Seattle Now & Then: Beatles, 1964, Coliseum

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Beatles — (clockwise from top) Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison — cast for fish in Elliott Bay from a window in room 272 of Seattle’s Edgewater Inn on the afternoon of Aug. 21, 1964, before delivering a 30-minute show that night at the Coliseum. (Clay Eals collection, possibly by Curt Gunther — see below)
NOW: Gleefully replicating the Beatles’ 1964 pose in a narrower window opening in the Beatles Suite of The Edgewater Hotel (no longer Inn) are four Seattle-area women who attended the 1964 show: (from top) Joey Richesson, Garnis Armbruster Adkins, Teresa Anderson and Carol Griff Reynolds. Peeking out behind them are Pier 69, redeveloped in the early 1980s, as well as Magnolia bluff, Bainbridge Island and the Olympics. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on April 28, 2022
(visit that link for many extra photos!)
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on May 1, 2022

The Beatles found good fishing for young fans in 1964 Seattle
By Clay Eals

A long-ago best friend sometimes offered a question at social gatherings as an icebreaker: “What was your first concert?” One by one, all would mention fond memories of musicians and venues. Taking the final turn, my friend would stun everyone with three words:

“Beatles, 1964, Coliseum.”

The show was an instant Seattle legend. The third in 23 cities of the Beatles’ first North American tour, the Aug. 21 stop at what today is called Climate Pledge Arena drew a sellout throng of 14,045. Mostly young teens, reportedly “20 to 1” girls to boys, each paid just $3, $4 or $5 to contribute and/or endure waves of nearly continuous ear-splitting screams that all but drowned out the foursome’s half-hour, 12-song set.

This “Beatlemania” and attendant controversies typified the entire tour, reporters summoning the swoons historically incited by the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and even silent-film’s Rudolph Valentino.

Sept. 2, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p9.

What gave the Beatles’ visit a distinctly Seattle touch was their overnight at the waterfront Edgewater Inn, then 2 years old. From room 272, the “moptops” leaned out a window and famously posed with fishing poles over Elliott Bay.

Did they catch anything? No, they agreed at a press conference. Drummer Ringo Starr deadpanned, “Someone on the other side of the bay kept shouting, ‘There’s no fishing here.’ ”

Sandy Fliesbach, 11, holds Beatles autographs she secured by “fishing” out her window. See full story in news clips below. (Stuart B. Hertz, Seattle Post-Intelliegencer)

Endearingly, one floor above them, 11-year-old Sandy Fliesbach, attending a wedding at the Edgewater, cast her own line. On hotel stationery she wrote a note seeking the Fab Four’s autographs, lowering it out her window with ribbon from opened gifts. She whistled, and someone below pulled in the note. A minute later, it came back out the window, and Sandy reeled it in. All four had signed it. Hundreds of girls chanting outside the inn’s temporary plywood and barbed-wire barricade were not so fortunate.

Two years later, the Beatles returned for two shows at the Coliseum. After the group’s 1970 break-up, John Lennon never had another Seattle gig (he was shot and killed in 1980). George Harrison played the Coliseum in 1974 (he died in 2001). Starr and Paul McCartney have performed here in several separate incarnations, the latter’s Wings group notching the first concert at the old Kingdome in 1976.

Paul McCartney 2022 tour logo.

Astoundingly, the still-boyish McCartney, just six weeks shy of age 80, will play Climate Pledge on May 2-3. Perhaps he would twist and shout over a 58-year-old crack by parodist Allan Sherman (“Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”), who played the Opera House and bunked at the Edgewater during the Beatles’ 1964 Seattle stay:

“The Beatles are really quite unpopular, but nobody knows it yet.”

Beatles, 1964, Coliseum — just the facts
  • Set list: “Twist and Shout,” “You Can’t Do That,” “All My Lovin’,” “She Loves You,” “Things We Said Today,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “If I Fell,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Boys,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Long Tall Sally.” To hear audio of their show, click here.
  • The Beatles play their Aug. 21, 1964, show at the Coliseum. John Lennon (left) and Ringo Starr on drums are recognizable. Note the extra drum set for opening acts, plus Navy volunteers in the foreground. Also in the foreground, with blonde hair, facing left and in a white sleeveless dress, is Colleen Convis Holmes, sister of the photographer, Christi Convis Perrault. Edward Holmes, husband of Colleen, recalls: “Both she (Colleen) and I were driven (separately) to the concert by our older sisters, who had just gotten their driver’s licenses. I was 13 and was forced to go because my parents didn’t want my sister to drive alone to Seattle. I could hear only the first few notes of every song before the teenage-girl screaming drowned the boys out. I was a very long way from the stage. I had zero interest in the Beatles, but I’m now glad I went. I met my wife 9 years later at the University of Washington.” (Christi Convis Perrault, courtesy Edward Holmes)

    Sound: The Beatles’ set, measured by acoustic expert Robin Towne, was 95+ decibels for 60% of the show and 100+ decibels for 30%. (Maximum exposure without earplugs, such as an industrial plant, was recommended as 85 decibels.)

  • Bucks: The show grossed $64,000. The Beatles were to earn $25,000 or 60% of the gross, whichever was greater, so after $7,000 in taxes, they were paid $34,200. Minus fees for warm-up acts, their take-home was $32,000 ($278,000 today).
  • Warm-up acts: the Bill Black Combo, the Exciters, the Righteous Brothers and Jackie DeShannon. (Smash hits for the latter two came later.)
  • Security: At the Coliseum were 50 Seattle police, 4 King County deputies, 14 firefighters, 6 Armed Forces police and 100 Navy volunteers from Pier 91.
  • Health: Hospitalized were 2 teens; 35 others received first aid. On hand were 5 ambulances, one of which carried the Beatles back to the Edgewater.
  • Souvenirs: After the Beatles left Seattle, their room 272 rug at the Edgewater was cut into 2-inch squares that sold for $1 apiece at MacDougall’s department store, to benefit Children’s Orthopedic Hospital.
  • Airwaves: The Beatles had five songs on KJR-AM’s Fabulous 50 the week of their Seattle show.
  • Silver screen: Playing the Paramount Theatre during the show was the Beatles’ first film, “A Hard Day’s Night.”

(Sources: The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive, and a recording of the show.)

WEB EXTRAS

Special thanks to Kelsey Beniasch and Claudia Lew of Wagstaff Marketing, to staff of The Edgewater Hotel, to Joe Wren and Gavin MacDougall and especially to Teresa Anderson, Garnis Armbruster Adkins, Carol Griff Reynolds, Joey Richesson and Kate “Bobbey” Blessing, for their help with this installment.

Click here to see a previous “Now & Then” column  on the Edgewater.

We offer no 360-degree video for this installment, but instead we feature a video with interviews of all the participants in our “Now” photo (plus a backup), in which they reflect on the Beatles’ 1964 show at the Coliseum. To see it, click here or on the image below.

VIDEO (6:20): Click image to see video interviews of our “Now” photo participants about their experiences at the Beatles’ 1964 show at the Coliseum in Seattle. (Clay Eals)

In addition, below are 8 photos, an historical essay and 58 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

To start off the extras, we have an essay by Clay examining the orientation of our “Then” photo:

Hocus-focus: Here is our THEN photo, flopped in both directions, the Beatles facing right and facing left. Both versions can be found on the internet. (Clay Eals collection)
‘All I’ve  got is a photograph ‘ : Flipping over the Beatles
By Clay Eals

The topic du jour is the orientation of our color “Then” photo, the well-known image of the Beatles fishing out the window of their room 272 suite at the Edgewater Inn on the afternoon of their evening show Aug. 21, 1964, at the Coliseum.

