cover for the enlarged second edition of “Hiking Washington’s History.” (University of Washington Press)

But our focus is on the trail, a new one in the expanded, soon-to-be-published second edition of “Hiking Washington’s History,” a color guidebook detailing 44 hikes statewide, with 12 added treks.

The route, accessed by two trail heads, snakes along a steep slope, which by 1920 had been logged for profit as well as operation of a streetcar line (faintly visible in our “Then” photo) that from 1912 to 1931 crossed the expanse, connecting bridges at Spokane Street to White Center and Burien.

Judy Bentley and Craig Romano, co-authors of “Hiking Washington’s History.

Today, the trail traverses a 500-acre forest buffering two intensive forms of 20th-century development — housing above and industrial glut below. Over time, Seattle Parks acquired most of the greenbelt parcels. West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails volunteers and others regularly replant the land and maintain its path.

To create a matching “Now” image, Jean Sherrard and I literally got a helicopter view in late February, he making stills and I shooting video. Aloft, we quickly appreciated a 1970s city report that called the hillside a potential “gift of peace and quiet in our busy, noisy, polluted city.”

Also ringing true was the insight of guidebook co-author Judy Bentley:

“We hike historic trails for resonance: for connection to the people on the land before us and to a landscape relatively constant across centuries. We also hike out of curiosity: Who went this way before? Where were they going? Who made this trail and why?”

WEB EXTRAS

Because we were airborne, there is no 360 video for this week’s installment. But you can see Clay Eals‘ video of the “Now” prospect and above the trail, taken from the helicopter view, and hear him read the column aloud by visiting this video link:

VIDEO: Aerial view of West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail, Feb. 27, 2021, (Clay Eals)

Look below for 21 additional aerial photos by Jean Sherrard that showcase the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. In each one, can you spot the temporarily placed white bags that mark the trail route? You may have to click on each photo twice.

Also, look below for video by Matthew Clark of the helicopter from the ground, along with photos and maps provided by the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails volunteers. We start off with a bonus photo from the same vantage, circa 1966-1967, courtesy of West Seattle’s Bob Carney.

Special thanks to Craig Rankin, Judy Bentley, Kait Heacock from University of Washington Press and, from Helicopters Northwest, Anna Siegel, for their assistance with this installment.

In addition, we salute the volunteers present on the trail during the Feb. 27, 2021, aerial photo shoot, some of whom laid white plastic bags on the trail to make the route visible from the air. They were Judy Bentley, Asa Clark, Christine Clark, Matthew Clark, Mackenzie Dolstad, Alec Duncan, Susan Elderkin, Shannon Harris, Trissa Hodapp, Angela Johnson, Billy Markham, Karen Nelson, Randy Nelson, Antoinette Palmer, Craig Rankin, Hagen Rankin, Leela Rankin, Hans Rikhof, Holly Rikhof, Sarah Ritums, Shawnti Rockwell, Ruth Anne Wallace, Tom Wallace, Paul West and Barbara Williams.

From a similar aerial vantage as our THEN and NOW images, this photo, circa 1966-1967, shows the West Duwamish Greenbelt fronted by the Duwamish River, Boeing Plan 1 and the First Avenue South Bridge, which was built in 1956. (Bob Carney collection)
Map of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail.
Map of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. The red line indicates the route of the Highland Park & Lake Burien Railway, which operated from 1912 to 1931.
West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail head at the foot of Highland Park Way Southwest, known locally as Boeing Hill. (Clay Eals)
Hikers on the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail.
Ken Workman (right), fourth-generation great-grandson of Chief Seattle, leads a group before walking the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Judy Bentley)
The Highland Park & Lake Burien Railway, looking northeast. The streetcar line ran from 1912 to 1931. (West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails.)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Matthew Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Matthew Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Matthew Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Matthew Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hiker Leela Rankin with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Hikers with temporarily placed white bags, to make the trail visible from the air for the Feb. 27, 2021, photo shoot. (Christine Clark)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
Aerial view of the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trail. (Jean Sherrard)
VIDEO: This 30-second clip shows the helicopter from the trail below. (Matthew Clark)

