Seattle Now & Then: North Bend’s ‘Famous’ McGrath’s Cafe, 1948

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THEN: In the shadow of likely fire-damaged Rattlesnake Ridge stands the McGrath Café in 1948, in a postcard image likely taken by roving Canadian photographer Tom Johnston. Forty-one years later, Twede’s Café, at the far right (west) end of this block, became one of several local filming sites for the cult TV show “Twin Peaks.” (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: Sans neon sign but retaining its Spanish Eclectic design, the McGrath building underwent several ownership changes in recent years, including a notable stint as Boxley’s jazz club. It operates today as the Iron Duck Public House. The Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum has extensive files on the McGrath building and 16 others that make up the North Bend Historic Commercial District, registered by King County in 2000. (Clay Eals)

(Published in Seattle Times online on April 25, 2019,
and in print on April 28, 2019)

‘North Bend’s Famous McGrath’s Cafe’ stopped traffic — or maybe that was the stoplight
By Clay Eals

One way to make yourself famous is to declare yourself to be. That’s not merely a modern maxim. A case in point is this 1948 view looking west toward “North Bend’s Famous McGrath’s Café” along what used to be U.S. Highway 10 through downtown North Bend, 30 miles east of Seattle. This 20-foot-tall neon sign was so massive that it required a rooftop superstructure to keep it in place.

Jack McGrath, an entrepreneur from the Southwest, built his eponymous eatery in 1922, expanding it in 1926 to a second floor with a 45-room hotel that was conceived by the same architects, Bertram Stuart and Arthur Wheatley, who designed the Bergonian (later Mayflower Park) Hotel and Marlborough and Exeter House apartments in Seattle.

McGrath sought both to enthrall locals and captivate the curious who passed through the upper Snoqualmie Valley lumber berg on their way to and from the Cascades.

The canny promoter used ads in the North Bend Post to reassure parents: “Proud to say we have 16 feet of soda fountain with lots of hot water for glass washing … If your daughter or son is dancing at McGrath’s in the evening, we want to assure you that they are in as good environment as when at home.” To reach motorists reading the more regional Seattle Times, McGrath touted delights east of the mountains (“It’s apple blossom time in Wenatchee … Nature puts on its annual show!”) as well as his town (“The Gateway to the Winter Playgrounds”).

The lure of cross-state travel took off, of course, with the early-century advent of the motorcar and the development of an automotive route over Snoqualmie Pass, which had been graded and graveled by 1915, straightened and widened in the 1920s and 1930s and, by 1942, following the 1940 opening of the Mercer Island floating bridge, paved and opened as a four-lane highway.

At the behest of locals insisting on a safe way to cross what became Interstate 90 to get from one side of the town to the other, a traffic signal was installed on July 1, 1965, just to the right of our “then” image, one of only a handful of such vehicle-stoppers along the length of I-90 from Seattle to Boston. Cars regularly jammed up at the light (on one Memorial Day, they stretched 13 miles east of North Bend and endured a two-hour delay) until a bypass opened in 1978 one-half mile southwest of this scene.

The thought of such bottlenecks likely doesn’t occur to most of the tens of thousands of motorists and truck drivers zipping along Interstate 90 and bypassing North Bend today. But it might have put a smile on the face of Jack McGrath.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, boys?

Sure. Below are some of the source materials for this  column. It’s fun to see what newspaper ads looked like so long ago. –Clay

Ad from June 29, 1923, North Bend Post
Ad from Sept. 7, 1923, North Bend Post

 

Ad from Dec. 8, 1935, Seattle Times
Ad from April 17, 1941, Seattle Times

 

 

 

 

Ad from Dec. 22, 1943, Seattle Times

 

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The illustrations we looked for are among the thousands that as yet have not made it over from the old Mac to the NEW.   Instead, and with some confessed regrets, we will have to restrain our extras to a few clips that did make it over, ones that brush the sides of the east side on the old Yellowstone Highway that could lead you to Key West and Trinidad and even Moscow.  

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WE INTERUIPT to feature some of MOFA’S Forsaken Art. These are also samples from our Wallingford Carpets Collection.  All our looms are  home made.