On the internet, it’s easy to find our “Then” in two versions, one in which the Beatles face right, and one in which the Beatles face left.  But which version is correct? I was determined to solve the puzzle prior to our “Now” shoot.

Details of the Beatles’ hair parts and shirt collars in the photo, compared to the same details in several other photos from Getty Images of the Beatles inside their Edgewater suite seemed to indicate that that the facing-right version was correct. I also was skeptical of a facing-left orientation because the low-level, indistinct masses in the background appeared to me to likely depict Harbor Island and its ships and shipyards. However, the Edgewater’s website, as well as a blown-up display inside room 272 and a framed photo in the hotel lobby all use the facing-left version.

With these conflicting notions in mind, before our “Now” shoot I made a separate trip to the Beatles Suite (still room 272) of The Edgewater Hotel (formerly Inn) in the hope of figuring out the correct orientation. The Edgewater staff asserted that room 272 is in the same west/southwest-facing corner spot today as it was in 1964. When I examined the room’s windows and leaned out them, taking sample photos, it seemed clear to me that the facing-left version had to be correct.

I had two reasons for this conclusion: (1) The positioning of the fishing window immediately adjacent to the building’s corner in the facing-left version is consistent with the present-day position of a similar window along present-day room 272’s exterior wall that runs northwest/southeast. (2) Given this, if the facing-right version were correct, from the window of today’s room 272 the photographer would have looked southeast and captured in the distance the Smith Tower and the rest of Seattle’s 1964 waterfront and downtown scene, but instead we see the low-level, indistinct mass. This argued for the photographer shooting in a northwestern direction — the direction shown in the version with the Beatles facing left.

As I looked northwest from outside the room 272 window, I noted that the end of Pier 69 that jutted out in the background was not present in the 1964 “Then.” But this could be explained by separate newspaper research indicating that Pier 69 had been redeveloped in the early 1980s.

Thus, the facing-left orientation seemed the better bet when Jean Sherrard and I shot our “Now” photo on March 24, 2022. Jean looked northwest, and our four “Now” posers matched the Beatles, facing left. That’s how they appear in this post and in the Seattle Times online and in print.

But on April 29, 2022, after this column had been posted for a day, the plot thickened. New evidence and insight emerged from one of our column’s stalwart volunteers, Gavin MacDougall.

Though I had searched Google Images and Getty Images for relevant Beatles fishing photos I could find, Gavin’s own search turned up two Getty black-and-white versions of out-the-window Beatles fishing photos that I hadn’t seen — and that obviously were taken slightly before or after our “Then.” These photos, which you can see at this link, and at this link, provide definitive evidence that the correct orientation of the photo has the Beatles facing right, not left.

Here’s why: The background of these black-and-white photos is much more distinct than in the color photo of the same situation. Clearly in the background are not only Harbor Island and silhouetted ships in for repair but also a ribbon of white further in the distance reflecting construction underway on the Fauntleroy Expressway snaking diagonally up the east bluff of West Seattle.

But how could this be, if this view is not possible from the windows of present-day room 272? The answer, as the Edgewater had told me, is that in 1964 when the Beatles stayed in room 272, the room was larger and/or likely connected to adjacent rooms, whereas today’s room 272, marketed as the Beatles Suite, is smaller and designed for a couple, not a Far Foursome. So in 1964, the larger version of room 272 had to extend around the corner along part of the adjacent exterior wall that ran due north and south and included windows that faced due west. Thus, when the Beatles fished out the southernmost window along that wall, the photographer leaning out the window to its north would have been facing due south and would have shown Harbor Island and West Seattle in the background of the resulting photos.

That room 272 was larger and provided windows straddling the Edgewater’s west/southwest facing corner is apparent from the Getty photo at this link. There, the fishing window is shown at right, and drapes cover another window at left on a wall that is at an irregular angle to the fishing-window wall, indicating the corner.

Bottom line: Though I tried hard to suss out this question before the “Now” shoot, I should have been able to dig up the Getty Images that served as the “smoking gun.” Had I done so, we would have flopped our 1964 “Then” photo so that the Beatles were facing right. We also would have sought access from the Edgewater to the room next door to — and around the irregular corner of — today’s Beatles Suite in room 272 to shoot our “Now.”

Why take pains to explain this how this error occurred? The answer may lie in the chorus of a 1973 Ringo Starr song, “Photograph”:

“All I’ve got is a photograph
And I realize you’re not coming back anymore …”

Incidentally, while versions of the out-the-window fishing photo have been widely circulated in both orientations, its photographer is rarely mentioned. KOMO-TV archivist Joe Wren notes that in a 1995 interview that Beatles companion and confidant Derek Taylor did with the station, the photographer for the exterior fishing shot was identified as the Beatles’ official photographer, the late Curt Gunther. But such attribution is made difficult by the assertion on the Getty Images website that several photos of the Beatles inside their Edgewater suite were taken by a William Lovelace. The mystery continues, but here’s the KOMO-TV story, aired April 28, 2022:

VIDEO (3:34): Click the image to see a KOMO-TV story from April 28, 2022, in which Derek Taylor identifies Curt Gunther as the photographer for the fishing photo. (Joe Wren)

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More photos, a ticket stub, a letter, another video, an essay,
an array of news clippings and the Beatles’ 1964 tour booklet

Here are additional photos taken March 24, 2022, the day of our “Now” shoot, of the Edgewater’s Beatles Suite and of our “Now” posers therein. At the end of this gallery you will find a brief video of our posers standing before a Fab Four portrait in the suite’s bathroom gamely making their way through a minute or so of one of the songs the Beatles sang at their 1964 show: “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

ALTERNATE NOW: Replicating the Beatles’ serious facial expressions in their 1964 fishing pose in a narrower window opening in the Beatles Suite at The Edgewater Hotel (no longer Inn) are four Seattle-area women who attended the 1964 show: (from top) Joey Richesson, Garnis Armbruster Adkins, Teresa Anderson and Carol Griff Reynolds. (Jean Sherrard)
Our Beatles “Now” posers — (from left) Carol Griff Reynolds, Garnis Armbruster Adkins, Joey Richesson and Teresa Anderson — stand in The Edgewater Hotel lobby before the 1964 photo they replicated. (Jean Sherrard)
Our Beatles “Now” posers — (from left) Carol Griff Reynolds, Garnis Armbruster Adkins, Joey Richesson and Teresa Anderson — stand in The Edgewater Hotel lobby, saluting the 1964 photo they replicated. (Jean Sherrard)
The bedstead in the Beatles Suite of The Edgewater Hotel. A one-night stay in the suite goes for $700 today. (Jean Sherrard)
The bathtub in the Beatles Suite of The Edgewater Hotel. A one-night stay in the suite goes for $700 today. (Jean Sherrard)
VIDEO (1:14): On March 22, 2022, five women who attended the Beatles’ 1964 show at the Coliseum in Seattle — Joey Richesson, Kate “Bobbey” Blessing, Teresa Anderson, Carol Griff Reynolds and Garnis Armbruster Adkins, good sports all — stand in the bathroom of the Beatles Suite of The Edgewater Hotel and make their way through a portion of a song the Beatles sang that night 58 years ago, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” (Clay Eals)

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This is Teresa Anderson’s ticket stub from the Beatles’ Aug. 21, 1964, show at the Coliseum. (Teresa Anderson collection)
A plaintive 1964 letter to Seattle Mayor Dorm Braman from a young Lu Ellen Peterson. (Seattle Municipal Archives)
Click this image to download a pdf of a detailed article from summer 1996 Columbia magazine on the Beatles’ 1964 show at the Coliseum.