Seattle Now & Then: Vaccination, 1957 & 2021

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THEN: In May 1957, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, our state’s junior U.S. senator, receives a polio vaccine from Nurse Maria Schneider in Washington, D.C.. Observing is Dr. J. Morrison Brady, director of medical services for the National Polio Foundation. (Russ Holt, courtesy University of Washington Special Collections)
NOW: In March of this year, Ken Workman is inoculated against COVID-19 by volunteer pharmacist Dr. Dana Hurley at Katterman’s Sand Point Pharmacy. His face mask bears the portrait of his ancestor, Chief Seattle. A life-sized Dr. Anthony Fauci cutout seems to approve. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 29, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 2, 2021 )

Visualizing our victories over virus to ring out a new celebration
By Jean Sherrard

Born last summer at the height of the pandemic, my younger brother’s 9-month-old twins, Talia and Gavin, have not yet acquired what psychologist Jean Piaget termed “object permanence.” Bright toys supplied by distanced aunts and uncles are quickly forgotten — out of sight, out of mind.

Twins Gavin and Talia

Similarly, when the terrors of infectious disease recede in the rearview mirror, the collective memory may not serve. Even as countless lives have been saved, a sizeable plurality of humans worldwide remains vaccine-hesitant.

Lest we forget, it was on April 12, 1955, that church bells rang out across the nation, celebrating clinical trials proving that Jonas Salk’s poliomyelitis vaccine had defeated a scourge that had been deadly for decades.

In a front-page banner headline, The Seattle Times shouted, “Vaccine is effective, potent, safe.” Below, an article said vaccination would “smash polio’s terror and tragedies … [ending] the fear that has long gripped the hearts of parents.”

Only three years earlier, in 1952, U.S. polio had peaked. Nearly 58,000, mostly children, fell ill. Of those, polio had paralyzed 21,000 and killed 3,000. Most outbreaks took place in summer. Infections seemed random and unpredictable. A child playing with friends one afternoon might end up hospitalized by evening.

But vaccines ended polio in the Americas by 1992, largely eliminating it across the globe. It was not the only viral killer brought to heel. Smallpox, which killed more than 300 million in the 20th century, was eradicated. Inoculation vastly reduced measles, yellow fever and hepatitis.

Today, however, vaccines may fall victim to their historical success. Some who have not personally witnessed a viral catastrophe apparently deem it unreal.

Hilary Godwin, dean of the University of Washington School of Public Health, faults social media for amplifying misinformation. “We in the sciences and in public health,” she says, “need to regain the trust of the general population, in a bipartisan way.”

Godwin also addresses an understandable mistrust of the medical establishment in Black and Native American communities: “We must not only recognize historical injustices and inequities but also elevate the conversation to talk about them openly.”

Joining the conversation is Ken Workman, fourth-generation great-grandson of Chief Seattle and a Duwamish tribal elder, who received his first COVID-19 inoculation in March.

“I’m alive today because my family survived the genocide of welcoming Europeans,” he says. “We survived gifts of smallpox blankets. We survived gentrification and displacement. The world may be all up in arms over COVID, yet for me this is just another day.”

Between tides of uncertainty and hope, will we someday be able to ring out a new celebration?

WEB EXTRAS

Just another photo of Ken Workman, snaring the traditional post-jab lollipop.

Workman gets his lolly

A few weeks ago, on March 14, 2021, I met Ken down at Golden Gardens and shot a few photos of his traditional farewell extended to a Tlingit crew and canoe. The rainy weather did not dampen spirits.

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: “Where’s the Beach” in Rainier Beach?

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This 1913 photo looks north to Pritchard Island. Three years later, Lake Washington was lowered nine feet, draining nearly 65 billion gallons of fresh water through the newly constructed Ship Canal to Puget Sound in a mere three months. Two men in a rowboat explore what is today dry land. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)
NOW: Rainier Beach Action Coalition’s Clean Crew, (from left) Malcolm J Dunston, De’Shaun Valdry, Ryan Croone II, Jesiah Marks, King Nisby, and Tyree Abella, stands between the public restroom and untended blackberry brambles lining the shore. Signs designed by artist Mahogany Purpose Villars. After the lowering of the lake, Pritchard Island became a peninsula. (Jean Sherrard)

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

Beach magic bathes Link2Lake quest in diverse Rainier Beach
By Jean Sherrard

Tucked between a boat launch, an adjacent parking lot and a beige restroom with all the charm of a quartered Quonset hut, the scruffy Lake Washington shoreline of Be’er Sheva Park might seem an unlikely place to find magic. Neither woo-woo nor hocus pocus, it offers an unexpected alchemy of earth, water and sky, arranged like lips pursed for a kiss.