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TACOMA WINDOW 1980

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WALLINGFORD GROUND COVER outside MOFA

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CERTIFICATE of MOFA MEMBERSHIP.  (Ron Edge design)

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EASTLAKE OBJECTIFICATION PROTEST, ca. 1976

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Book wins two awards! RSVP to attend AKCHO ceremony April 30 at Northwest African American Museum

Great news: Paul Dorpat’s and Jean Sherrard’s recently released coffee-table book Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred won two awards this month!

The first award is from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (the IPPYs), with a ceremony in Chicago. The second award is from the Association of King County Historical Organizations — and you can join us at the presentation early next week. For details, read on!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
AKCHO Virginia Marie Folkins Award

The Association of King County Historical Associations (AKCHO) has awarded Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred its Virginia Marie Folkins Award for 2019. The award is presented to authors and/or sponsoring organizations of an outstanding historical publication.

The award is to be presented from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at the annual AKCHO awards ceremony at the Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S Massachusetts St, Seattle. Doors open at 5 p.m. and galleries will be open for viewing. Light refreshments will be served from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m.

Please RSVP to jromeo@cwb.org or call Judie at 206-465-1798 by Wednesday, April 24, 2019, to attend this free event. See event details, including driving instructions, at our Awards page. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Independent Publisher Book Awards
Bronze for West-Pacific / Best Regional Non-Fiction

The Independent Publisher Book Awards (known as the IPPYs) has announced that Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred won a 2019 bronze award for the West-Pacific region in the category of Best Regional Non-Fiction. The award was announced at the annual awards ceremony in Chicago.

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Events

So far, as you can see from our Events page, we have completed 30 events since the book’s launch last October, including one on March 27, 2019, at the Washington Athletic Club:

Paul Dorpat chats with Washington Athletic Club members at March 27, 2019, presentation.

All but four of the presentations were videotaped, so if you want to see or re-live any of them, just go to the Events page and click away.

Please know that more events are forthcoming. Presentations are set for Tuesday, May 7, and Tuesday, May 14. For details, see the Events page!

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Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who has helped make Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred such a successful tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns over 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

Notre-Dame, April 15,2019

I never thought I would ever see Notre-Dame on fire, because for me, like many French, she is immortal, built since 1163 until the end of XIV th century. It represents beauty, spirituality, time, hope. Notre- Dame is our soul.

When I saw the huge smoke from the rue Sainte-Geneviève, I thought it was screwed up. “The forest” (the 1300 trees forming the frame) was ravaged by fire in his heart.

On the Quai de la Seine, we were gathered in front of the drama, stunned, desperate for so much powerlessness, silent most of the time, and suddenly shouting as the flames grew, that immense yellow clouds rose from the melting lead, watching the actions of firemen who seemed vain facing the violence of the fire. Late, firemen managed to get into the gallery and started watering from all sides.
A vision of apocalypse and punishment, it also reminded us of the great catastrophes, the 11th of September and the horror of the first attacks. What emotion, we were crying!

At 22:45 we had the impression that the fire was under control, that the north tower would be saved thanks to the valiant firemen! We left, greeting each other. There were so many people everywhere in the neighborhood, rue Saint Julien Le Pauvre, people sang hymns, it was reassuring this communion, I sang too.

Notre-Dame, 15 avril 2019

Je n’aurais jamais pensé que je verrais un jour Notre-Dame en feu, car pour moi, comme beaucoup de Français, elle est immortelle, édifiée dès 1163 jusqu’à la fin du XIVe siècle. Elle représente la beauté, la spiritualité, le temps, l’espoir. Notre-Dame est notre âme.

Lorsque j’ai vu l’énorme fumée de la rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, j’ai pensé que c’était foutu. « La forêt «  (les 1300 arbres constituant la charpente) était ravagée par le feu en son cœur.

Sur le quai de la Seine, nous assistions réassemblés au drame, sidérés, désespérés de tant d’impuissance, silencieux le plus souvent et criant soudain en même temps que les flammes grandissaient, que d’immenses nuages jaunes s’élevaient dus à la fonte du plomb, guettant les actions des pompiers qui nous paraissaient vaines face à la violence du brasier. Tard, les pompiers ont réussi à monter dans la galerie et ont commencé à arroser de toute part. Quelle émotion, nous pleurions !