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These 57 newspaper clippings document the Beatles’ 1964 show in Seattle:

March 25, 1964, Seattle Times, p44.
April 24, 1964, Seattle Times, p1.
April 24, 1964, Seattle Times, p25.
April 25, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p5.
Aug. 16, 1964, Seattle Times, p88.
Aug. 18, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1.
Aug. 18, 1964, Seattle Times, p19.
Aug. 19, 1964, Seattle Times, p8.
Aug. 19, 1964, Seattle Times, p20.
Aug. 19, 1964, Seattle Times, p27.
Aug. 19, 1964, Seattle Times, p27.
Aug. 19, 1964, Seattle Times, p29.
Aug. 20, 1964, Seattle Times, p20.
Aug. 21, 1964, Seattle Times, p3.
Aug. 21, 1964, Seattle Times, p27.
Aug. 21, 1964, Seattle Times, p29.
Aug. 21, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p1.
Aug. 21, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p3.
Aug. 21, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p10.
Aug. 21, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p12.
Aug. 21, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p13.
Aug. 21, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p17.
Aug. 21, 1964, Seattle Times, p1.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p1.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p1.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p2.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p6.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p7.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Times, p1.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Times, p2.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Times, p3.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Times, p3. (Teresa Anderson)
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Times, p3. (Teresa Anderson)
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Times, p3. (Teresa Anderson)
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Times, p3.
Aug. 22, 1964, Seattle Times, p13.
Aug. 23, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p67.
Aug. 23, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p72.
Aug. 23, 1964, Seattle Times, p1.
Aug. 23, 1964, Seattle Times, p3.
Aug. 23, 1964, Seattle Times, p17,
Aug. 23, 1964, Seattle Times, p22.
Aug. 24, 1964, Seattle Post-intelligencer, p8.
Aug. 24, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p21.
Aug. 24, 1964, Seattle Times, p9.
Aug. 24, 1964, Seattle Times, p22.
Aug. 24, 1964, Seattle Times, p23.
Aug. 26, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p8.
Aug. 26, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p29.
Aug. 26, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p42.
Aug. 26, 1964, Seattle Times, p10.
Aug. 26, 1964, Seattle Times, p31.
Aug. 27, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1.
Aug. 27, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p16.
Aug. 28, 1964, Seattle Times, p51.
Aug. 31, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p15.
Aug. 26, 1966, Seattle Times, p28.

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These photos depict the Beatles’ 1964 tour booklet “Beatles (U.S.A.) Ltd.,” available for purchase at their shows. The images are courtesy of Teresa Anderson. Click once or twice on each one to enlarge it.

Seattle Now & Then: Little White Church in Silvana, ca. 1905

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Like a Dutch Masters landscape painting, the Little White Church on the Hill anchors a pastoral scene. The Stillaguamish River curves just below, while the distant bluffs of Camano Island peep above the central horizon. The church’s steeple was added in 1904. Our best guess is that this photo was taken before 1910. (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW 1: A remarkably similar landscape shows that little has changed in this rural landscape since our “Then” photo was snapped from atop the bluff. The Stillaguamish River, now screened by evergreens, still overflows its banks on occasion. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW 2: Captured on a clear day in mid-March, the Little White Church includes the grounds of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, where a number of pioneer families are buried. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW 3: In an east-facing photo, the pioneer church gleams in late afternoon light. The “Then” and “Now” portraits were taken from the bluff above the structure. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on April 21, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 24, 2022)

With a peaceful view, Silvana’s Little White Church endures
By Jean Sherrard

In an increasingly discordant world, we scan for hopeful signs and clues – some are lodged in the past. One symbol of reunion and healing might be found on a rural hillside an hour’s drive north of Seattle.

The tiny town of Silvana, founded in the 1880s by Scandinavian farmers, was both blessed and cursed by the fertile floodplain of the Stillaguamish River. To accommodate the river’s oft-overflowing banks, its houses and sidewalks were raised several feet above ground level.

Little surprise, then, that the vigorous young congregation of Zion Lutheran, led by itinerant pastor Christian Jorgensen, decided to build its church and adjacent graveyard on a hill above the river. The land had been donated by farmer S.A. Erickson in 1884 and on Dec. 3, 1888, the parishioners drew up formal plans for their parish.

As documented by Zion Lutheran’s historian Irene Vognild, the church’s 1890 construction proved no small task. Existing roads were “muddy, crooked trails along the riverbanks.” Without rail or paved highways to provide access, all finished lumber had to be towed east on scows from a sawmill in equally tiny Utsalady on Camano Island.

The materials were to be offloaded onto carts and drawn by oxen to the building site. But that year’s early winter, Vognild recounts, was one of the severest in the region’s history. Church members credited divine intervention when the Stillaguamish froze solid, ensuring much easier transport by sled across the snowy river and up the hill.

Having spent just $750 on materials, the closely-knit farm community donated all labor, plus extra timber and shingles. The new church was erected in mere weeks, with grounds cleared for a nearby graveyard. Zion Lutheran Church’s first services were held that Christmas.

It wasn’t long before a divide over religious practices split the young congregation. Should this new church observe the rites and traditions of the State Church of Norway or adopt revised forms of worship?

The unhappy result, Vognild notes: “a break with friends and neighbors [who had] worshiped and worked together for years.” A minority faction left and built its own church in town, Salem Lutheran.

After nearly 70 years of division, the two churches set aside their differences and reunited in 1963, adopting a name reflecting the harmony: Peace Lutheran.

Today, the church comprises two structures — a practical 1978 building in downtown Silvana and the original Little White Church on the Hill, which was listed on the Washington State Heritage Register as a historic site in 1972.

The hillside church is open for summer services and for special occasions, including weddings and funerals.

WEB EXTRAS

Just a couple extra photos this week.

Seattle Now & Then: Ballard railroad, late 1910s/early 1920s

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: In the cover image of a new book, “Preserving Ballard,” three young women straddle a railroad track along Ballard’s west flank in the late 1910s or early 1920s. Two are Swedish sisters from the Peterson family: Rhoda, left, and Ethel, center. The third is believed to have been their friend. A younger sibling, Ted Peterson, became a state senator and during his retirement led a successful campaign to restore the Ballard Bell to its original position on Ballard Avenue. (Peterson Collection, Ballard Historical Society)
NOW: Ballard Historical Society leaders replicate the pose near the old Ballard train depot on 37th Place Northwest: (from left) Cass O’Callaghan, treasurer; Laura K. Cooper, trustee and “Preserving Ballard” producer; and Mary Shile, president. The book will launch at 5 p.m. April 19 at Secret Garden Books, 2214 N.W. Market St.; 7 p.m. April 22 at Sunset Hill Community Association, 3003 N.W. 66th St.; and at 4 p.m. April 24 at the National Nordic Museum, 2655 N.W. Market St. More info: ballardhistory.org. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on April 14, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on April 17, 2022

A trio from a century ago bids a
warm welcome to ‘Preserving Ballard’
By Clay Eals

From about 100 years ago, three young women cheerfully invite us into Seattle’s northwesterly neighborhood of Ballard.

