Seattle Now & Then: The First (and Forgotten) Alki Natatorium

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THEN: The first Alki Natatorium was built in 1905 at Alki Point eight years before the lighthouse. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: The first Alki Natatorium was built in 1905 at Alki Point eight years before the lighthouse. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: The well-packed neighborhood of year-round beach homes has long since covered the large footprint of the Alki Natatorium.
NOW: The well-packed neighborhood of year-round beach homes has long since covered the large footprint of the Alki Natatorium.

In today’s “now” scene, West Seattle’s savvy Bob Carney poses for Jean Sherrard on Point Place Southwest, a short block that leads from Alki Avenue Southwest and dead-ends at the green campus of the Alki Point Lighthouse. Its light first penetrated the ordinarily peaceable waters of Puget Sound in 1913 after the federal lighthouse service bought much of the Point from the Hanson-Olson clan who had purchased it in 1868 from Seattle pioneer Doc Maynard.

First appeared in Pacific on May 19, 1985.
First appeared in Pacific on May 19, 1985.

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In his hands, Carney holds a copy of our “then” photo as part of bound pages of his research into the life of the first Alki Natatorium, the landmark featured in the photo. (Derived from Latin, “natatorium” denotes a building that houses a swimming pool. Aficionados abbreviate it as “nat.”)

An early lighthouse map showing the relationship of the light to the natatorium.
A dimly-lit hand-held snapshot of an  early lighthouse map kept at the lighthouse and showing the relationship of the light  (at the top) to the natatorium (on the right)..
Above: When I was first shown this postcard years ago, I wondered if it might be of he Alki Point Natatorium. Below: It was.
Above: When I was first shown this postcard years ago, I wondered if it might be of he Alki Point Natatorium. Below: It was.

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Here a Webster and Stevens photographer looks northeast from the natatorium to the dock that delivered the first swimmers to the delights of heated salt water. The trolley first reached Alki Point in 1908.
Here a Webster and Stevens photographer looks northeast from the natatorium to the dock use as a prospect for the photograph above this one and also delivered the first swimmers to the bouyant delights of paddling in heated salt water. The trolley first reached Alki Point in 1908. (Like the featured photo at the top and the five other early photos of and from the Alki Nat, this one is used courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry._
The Alki Point part of the 1929 aerial photography project to map Seattle. Note that the dock used by the Nat is just evident upper-left. The Nat., of course, is thirteen years past. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)
The Alki Point part of the 1929 aerial photography project to map Seattle. Note that the Alki Point Dock used by the Nat endures.  and is just evident upper-left. The Nat., of course, is thirteen years past, replaced by the line of beach houses that begins west of the Alki Pint Dock.   . (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)
This Laidlaw aerial also shows the enduring dock and its neighboring beach housing in the 1930s. Most - perhaps all - of the modest houses have been replaced with tax-payers.
This Laidlaw aerial also shows the enduring dock and its neighboring beach housing in the 1930s. Most – perhaps all – of the modest houses have been replaced with tax-payers. (Courtesy: MOHAI again)

Years ago, while delivering an admittedly half-baked lecture on West Seattle history to its historical society, I was asked if I had evidence of this early human aquarium. Like many others attending, I imagined that the question was about the later Alki Natatorium, built nearly a mile up Alki Beach from the Point, just east of the Alki Bathhouse, and opened in 1934 with “Seattle’s own swimming champion, Helene Madison, as permanent instructress.”  Bob

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Abpve and above the above. The second aquarium was built near the beach house constructed by the Parks Department a few years before the first Aquarium, the one at the point, was destroyed.
Abpve and above the above. The second aquarium was opened in 1934 near the bathhouse constructed by the Parks Department a few years before the first Aquarium, the one at the point, was destroyed.   (The bathhouse was  just out-of=frame to the left.)
From The Times for July 7, 1905.
From The Times for July 7, 1905.
Alki nat's dance floor (and more) protected under the gabled roof at the east end of the natatorium.
Alki Nat’s dance floor (and more) protected under the gabled roof at the east end of the natatorium.
A Times clipping from Sept. 26, 1906.
A Times clipping from Sept. 26, 1906.

Carney’s research reveals that the earlier and largely forgotten natatorium at the Point was equipped with “gymnasium paraphernalia” and featured a “bathing tank” 130 feet long, 53 feet wide and from 22 inches to 9-1/2 feet deep, filled daily with Puget Sound waters kept at 74 to 76 degrees. The east end of pavilion, the part showing here with five gables hosted a variety events, most involving dance. The structure was appointed like a Japanese

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teahouse – note the hanging lanterns – and its demise was equally exotic. Like the dome atop Seattle’s St. James Cathedral on First Hill, the roof on West Seattle’s first oversized swimming pool collapsed Feb. 1-2, 1916, under what remains Seattle’s deepest (or second deepest – it is debated) 24-hour snowfall.

While the collapse of the St. James Cathedral dome got the front page in The Times coverage of the 1916 snow, the collapse of the Natatorium's roof was given note.
While the collapse of the St. James Cathedral dome got the front page in The Times coverage of the 1916 snow, the collapse of the Natatorium’s roof was given note.  CLICK to ENLARGE
The last of the six Alki Natatorium related Webster and Stevens photographs. Looking west on Alki Ave. it shows part of the Natatorium east roof line. the part above the dance floor. (Lke the others this is used courtesy of The Museum of History and Industry, MOHAI for short.
The last of the six Alki Natatorium related Webster and Stevens photographs. Looking west on Alki Ave. it shows part of the Natatorium east roof line. the part above the dance floor. (Lke the others this is used courtesy of The Museum of History and Industry, MOHAI for short.

Soon after Bob showed me this print, researcher Ron Edge found five others (all of them already inserted above)  while visiting the Museum of History and Industry library to help make detailed scans of many of its classics. Most likely, all were recorded together in 1905 when the nat was a brand new enterprise undertaken by the Alki Point Transportation Company. Nearly a decade before the Alki Lighthouse arose, in 1904 the company had built both the natatorium and the steamer Dix to render hourly service between this, the firm’s new West Seattle attraction, and Seattle’s central waterfront. (The Dix notoriously sank in November 1906 in a collision killing more than 40 of its estimated 77 passengers.)

The tragic Dix on the Seattle Waterfront.
The tragic Dix on the Seattle Waterfront.

We conclude with a too-short nod to the many heroes of local heritage who volunteer with the dozen or so Seattle and King County societies that nurture and share our history. Using our example, Bob Carney is described by Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, as “a stalwart volunteer for us over the past three decades, doing everything from serving on our collections committee (evaluating submitted artifacts for possible accession) to putting up exhibits at our Log House Museum. Behind it all is a heart of unrivaled size.” 

A 1906 Promotion printed in The Times that includes but also oversizes the Alki Natatorium.
A 1906 Promotion printed in The Times that includes but also exaggerates the size of the Alki Natatorium.
The Alki Natatorium paid the sudden and heroic celebrity John Segalos, the life-saving hero of destroyed Mosquito Fleet steamer, the Valencia.
As a prepared show and Alki Natatorium management paid the sudden celebrity of John Segalos, the life-saving hero on (and off) the destroyed Mosquito Fleet steamer, the Valencia.  The advertisement appeared in The Times for Aug. 6, 1906. 

WEB EXTRAS

Another few laps, lads?  Jean, Ron and I are pleased to exersize with you.  Below are a line-up of West Seattle features previously printed Pacific and so shown here, some of them recently.  We will also insert a few relevant others.

THEN: Included among the several detailed photos taken for the Bernards of their new and yet rustic Fir Lodge, was this one of the living room with its oversized fireplace and the piano on which Marie, their older daughter, learned to play well enough to concertize. (Courtesy Doris Nelson)

THEN: Twenty years ago the Mukai Farm and Garden on Vashon Island was designated a King County Landmark. (Courtesy, Vashon Maury Island Heritage Association)

THEN: Looking southeast from above Alki Avenue, the Schmitz Park horizon is serrated by the oldest trees in the city. The five duplexes clustered on the right were built 1919-1921 by Ernest and Alberta Conklin. Ernest died in 1924, but Alberta continued to live there until well past 1932, the year this photograph was recorded. (Seattle Municipal Archives.)

THEN: Looking into West Seattle’s Junction and north on California Ave. SW to its intersection with SW Alaska Street in 1941. The Hamm Building, is seen above the light-colored car, and the Campbell Building is at right, behind the G.O. Guy Drugs sign.