On a recent visit, I happened upon what looked like an impromptu block party. In this cherished gathering spot, Rainier Beach neighbors were listening to music, picnicking and admiring the returning geese and waterfowl.

This story, however, begins much earlier, with melting ice. More than 16,000 years ago, receding glaciers shaped the Pacific Northwest — and Rainier Beach — into its current greenscape.

The first humans to settle the area were Duwamish. Members of one tribal branch calling themselves the Lake People had wintered along the lake’s shores for millennia. European settlers arrived in the 1860s, evicting the Lake People from their ancestral homes while appropriating the land for themselves.

Annexed by Seattle in 1907, Rainier Beach today is among the city’s most racially and culturally diverse neighborhoods. Eighty percent of its residents are people of color, while, in their homes, 57% speak a language other than English. These historically underserved communities reside in one of only two Seattle neighborhoods (the other is the Duwamish River valley) without an extended public shoreline or a signature waterfront park.

“Nevertheless, our neglected little beach has always been a focal point for community-building,” says Shannon Waits, who co-chairs the steering committee of a group called Rainier Beach Link2Lake. The nonprofit’s plans for lakefront improvements are shovel-ready, pending final funding. “The neighborhood,” Waits says, “is determined to make beauty in this place despite systemic oppression.”

Buoyed by the slogan “Where’s the Beach,” Rainier Beach residents have eagerly contributed design ideas, suggesting basic improvements to the parcel’s infrastructure that most other Seattle waterfront parks take for granted.

“The community envisions a green waterfront that celebrates the pedestrian experience,” says George Lee, project manager, who enthusiastically tallies the envisioned upgrades. “We’ll add basic amenities like picnic tables, barbecue grills and a covered stage that doubles as a shelter. Add to that a boardwalk and lighted walkways, not to mention a big natural beach for families to play on.”

The abracadabra begins this summer with a mural painting project, enlisting young community artists to enliven the exterior walls of the plain-Jane restroom. For more information on the capital campaign, visit rainierbeachlinktolake.org.

WEB EXTRAS

A few more shots from the park.

The Clean Crew on the east side of the restroom, soon to be repainted with a community mural.
Detail of sign designed by artist Mahogany Purpose Villars.
The lone bramble-strewn path to the water.

For our accompanying 360 degree video, click here.

Seattle Now & Then: Quickly engineering the Space Needle, 1961

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: These two images of the Space Needle under construction may look other-worldly today, but they were just part of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene in summer 1961 as organizers and construction workers hustled to prepare for the April 21, 1962, opening of the Seattle World’s Fair. (Fora Meredith, courtesy Denise & Brad Chrisman)
ALMOST NOW: Gary Curtis (top right), one of the Needle’s Pasadena-based engineers, poses with his son and daughter-in-law, Gart and Deb Curtis, and grandchildren, Margo and Leland, at the Needle’s base in 2015. Curtis says when he was drafting Needle drawings, Gart was “in diapers.” (Courtesy Gary Curtis)
NOW: The Space Needle rises behind Alexander Liberman’s bright-red 1984 Olympic Iliad sculpture at Seattle Center. For an in-depth account of the Needle’s history, dig into Knute Berger’s colorful book “Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle,” Documentary Media, 2012. (Jean Sherrard)

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

One Space Needle, coming right up! A 60th anniversary tale
By Clay Eals

It was an era of courageous quests: Nationally, landing on the moon within the decade. Locally, building a bold, enduring beacon.

Sixty years ago, ground was broken for our city’s 605-foot Space Needle — on April 17, 1961, to be exact. A year later, on April 21, 1962, the Seattle World’s Fair opened, and so did the Needle.

Today’s warp-speed endeavors have little on this one. It’s hard to fathom how fast the fair’s signature symbol went up, but Gary Curtis has a grasp.