Their sanguine salutation seems germane, given the area’s geographic separation; the formidable length of its namesake 1917 bridge; and its storied, early concentration of work-seeking northern European immigrants who arrived by train.

As the late longtime Ballard resident Maxine Shallow Tuck genially noted in an oral-history interview, “Bus drivers used to say, ‘You got your passports ready? We’re going into Ballard.’ … Because it was a foreign country. It was Scandinavian.”

In fact, when the Ballard News-Tribune produced a 304-page, large-format history book in 1988, the title reinforced that theme: “Passport to Ballard.”

The latest “passport” will be published this month by the all-volunteer Ballard Historical Society. “Preserving Ballard” is trimmer and slimmer at 128 pages, and, as an Arcadia book, it favors visuals over text.

But its narrative and nearly 200 images cover a wide swath, including the life of the Shilshole branch of the Duwamish people and Ballard’s 27-year stretch as an incorporated city before its 1907 annexation to Seattle, along with ample views of industries, businesses, residences and churches.

The book’s cover features our “Then” photo. Clad in bloomers (less restrictive than heavy dresses and promoted by women’s rights activists), the jolly trio looks south while cavorting on Ballard’s west-flank railroad tracks, symbolizing the area’s rapid initial growth.

“For non-Native settlers, this part of the world was about resource extraction from the get-go,” says Laura K. Cooper, who led production of the book. “This was a great place for timber. That’s what really built Ballard, and the fishing industry came along after that. So from the beginning there was the need to move things around.”

The rail line, opening in 1891 and featuring a Ballard depot from 1914 to 1948, runs roughly perpendicular to the Ship Canal locks, built from 1912 to 1917, and borders the bridge-hugging Fisherman’s Terminal, established in 1914. This formative infrastructure helps define Ballard to this day.

The book complements an online innovation of the historical society, funded by 4Culture, that lets visitors click a map to see photos and data linked to 60 Ballard residences and listen to complete, decades-old audio interviews of those who lived therein, some from Polish and other underrepresented nationalities. This parallels another project that tracked more than 2,200 Ballard buildings over 100 years old as of 2016.

The overall aim, Cooper says, is as straightforward as a welcoming wave: “There are a lot of cool things that have happened here over time, and we want people to know about them.”

WEB EXTRAS

Special thanks to Laura Cooper, Peggy Sturdivant and Mike Bergman for their help with this installment.

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

Below are a video of Laura Cooper plus a historical clipping from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO: Click this photo to see a 3-minute video of Laura Cooper talking about the Ballard railroad and the new book, “Preserving Ballard”! (Clay Eals)
Oct. 7, 1905, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.

 

Seattle Now & Then: The St. Paul Maritime Museum, ca. 1934

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Signs reading “MARINE MUSEUM” and “OPEN” beckon visitors to the St. Paul, berthed just east of the Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks in the mid-1930s. This image appears on an exceedingly rare postcard recently acquired by photo historian Ron Edge. When under sail, the vessel’s fully rigged acre of canvas was supported by nearly 15 miles of cordage. (Ron Edge collection)
NOW: Pictured in early March from the same rooftop vantage, atop a building now housing the Chittenden Locks’ administrative offices, the docks below are now home to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers debris recovery vessel, the MV Puget. Local institutions that showcase the subjects of the former St. Paul include the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, pugetmaritime.org, and HistoryLink.org. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on April 7, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 10, 2022)

A 1930s Seattle maritime museum was both fleeting and floating
By Jean Sherrard

For local maritime historians, there once was a Camelot. During a brief stretch in the mid-1930s, the sailing ship St. Paul served as Seattle’s first and only floating nautical museum, ideally situated on the freshwater side of the Ballard Locks.

Built in Bath, Maine, in 1874, the 228foot-long vessel with a soaring 150-foot main mast was reasonably swift for its size. The St. Paul crossed the Atlantic in just 16 days and sailed between San Francisco and New York, rounding Chile’s Cape Horn, in a brisk 103 days.

After hauling cargo between Britain, America and the Far East for nearly three decades, the elegant square-rigged craft (identified by Bremerton maritime historian Michael Mjelde as a “down easter”) was consigned to service between Alaskan canneries and Seattle until its banishment to Lake Union in 1924 with other relics and obsolete tall ships destined for the scrap heap.

Only the timely intervention of a local band of fervent maritime and marine enthusiasts saved the St. Paul from demolition.

Founded in 1928, the Puget Sound Academy of Science dedicated itself to “the diffusion of scientific knowledge by means of … publications, expeditions and exhibits.” The brainchild of Henry Landes, dean of the University of Washington College of Science and husband of Seattle’s first female mayor, Bertha K. Landes, the academy also was the beneficiary of Arthur Foss, co-owner of Foss Launch and Tugboat Company.

A collector and history buff, Foss had purchased the St. Paul and offered it to the academy for use as a floating exhibit. Enlisting naturalist (and future peace activist) Floyd Schmoe as president, the group proposed a “marine museum,” merging maritime history and marine biology.

Schmoe’s promotional booklet asserted that the restored St. Paul would serve as the museum’s “chief exhibit. … Nothing will be placed on her deck or in her cabins which was not there when she was still in service.” Below the main deck would be “ample room for … exhibits of primitive and historical boats … and the story of man’s development of the ship.” Another lower deck would include a “salt-water aquarium (with) marine life from the waters and shores of Puget Sound.”

The Marine Museum and Aquarium opened June 16, 1934, welcoming thousands of visitors to its Ballard berth (admission: one dime) for the next two years. But the museum’s shining moment faded all too soon.

The wooden-hulled St. Paul fell victim to Northwest rain and a dearth of regular maintenance. In 1942, at age 68, the deteriorating vessel was towed to Vancouver Island’s Oyster Bay to be scuttled as a breakwater.

WEB EXTRA

For our narrated, audio-visual 360-degree version of this column, please click on through.

Seattle Now & Then: Puget Sound Regional Archives, late 1970s and 1958

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: In the late 1970s, a Western Airlines jet flies over Sunset Junior High School, from which the Puget Sound branch of the state archives operated from 1979 to 1998. Formerly open space, the site hosted the school from 1957 to 1975, when it closed due to protests over jet noise. (King County Archives)

 