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THEN: Built in 1893, West Seattle School kept teaching until ruined by the region’s 1949 earthquake. (Courtesy Michael Maslan)

THEN: Totem Place, at 1750 Palm Ave. S.W., was home for Joseph Standley proprietor of Ye Old Curiosity Shop on Colman Dock. His death notice in The Seattle Times for Oct. 25, 1940 described the 86-year-old “Daddy” Standley as “almost as much a part of Seattle’s waterfront as the waves that dash again the seaweall.”

THEN: The Gatewood Craftsman Lodge was built on a road, in a neighborhood, and near a public school all named for the developer Carlisle Gatewood, who also lived in the neighborhood. The three women posing in the third floor’s open windows are the Clark sisters, Jean, Dorothy and Peggy, members of the family that moved into the home in the late 1930s.

THEN: In 1852 many of Seattle’s first pioneers removed from Alki Point by dugout canoe for the deeper and safer harbor along the east shore of Elliott Bay (our central waterfront). About a half-century later any hope or expectation that the few survivors among these pioneers could readily visit Alki Beach and Point by land were fulfilled with the timber quays and bridges along Spokane Street. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: The Seattle Times in its lengthy coverage of the then new Seattle Steel in the paper’s Magazine Section for Sept. 10, 1905 – the year this photograph was recorded – noted that “the plant itself is a series of strong, substantial, cavernous sheds, built for use, not for beauty.” (Courtesy, MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry)

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Bernard's Fir Lodge - later the Homestead Restaurant (see the relevant Edge clipping above.)
Bernard’s Fir Lodge – later the Homestead Restaurant (see the relevant Edge clipping above.)

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First appeared in Pacific, January 9, 2000.
First appeared in Pacific, January 9, 2000.

Seattle Now & Then: ‘The Sunset Board Room’

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THEN: Completed in 1900, the Graham mansion on First Hill at the southwest corner of 9th Avenue and Columbia Street is getting some roof repairs in this 1937 photo looking south across Columbia Street. It was razed in the 1966 for a parking lot by its last owner and neighbor, the Catholic archdiocese.
THEN: Completed in 1900, the Graham mansion on First Hill at the southwest corner of 9th Avenue and Columbia Street is getting some roof repairs in this 1937 photo looking south across Columbia Street. It was razed in the 1966 for a parking lot by its last owner and neighbor, the Catholic archdiocese.
NOW: Posing here in the pink, Antonette and Robert Ruppin, long-time florists for the Bon Marche department store, are the oldest residents of the First Hill block that was once home for the Sunset Board Room (seen in the “then”) and the Capri Apartments at the northeast and southeast corners, respectively. The newlyweds left the Capri in the late 1950s but recently returned to the block to take occupancy on the 19th floor of Skyline, the new nonprofit that describes itself as “Seattle’s only Life Care retirement community.”
NOW: Posing here in the pink, Antonette and Robert Ruppin, long-time florists for the Bon Marche department store, are the oldest residents of the First Hill block that was once home for the Sunset Board Room (seen in the “then”) and the Capri Apartments at the northeast and southeast corners, respectively. The newlyweds left the Capri in the late 1950s but recently returned to the block to take occupancy on the 19th floor of Skyline, the new nonprofit that describes itself as “Seattle’s only Life Care retirement community.”

Two mildly eccentric signs can be found on this photograph of the southwest corner of 9th Avenue and Columbia Street on Seattle’s First Hill.  Hand-written on the grass, the more obvious sign is mistakenly captioned “727 – 9th Ave.”  The corner is held now by a roundabout to the front door of the nearly new Skyline Retirement Community at 725 9th Avenue. The “then” is another of the many thousands of tax photos taken during the Great Depression for the King County Assessor’s office by skilled photographers working for the federal Works Progress Administration. The WPA was one of the many  “alphabet soup” agencies created by President Roosevelt and his progressive cabinet to make both public works and work: works such this photographic inventory of every structure in the county, and work – with pay checks – for many including the photographers.  This archive is still used by county assessors and homeowners, as well as historians. 

We may always wonder if the humor of this sign was intended.
We may always wonder if the humor of this sign was intended.

The second sign is harder to find.  It is nailed to the side of this mansion that somewhat resembles a Greek Temple.   The sign appears above the second floor porch near the iron ladder, which served as a fire escape.  Reading “The Sunset Board Room,” this second sign was, we expect, wrapped in wit by the Sunset’s manager, the progressive Emma A. Hausman.  Above her portrait that appeared in The Times for March 3, 1918, Hausman was described as “one of the most prominent club women in the city.” Also in 1918 she

From The Seattle Times for March 3, 1918.
From The Seattle Times for March 3, 1918.
The Seattle Times, June 30, 1918.
The Seattle Times, June 30, 1918.
From The Times, May 15, 1921
From The Times, May 15, 1921
Clip from The Times for February 22, 1935.
Clip from The Times for February 22, 1935.
A Times clipping from March 3, 1935.
A Times clipping from March 3, 1935.

was chosen to direct the work of the local Democratic Club, and a year earlier she had been elected chairman of The Women’s Civic Improvement Club’s Auxiliary to the Seattle Red Cross.  The Sunset’s classified ads in The Times were often personalized with Hausman’s name, as for the second of June, 1917:  “Mrs. Hausman has one large room, suitable for man and wife, 2 business men or young ladies.  First class in every particular 721 9th Ave.”  Through its about sixty-six years on this corner the big home was listed at 721. 

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A not matching and yet similar Greek Revival was built across Columbia Street, on its northwest corner with 9th Avenue, suggesting that the two big homes may have been developed together.
A not matching and yet similar Greek Revival was built across Columbia Street, on its northwest corner with 9th Avenue, suggesting that the two big homes may have been developed together.

Actually, manager Hausman had many more rooms than one to rent in the Sunset. According to the 1937 tax record, this neo-classical mansion included twenty-seven rooms: seven on the first floor and eight on the second, all with nine-foot ceilings.  And there were seven more rooms in the attic and five more in the daylight basement. The Times reports that its first owners, the Archibald Blackburn Graham family, moved in on April 6, 1901.  The Seattle Times for December 22, 1900, counted the Graham’s new home among the “handsome new residences of substantial quality completed within the year.”  It cost $15,000, the same price that The Times publisher A. J. Blethen paid for his also manor-sized new home on Queen Anne Hill’s Highland Drive, also in 1900.

A Times listing of some of the grander new residences built in Seattle in 1900. The list includes the Graham home. It is fourth up from the bottom.
A Times listing of some of the grander new residences built in Seattle in 1900. The list includes the Graham home. It is fourth up from the bottom.

Archibald Graham was an arch-capitalist, described in pioneer historian Clarence Bagley’s “History of Seattle” (1916) as “a man of resourceful business ability who recognized the difficulties, the possibilities and the opportunities of a situation.”  Graham was a charmed opportunist, whose lucrative successes included, to name a

Graham's Novelty Mill on Harbor Ave. in West Seattle.
Graham’s Novelty Mill on Harbor Ave. in West Seattle.

few, flour milling (including the Novelty Mill in West Seattle), mining, lumber, and printing.  Graham also developed new neighborhoods in Seattle, the booming and beckoning West Coast city that the 39-year-old speculator moved to from West Virginia with his

Graham's University Addition promoted with a Times classified for January 17, 1909.
Graham’s University Addition promoted with a Times classified for January 17, 1909.
A detail pulled from an early 20th-Century Baist Real Estate map showing
A detail pulled from an early 20th-Century Baist Real Estate map showing the Graham University Addition  between E. 50th and 55th Streets. 
From The Times for April 6, 1901, the Grahams move in.
From The Times for April 6, 1901, the Grahams move in.
Making good use of the big home,
Making good use of the big home, Miss Juliette, the Graham daughter, gives a dance,

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Times clip from Nov. 20, 1912.
Times clip from Nov. 20, 1912.

growing family in 1891.  Jewelry was his last enterprise, and many jewels were found neatly packaged in his pockets after he fell one hundred feet to his death on May Day 1915, from the recently completed steel bridge over Ravenna Park.  The police found no “foul play.” No doubt hoping to deflect suicide speculations, Archibald’s puzzled friends noted to a Times reporter that he had left his home happy that morning and had “no financial troubles.” What made him leap, they concluded, was some combination of acute insomnia and recurring agoraphobia. One friend was quoted “It was the involuntary act of a man overcome by the influences of high places.”