The 24-year-old was two years out of Walla Walla University’s engineering program in March 1961 while working in the five-person Pasadena office of structural engineer John Minasian, an expert in the wind and seismic loads of towers. There, Curtis began pumping out detailed drawings that guided the Needle’s assembly.

From the get-go, adrenaline fueled the overtime pace. “Thirteen months later, the structure’s going to be done,” Curtis says. “They hadn’t even rolled the steel yet in Chicago.”

Daily, Curtis and others produced and overnighted tubes of oversized documents to Seattle at 11 p.m. for use by 8 a.m. “We would look at where they were, the actual construction, the guys putting steel together, and we’d be detailing stuff 150 feet above where they were working,” he says. “You didn’t mess around.”

Instead of cutting corners, however, the engineers strengthened them.

“We just threw the steel at it,” he says. “What we did was brutal. It was a beautiful design, but we didn’t have time to do a refined analysis. If you found out that a quarter-inch plate was going to probably be about right, use three-eighths, use five-sixteenths. You didn’t skimp on anything. If 50 bolts made a connection, 75 went in. There was no time to try to figure out how to save money. Saving money wasn’t the point. Getting it done on time was the point.”

Through the Needle’s decades of wear and renovation, the work has held up — and so has Curtis. Now 84 and living 80 miles and a ferry ride north of Seattle, Curtis lovingly preserves copies of his drawings and the tools he used to create them: a slide rule, triangle, drafting pencils, a pencil sharpener, erasers and an erasing shield. Eyeing his 1961 lettering and “GNC” initials on the plans, he breaks into a grin.

“It was really exciting,” he says. “You’re 24? Come on! Good grief, that’s just what you do.”

Though he’s worked on high bridges and geodesic domes and consulted at the South Pole, for him the Needle stands supreme: “It’s the most dramatic project that people know most about.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to Gary Curtis, Denise and Brad Chrisman and Bruce and Emily Howard for their assistance with this installment.

Below are a link to an in-depth video interview of Gary, two additional “Now” photos by Jean, five additional photos by Gary, two additional photos by Fora Meredith and a book cover.

Also, to vividly illustrate the intense interest and excitement over the speedy construction of the Space Needle, we present, in chronological order, 102 historical photo clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO: Gary Curtis is interviewed by Clay Eals on Feb. 20, 2020, at his Guemes Island home about his engineering work on the Space Needle. Click image to view the 58-minute video!
The Space Needle under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
The Space Needle under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
The Space Needle under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
A worker is transported to a lofty spot while the Space Needle is under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
Curved steel beams await placement while the Space Needle is under construction in September 1961. (Gary Curtis)
The Space Needle under construction in late summer 1961. (Fora Meredith, courtesy Denise & Brad Chrisman)
The Coliseum under construction in late summer 1961. (Fora Meredith, courtesy Denise & Brad Chrisman)

 