THEN2: In one of more than 750,000 prints from the archives’ Property Record Card collection, featuring distinctive white lettering hand-scratched into the negative, the former Sunset Junior High School stands in 1958 at 1809 S. 140th St. Scans of such photos throughout King County — part of the lifeblood of this column— are available for a nominal fee. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
NOW1: Eleven longtime Puget Sound regional archives staff and other veteran agency leaders, anchored at left by retiring regional archivist Michael Saunders (1980-85/1989-2022), stand at the former Sunset Junior High School site while a Spirit Airlines jet at upper right flies south to land at Sea-Tac Airport. Those besides Saunders, from left, are David Owens (deputy state archivist 1970s-2000), Scott Cline (Seattle city archivist 1985-2016), Charles Payton (former longtime King County museum adviser), David Kennedy (collections inventory and transport in 1998 from the Sunset to Bellevue College facilities), Deborah Kennedy (assistant regional archivist 1997-2000/King County archivist 2000-2011/King County archives, records management and mail services manager 2011-20), Greg Lange (research assistant 1997-2011/King County archivist 2012-present), Philippa Stairs (research assistant 1989-2019), Elizabeth Stead (research assistant 1986-89), Candace Lein-Hayes (regional archivist 1985-88/National Archives regional administrator 1988-2016) and Chuck Cary (regional archivist 1988-89). (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Gathered below the 1997 sculpture “A Collection” by Harold Balazx at the entrance to the Bellevue College-based Puget Sound branch of the state archives are 18 longtime regional archives staff and other veteran agency leaders and supporters, from left, retiring regional archivist Michael Saunders, new branch manager Emily Dominick, Greg Lange (research assistant 1997-2011/King County archivist 2012-preent), Philippa Stairs (research assistant 1989-2019), T.A. Perry (Bellevue College instructor and volunteer), Janette Gomes (assistant regional archivist 2002-2007/current Northwest branch manager), Jessica Jones (research archivist 2021-present), Emily Venemon (branch records management consultant 2019-present), Graham Haslam (Bellevue College instructor and volunteer), Midori Okazaki (lead branch archivist 2005-present), Chuck Cary (regional archivist 1988-89), David Owens (deputy state archivist 1970s-2000), Tsang Partnership Design Team members Randall Robbins (project manager), Scott Shaw (project architect), Kelly Shaw (interior designer), David Kennedy (collections inventory and transport in 1998 from the Sunset to Bellevue College facilities), Deborah Kennedy (assistant regional archivist 1997-2000/King County archivist 2000-2011/King County archives, records management and mail services manager 2011-20), Charles Payton (former longtime King County museum adviser). (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on March 31, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on April 3, 2022

Smile! Here’s where you can find a DNA test for your home
By Clay Eals

Whether we’ve been here 40 years or 40 days, we all yearn to embrace the place we call home. One way to do so is to see what came before.

The Puget Sound Regional Branch of Washington State Archives — a godsend to some, unknown to others — provides just such a peek, drawing 5,000 research requests annually. Among its wide-ranging governmental records is a showcase collection that can touch nearly every King County resident.

The collection, starting in the late 1930s, assembled a Property Record Card for each of 146,000 buildings, revealing year of construction, structural materials and myriad other specifics, often with crisp black-and-white photos of same.

Taken with large-format view cameras, the photos bear dates and addresses hand-scratched into their negatives, appearing in white in corresponding prints. Today they might be called a DNA test for your home. But that wasn’t their original purpose.

VIDEOS: Click image above to reach the “Films of King County Assessor Roy Misener” page, where you can access several videos from the late 1930s about his Land Use Project.

In 1935, King County Assessor Roy Misener sought to jettison poor data and subjective appraisals that had produced incomplete property-tax valuations. With federal Works Progress Administration dollars, over five years he hired 700 workers to create maps, interview residents and create photos to equalize assessments.

After initial work ended in 1940, if a building was upgraded, staff updated its data and took a new photo. In 1972, high-grade imaging ended. Seven years later, the collection transferred to the state archives. Ever since, copies and reprints (digital scans today) have been available to the public for nominal fees. The reasons for such requests range from nostalgic to legal.

Photos for a few sites, such as areas beneath Interstate 5, are missing. But the collection, which often provides a historic building’s only visual evidence of existence, has remained largely intact— from 1979 to 1998 inside the jet-noisy former Sunset Junior High in the north clear zone of Sea-Tac Airport and since 1998 at a facility built for the archives at Bellevue College.

T-shirt design based on the late 1970s photo. Michael Saunders gifted these T-shirts to his staff and others upon his retirement. The T-shirts were created by destination-goods.com. (Michael Saunders)

That the collection survives and thrives owes to a tenacious staff led by a regional archivist who retired in March after 46 years, Michael Saunders. He is quick to credit the “innate stubbornness” of his team and support from the Secretary of State’s office, partner agencies and scores of volunteers.

Of course, digitizing, gatekeeping and otherwise managing the records is an endless task fit for the mythical Sisyphus. It requires, Saunders says, “the ability to see how a bunch of mundane and even sometimes tedious work gets you to a better outcome.” Which is, he says, to serve “a legacy of societal memory.”

In other words, for our collective psyche, there’s no place like home.

WEB EXTRAS

Special thanks to Michael Saunders for his invaluable help with this installment.

Below are 2 additional photos, 4 pages of a 20th anniversary program, a newsletter page and 24 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Also helpful was a HistoryLink essay on the King County Land Use Survey.

Regional Archives System graphic. (Puget Sound Branch, Washington State Archives)
Dedication plaque for the entry sculpture “A Collection.” (Clay Eals)
First page of a program marking the 20th anniversary of the archives branch Bellevue College location. (Michael Saunders)
Second page of a program marking the 20th anniversary of the archives branch Bellevue College location. (Michael Saunders)
Third page of a program marking the 20th anniversary of the archives branch Bellevue College location. (Michael Saunders)
Fourth page of a program marking the 20th anniversary of the archives branch Bellevue College location. (Michael Saunders)
March 2010 page from Fall City Historical Society newsletter saluting the archives. (Ruth Pickering)
Jan. 15, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10.
March 15, 1938, Seattle Times, p5.
May 19, 1940, Seattle Times, p3.
Sept. 3, 1940, Seattle Times, p5.
Sept. 5, 1940, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p8.
June 16, 1956, Seattle Times, p5.
Oct. 28, 1956, Seattle Times, p133.
May 12, 1957, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p36.
Sept. 15, 1957, Seattle Times, p37.
March 23, 1958, Seattle Times p38.
Feb. 1, 1973, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p4.
Feb. 18, 1973, Seattle Times, p37.
May 17, 1973, Seattle Times, p8.
May 22, 1973, Seattle Times, p3.
May 22, 1973, Seattle Times, p15.
Dec. 2, 1977, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p3.
Dec. 2, 1979, Seattle Times, p166.
March 23, 1980, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p43.
March 23, 1980, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p45.
June 18, 1980, Seattle Times, p101.
March 25, 1981, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p25.
Feb. 24, 1982, Seattle Times, p87.
July 6, 1983, Seattle Times, p81.
March 23, 1994, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p22.
March 31, 2007, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p88.

Seattle Now & Then: Our 2nd annual April Fools quiz

(Published in The Seattle Times online on March 24, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 27, 2022)

Distortion, half-truths, outright lies – our second April Fools’ quiz
By Jean Sherrard

(click to enlarge photos)

Yoshino cherry trees on the Quad at the UW in full bloom (Jean Sherrard)

As cherry trees blossom, we at Now & Then extend the welcome mat for our second annual April Fools’ Day quiz. We trust this exercise in historical whimsy will entertain and challenge in equal measure.

Please note that each question has a single correct answer. All other choices are larded with distortion, half-truths and outright lies!

THEN1: The Blob, photographed in 1986, squatting on the northwest corner of First Avenue North and Roy Street, literally stopped traffic during its construction. (CARY TOLMAN, MUSEUM OF HISTORY & INDUSTRY, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER COLLECTION)

Question 1

A BLOB BY ANY OTHER NAME Originally Clyde’s Cleaners, built in 1946 to serve lower Queen Anne Hill, the building was refashioned in 1984 into the ferroconcrete mound popularly known as The Blob. Detested and beloved in equal measure, the structure was demolished in 1997. What was The Blob’s original purpose?