The Times delicate approach to the causes behind Graham's fall (or leap) attempting to write around the delicate specter of suicide. CLICK FILE TO ENLARGE
The Times artful  approach to the causes behind Graham’s fall (or leap) attempting to write around the delicate specter of suicide. CLICK FILE TO ENLARGE
From May 3, 1915.
From May 3, 1915.
May 29, 1916, The Times
May 29, 1916, The Times

A year later Graham’s family moved from their First Hill mansion into the upscale Olympian Apartments at 1605 E. Madison. It is reported in The Seattle Times of July 30, 1916, “Mrs. Emma Hausman has taken Mrs. Graham’s residence on the corner of 9th and Columbia and will open … a first-class boarding house for particular people.” Emma Hausman and Jennie Graham knew each other from years of playing cards together.  And so it seems that the sale of the Graham mansion to Emma Hausman may have had a sisterly side to it.

The Seattle Times report on how Wobblie Propaganda winds up on the Graham big home in 1919, the year of "The Red Scare."
The Seattle Times report on how Wobbly Propaganda winds up in the Graham big home in 1919, the year of “The Red Scare” and search warrants.   [CLICK TO ENLARGE for READING]
With Emma Hausman in charge, the big home at 721 Ninth Ave. became a retreat for progressive political interests including picnics.
With Emma Hausman in charge, the big home at 721 Ninth Ave. became a retreat for progressive political interests including picnics.  A Seattle Times clip from June 13, 1920.
Civic Club holds annual luncheon at Emma Hausman's big home. A Times clip from May 26, 1926
Civic Club holds annual luncheon at Emma Hausman’s big home. A Times clip from May 26, 1926
A Sunset Boarding classified from 1937.
A Sunset Boarding classified from 1937.
A wrecking house sale at the Graham/Hausman home, promoted in a Times clip for Nov. 9, 1966.
A wrecking house sale at the Graham/Hausman home, promoted in a Times clip for Nov. 9, 1966.
One of Ravenna Park's timber trestles.
One of Ravenna Park’s timber trestles.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Natch, beginning with 30-plus past features from the neighborhood gathered and placed by Ron Edge.  We call the Edge Links.

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

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

THEN: At the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Boren Avenue, two of the more ordinary housing stock on First Hill in the 1890s. (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: The Perry Apartments is nearly new in “postcard artist” M. L. Oakes look at them south on Boren to where it intersects with Madison Street. (Courtesy John Cooper)

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

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THEN: Harborview Hospital takes the horizon in this 1940 recording. That year, a hospital report noted that "the backwash of the depression" had overwhelmed the hospital's outpatient service for "the country's indigents who must return periodically for treatment." Built in 1931 to treat 100 cases a day, in 1939 the hospital "tries bravely to accommodate 700 to 800 visits a day."

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

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THEN: The city's regrading forces reached Sixth Avenue and Marion Street in 1914. A municipal photographer recorded this view on June 24. Soon after, the two structures left high here were lowered to the street. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

THEN: This Seattle Housing Authority photograph was recorded from the top of the Marine Hospital (now Pacific Tower) on the north head of Beacon Hill. It looks north to First Hill during the Authority’s clearing of its southern slope for the building of the Yesler Terrace Public Housing. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

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

THEN: Sometime around 1890, George Moore, one of Seattle’s most prolific early photographers, recorded this portrait of the home of the architect (and Daniel Boone descendent) William E. Boone. In the recently published second edition of Shaping Seattle Architecture, the book’s editor, UW Professor of Architecture Jeffry Karl Ochsner, sketches William E. Boone’s life and career. Ochsner adds, “Boone was virtually the only pre-1889 Fire Seattle architect who continued to practice at a significant level through the 1890s and into the twentieth-century.” (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: Of the three largest Seattle roofs – the Alki Point Natatorium, a grandstand section of the U.W.’s Denny Field, and the St. James Cathedral dome - that crashed under the weight of the “Northwest Blizzard” in February 1916, the last was the grandest and probably loudest. It fell “with a crashing roar that was heard many blocks distant.” (Courtesy Catholic Archdiocese.)

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

THEN: Looking west on Madison Street from Seventh Avenue circa 1909. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)

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THEN: Looking northwest to Seattle General Hospital at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Marion Street, circa 1909. (Courtesy of Michael Maslan)

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

THEN: Through its now long life as a local landmark, the Sorrento Hotel, at the northwest corner of Madison Street and Terry Avenue, has been variously referred to as Seattle’s “Honeymoon Hotel,” its “Most Romantic Hotel,” a “remnant of Seattle’s original cocktail culture,” and now, more often, “Seattle’s original boutique hotel.” (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry.)

THEN: An early view of Virginia Mason Hospital, which opened in the fall of 1920 at the northwest corner of Terry Avenue and Spring Street. In 1980 for its anniversary, the clinic-hospital could make the proud statement that it had “spanned sixty years and four city blocks.” Courtesy Lawton Gowey

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

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THEN: Built in the early twentieth century at the northeast corner of Jefferson Street and Boren Avenue, Bertha and Frank Gardner’s residence was large but not a mansion, as were many big homes on First Hill. (Courtesy Washington State Museum, Tacoma)

THEN:

THEN: Built in 1887, the Minor-Collins Home at the northeast corner of Minor Avenue and Cherry Street was one of the grandest and longest surviving pioneer mansions on First Hill. (Courtesy Historic Seattle)

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SKYLINES

Seattle from West Seattle's Hamilton Park, April 10, 1969.
Seattle from West Seattle’s Hamilton Park, April 10, 1969.
Seattle skyline photographed and captioned by the Seattle Times photographer Roy Scully in 1977.
Seattle skyline photographed and captioned by the Seattle Times photographer Roy Scully in 1977.
A ca. 1929 snap of the waterfront, the lower business District and the profanity hill part of First Hill. The twin towers of St. James on the upper-left will easily lead you to the Kitty-corner block now home to Skyline.
A ca. 1929 snap of the waterfront, the lower business District and the profanity hill part of First Hill. The twin towers of St. James on the upper-left will easily lead you to the Kitty-corner block now home to Skyline.
Looking south from Rich Berner's 16th floor apartment at Skyline to Harborview on the upper-left and Trinity Episcopal Church, at the center. The white masking or guarding that is part of the sanctuaries restoration makes it look, from this distance, something like a Hindu temple. The church's tower with the steps in the scaffolding wrapping it, adds to this allusion.
Looking south from Rich Berner’s 16th floor apartment at Skyline to Harborview on the upper-left and Trinity Episcopal Church, at the center. The white masking or guarding that is part of the sanctuary’s restoration makes it look, from this distance, something like a Hindu temple. The church’s tower with the steps in the scaffolding wrapping it, adds to this allusion.
The future Skyline block is upper-right in this 1893 Sanborn detail. The upper-right corner of that block is the future site for the Graham home.
The future Skyline block is upper-right in this 1893 Sanborn detail. The upper-right corner of that block is the future site for the Graham home.
Another 1937 tax photo, this time supported or in counterpoint with a Google-Earth detail, both looking northeast from 8th Avenue and Cherry Street through the future Skyline Block.
Another 1937 tax photo, this time supported or in counterpoint with a Google-Earth detail, both looking northeast from 8th Avenue and Cherry Street through the future Skyline Block.
Looking northeast from a mid-line location on the Skyline Block and the west end of the parking lot that replaced the Graham mansion in the mid-1960s.
Looking northeast from a mid-line location on the Skyline Block and the west end of the parking lot that replaced the Graham mansion in the mid-1960s.
808 8th Avenue, another 1937 tax photo.
808 8th Avenue, another mutilated 1937 tax photo.
Looking down - from something - on the Skyline block. Note the northeast corner upper-left, the parking lots where once stood the mansion or subject of the day.
Looking down – from something – on the Skyline block. Note the northeast corner upper-left, the parking lots where once stood the mansion or subject of the day.
The skyline looking north from the smaller of the two Skyline towers.
The skyline looking north from the smaller of the two Skyline towers.
Looking north on 9th Avenue from mid-block between Cherry and Columbia Streets to the Graham/Hausman's bigger neighbor kitty-Korner to the northeast across the Columbia Street and Ninth Avenue intersection. The cathedral was dedicated in 1907.
Looking north on 9th Avenue from mid-block between Cherry and Columbia Streets to the Graham/Hausman’s bigger neighbor kitty-corner to the northeast across the Columbia Street and Ninth Avenue intersection. The cathedral was dedicated in 1907.