Vision d’apocalypse et de châtiment, cela nous rappelait aussi les grandes catastrophes, le 11septembre et l’horreur des premiers attentats. Quelle émotion, nous pleurions !

A 22h45 nous avons eu pourtant l’impression que le feu était maitrisé, que la tour nord serait sauvée grâce aux vaillants pompiers ! Nous nous sommes quittés en nous saluant. Il y avait alors beaucoup de monde partout dans le quartier, rue Saint Julien le pauvre, les gens chantaient des cantiques, c’était rassurant cette communion, j’ai chanté aussi.

 

Seattle Now & Then: The Armory Ablaze, 1962

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Soon after this photo was taken in 1962, a section of the Seattle Armory’s western wall collapsed onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct, punching two holes in the northbound lanes and cracking a support beam. Repairs took several days.
NOW: Immediately north of the view in this photo, the viaduct has been completely demolished.

The Seattle Armory was built in 1908-09 at the north end of the then-nearly new Pike Place Public Market. It was designed to resemble a fort, but like most of America’s community armories after 1900, it battled nothing but the ghosts of the Spanish-American War and the costs of maintaining its many routine community services with meeting halls, public concerts, grand expositions (such as for new cars) and indoor marching drills.

THEN: The Seattle Armory, just after its completion in 1909.

Here, however, the Seattle Armory was in a war for its very survival, partnered with the Alaskan Way Viaduct where the arterial passed a few feet from the armory’s west wall. The faux-fort caught on fire during the early morning of Jan. 7, 1962, when the viaduct was just a child of nine years. The emergency was signaled with an alarm that likely was triggered by a concerned citizen or an excited firebug. (Two months earlier, in similar circumstances, another northwest Market building mysteriously caught fire. Predictably, the neighborhood’s truck farmers and merchants were thinking arson.)

For this week’s 1962 “Then” photo, brave Seattle Times staff photographer Larry Dion looks to the southeast from the then still-admired viaduct. Obviously shaken by the fire and its falling debris, the armory would not recover. It was eventually demolished in 1968, after attempts to preserve it failed. The bricks were sold for salvage to a company that fenced the ruins for their picking. After the fence was removed, an old friend, John Cooper, a local banker who also was a spare-time collector of abandoned or forsaken items such as salvaged bottles, discovered that several rows of dirt-covered bricks had been missed along the building’s south wall. Cooper rescued and employed them for a rustic facade on a home he owned in Shoreline.

Demolition of the Old Armory at Western Avenue and Lenora Street was begun yesterday. The structure has been one of the city’s eyesores since in was damaged heavily by fire January 7, 1962. The cit plans to purchase the site for $206,000 and later sell it for inclusion in the Pike Plaza project. (Courtesy, The Seattle Times)

Jean Sherrard reveals his tactful tactics for finding the prospect of the fire photographer in 1962: “In late March of this year, the Alaskan Way Viaduct was torn down almost to Lenora Street, and the crash and roar of demolition raged behind barriers and chain-link fences. Trying to repeat the ‘Then’ photo of the burning armory, taken from a now-disappearing section of the viaduct, sent me to the waterfront, looking for a comparable vantage point. A colorful lineup of five-story condos and hotels begins at Pine Street and continues north until Bell.

“Perhaps understandably, building managers are reluctant to allow access to their rooftops, but after some shimmy and jive and an appeal to history, I was allowed to clamber freely and snap away. The ‘Now’ photo approximates the same prospect as the ‘Then’ (back 100 feet), with a view of the soon-to-be demolished viaduct just below Market Place One and Two, the commercial structures that stand on the footprint of the old armory. The original steep hillside that confronted Seattle’s earliest settlers still looms above the waterfront.”

WEB EXTRAS

This week, we’re inaugurating a spanking new feature: Seattle Now & Then 360, which includes a 360 degree video of the ‘now’ location, along with a reading of the pertinent column. Enjoy!

Anything to add, lads?  Nahh just a little. You have already added so much JEAN.  I hope the readers are thrilled by your new – sort of – Deux Ex Machine.  I am.

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The Viaduct behind an Acres of Clams Clam Eating Bowl (contest)

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Seattle Now & Then: Fourth and Washington

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THEN: The hillside of the International District looking northeast from Fourth Avenue and Washington Street. (MOHAI)
NOW: Jean Sherrard and I both like exploring spatial relations that mark the modern intersection to its sides. The colors and masses distributed in Fire Station No. 10 are gratifying.