Additional NOW of Space Needle. (Jean Sherrard)
Additional NOW of Space Needle. (Jean Sherrard)
Cover of “Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle” by Knute Berger (Documentary Media, 2012)
A full year of newspaper clippings, documenting the Space Needle under construction, April 22, 1961, to April 22, 1962:
April 22, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
May 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 4.
May 18, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
June 16, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 21.
June 21, 1961, Seattle Times, page 8.
June 27, 1961, Seattle Times, page 8.
June 30, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
July 1, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 7, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 18, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
July 18, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
July 19, 1961, Oregonian, page 32.
July 21, 1961, Seattle Times, page 4.
July 22, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
July 27, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Aug. 8, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
Aug. 20, 1961, Seattle Times, page 5.
Aug. 22, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
Aug. 26, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Sept. 2, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Sept. 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Sept. 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Sept. 9, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
Sept. 13, 1961, Seattle Times, page 20.
Sept. 14, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
Sept. 14, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Sept. 23, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Sept. 26, 1961, Seattle Times, page 4.
Sept. 28, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Sept. 28, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 2, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Oct. 2, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, pae 1.
Oct. 2, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 3, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Oct. 7, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Oct. 13, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 14, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
Oct. 14, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 16, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 17, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 18, 1961, Seattle Times, page 52.
Oct. 21, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 26, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 29, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Oct. 29, 1961, Seattle Times, page 15.
Oct. 31, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Oct. 31, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Nov. 2, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
Nov. 6, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 6.
Nov. 7, 1961, Seattle Times, page 31.
Nov. 20, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Nov. 21, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2.
Nov. 26, 1961, Seattle Times, page 111.
Dec. 3, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
Dec. 3, 1961, Seattle Times, page 22.
Dec. 4, 1961, Seattle Times, page 14.
Dec. 6, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Dec. 7, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Dec. 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
Dec. 8, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.
Dec. 15, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Dec. 20, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 29.
Dec. 31, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 55.
Jan. 10, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Jan. 10, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Jan. 11, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Jan. 25, 1962, Seattle Times, page 3.
Jan. 30, 1962, Seattle Times, page 9.
Feb. 1, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Feb. 1, 1962, Seattle Times, page 3.
Feb. 1, 1962, Seattle Times, page 5.
Feb. 3, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Feb. 7, 1962, Seattle Times, page 5.
Feb. 11, 1962, Seattle Times, page 123.
Feb. 12, 1962, Oregonian, page 4.
Feb. 15, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Feb. 18, 1962, Seattle Times, page 105.
Feb. 25, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Feb. 25, 1962, Seattle Times, page 104.
Feb. 26, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
March 4, 1962, Seattle Times, page 52.
March 8, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
March 11, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
March 11, 1962, Seattle Times, page 115.
March 21, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 161.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Times, page 108.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Times, page 125.
March 27, 1962, Seattle Times, page 3.
April 1, 1962, Seattle Times, page 1.
April 4, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 4, 1962, Seattle Times, page 3.
April 8, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 8, 1962, Seattle Times, page 228.
April 8, 1962, Seattle Times, page 232.
April 13, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
April 16, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 16, 1962, Seattle Times, page 19.
April 19, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 19, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
April 21, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
April 22, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 68.

Seattle Now & Then: Prescott-Harshman House in Fall City, 1940

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Signs saying “Telephone Office” and, in faded letters, “Fall City Telephone,” along with the old Bell system logo, adorn this 1904 home along the Snoqualmie River in unincorporated Fall City. The photo, taken May 9, 1940, is hand-labeled “Falls City,” in popular use at the time. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
NOW: With smartphones to their ears, celebrating Prescott-Harshman House’s receipt of the John Spellman historic-preservation award for adaptive reuse (named for the late King County executive) are (from left) Aroma Coffee Co. proprietors Kelsey Wilson, Sara Cox and Emily Ridout and Fall City Historical Society members Cindy Parks, Donna Driver-Kummen and Paula Spence, along with Sarah Steen, King County landmarks coordinator, and her niece, Ellie Steen. In the background at right is Fall City Library. (Clay Eals)

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

Can we talk? Fall City celebrates communication in any form
By Clay Eals

Because of its expense and spam, I’m ready to shed our household’s telephone landline. “It’s about time — LOL,” my nephew Chris chides me. He’s probably right, but as a history writer, maybe I get some leeway.

No question: Landlines were once a big deal. More than a century before so-called smartphones and other technology, and in an era of telegraphs and handwritten letters, a telephone tethered to other phones through switchboards in country homes and wires strung along roadways from pole to pole was … well, revolutionary. People hearing real voices in real time over really long distances? Imagine that.

Our “Then” photo hints at how vital this was for tiny towns like Fall City, 25 miles and two lakes east of Seattle. With laundry rippling on a backyard clothesline and a manual lawnmower leaning against the side porch, this lived-in home also displayed three signs (can you spot them?) that it was communications central.

Fledgling telephones in Fall City date to 1900. By 1905, residents banded together, with $300 from lawyer-lumberman Newton Harshman and wife Julia, to connect phone lines from their stores to the local Northern Pacific Depot. In 1912, the Harshmans moved the switchboard to the 1904 home in our “Then” photo, first occupied by Martin and Parthena Prescott, at River and Mill streets along the Snoqualmie River.

Newton died in 1929, and Julia in 1933, when her Fall City Telephone Company sported 250 customers. Keeping the business afloat were their daughter, Gertrude Harshman, and her husband, George Satterlee, until 1947 when a new dial system soon would eliminate the need for a switchboard and operators.