Seattle Now & Then: The Post Alley Curve

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Pike Place Market’s irregular block shapes and bluff-side topography joined to create a multi-level campus of surprising places, such as this covered curve routing Post Alley up into the Market. Here, in 1966, the “gent’s” entrance to Seattle’s first Municipal Rest Room (1908) is closed with red tape and a sign reading “Toilet room, closed temporarily for repairs.” The Market was then generally very much in need of repair. (by Frank Shaw, courtesy, Mike Veitenhans)
THEN: The Pike Place Market’s irregular block shapes and bluff-side topography joined to create a multi-level campus of surprising places, such as this covered curve routing Post Alley up into the Market. Here, in 1966, the “gent’s” entrance to Seattle’s first Municipal Rest Room (1908) is closed with red tape and a sign reading “Toilet room, closed temporarily for repairs.” The Market was then generally very much in need of repair. (by Frank Shaw, courtesy, Mike Veitenhans)
NOW: In Merceda Yaeger-Carrabba’s Ghost Ally Espresso the “tables are open.” While the espresso shop dispenses caffeine in many concoctions it treats the entire Market as its confectionary. An exception is gum, which the Ghost espresso sells for citizen application to Post Alley’s populist gum wall.
NOW: In Merceda Yaeger-Carrabba’s Ghost Ally Espresso the “tables are open.” While the espresso shop dispenses caffeine in many concoctions it treats the entire Market as its confectionary. An exception is gum, which the Ghost espresso sells for citizen application to Post Alley’s populist gum wall.

The recently formed Pike Place Market Historical Society was born with what I suspect is an exclusive irony attached to it.   While it is the youngest of enthused locals focused on Seattle heritage, it may also be the most mature.  The accumulated knowledge of its membership is both stunning and accessible. The charms of the Market have also nurtured its own historians.  What follows comes in part from the PPMHS and its members.  Bless it and them. (Please visit the blog listed at the bottom to learn more about the Society and what it knows about this covered curve.)

"Market John" captured by Bill Burden at a costume party (aka my 40th Birthday party, 38 years ago). John abides and is certainly one of the greatest (ever) of Market historians.
“Market John” captured by Bill Burden* at a costume party (aka my 40th Birthday party, 38 years ago). John abides and is certainly one of the greatest (ever) of Market historians.

Had he lived long enough, I am confident that Frank Shaw, the photographer the of today’s featured photo, would have become a member of the Society.  Shaw’s attraction to the Market is professed in the scores of large-sized negatives and transparencies he recorded there.  The about-to-retire Boeing employee began visiting the Market with his Hasselblad in the early 1960s, just in time to record those politically important years when the well-funded forces campaigning for urban renewal wrestled with the citizen-volunteers fighting for the Market’s repairs and preservation. 

Frank Shaw, self-portrait
Frank Shaw, self-portrait

On its cardboard border, Shaw dated this colored portrait of the only curve on Post Alley May 1, 1966.  It was a  Sunday morning a mere half-century ago.   Market explorers will know that this is where Post Alley, heading for the Market, turns for its one short block climb to the intersection of First Avenue and Pike Place.  Of

 

An early look down upon both Pike Place and the Post Alley (bottom-right corner) where they originate or conclude with First Avenue.
An early look down upon both Pike Place and the Post Alley (bottom-right corner) where they originate or conclude with First Avenue.  Below is a somewhat current look at the same wall.  I am not sure if Jean or I shot this, but probably Jean for the Princess Angeline feature – an alternative.

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the many entrances into the Market, I expect this is the one least used, but also the most charming.  It is also the most gate-like and therefore potentially ceremonial for staging events like the Tiny Freeman presided Soap Box Derbies on Post Alley in the early 1970s.   Shaw’s shabby alley surely prefigures the internationally known “Gum Wall,” here with its profane patina of donated wads.      

Boxcar race spectators looking down on the course, Post Alley. By Frank Shaw, 1975
Boxcar race spectators looking down on the course, Post Alley. By Frank Shaw, 1975
Tiny Freeman, March 1992, not at the Market but at the Central Tavern on First South.
Tiny Freeman, March 1992, not at the Market but at the Central Tavern on First South. GLICK TO ENLARGE

Two feature films (and perhaps several smaller ones) have used the curve for art: “Mad Love” (1995), in which the film’s leads share their first date at a punk show here in the alley, and the better known “Cinderella Liberty” (1973), where the curve and its entrance to Seattle’s first municipal rest room (1908) were converted into a burlesque theatre for the James Caan vehicle.  It was also just off this curve that Seattle’s well loved Empty Space Theatre got its start in 1970. It was followed by Stage One, where, we must note, in 1972 the tall but mere 15-year-old Jean Sherrard, this feature’s “now” photographer, played the part of Laertes, the brother of Ophelia, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Jean notes, “There were rarely more people in the audience than in the cast.” 

The Stage One sign appears left-of-center in this Frank Shaw photo from 1975.
The Stage One sign appears left-of-center in this Frank Shaw photo from 1975.
BEFORE THE GUM - Bill Burden posing in Post Alley long ago and before the gum. Bill took the photo of John T. near the top.
BEFORE THE GUM – Bill Burden, my housemate from the mid-70s and friend since 1968, posing in Post Alley long ago and before the gum. Bill took the photo of John T. near the top.

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WEB EXTRAS

I’ll toss in a couple gum wall shots for those who haven’t visited:  Anything to add guys?

Surely Jean and thanks for gum blog sticking below, Jean.  Ron Edge has also added a few relevant neighborhood features below the below and at the bottom.

Gum wall crowds throng
Gum wall crowds throng
Chewy selfies abound
Chewy selfies abound

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

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

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

Seattle Now & Then: The Westlake Triangle (aka The Silverstone Block)

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)
THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. Photos of that replacement will first be found two imagines down.  (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: The featured triangular block was ultimately covered over with the 1988 opening of Westlake Center.
NOW: The featured triangular block was ultimately covered over with the 1988 opening of Westlake Center.

In a note scribbled on the 1937 tax card for this modest block, it is named the “triangle.”  Bordered by Pine Street, 5th Avenue, and Westlake Avenue, it is really one of about a dozen triangles attached to Westlake Avenue through its seven-block run between Fourth Avenue and Denny Way.   The triangles, and about seven more irregularly-shaped blocks, date from 1906-07 when Westlake Avenue was cut through the original city grid.  This eccentric

The "Triangle," an appropriate and descriptive name for the odd block bordered here by 5th Ave. on the Left, Westlake Ave. on the right, and Pine Street at the far end of the "Triangle." The photo comes from one of the thousands of "tax cards" produced by a depression-time Works Progress Administration documenting every (nearly) taxable structure and a few churches too in King County.
The “Triangle,” an appropriate and descriptive name for the odd block bordered here by 5th Ave. on the Left, Westlake Ave. on the right, and Pine Street at the far south end of the “Triangle.” The photo comes from one of the thousands of “tax cards” produced by a depression-time Works Progress Administration project documenting every (or almost every) taxable structure in King County and a few tax-free churches too.

regrade was meant to channel the increasing traffic to Denny Way, there to continue north through the “funnel,” as the South Lake Union retail neighborhood was then sometimes called, to the picturesque viaduct built in 1890 for pedestrians, wagons and trolleys along the west shore of Lake Union all the way to Fremont.

Looking north on Westlake by the lake in the 1890s. The viaduct continued along the west shore of Lake Union to the Fremont Bridge at Lake Union's Ross Creek outlet.
Looking north on Westlake by the lake in the 1890s. The viaduct continued along the west shore of Lake Union to the Fremont Bridge at Lake Union’s Ross Creek outlet.