Many of the landmarks included in our “Now & Then” stories have appeared in these pages more than once, with instructive changes. This feature is a fine example.

Looking West on Washington from near 4th Avenue. Some of the constructions included here have been featured earlier, often approached from different prospects.

This week’s “Then” photo, which looks northeast from the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Washington Street, is a fine example of themes with variations. In our decades of recording “performances” here, the stage of this intersection has brought along five such encores. There are six repeaters, if we include the Yesler Way viaduct over Fourth Avenue in the count. And we should.

Above: Looking west on Yesler Way from the fifth Avenue overpass.
Here the Prefontaine building is interrupted by the last of the Yesler Way cable cars . The view looks east from Prefontaine’s intersection with Yesler Way. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

Seen here on the far left of the featured photo at the top, Yesler Way is a landmark that keeps on giving. The first pioneers soon discovered and followed it as a native path between Lake Washington (near and before the big lake’s Leschi Beach was named) and Elliott Bay (near Pioneer Square or, if you prefer, Pioneer Place).

Frank Shaw’s capture of the Cannon & McCinnley Building at 4th and Yesler on March 7 1965.

Many of us have long memories of this feature’s centerpiece, the Grand Union Hotel. We noticed it first with our young eyes as a dilapidated and then-deserted landmark built across Yesler Way from Seattle City Hall at 400 Yesler Way. Mayor Wes Ullman was the municipal hall’s savior around 1970. Here (in the week’s featured photo) it is mostly hidden behind the old hotel, although parts of the hall’s ornate corners reach above the hotel. Staying with the featured photo, that’s the top-heavy tower of the old King County Courthouse, upper right.

Looking south on Fourth Avenue from above Yesler Way.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Jimmy?  Yes Jean, we have Jimmy yet to add, but cannot find him.   Ron and I will be none too pleased if we discover that you have again been hiding Jimmy with another of your practical jokes.  And this prank of your’s is much too practical for it is Jimmys parents whom we have to pay off with no-charge Jimmy-sitting sessions every time you sequester Jimmy who by now loves this hide and seek far too much.  Remember his parents want him home by 5pm.  But now we give up and prepare to climb the stairs to Nighty-Bears (copyright:  Bill Burden.  Bill was last seen living near the hip Nevada City, California and running a small business there leaning on one of Bill’s long loves, Coffee.   Ask him sometime about its history.) .  We hope to return later today with more relevant clips for this week’s blog, but now, again, we walk the stairs.

Not Jimmy and his friends but five poster children used by Seattle Housing to promote its mixed-race housing plan with the opening of Yesler Terrace.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      EXTRAS RESUMED

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SeaFair float on Yesler Way

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Pergola and Pioneer Building by Lawton Gowey, Feb. 20, 1967. “”The Winter of Love.”

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Prefontaine Fountain, Third and Jefferson, 1926

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Prefontaine Park, Feb. 1993

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Yesler Cable concrete safety island, 3rd Ave. and Yesler Way, 1928,

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Yesler Cable climbing in front of electrical transformers on Yesler Way between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.

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5thi Ave. south from Yesler Way, ca. 1953.

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1953, Smith stower taken from new and not ye opened Alaskan Way Viaduct, photographed by either Bradley or his friend Gowey, not sure which. Some of their collections got mixed-up long ago.

Seattle Now & Then: The Hoge Building, 1911

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THEN: Looking north on Second Avenue thru its intersection with James Street in circa 1911, the year the Hoge Building’s steel frame at the northwest corner of James Street and Second Avenue was completed.
NOW: The Butler hotel, far left, at the southwest corner of James and Second Avenue was for several years in the 20th century treated at the city’s best hostelry. It is now a comely and large parking garage.  Jean’s look up Second Ave. looks north thru its intersection with James Street.

In 1909, Seattle’s first World’s Fair, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, attracted to the University of Washington campus (home to the exposition) many of the citizen types for which local pioneers had long yearned.