A: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s nascent first draft of MoPOP (his Museum of Popular Culture), also colloquially known as The Blob.

B: The bulbous Moorish fort/Spanish villa themes were the brainchild of developer Anthony Dadvar, who intended to house a Mediterranean/Mexican restaurant, the Isla del Sol.

C: The last Queen Anne communal dwelling of the Love Family, a New Age religious group founded in the late 1960s.

D: An early and failed attempt at architectural 3D printing, engineered by noted inventor John Williams.

E: A movie set constructed for Ridley Scott’s megahit “Aliens” (1986), never used in actual filming.

THEN2: Masked men and women pose in downtown Seattle on Third near Washington in late October 1918. (Paul Dorpat Collection)

Question 2

WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN? In early fall 1918, the misnamed “Spanish” flu raged throughout the Northwest. On Oct. 6, city health commissioner Dr. J.S. McBride and Mayor Ole Hanson ordered the closure of schools, churches and theaters to combat infection (you know the drill). On Oct. 28, they added a mandatory mask order. Seattleites largely obeyed, until tearing off and twirling their masks to celebrate what notable event?

A: Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918.

B: Santa’s arrival by reindeer-drawn sled in Pioneer Square on Nov. 30, 1918.

C: The conclusion of the five-day Seattle General Strike on Feb. 11, 1919.

D: The return of the 63rd Coast Artillery from World War I on March 12, 1919.

E: The mask order was never suspended.

THEN3: The ferry Elwha prepares to blow its whistle departing from Colman Dock in about 1970. A newly built and still lonely SeaFirst Tower stands sentinel at center. (Frank Shaw, Paul Dorpat Collection)

Question 3:

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS WHISTLE Vessels of the Black Ball Line, from which today’s Washington State Ferries are directly descended, signaled arrivals and departures with whistle blasts. To this day, each captain and vessel employs signature toots. Which is the standard whistle sequence used by Seattle ferries?

A: A single melancholy blast.

B: Three medium-long honks, translating “S” for Seattle into Morse Code.

C: One long and two short toots, known by maritime afficionados as “a warp and two woofs.”

D: All signal patterns are at the captain’s discretion, reflecting the skipper’s mood.

E: Short, repeat blasts, used solely as small-craft warnings during a pea-soup fog.

NOW: Looking west across Second Avenue, the triangular “Sinking Ship” garage illustrates the 30-degree angle between Yesler and James streets that divides the grid of downtown streets. (Jean Sherrard)

Question 4 (see “Now” photo):

THIRTY DEGREES OF SEPARATION Many readers will be familiar with the popular mnemonic: “Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest,” muttered under locals’ breaths to recall the sequence of downtown streets. Yet all bets are off at Pioneer Square, where, north from Yesler, every street veers 30 degrees to the northwest, resulting in an odd tangle of angles. How did this come about?

A: The Seattle Fault runs directly under Yesler. In 1854, an earthquake caused massive seismic displacement, forever altering the shape of the young city.

B: South of Yesler, soggy tideland marshes made accurate mapping impossible.

C: Yesler was the clergy-mandated northern boundary of Seattle’s original red-light district. Its angled streets, pontificated Rev. David Blaine in 1855, supplied “ample warning of a turn to sin.”

D: Unresolved land-plat disputes between early white settlers David “Doc” Maynard, Arthur Denny and Carson Boren resulted in colliding street grids.

E: Fake news. Cartographers and geographers are complicit in promoting this fictional twist. Actual Seattle streets run straight as an arrow.

Answers

1:B

2:A

3:C

4: D

The rubric

One correct answer:
You’re a Mercer Mess.

Two correct answers:
You tore down the Viaduct!

Three correct answers:
You’re a Pike Pundit.

Four correct answers:
You’ve attained Seattle Chill.

Seattle Now & Then: Fifth Avenue Theatre, 1926

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: As seen from room 502 of the nearly 2-year-old Olympic Hotel, a Sept. 24, 1926, crowd rivaling Seattle’s Armistice Day outpouring in 1918 greets the opening of the Fifth Avenue Theatre. (Webster & Stevens, Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: Framed by the 1977 Rainier Tower pedestal and seen from the same guest room of the now-named Fairmont Olympic Hotel, a crowd circles the block to enter the Fifth Avenue Theatre on Feb. 15 for the opening of “Jersey Boys.” The “5th” atop the marque rotates during shows. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on March 17, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on March 20, 2022

Fifth Avenue Theatre endures as the pride of downtown Seattle
By Clay Eals

Pearls of promotion can bear timeless truths, as in this pair of catch-phrases 95-1/2 years apart:

  • “The Magic Sign of a Wonderful Time.”
  • “Joy is essential. Laughter is essential. Escape is essential. Inspiration is essential.”
Sept. 13, 1926, Seattle Times, p8.

The former graced ads for the Sept. 24, 1926, grand opening of downtown Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theatre. The latter exhorts from today’s marquee. Either can apply to each era.

Beneath the hype is a bedrock message: An alluring array of entertainment venues can bolster a downtown’s durability and buoy the soul of an entire city.

No doubt the Fifth’s first-night throng — its girth likened to the spontaneous celebration that broke out at the end of World War I eight years prior — heartily agreed.

“More humanity to the square inch than was ever crowded into a similar space in this northwest corner of these United States packed the streets of seven city blocks radiating from the Fifth Avenue Theatre last night,” exulted the next-day Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The turnout, spurred by an outdoor carnival and free streetcar service, equaled “the populace of Ballard and Georgetown, Ravenna, Alki and the whole Rainier Valley.” It was “the closest approach to a human sardine can that Seattle has seen since Armistice Day.”

Lobby card for “Young April.”

Inside the 2,400-seat, elaborately Chinese-themed palace, those with tickets enjoyed three stage shows, each climaxed by Cecil B. De Mille’s silent cinematic drama “Young April.”

Emblematic of a raft of vintage downtown theaters, the Fifth has stood tall through the years, supported crucially by a massive 1978-80 renovation. Sadly, many Seattle showplaces (notably the Orpheum, Music Box and Blue Mouse) have fallen, while one was preserved for a different use (the Coliseum, as the now-closed Banana Republic clothier) and two others (the Moore and Paramount) survived largely intact.

After a two-year pandemic-induced closure, the Fifth reopened in January, providing hope for all who see such institutions as instrumental to the physical and mental health of Seattle’s core.

Architectural historian Lawrence Kreisman is the former longtime program director for Historic Seattle. For info on his online theater-history talk set for March 31, visit PreserveWa.org. (Historic Seattle)

Surveying more than a century of context and detail about the rich history of downtown theaters, longtime Seattle architectural historian Lawrence Kreisman has assembled a lavishly illustrated online talk, “Another Opening, Another Show,” which he will present at 5 p.m. March 31, for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

The sponsor couldn’t be more apt, as the Trust, with the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, launched in 2020 a grant program to bolster the viability of 80 eligible historic theaters statewide.

That aim catches the 1926 sentiment of the P-I, which proclaimed the Fifth “a large asset to this city” that “far excels the ordinary.”

WEB EXTRAS

Special thanks to Larry Kreisman and Huy Pham, program director for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as Victoria Dyson and Kara Terek at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel and Rachel Liuzzi of the Fifth Avenue Theatre, for their help with this installment.

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

Below are 15 added photos and 23 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

We saved the best clipping for last. Don’t miss it!