The featured photo at the top  is one of three Webster and Stevens Studio photographs of the original charming flatiron with its waving cornice.  It sights north over Pine Street along the east side of Westlake.  Another of the three photos is printed directly below.  It looks in the opposite direction, and shows the same single motorcar parked on Westlake (perhaps the photographer’s) and the produce stand with its fruit and customers protected by an awning opened over the sidewalk.  The Pearl Oyster and Chop House is the

The second of three looks at the "Tirangle" looking south-southeast over Westalke Avenue with 5th Avenue on the left and the brand new Frederick and Nelson Department store on its far side.
The second of three looks at the “Tirangle” looking south-southeast over Westalke Avenue with 5th Avenue on the left and the brand new Frederick and Nelson Department store on its far side.  

next storefront south of the produce stand.  Taped to it windows are more than one poster promoting the week-long visit to the Metropolitan Theatre, beginning Monday January 7, of the Shakespearean troupe led by the “eminent” Shakespearian John E. Kellerd.  It is by this bit of advertising that we can easily figure that the three photos were taken sometime either in late 1917 or early 1918.  Frankly, this discovery saddened me because I prefer this little triangle with its curvilinear cresting and large basket-handle windows to its several successors, the first of which is shown on the tax photo printed above, three images back or above .  (The third of the three Webster and Stevens photos follows, all are used courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI.)

Another of the first of the "Triangle Buildings," this one looking northwest through the intersection of Pine Street and Fifth Avenue. Frederick and Nelson is just out-of-trams to the right. The Seattle Times building on Westlake between Olive and Stewart is on the far right.
Another of the first of the “Triangle Buildings,” this one looking northwest through the intersection of Pine Street and Fifth Avenue.  Frederick and Nelson is just out-of-frame to the right. The Seattle Times building on Westlake between Olive and Stewart is on the far right.
Jean's "repeat" from late August 1916.
Jean’s “repeat” from late August 2016.
A 1949 look at the somewhat modernized Triangle Building.
A 1949 tax-card look at the somewhat modernized Triangle Building.

An 1891  Birdseye and Three Maps – 1893, 1908 & 1912 – of Location

The intersection of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street may be identified in this detail from the 1891 Birdseye by the number "95" that is written on it.
The intersection of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street may be identified in this detail in the 1891 Seattle Birdseye by the number “95” that is written below the scene’s center.  The number is the birdseye’s key to the electric trolley garage or barn that crowds the northeast corner of the intersection with its red brick construction.   The larger red brick building at the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Stewart Street also belonged to the Seattle Electric Company that ran the trolleys.  The Norwegian-Danish Lutheran Church holds the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, bottom-left.  The church is featured in the “Extras” below.  It is the second one down from the top.  The birdseye was published fifteen years previous to the public work of regrading Westlake between Fourth and Pike and Denny Way, and so that cut does not show in it, nor in the 1893 Sanbord real estate (and fire insurance) map directly below.  It does, however, show in both the 1908 and 1912 maps that fulfill this quartet.   It was, of course, the Westlake Regarde of 1906/7 that created the triangular and other odd-shaped blocks that sided it. 
With a little patient searching a few of the buildings that appear in the detail above from the 1891 Seattle Birdseye also show in this 1893 Sanborn Real Estate Map.
With a little patient searching a few of the buildings that appear in the detail above pulled from the 1891 Seattle Birdseye also show in this 1893 Sanborn Real Estate Map.  The car barn is upper-right at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street; the Norwegian-Danish Lutherans are upper left, and the intersection of Fourth Ave. and Pike Street, that thirteen years later was the southern point of origin for the Westlake Ave. Regrade, is at the bottom-left.  This point was studies in its own feature and can be found in the Extras stacked below.  It is next-to-the-last: twenty-four of twenty-five.  CLICK TO ENLARGE
Here is the 1908 Baist Real Estate Map, Westalke Avenue has freshly cut its way through the block and the triangle block bordered by Pine Street, at the bottom, and the new Westlake and 5th Avenue
Here in the 1908 Baist Real Estate Map, Westalke Avenue has freshly cut its way through the block and the triangle block bordered by Pine Street, at the bottom, and the new Westlake and “old” Fifth Avenues share the center of the detail.   Note the electric company’s red brick constructions on the right.  These may be studied as well in the 14th Extra stacked below. 
A detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, including the triangle block, upper-left, identified as home for the Everret Interurban RR.
A detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, including the triangle block, upper-left, identified as home for the Everett Interurban Station.  The Westake Market has taken most of the Seattle Electric block, top-center.  Remember: CLICK to ENLARGE

In the 1908 Baist Real Estate map [two illustrations up] only a small wooden shed is foot-printed in the triangle block, bottom-center.  By four years later, in the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, the block has been tightly fitted for the little retail center captured at the top of this feature.   Through its few years  it was also home for the Seattle station of the Everett Interurban, which started running in 1910.

A clipping from the December 26, 1916 Seattle Times.
A clipping from the December 26, 1916 Seattle Times.
A steady eye will find the florid roof-line of the triangle block on the far left. The corner of Third Ave. and Pine Street is bottom right.
A steady eye will find the florid roof-line of the triangle block on the far left. The corner of Third Ave. and Pine Street is bottom right.  CLICK TO ENLARGE
AND SEEN AGAIN in this look east on Pine Street. The curving cornice of the Triangle block is left-of-center -
AND SEEN AGAIN in this look east on Pine Street. The curving cornice of the Triangle block is left-of-center, and seems to be crowned by the Westlake Market sign, but is not.  That’s across Fifth Avenue, a new use for the old trolley car barn on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

Sometime in 1918 this attractive triangle was razed and replaced with a three-story structure that bordered the block with a foundation sturdy enough to support a twelve-story high-rise that was never constructed. Through its more than half-century of service and two remodels (the tax card tells us in 1949 and 1959),

The Triangle block's south facade facing Pine Street appears here on the far left, with the new Frederick and Nelson beyond it. The view looks east on Pine Street with its back to Fourth Avenue.
The Triangle block’s south facade facing Pine Street appears here on the far left with the new Frederick and Nelson beyond it. The view looks east on Pine Street with its back to Fourth Avenue.  A similar photo looking east on Pine thru its intersection with Fourth Avenue is at the top of the stack for the Extras shown soon below. 
The 1959 tax card for the then latest removed of the Triangle aka Silverstone Building.
The 1959 tax card for the then latest removed of the Triangle aka Silverstone Building.
An interruped Westlake Ave. sided in 1966 by a temporary Seafair-related
Westlake Ave. sided in 1966 looking north across Pine Street with the Silverstone Building on the right with its Weisfield’s brick face.  Westlake is interrupted by a temporary Seafair-related construction.  The photo was taken on June 6, 1966 by Frank Shaw. 

the three-story triangle serviced many retailers. The tax-photo (two above) illustrating the last of these changes reveals a nearly windowless brick mass impressively filling the block with “Weisfield’s Credit Jewelers” signed in big neon letters on its south façade facing Pine Street. (I remember this and I suspect many of you do as well.)

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Judging by the tenants’ advertisements sample above and published in this paper through the first weeks of 1919, the quickly-built three-story replacement was completed sometime in late 1918.  Among the first tenants were The Silk Shop, Violet Tatus’ New Hat Shop and the New Owl Drug Company. The building was named the Silverstone

The Triangle block appears at the center-bottom of this detail from the 1923 map by Kroll of Seattle's "business section."
The Triangle block appears at the center-bottom  (below the Frederick and Nelson block) of this detail from the 1923 map by Kroll of Seattle’s “business section.”

after Jay C. Silverstone, a Kansas City native who moved to Seattle with his family to found the Boston Drug Company.  Silverstone became a super-promoter for properties in this nearly new retail neighborhood.  When he added the little flatiron to his neighborhood holdings, the headline for the Seattle Times for Sept. 2, 1917, read “New Retail /District Sets Record Price for Seattle Realty.”  Silverstone and his brother Hiram, a physician practicing in Kansas City, purchased the block from Seattle architect John Graham, paying “$56 Per Square Foot for the Westlake Triangle,” which figured to $250,000, most of it in cash. 

The Times Sept. 2, 1917 report on Jay C. Silverstone's record-breaking purchase of the featured little triangle.
The Times Sept. 2, 1917 report on Jay C. Silverstone’s record-breaking purchase of the featured little triangle.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

BELOW: TWO STRESSFUL SILVERSTONE CLIPS from the TIMES

THE SEATTLE TIMES from April 4, 1916
THE SEATTLE TIMES from April 4, 1916
March 27, 1920
March 27, 1920
An undated look north on Westlake thru Pine Street with the southwest corner of the Silverstone Building showing on the far right.
An undated look north on Westlake to Pine Street with the southwest corner of the Silverstone Building showing on the far right.  The Plaza Hotel on the left holds the larger triangle at 5th and Westlake and Pine made by Westlake Regrade in 1906/7. 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Surely Jean.  As is his way, Ron Edge has pulled up several neighborhood shots and stacked them below.  Held in each are more, some of which will be repeated many times through the selection.  Which is our way.