The eastern investor-developers – if they would just listen to the siren about ‘manifest destiny’ – were constantly coaxed to the far Northwest with deals such as cheap land and natural resources waiting to be dug. The selling worked. Increasingly, the eastern bankers — and their suburban officers in San Francisco — gained a developing appreciation of the proven Northwest advantages. If they could be persuaded, the well-heeled visitors would lay down big cash. With Seattle’s booming population, it was not merely lumber, fish and minerals that locals hoped to sell, but the land itself, and the human touches that adorn it — including, eventually and inevitably, skyscrapers.

Looking aourtheast from the top – or near it – of the Hoge Building. The The Smith Tower (1914) is on the right and the Alaska Building, (1904) Seattle’s first steel frame scraper, is on the left at the southeast corner of Cherry Street and Second Avenue.   The King County Court House stands on the First Hill horizon.   

This old story of high-rise vanity, often repeated, features armaments and typewriter manufacturer Lyman Cornelius Smith and banker-developer James Hoge. The two paused to chat and interrogate each other while visiting the fair. Both had acquired a good amount of Seattle real estate, and each was coyly itching to raise a namesake cap to his credit: Seattle’s tallest tower.

In preparation for their private excesses, the happy hucksters wondered what might be a proper height limit for such a building. Both agreed that Seattle’s first tower, the 1904 Alaska Building, was perhaps for something like eternity a passionate-enough expression of raw loft, an example set above its own corner at Second Avenue and James Street that did not need to be exceeded.

Looking north up Second from the Hoge Buildingv, with the Thomas Burke’s back pile, bottom-left, at the Northwest corner of Marion and Second, and one block north of the Burke at the southeast corner of Second and Madison stands he Empire Building, which many years later was distinguished by it destruction – the city’s first imploded high-rise.

Of course, we now know who won this trickster’s vanity game for fat wallets. Because the two landmarks ascended only two blocks apart, we still can count the sum of their floors from the corner of James Street and Second Avenue. It wasn’t the banker named Hoge who did the excessive reaching. Rather, it was Smith, with our gleaming terra-cotta-tiled Smith Tower, professed when it opened in 1914 to be 42 stories high. To this count, we prudently will add: “more or less.”

Hoge started the competitive lifting first, and he built fast. The Hoge building’s steel frame, shown in our “Then” photo, was completed to its top 18th story in 1911. It took a mere 30 days to raise the frame, which at the time was claimed a record. This speed gave Smith plenty of time to assemble his own frame, to “something like” 42 floors. (It has always been a local question: “How do you count the floors in the Smith Tower’s pyramid top?”)

Work on the Hoge’s steel frame appears here far right and far down Second Ave. in this pan from the New Washington Hotel’s roof at the northeast corner (still, as the Josephenum)  ot Stewart and Second. in this 1911 panorama of the city from an elevation that approximated that of the front (south) summit of the then recently razed Denny Hill..   Beacon Hill stretches across the distant horizon,
First Hill from the roof of the Hoge.  The Central Building,  bottom-left, is one of the survivors.
The look west on Cherry in 1932.
An earlier now-then treatment of the Hoge and also it’s competitive nativity.
Slunnyside, banker Hoge’s home in the Highlands Seattle’s early gated neighborhood for its “one percent”.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Not quite.  I’m going nighty-bears (copywrite Bill Burden) first.   Perhaps some clips later today.  Ron’s already long asleep. Or is he up and giving the bears a bath?

Seattle Now & Then: The Lumber Exchange Building, 1904

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: In mid-1904 or shortly thereafter, the Lumber Exchange stands at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Seneca Street. It was demolished in 1990. (Webster & Stevens photo courtesy the Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: At the same site rises the 22-floor Second and Seneca Building, which upon its opening in September 1991 was one of four towers within a year’s time to provide a total of 4 million square feet of new, high-rise office space downtown.

(Published in Seattle Times online on March 25, 2019,
and in print on March 28, 2019)

Signs of commerce in an earlier Seattle boom
By Clay Eals

When the Lumber Exchange building appeared here last September, it stood as a mere backdrop as we focused on a panoply of political signs hoisted by labor protesters parading on Second Avenue.

In today’s view (at the top) looking southwest at the intersection of Second and Seneca Street, and taken in mid-1904 or soon thereafter, one year after its completion, the appeal is different. Instead of the street, we are drawn to the collection of commercial signs above storefronts and in the windows of this stately, seven-floor sentinel.