A wider view of our NOW perspective. (Jean Sherrard)
A ground-level view of the opening-night scene on Feb. 15, showing the “essential” litany on the Fifth’s south-side marquee. (Jean Sherrard)
The cover of the opening-night program for the 5th Avenue Theatre, Sept. 24, 1926. (Courtesy Lawrence Kreisman)
Inside pages of the opening-night program for the Fifth Avenue Theatre, Sept. 24, 1926. (Courtesy Lawrence Kreisman)
The vestibule of the Fifth Avenue Theatre, Sept. 24, 1926. (Courtesy Lawrence Kreisman)
Panoramic view of present-day vestibule. (Clay Eals)
Entry plaque recognizing contributors to 1978-80 restoration. (Clay Eals)
Daytime view of marquee, looking south. (Clay Eals)
Daytime view of marquee, looking north. (Clay Eals)
The old Coliseum Theatre, northeast corner of Fifth and Pike (now the closed Banana Republic clothier), promotes the silent film “Sweet Daddies” in 1926. (Historic Seattle, courtesy Lawrence Kreisman)
A faux hatbox promotes the Coliseum Theatre showing of the silent film “Her Sister from Paris” in 1925. (Historic Seattle, courtesy Lawrence Kreisman)
A miniature locomotive promotes the showing of John Ford’s silent film “The Iron Horse” in 1924 at the old Liberty Theatre, First and Pike. (Historic Seattle, courtesy Lawrence Kreisman)
A horse-drawn wagon and a young bicyclist promote the showing of the sound film “The Whole Town’s Talking,” starring Edward G. Robinson, at the Liberty Theatre in 1935. (Historic Seattle, courtesy Lawrence Kreisman)
A faux tank promotes the showing of the World War I-based silent film “Behind the Front” at the Liberty Theatre in 1926. (Historic Seattle, courtesy Lawrence Kreisman)
Ten costumed ushers promote the Douglas Fairbanks silent film “Robin Hood” at the Liberty Theatre in 1922. (Historic Seattle, courtesy Lawrence Kreisman)
July 24, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p2.
July 25, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p44.
July 25, 1926, Seattle Times, p85.
Aug. 1, 1926, Seattle Times, p19.
Aug. 4, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p5.
Aug. 22, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p47.
Sept. 2, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p23.
Sept. 3, 1926, Seattle Times, p28.
Sept. 7, 1926, Seattle Times, p23.
Sept. 13, 1926, Seattle Times, p8.
Sept. 16, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p13.
Sept. 19, 1926, Seattle Times, p26.
Sept. 21, 1926, Seattle Times, p13.
Sept. 21, 1926, Seattle Times, p13.
Sept. 23, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p28.
Sept. 23, 1926, Seattle Times, p16.
Sept. 23, 1926, Seattle Times, p17.
Sept. 24, 1926, Seattle Times, p1.
Sept. 24, 1926, Seattle Times, p15.
Sept. 24, 1926, Seattle Times, p15.
Sept. 24, 1926, Seattle Times, p24.
Sept. 25, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1.
Sept. 25, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p2.
Sept. 25, 1926, Seattle Times, p1.
Sept. 25, 1926, Seattle Times, p3.
Sept. 25, 1926, Seattle Times, p3.

Seattle Now & Then: Anders Wilse’s waterfront

THEN 1: Perched atop the roof of the Seattle Fish Company warehouse on then-Pier 8, Anders Wilse captures a southwest view of Seattle’s late 1890s waterfront. Schwabacher’s Wharf was eventually renamed Pier 58 in 1944, reconstructed as Waterfront Park in 1974, and collapsed into Elliott Bay in September 2020. A reimagined Waterfront Park is to open on new pilings in 2024. (courtesy MOHAI)
NOW: The same view from Pier 59, now home to the Seattle Aquarium. Diamond Ice’s wooden buildings were replaced in 1912 by a concrete structure, now a Public Storage facility. Keen eyes might spot a top slice of the remaining Hotel Vendome, directly above the facility’s fire escape. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on March 10, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 13, 2022)

Home was where photographer Anders Wilse’s heart ended up – after beating a successful path to Seattle
By Jean Sherrard

“You can’t go home again” was a sentiment my great-grandfather would have echoed. Ole Andreas Ringseth (“Daddy Andrew” to his extended family) was part of the Norwegian diaspora between 1860 and 1910, emigrating in 1902 from tiny Liabygda on Norway’s west coast to Tacoma, never to return.

One of his enterprising countrymen, 19-year-old Anders Beer Wilse had arrived in Minneapolis 18 years earlier. As a civil engineer with the ever-expanding railroads, he soon rolled  to the Pacific Northwest.

THEN 2: A studio portrait of Anders Beer Wilse, taken soon after his 1890 arrival in Seattle.

Uniquely, Wilse began documenting his surveying and cartography with photography, at which he became increasingly skilled. In 1897, he quit his day job and opened a photo studio in Seattle, fortuitously just as Gold Rush fever infected the city. Over the next three years, he captured the booming city and its environs.

Wilse’s portrait of Seattle’s Colman Dock during the Yukon Gold Rush.

In our evocative “Then” photo, snapped from a wharf at the foot of Pike Street on a sunny afternoon, a half-dozen pedestrians belie an increasingly active waterfront. At least five train tracks run along Railroad Avenue in front of Schwabacher’s Wharf, where the USS Portland, bearing a ton of Yukon gold, docked in July 1897.

Diamond Ice and Storage, founded in 1893, advertised its product as “The Best Ice — No Core in It,” available for home delivery.

The Hotel Diller, still standing today at the southeast corner of First and University, can be seen behind the crisply whitewashed ice-plant smokestack, across the street from its northern neighbor, the Hotel Vendome. On the skyline, past an oddly tall waterfront light standard, the King County Courthouse tower peeps out.

Wilse’s Seattle Photographic Company soon became profitable, hiring three assistants, including Ira Webster and Nelson Stevens, founders of the renowned Webster and Stevens photographic studio.

In spring 1900, Wilse sent his young family back to Norway for what was intended to be a short visit. By summer’s end, however, his wife, Helen, sent word that she had no interest in returning to Seattle. With no small regret, Wilse left his adopted country — and camera equipment — behind, opening a second photography studio in Oslo in 1901. But Helen’s instincts proved sound.

On the verge of regaining independence from Sweden in 1905, Norway provided an ideal subject for a talented photographer. Wilse dedicated himself to documenting its emerging cultural identity, recording more than 200,000 photographs until his death in 1949.

THEN 3: Norway’s 500 kroner banknote, featuring Wilse’s photograph of a 1901 rescue lifeboat, the RS 14 Stavanger.

Today, his iconic images adorn Norwegian postage stamps and currency. Late in life, he expressed what might be a photographer’s credo: “I sought to capture for eternity the beauty of Norway’s landscape … something I believe can be of meaning to our descendants.”

WEB EXTRAS

For our 360 video portrait of the waterfront, featuring Wilse’s original photo and Jean’s narration, go here.

For more on the remarkable life of Anders Wilse, click through to Carolyn Marr’s 1994 essay for Columbia Magazine. Scroll down for illuminating and fascinating details of this gifted photographer’s life.