THEN: Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill. Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner. (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

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

Great railroad signs, theatre signs and ranks of neon were still the greatest contributors to night light at 4th and Westlake in 1949. (Photo by Robert Bradley compliment of Lawton and Jean Gowey)

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

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THEN: A motorcycle courier for Bartell Drugs poses before the chain’s Store No. 14, located in the Seaboard Building at the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street, circa 1929. (Courtesy Bartell Drugs)

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

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THEN: With her or his back to the Medical-Dental Building an unidentified photographer took this look northeast through the intersection of 6th and Olive Way about five years after the Olive Way Garage first opened in 1925. (Courtesy, Mark Ambler)

 

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

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

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

THEN: A float for the 1911 Potlatch parade carries piggyback a smaller 1897 version of a Polk City Directory on a much bigger 1911 copy. The fourteen years between them is meant to symbolize the growth of the city since the Alaskan/Yukon gold rush of 1897 that the Golden Potlatch of 1911 was created to commemorate. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

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

THEN: Looking south from Pine Street down the wide Second Avenue in 1911, then Seattle’s growing retail strip and parade promenade. (courtesy of Jim Westall)

THEN: The row house at the southwest corner of 6th Avenue and Pine Street in its last months, ca. 1922-23. (Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: This rare early record of the Fourth and Pike intersection was first found by Robert McDonald, both a state senator and history buff with a special interest in historical photography. He then donated this photograph - with the rest of his collection - to the Museum of History and Industry, whom we thank for its use. (Courtesy MOHAI)

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ALSO NEARBY (Chapter – or feature – NO. 20 from Seattle Now and Then Volume One, which can be read from cover to cover on this blog, and it found in the front page bug ”

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Seattle Now & Then: Yesler’s Wharf, 1891

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: F. Jay Haynes recorded this ca. 1891 look up the Seattle waterfront and it’s railroad trestles most likely for a report to his employer, the Northern Pacific Railroad. (Courtesy, Murray Morgan)
THEN: F. Jay Haynes recorded this ca. 1891 look up the Seattle waterfront and it’s railroad trestles most likely for a report to his employer, the Northern Pacific Railroad. (Courtesy, Murray Morgan)
NOW: For his repeat, about 125 years late, Jean Sherrard looks north from what is left of the old Pier 48 to the King County Water Taxi’s loading dock at the waterfront foot of Yesler Way.
NOW: For his repeat, about 125 years late, Jean Sherrard looks north from what is left of the old Pier 48 to the King County Water Taxi’s loading dock at the waterfront foot of Yesler Way.

We might wonder what the photographer, F. Jay (“the Professor”) Haynes, found captivating in this long stretch of the Seattle waterfront.   It reaches from a small sample of the Magnolia Peninsula on the far left to the outer end of the famous namesake wharf that the pioneer Henry Yesler rebuilt after the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, which destroyed it and practically everything

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else on Seattle’s central waterfront.  Although difficult to read, both at this size and in the subject’s morning light, the shed/warehouse seen on the far right (of the  featured photo at the top) has Yesler’s name printed on its west wall facing Elliot Bay.   We will insert here another look at the water end of Yesler’s Wharf most likely photographed in 1890-1.  The wharf  is left-of-center, and the block-lettered name is the same and easier to read, especially if your click-to-enlarge the pan and all else.

Compare this post-fire view from both the featured photo at the top and the pan that follows. All three were recorded from coal wharves at the foot of King Street.
Compare this post-fire view from both the featured photo at the top and the ca. 1887 pan that follows. All three were recorded from coal wharves at the foot of King Street.
Another record of the waterfront looking north from the King Street Coal warf, this one most likely in 1887. Denny Hill, on the far left, has been cleared of trees for development, but there is as yet no Denny Hotel on the top of this the Hill's southern summit.
Another record of the waterfront looking north from the King Street Coal wharf, this one most likely in 1887. Denny Hill, on the far left, has been cleared of trees for development, but there is as yet no Denny Hotel on the top of this the Hill’s southern summit.  Yesler’s wharf is at the scene’s center.
A detail of the featured docks grabbed from the 1893 Sanborn real estate map. Yesler's cock is at the top.
A detail of the featured docks grabbed from the 1893 Sanborn real estate map. Yesler’s  dock is at the top.  King Street is just off-frame at the bottom.   All is new here – except the pile of ship’s ballast on which “501” is printed.  Most of the ballast was dumped there in the 1870s by ships visiting to pick up coal at King Street.  With the construction of docks between the bunkers beisde King Street  and Yesler Wharf the ballast-dropping was  stopped here, and sizeable docks and sheds were constructed above the ballast and/or to its sides.   The tuning=fork dock between Madison and Main Streets (marked again by “502”) was fitted with a warehouse at its water (west) end that tended ships, while the east end of the new (in 1882) dock was left open revealing Ballast Island and waiting for later development, both before and after the 1889 fire. 
Part of Ballast Island is exposed, bottom-right, in this pre-fire 1884 Seattle Birdseye. Note Mill Street at the center. Here off-shore it is part of Yesler Wharf
Part of Ballast Island is exposed, bottom-right, in this pre-fire 1884 Seattle Birdseye. Note Mill Street at the center. Here off-shore it is part of Yesler Wharf.  At the center not Mill Street where it is off-shore and part of Yeslere Wharf (or dock). 

We imagine that there may have also been a sensitive side to Haynes’ choice  – an aesthetic motivation.  The vessel near the featured scene’s center, which atypically reveals no name on its stern, marks a striking divide between the intimate waterfront congestion of barrels and half-covered bricks on this side of Yesler’s dock, far right, and to the left of the steamship, the long and somewhat mottled urban growth that was then North Seattle. Belltown’s gray dapple on Denny Hill’s western slope, left of center, is composed almost entirely of improvised and rent-free squatters’ vernacular sheds, both on the hill and on the beach.

Another Haynes view, this one from some vessel off shore of Marion Street. (It lines up with the photographer's prospect.) Notes Denny Hill on the far left.
Another Haynes view, this one from some vessel off shore of Marion Street. (It lines up with the photographer’s prospect.) Note Denny Hill on the far left.  CLICK CLICK to ENLARGE, please.

Haynes’ subject might also have been assigned.  Born in Michigan in 1853, the year Seattle’s mid-western founders moved from Alki Point to this east shore of Elliott Bay, Haynes missed the Civil War but not an apprenticeship with Doctor William H. Lockwood’s Temple of Photography in Ripon (‘Birthplace of the Republican Party’), Wisconsin.  In the Temple he learn his trade and met Lily Snyder, his co-worker and future wife.  Together, they purchased from the Northern Pacific Railroad a Pullman car, which they fitted for a photography studio.  In exchange for publicity photographs of the railroad’s expansion and rolling stock, the couple – while raising a family – traveled the greater Northwest, prospering with their own rolling dark room and sales gallery.  To his status as the Northern Pacific’s official photographer, Haynes added the same distinction for Yellowstone National Park, where he has a mountain named for him. 

The rising hotel on the hill is seen between the stack and mast rising from another and unidentified vessel on the south central waterfront following some post-'89 fire reconstruction, the warehouse rooftops about the vessel are familiar, and the Denny Hotel is still sans tower. But not below. The Haynes photo that follows shows the back of the hotel and tower from looking south on Third Ave. new Blanchard Street.
The rising hotel on the hill is seen between the stack and mast rising from another (and unidentified) vessel on the south central waterfront following early  post-’89 fire reconstruction.  The warehouse rooftops above the vessel are familiar, and the Denny Hotel is still sans tower. But not below. The Haynes photo that follows shows the back of the hotel and tower looking south on Third Ave. thru the intersection with  Blanchard Street.
Denny Hotel from the rear. This later Haynes exposure looks south across Third Avenue's intersection with Blanchard Street.
Denny Hotel from the rear. This later Haynes exposure looks south across Third Avenue’s intersection with Blanchard Street.