Each name evidences the bustle of business in the midst of a population boom in the first decade of the century that solidified Seattle’s status as the Northwest’s dominant city. Enterprises inside included lumber sales, reflecting the name of the edifice, and ranged from the trades of apparel, insurance and steel to the practices of law, dentistry and government.

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Builder J.A. Moore took pride that inside the alluring entry arch could be found a vestibule and hallways finished in white onyx and marble quarried in northeastern Washington. This stonework, the Seattle Daily Times reported, “is not excelled in beauty by the marbles from the most famous quarries in the Old World.”

Two ground-floor shops competed by contrasting cut-rate with couture. From its coveted corner spot, Singerman & Sons – descended from venerable Toklas, Singerman & Sons, later morphing into MacDougall’s department store – promoted the high life. In advertising “top-notch” men’s spring and summer suits for $15 to $25, the firm proclaimed, “The fabrics are of the purest wool, in grays, browns, stylish plaids and fancy mixtures. The tailoring is of the highest class, insuring faultless fit.”

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South of the arch, under awnings, and accompanied in our “then” by a horse-drawn wagon and newfangled motorcar, The Leader dry-goods store promoted periodic “fire sales” of damaged goods as low as 10 cents on the dollar. Its slogan: “Seattle’s Great Price Fighter / The Great Cheap for Cash Store.”

Sauntering down Seneca to the building’s below-grade floor, we find the prow-shaped sign of Max Kuner, “Nautical Optician,” a beguiling name for an esteemed watch and chronometer maker who dealt in items and services related to the sea. Five years later, in 1909, Kuner joined a covey of experts accusing explorer Frederick Cook of fabricating that he had reached the North Pole. As Kuner told the Times, “I think it’s a fake.”

A further allusion to today’s headlines came on Nov. 13, 1903, when the Timesreported that federal inspectors, based in the Lumber Exchange, had intercepted a train to take into custody 30 people from Japan who had “surreptitiously” bypassed immigration law to enter the country from British Columbia. The inspectors interrogated their captives in a two-room office on the building’s second floor. The Times ended its story: “It is not yet been determined what will be done with the Japanese.”

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WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lumberjacks?  Mostly more lumber Jean.

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Seattle Now & Then: Snow Days on the Ave, 1937

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THEN: A pair of Seattle’s municipal trollies brave the drifts of the city’s 1937 snow.
NOW: For his repeat the patient Jean Sherrard waited for his contemporary flurries and was rewarded with big flakes on the ‘Upper Ave.’ of University Way.

Our February snow, like the October 1937 deposit photographed here on University Way, was something greater than one of our more-typical winter teases that rush to mush. In these two years — 1937 and 2019 — a white blanket packed a few inches above our chilled cityscape and stuck around.

Portland, 170 scenic miles to the south, received its heaviest snowstorm in 31 years in 1937. Hundreds of autos were stalled, truck farmers were unable to reach Portland’s markets, and all the city’s schools were closed. It was called a “child memory event.” Here in Seattle that year, at the northwest corner of University Way and 55th Street, University Heights School (built in 1903) also was closed, but only for one day.

The photographer’s preferred subject here is surely the two husky trolleys busting north through the half-foot-deep drifts on “The Ave.” These municipal carriers had a mere three years left for rolling on rails before being scrapped when the city’s street railways were replaced with buses and trackless trolleys, most of them in 1940.

Portland’s greater 1937 storm taught its transit team an unrequested lesson: It was neither streetcars nor gas-powered buses that worked best in the 1.-foot drifts that fell there. It was the trackless trolleys and rolling rubber.

Many of our readers, I suspect and hope, can identify the high-rise immediately to the right of the charging trolleys at the Seattle scene’s center. The modern 15 stories (some sources claim 16) of Art Deco design were dedicated in 1931. The hotel was built and financed with a community bond drive during the early years of the Great Depression.

There was then plenty of time for Edmond Meany, the hotel’s namesake professor, to prepare one of his speeches for the dedication. Meany’s sententious offerings were typically well-stocked with school and neighborhood history.