The house was restored as office space, became a county landmark in 1984 and later hosted a Montessori school. Last fall, after 13 years of planning and hands-on fix-up, the building (known as Prescott-Harshman House and owned by Judy and Emily Nelson of nearby Preston) took on a retail persona that hearkens to its chatty roots.

Run by three local women, Aroma Coffee Co. aims to build connections — even with takeout only during the pandemic — at the busy intersection, now 335th Place Southeast and Redmond-Fall City Road (state Highway 202).

“More communication,” observes Metropolitan King County Council member Kathy Lambert, “is always going to be buzzing through here, and it’s very exciting.” So, too, is the county’s 2020 John Spellman historic-preservation award for adaptive reuse, bestowed to Prescott-Harshman House in December.

Like the rest of us, Aroma yearns for a post-virus day when friends and neighbors can gather in homey quarters for eye-to-eye conversation over a hot drink. Now that’ll be revolutionary.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Special thanks to the Fall City Historical Society, the Snoqualmie Valley Museum and the King County Historic Preservation Program for their assistance with this installment!

Below are two video links, nine photos, five documents and seven historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO: Click the image to see the full 24-minute video on the 2020 John Spellman King County Preservation Awards. The segment on Prescott-Harshman House is at time code 6:55-11:50.
VIDEO: Aroma Coffee Co. proprietors (from left) Kelsey Wilson, Sara Cox and Emily Ridout explain how and why they opened a coffeehouse inside the renovated Prescott-Harshman House in Fall City. Click the image to see the two-and-a-half-minute video.
1878 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, squib on “the telephone.” (Courtesy of Ron Edge)
Sept. 15, 1921, Seattle Times, page 15.
Aug. 24, 1929, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
July 23, 1950, Seattle Times, page 78.
The porch of the Prescott-Harshman House. (Fall City Historical Society)
An early view of the Prescott-Harshman House. (Courtesy Fall City Historical Society)
This is the state Historic Property Inventory Form for Prescott-Harshman House. Click the image to see the full pdf file. (King County Historic Preservation)
History of telephones in Fall City. Click the image to see the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
Excerpt from Jack Kelley’s history of Fall City. Click the image to see the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
The telephone chapter of the Fall City oral-history memory book. Click the image to see the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
Obituary of Gertrude Harshman. Click the image to read the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
An early view of Prescott-Harshman House. (Snoqualmie Valley Record collection, Fall City Historical Society)
Newton Roswell Harshman and Julia Gertrune Camp at Prescott-Harshman House, Nov. 17, 1915. (Fall City Historical Society)
Satterlee wedding party, 1919. (Fall City Historical Society)
Undated newspaper ad for Fall City telephone exchange. (Fall City Historical Society)
George Satterlee and Gertrude Harshman wedding article, 1919. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Gertrude Harshman Satterlee with her children outside Fall City Church. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Gertrude Harshman, 1917. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Newton Rosewell Harshman. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Newton Harshman. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Obituary for Gertrude Harshman Satterlee. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)

 

Seattle Now & Then: Mukilteo monument and its missing plaque for Point Elliott Treaty, 1931

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: The May 2, 1931, ceremony to dedicate a monument to the consequential Point Elliott Treaty on hillside Mukilteo included Gov. Roland Hartley, left in suit, and University of Washington historian Edmond S. Meany, right of the monument, who wrote the plaque text and who is largely hidden by Native American headdress. (Mukilteo Historical Society)
THEN2: The event, organized by the Everett-based Marcus Whitman chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, drew more than 3,000 people, including 300 Native Americans. The chapter relinquished custody of the monument to the city of Mukilteo in 1977. (Mukilteo Historical Society)
THEN3: Attendees filled much of the block at 304 Lincoln Ave., then the site of Rosehill High School, now a city park and home of Rosehill Community Center. (Mukilteo Historical Society)
NOW: “What happened to the plaque?” asks Ralph Wittmeyer of south Everett, who stopped recently at the monument while in town to get a haircut. Down the hill at left is the Mukilteo Lighthouse. To the right, out of frame, stands the new Mukilteo state ferry terminal, designed like a Coast Salish longhouse, with interpretive signage about the Point Elliott Treaty. (Clay Eals)

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

Treaty monument in Mukilteo is plaqueless — perhaps forever?
By Clay Eals

Sometimes history isn’t where you think you’ll find it.