Dating this (at the top) visit by Haynes to Puget Sound has left me with an ‘about’ year of circa 1891, two years following the Great Fire.  By obscuring the center of the Denny Hotel on Denny Hill, the steamship’s smokestack also hides the hotel’s tower, the last part of the hotel built, and thereby a perhaps helpful clue toward a more refined date. Finally, with the help of an array of historical photos, Ron Edge, a devotee of Seattle history, has determined that the resting steamship here is the City of Kingston and not, as I first thought, its younger sister, the City of Seattle.  Ron discovered that there were small differences between them, especially at the stern on the railing for the lower deck.  The City of Seattle had a railing. 

The steamer City of Seattle on one of its many runs to Alaska. This is, the caption reads, "just below Dixon's Entrance. (Courtesy, Cornell University Library)
The steamer City of Seattle on one of its many runs to Alaska. This is, the caption reads, “just below Dixon’s Entrance. (Courtesy, Cornell University Library)
The steamer City of Kingston on the Seattle waterfront.
The steamer City of Kingston on the Seattle waterfront.  [Courtesy, Michael Maslan]
Two looks at the City of Kingston's stern. Compare it to one of the City of Seattle, the stern that follows.
Two looks at the City of Kingston’s stern. Compare it to one of the City of Seattle, the stern that follows.
The City of Seattle's stern.
Above: the City of Seattle’s stern.
Part of a page on Lewis and Dryden's history of Puget Sound vessels published long ago.
Part of a page on Lewis and Dryden’s history of Puget Sound vessels, including the “companion ships” shown above, published long ago.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

WEB EXTRAS

Jean: We had help along the way on taking this photo… Thanks to Laura Newborn from the State DOT for making the connections and Marty Martin, Facilities Manager, for accompanying me onto the decaying Pier 48.

Paul: Jean, strip it, the pier, is of its clues.  Do you remember – and did you attend – any of the big Book Fairs that used Pier 48 sometime in 1990s?

Jean: I did not attend, though I vaguely remember.

Marty Martin, facilities manager, DOT, on Pier 48
Marty Martin, facilities manager, DOT, on Pier 48
Ravaged surface of the pier, access forbidden
Ravaged surface of the pier, access forbidden

Anything to add, fellow travelers?  This week like the last 200 or more we’ll pile on a few more features to the Edge Links that Ron put up.   But first a copy of the montage that we used to figure out and describe for Laura and Marty the prospect on Pier 48 that we calculated was the correct one for a proper repeat.  The red arrow marks the spot.  You may wish to notice the range of freedom Jean has used for his art.

Above Pier 48, Courtesy of Google
Above Pier 48 from on high, Courtesy of Google
Furthermore, may we help you?
Furthermore, may we help you?

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

THEN: The S. S. Suveric makes a rare visit to Seattle in 1911. (Historical photo courtesy of Jim Westall)

THEN: The new sub H-3 takes her inaugural baptism at the Seattle Construction and Dry Dock Company’s ways on Independence Day, 1913. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: The driver, lower left, leads his team towards First Avenue up a planked incline on Madison Street. (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: From boxcars and rooftops to the planks of Railroad Avenue, excitement builds for the ceremonial re-enactment of the S.S.Portland’s 1897 landing with its “ton of gold” on the Seattle waterfront, the city’s first Golden Potlatch Celebration. [Courtesy, Michael Maslan]

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

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

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Seattle Now & Then: Delta Gamma on the Ave

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The first house for Delta Gamma at N.E. 4730 University Way. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: The first house for Delta Gamma at N.E. 4730 University Way. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: The literate developers of the recently constructed Lothlorien Apartments got their place name from fantasist J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
NOW: The literate developers of the recently constructed Lothlorien Apartments got their place name from fantasist J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
A Google Earth detail of the feature block frames with a detail from the 1905 Sanborn Map. Delta Gamma has been marked with a red frame. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
A Google Earth detail of the feature block frames with a detail from the 1905 Sanborn Map. Delta Gamma has been marked with a red frame. Click-Click to Enlarge. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

The designers and/or carpenters of this slender house may have taken care to give its front porch a stairway both wide and high enough to pose a large group portrait, perhaps of Delta Gamma Sorority’s charter membership.  It was the first local sorority to receive a charter from a national organization. The lobbying, which began in 1900, was rewarded on May 15, 1903, the last day of Delta Gamma’s annual convention held that year in Wisconsin.  One year later the coeds were living here at 4730 University Way.

 

From The Seattle Times for May 18 , 1903
From The Seattle Times for May 18 , 1903. BELOW, group portrait of member in 1904.

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The Times Oct. 26, 1907 report on a reception given by Delta Gamma to the school faculty is a sign of the important role this sorority, and others, played in the social and ceremonial life of the University.
The Times Oct. 26, 1907 report on a reception given by Delta Gamma to the school faculty is a sign of the convivial  role this sorority, and others, played in the social and ceremonial life of the University.

The Greek letters Delta and Gamma are signed on the tower of the featured photo at the top, which seems otherwise useless, since there is neither room enough nor light for either a crow’s nest study or a co-ed’s bed chamber. The photograph’s source, the Museum of History and Industry, gives this University District scene an annum of 1904. The neighborhood was then still more likely referred to either as Brooklyn or University Station.  The latter was named after or for the trolley that carried students and faculty to the new university from their remote residences in spread-out Seattle.  The former was the name first given the neighborhood by James Moore, Seattle’s super developer, in 1890, the year the future University District was first successfully platted.  There was then no knowledge of the coming surprise: the University of Washington.  The name Brooklyn was embraced as a cachet pointing to another suburb (Brooklyn) that also looked across water (the East River) to another metropolis (New York.)

A Post-Intelligencer clipping from December 1, 1890
A Post-Intelligencer clipping from December 1, 1890
From The Seattle Press, Dec. 1, 1890
From The Seattle Press, Dec. 1, 1890

Columbus Avenue was the name that Moore gave to the future University Way.  This was soon dropped for 14th Avenue, until 1919 when the University Commercial Club joined the neighborhood’s newspaper, the University Herald, to run a contest for a new name, which University Way easily won. Brooklyn Avenue and 14th Avenue were Seattle’s first fraternity/sorority rows.  In early December of 1904, the Seattle Times reported, “The Beta Chapter of the Delta Gamma Sorority of the state university gave a dancing party at its new clubhouse on Fourteenth Ave. N.E. Friday.”

The rear facade of Delta Gamma shows on the left in another photograph taken by the Webster Stevens Studio and used here courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry. Kappa Kappa Gamma, the primary subject here is mid-block on the west side of 15th Ave. East. The montage of Secret Societies included below dates from Sept 10, 1905. It show a new home for Delta Gamma, most likely on the east side of 14th Ave. aka "The Ave." (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
The rear facade of Delta Gamma shows on the left in another photograph taken by the Webster Stevens Studio and used here courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry. Kappa Kappa Gamma, the primary subject here is mid-block on the west side of 15th Ave. East. The montage of Secret Societies included below dates from Sept 10, 1905. It show a new home for Delta Gamma, most likely on the east side of 14th Ave. aka “The Ave.” (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
A page from The Times for Sept. 10, 1905. Note the new home for Delta Gamma, bottom-center.
A page from The Times for Sept. 10, 1905. Note the new home for Delta Gamma, bottom-center of the above montage, and below on its own.. CLICK CLICK to ENLARGE

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A Seattle Times clipping from August 21, 1916.
A Seattle Times clipping from August 21, 1916.

University Way, especially, was a sign of the city’s and its university’s then manic growth.  Other Greeks soon joined the co-eds of Delta Gamma at addresses north of N.E. 45th Street in Moore’s then new and only two-block-wide University Heights Addition, which had  been platted in 1899.  Seven years later, and directly to the east of University Heights, Moore opened his much larger University Park

Looking southeast toward the Cascades and Mt. Rainier.
Looking southeast toward the Cascades and Mt. Rainier. [CLICK CLICK to ENLARGE]

Addition.  In this 1904 featured look east from the Ave. we can see that University Park is still a forest.  After 1906 it was increasingly stocked with homes for the University of Washington’s growing faculty and Greek community. Many of the students’ ‘secret societies’ first got their start in University Heights, often in mansion-sized houses larger than Delta Gamma’s, which were profitably let go for the developing businesses along University Way.  Typically the Greek houses eventually moved to nearby University Park.