Meany lived with his wife near the north end of the University Bridge and so also near the hotel. He died in 1935 in his campus office while getting ready for a class. Eventually, and perhaps inevitably, his name was removed from the front door of the hotel. It is now called the Hotel Deca — not for Meany and his stories, but for the landmark’s modern design. Meany also had a campus hall named for him.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?

Seattle Now & Then: The Battery Street Tunnel

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Some 180 idling vehicles simulate the worst possible traffic in the northbound Battery Street Tunnel in a successful test of the ventilation system (courtesy Ron Edge).
NOW: Crowds pass southbound through the tunnel, pausing to view Vanishing Seattle’s video projection, collected and assembled by artist/activists Cynthia Brothers, Jill Freidberg, and Rachel Kessler. Several times throughout the day, Brothers recounts, the vestigial ventilation fans powered up, flushing cold, clean air over the nostalgic walkers.
This week we conclude our final walkabout on the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a stroll through the Battery Street Tunnel, which was completed in July, 1954, a little more than a year after the viaduct’s opening ceremony. The tunnel connected the Viaduct to Aurora Avenue, fulfilling the promise of an efficient, new Highway 99 to divert and reduce the snarl of downtown traffic.
Our historical photo records a City Engineering Department test of the tunnel’s ventilation system. Lined up in two northbound lanes are 180 cars and trucks of city and state employees, simulating the worst of traffic jams, idling their motors for 30 minutes. (Modern eyes might also note the pipes and cigarettes adding to the haze.) Within minutes, 36 big fans were blowing enough fresh air into the tunnel that “the amount of carbon monoxide in the air … would not be dangerous to a person after eight hours of exposure,” claimed city engineers.

 

THEN 2: Battery Street tunnel under construction in 1953, looking west. The Hull Building, upper right, still guards the northwest corner of First and Battery. (courtesy, Ron Edge)

This past Feb. 2, 2019, I joined a line of ticket holders stretching round the block to enter the Viaduct via the Seneca Street off-ramp. Tens of thousands paid their last respects and bid a fond farewell – for some, a hearty good riddance – to the double-decked edifice admired for its spectacular, egalitarian views of Seattle and its waterfront. Gray skies clearing, the Hello/Goodbye Viaduct Arts Festival lined the upper deck with art exhibits, performers and food trucks.

Over the next few months, the half-mile of the Battery Street Tunnel will be filled to about seven feet from its ceiling with rubble from the Viaduct, then topped with low-density cellular concrete poured in through surface vents along Battery Street.

For our modern repeat, we look north along the southbound lanes of the tunnel, on whose walls the group Vanishing Seattle projected an evocative 15-minute video of collected photos, movie clips, and written memories of the viaduct. For more, visit www.vanishingseattle.org or #vanishingseattle on Instagram or Facebook. To experience the last commute on the viaduct in 360-degree video, click on through.

WEB EXTRAS

Just a quick shout out to Clay Eals, the editor of our new book Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred. (Incidentally, good news about the book. Out of an initial 5,000 copies, we are down to several hundred. And most of those sales were made, due to the book’s tardy arrival from China, in the month before Christmas!)

Together, Clay and I took that final commute along the Viaduct and recorded it for posterity; we also walked the Viaduct on its last pedestrian weekend, and among the photos I shot was this special portrait of Clay. Above his left shoulder (riding a Market pig) is the Terminal Sales Building on the corner of First and Virginia where his parents first met and courted. According to Clay, were it not for that structure, he would not exist!

Clay Eals poses below his parent’s “meet cute” building.

And below, a few more Viaduct snaps to round things out….

At the tunnel’s entrance
This view many will recall as the Needle appeared as if by magic just before entering the tunnel
A kinetic sculpture, installed for this final weekend
The band played on….

Chalk art perspective

Long shadows at sunset along the Pike Street hillclimb
Another lost perspective…
Ivar’s with ferry
Last view up Western from the Seneca ramp

Anything to add, spelunkers?

Alas my old MAC has at last failed me. Ron has gone to bed long ago, as is his steadfast habit of health, and so we have no Mac-machine to take Old Mac’s place. Perhaps next week we will get MAC going again, or more likely replaced with the new MAC purchased for me and given to me at my 80th birthday last Oct. 28, 2018. And so meanwhile Ron and I are not in this run. — Paul

Now & Then here and now