And thanks to Michael Mjelde for pointing out the identity of the vessel in our late 1890s “then” photo – the steamship Rosalee:

 

Seattle Now & Then: Shell gas station, 1937-38, 1958

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN 1: A 1906 home with a furniture store on its first floor presides along Northeast 45th Street at 11th Avenue circa 1937-38. The corner address of 4345 11th Ave. N.E. was later changed to 1013 N.E. 45th St. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
THEN 2: In the same spot in April 1958 is a Shell service station that was built in 1950. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
NOW: The Shell station stands today but soon is to be replaced by a 27-floor apartment tower called OneU. For details, visit here and search 3037792-LU. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on March 3, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on March 6, 2022

The inexorable trend on many Seattle street corners: small to big
By Clay Eals

We at “Now & Then” usually focus on places we find distinctive. Meanwhile, on our city’s everyday corners, change is churning. So inured are we that our reaction is often a wan shrug.

Which brings us to this week’s “Then” photo, looking southwest across busy Northeast 45th Street at 11th Avenue in the University District.

Relatively few are old enough to recall this unpretentious 1906 home, with charming third-floor gables and a second-floor bay window. In this late-1930s view, the first-floor store sold furniture. In 1914, the retail space was touted in The Seattle Times as a “dandy little grocery.”

To its west, a General Motors billboard presages the property’s coming incarnation. In October 1949, the building was razed. In its place in 1950 arose a Shell service station, which, remodeled, survives today. But not for long.

A careful peek at our “Now” photo reveals a vandalized Seattle land-use sign. Beneath the graffiti, it discloses the planned construction of a 27-story edifice with 366 apartments and 52 parking spots, plus room for street-level stores and offices.

The working name of the high-rise, developed by global Onelin Capital Corporation, reflects the firm and the neighborhood: OneU. It’s one of several tall towers in the works between the University of Washington and Interstate 5, triggered by a 2017 upzone that allows construction up to 320 feet.

Julia Nagele, principal of Hewitt Seattle, which designed OneU, pinpoints the boom’s catalyst — last October’s opening of a new light-rail U District Station. “Because of light rail,” she says, “a person easily could work downtown while living near a very cool university.”

To her, the project’s symbolism is both stark and apt. “We are converting the site from auto-centric and not environmentally friendly to more than 300 places for people to live,” she says. “It’s going full-stop in a 180-degree direction, which is a good thing.”

An eye-opening feature is that into the face of floors 7-9 and 16-18 are to be carved “social greenways.” Drawings depict them as huge, open stairways to encourage residential mixing.

Symbolism and innovations aside, OneU is destined to become yet another big box in a metro area of so many new ones. Unsurprisingly, demolition permit applications have soared citywide: 609 in 2019, 676 in 2020 and 739 in 2021. Small to big is the inexorable trend.

So we are well beyond Joni Mitchell’s 1970 “Big Yellow Taxi” punchline: “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.” But the lyric’s lead-in line still stings: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?”

WEB EXTRAS

Special thanks to Larry Kreisman, Joe Bopp, Wendy Shark, Sean Ludviksen, Julia Nagele and Midori Okazaki as well as to Kurt Armbruster (who brought this corner’s pending development to our attention and is featured in this week’s 360-degree video) for their invaluable help on this installment.

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

Below are three added photos, two documents and nine historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Here is a March 31, 1950, view of the newly built Shell service station at 1013 NE 45th St. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
Here, looking southeast, is the snowy site on Dec. 28, 2021, with the Seattle land-use sign in the foreground. (Kurt Armbruster)
Seattle historian Kurt Armbruster stands at the Shell site on Jan. 29, 2022. Kurt says of the pending development, “Yep, we’re gettin’ canyonized right along, but as a longtime U District denizen, I find a lot of the new buildings exciting, especially if they make possible more affordable housing and amenities that contribute to urban living.” (Jean Sherrard)
Click the image above to download a pdf of Seattle Public Library researcher Joe Bopp’s accounting of the site’s early 20th-century residents.
The front of the Seattle Side Sewer card for the site. (Joe Bopp)
The back of the Seattle Side Sewer card for the site. (Joe Bopp)
March 25, 1914, Seattle Times, p21.
April 5, 1914, Seattle Times, p19.
June 6, 1925, Seattle Times, p13.
Feb. 24, 1935, Seattle Times, p27.
July 19, 1952, Seattle Times, p15.
Jan. 4, 1955, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p25.
Jan. 4, 1955, Seattle Times, p11.
March 30, 1955, Seattle Times, p24.
May 27, 1955, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p25.

Seattle Now & Then: The Troy Laundry, 1912

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This northeast-facing 1912 image features 11 horse-drawn and three motor vehicles arranged with their drivers along two sides of Troy Laundry at the northeast corner of Nob Hill and Republican Streets. Drivers, who collected cash receipts, were occasional victims of hold-ups, as reported in the daily papers. Their pay averaged twice that of the “mangle girls.” (Courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW: The 19-year-old Seattle Laundry company parks two of its trucks outside the gates of Memorial Stadium. From left, drivers Bonny Teran, Catalina Lopez, with founders Chris and his father Ed Tudor. Their pickup and delivery laundry customers, says Chris, are largely busy, two-income families with children. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Feb. 24, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Feb. 27, 2022)

We can’t mangle women’s role in popular, early-day laundries
By Jean Sherrard

I’d never encountered mangles and yeggs until researching this week’s column, but both made an appearance at Troy Laundry, subject of our 1912 “Then” photo.

The mangle was a commercial version of my grandmother’s hand-cranked wringer, mounted in her Renton basement atop an antique washing machine, just below shelves of mason jars filled with applesauce and preserves. The wooden rollers, cracked and worn from decades of use, appeared in at least one child’s nightmares as instruments of torture.

At commercial laundries across the country, skilled mangle operators, mostly young women, were in demand. In 1912, they worked 48 hours a week for $9 pay (about $250 today).

In the first three decades of the 20th century, commercial laundries boomed. One of many, the Troy Laundry, on the northeast corner of Nob Hill and Republican — now within the footprint of Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium bleachers — eased the drudgery of washing, drying and ironing clothes for Seattle families.

In her book, “Never Done: A History of American Housework,” historian Susan Strasser writes that doing laundry was women’s “most hated task” which they would “jettison … whenever they had any discretionary money at all.”

In 1909, laundries nationwide grossed more than $100 million, an average of $5.30 per American household. Notes Strasser, “Even the poorest people in urban slums sent out some of their wash.”

In coming decades, competition arrived with home washing machines and dryers. By the 1940s, these once-luxury appliances were standard in many households.

Troy Laundry moved from its lower Queen Anne digs (land originally platted by David and Louisa Denny) to Fairview Avenue in 1927, making room for a new Civic Field, Auditorium and Arena, planting seeds that eventually blossomed into today’s Seattle Center.

And, nope, I haven’t forgotten about the yeggs. Their name was most likely derived from John Yegg, alias of a late 19th-early 20th century bank robber. Stickup artists, dubbed Yegg-men, were tempted by easy targets, namely businesses with cash on hand.

On Oct. 9, 1926, as reported in The Seattle Times, one nefarious crew attempted to crack the Troy Laundry safe with nitroglycerin. Interrupted by a night watchman, the “thoughtless yeggs” aborted the effort, leaving an unstable “soup” behind. After consulting experts from the Diebold Safe and Lock Co., DuPont Chemicals, and the University of Washington chemistry department, police successfully defused the threat.

“Science triumphed,” the Times exulted. “Soon … (they) had the safe open, and the laundry girls, breathing sighs of relief, went to work with increased vigor.”

WEB EXTRAS

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