Case in point: the Jan. 22, 1855, accord known as the Point Elliott Treaty, signed with an “X” by Chief Seattle and 81 other Puget Sound tribal leaders.

While it conferred tribal sovereignty and later was judicially interpreted to protect tribal fishing rights, it also ceded countless acres of land to European newcomers and has long been considered a lordly license for settler supremacy.

Nearly 90 years ago, a ceremony commemorated the treaty with a granite monument. The marker was installed at Third and Lincoln in downtown Mukilteo, a site thought to be near the place the treaty was signed. A Daughters of the American Revolution event on May 2, 1931, drew more than 3,000 people, including 300 Native Americans, some who were descendants of the treaty signers.

THEN4: The treaty plaque, before it vanished last October. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. (Andrew Ruppenstein, (Historical Marker Database)

To absorb the dedication’s hillside milieu, I recently drove north to see the marker at its Mukilteo city block. Imagine my surprise when I reached the stone and found its plaque missing. All that remained in its rectangular frame were three screw holes and a washered pin.

The plaque has been gone since October, when the city discovered its absence, along with graffiti that covered the monument. The scrawls included an anarchist symbol, an expletive and the phrase “BROKEN TREATIES.” Staff scrubbed off the defacement but have puzzled over the plaque’s whereabouts.

Jennifer Gregerson, two-term mayor of Mukilteo, issued a statement hinting that the plaque would not be replaced: “The signing location itself has an important significance in our shared history with the Northwest tribes. I believe this act of vandalism can provide an opportunity to spur our community forward into a new conversation. I hope that we can find a different way to explain and acknowledge that history at this site in Mukilteo.”

The Mukilteo Historical Society doesn’t plan to weigh in on the monument’s future, but Joanne Mulloy, president, is curious about what, if anything, the city will do.

Leaving the marker plaqueless appeals to Ken Workman, fourth-generation great grandson of Chief Seattle, whose Duwamish Tribe still lacks federal recognition. Lyrically, Workman notes that granite and computer memory chips both contain silicon.

“Granite holds the memories of people,” he says. “It’s a symbolic link to the genetic pain of 170 years.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are a photo, brochure, a HistoryLink backgrounder, a map, a DAR timeline and, in chronological order, four historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to local historian Phil Hoffman and his Alki History Project for the initial idea for this installment and for invaluable assistance. He reminds us that the formal name of the Point Elliott Treaty is “Treaty between the United States and the Duwamish, Suquamish, and other allied and subordinate tribes of Indians in Washington Territory.” Hoffman adds, “I am operating on the premise that what we call things reveals what we really think and our biases.”

Joanne Mulloy, president of the Mukilteo Historical Society, offers this additional information and insight: “John Collier, our past president, wrote a quote that I quite like: ‘The Point Elliott Treaty remains a significant historical event for both the Tulalip people and the City of Mukilteo. As such, it should be remembered and, more important, continue to be studied as a means of strengthening cooperation and progress today.’ There are several plaques down at Lighthouse Park still. One was leftover from a bench that was on the beach in the 1950s, but the bench washed out in the Sound.”

Mukilteo monument, March 15, 2010. (Andrew Czernek)
Point Elliott Treaty brochure. Click image to see full pdf. (Courtesy Mukilteo Historical Society)
Signatures of territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens and Chief Seattle (“X”) on 1855 Point Elliott Treaty. (The Indigenous Digital Archive)
HistoryLink article on Point Elliott Treaty monument in Mukilteo. Click image to see full article.
Map showing boundaries of land ceded by Native American tribes in the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty. (Courtesy Phil Hoffman)
Timeline of the connection between the Marcus Whitman chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Point Elliott Treaty monument in Mukilteo. Click image to see full document. (Courtesy Teri Lynn Scott)
Jan. 25, 1925, Seattle Times, page 24.
April 20, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
May 1, 1931, Seattle Times, page 13.
Nov. 11, 2020, Mukilteo Beacon. The expletive in the graffiti has been digitally obscured. Click image for full story.

Now & Then here and now