On the left, Delta Gamma's new home in 1916, and a century later, on the right. It was this structure that was arranged for use by the Russian House years after it had been moved across 25th Avenue, where it survives.
On the left, Delta Gamma’s new home in 1916, and a century later, on the right. It was this structure that was arranged for use as the Russian House years after it was  moved across 21st Avenue, where it survives.
News of the Russian House from The Times for August 2, 1963.
News of the Russian House from The Times for August 2, 1963.

After several moves, in 1916 Delta Gamma reached its present location at the northwest corner of NE 45th Street and 21st Avenue NE in 1916.  Twenty years later it ‘moved’ again while staying put.  In 1936 the sorority’s house was sold and rolled across 21st Avenue from the northwest corner with NE 45th Street to the northeast corner to become the house for the Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity.  It was later named the Russian House, for its popular Russian studies and “Russian Only” rule.  Across 21st Avenue, NE. at the recently vacated northwest corner, the sorority built again, this time the grand Arthur Loveless-designed 80-year-old Delta Gamma house. In sum the sorority has now held to this corner for a century.  

From The Times for April 16, 1937.
Above: From The Times for April 16, 1937.
From The Times for September 1, 1936.
From The Times for September 1, 1936.
Pulled from The Seattle Times for November 23, 1936.
Pulled from The Seattle Times for November 23, 1936.
The north shore of Lake Union circa 1898.
The north shore of Lake Union circa 1898.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, guys?  Yup Jean – from the neighborhood where once we sometimes hung out, and the greater neighborhood where we still live with our lakes.   First Ron Edge comes up with about twenty links (again, all of which have their  own links, which inevitably include some duplicates), and I will follow Ron’s list with another string of clips – sometime after I have walked the dog.  It is now 3:54 AM.  And so depending on Guido’s performance, I may wait until tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon to add the promised string.

THEN: With great clouds overhead and a landscape 45 years shorter than now, one vehicle – a pickup heading east – gets this part of State Route 520 to itself on a weekday afternoon. (courtesy Lawton Gowey)

This rare glimpse of the rapid Ravenna Creek’s fall through Cowen Park was photographed not long before the stream that had had “topped off” Green Lake into Lake Washington’s Union Bay for thousands of years was shut off in 1911. (Photo courtesy of Jim Westall)

THEN: When it was built in 1902, this box home, with classic Ionic pillars at the porch, was set above the northwest corner of the freshly graded Brooklyn Avenue and 47th Street in the University District. (Courtesy, John Cooper)

THEN: First designated Columbus Street in the 1890 platting of the Brooklyn Addition, and next as 14th Avenue to conform with the Seattle grid, ‘The Ave,’ still its most popular moniker, was renamed University Way by contest in 1919. This trim bungalow at 3711 University Way sat a few lots north of Lake Union’s Portage Bay. (Courtesy, Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Regional Archive)

THEN: On March 25, 1946, or near it, Wide World Photos recorded here what they titled “University Vet Housing.” It would soon be named the Union Bay Village and house the families of returning veterans. The first 45 bungalows shown here rented for from $35 to $45 dollars a month. It would increase to a “teeming conglomerate of 500 rental units.” With housing for both married students and faculty. The view looks north over a street that no longer exists. The homes on the right horizon face the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail on N.E. Blakeley Street near N.E. 45th Place. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: The Gothic University of Washington Campus in 1946 beginning a seven-year crowding with prefabricated dormitories beside Frosh Pond. In the immediate background [on the right] is Guggenheim Hall. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: The historical view looks directly south into the Latona addition’s business district on Sixth Ave. NE. from the Northern Pacific’s railroad bridge, now part of the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Roosevelt Way bustling after the war. This subject first appeared in The Seattle Times on July 7, 1946. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: sliver of the U.W. campus building called the Applied Physics Laboratory appears on the far right of this 1940 look east towards the U.W. campus from the N.E. 40th Street off-ramp from the University Bridge. While very little other than the enlarged laboratory survives in the fore and mid-grounds, much on the horizon of campus buildings and apartments still stand. (Courtesy, Genevieve McCoy)

THEN: When the Oregon Cadets raised their tents on the Denny Hall lawn in 1909 they were almost venerable. Founded in 1873, the Cadets survive today as Oregon State University’s ROTC. Geneticist Linus C. Pauling, twice Nobel laureate, is surely the school’s most famous cadet corporal. (courtesy, University of Washington Libraries)

THEN: Above Lake Washington’s Union Bay the Hoo-Hoo Building on the left and the Bastion facsimile on the right, were both regional departures from the classical beau arts style, the 1909 AYPE’s architectural commonplace. Courtesy John Cooper

THEN: An estimated 50 percent of the materials used in the old Husky Union Building were recycled into its recent remodel. The new HUB seems to reach for the roof like its long-ago predecessor, the AYP’s landmark Forestry building. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: For the four-plus months of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, the center of commerce and pedestrian energy on University Way moved two blocks south from University Station on Northeast 42nd Street to here, Northeast 40th Street, at left.

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Seattle Now & Then: Third & Virginia, 1936

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The five buildings shown here on the west side of Third Avenue south of Virginia Street have endured with few changes since the ‘then’ photo was snapped in 1936. The exception is the smallest, far-right, the Virginian Tavern now stripped for an open garage at Third’s southwest corner with Virginia Street. The six-story Hardon Hall Apartments, at the center of the five, was renovated in 2006 for low-income housing by the Plymouth Housing Group.
THEN: The five buildings shown here on the west side of Third Avenue south of Virginia Street have endured with few changes since the ‘then’ photo was snapped in 1936. The exception is the smallest, far-right, the Virginian Tavern now stripped for an open garage at Third’s southwest corner with Virginia Street. The six-story Hardon Hall Apartments, at the center of the five, was renovated in 2006 for low-income housing by the Plymouth Housing Group.
NOW: To avoid sidewalk landscaping Jean moved to the curb for his repeat. The 3rd Avenue block between Virginia and Stewart streets has largely escaped the recent structural changes in the Denny Regrade Neighborhood.
NOW: To avoid sidewalk landscaping Jean moved to the curb for his repeat. The 3rd Avenue block between Virginia and Stewart streets has largely escaped the recent structural changes in the Denny Regrade Neighborhood.

Here is yet another billboard negative from the Foster and Kleiser collection that Jean and I have visited a few times for this Sunday feature. The anonymous photographer chose a prospect that exposed the company’s two billboards on the roof of the Virginian Tavern, the tenant of the modest brick building at the southwest corner of Virginia Street and Third Avenue. This time Jean’s ‘repeat’ shows us that in this block not much has changed in the intervening eighty years.  To gain some perspective on this booming town, the negative date, December 11, 1936, roughly splits the years between when the first settler-farmers landed near Alki Point in 1851 and now.

Here (above) we are about 100 feet higher and one block further north. This is F.J. Haines look south on 3rd Avenue from north summit of Denny Hill to Denny Hotel on the front or south summit of the hill.
Here (above) we are about 100 feet higher and one block further north than in the featured photographs. This is F.J. Haines ca. 1891 look south on 3rd Avenue from the north summit of Denny Hill to Denny Hotel on the front or south summit of the hill.   This is remote.  Most of Seattle is to the other side of the hotel and below it.  (Courtesy, Murray Morgan)
This looks north on Third Avenue from an upper story in the Denny (aka Washington) Hotel. The negative was shared with me by Carrie Coe, she did, however, knowo who took it, although it may have been her mother who had talent with her camera. The roof bottom-left covers the frame apartment house at the northwest corner of 3rd and Virginia. Queen Anne Hill marks most of the horizon.
This looks north on Third Avenue from an upper story in the Denny (aka Washington) Hotel. The negative was shared with me by Carrie Coe, she did, however, knowo who took it, although it may have been her mother who had talent with her camera. The roof bottom-left covers the frame apartment house at the northwest corner of 3rd and Virginia, the corner taken by the building that covers most of the bottom of the photo below this one.    Queen Anne Hill marks most of the horizon.
I recorded this in 2003 from the roof of the parking garage at the southeast corner of Virginia and Third Avenue. The view, then, looks northwest with Virginia on the left and Third Ave. on the right.
I recorded this in 2003 from the roof of the parking garage at the southeast corner of Virginia and Third Avenue. The view, then, looks northwest with Virginia St/ on the left and Third Ave. on the right.   In the ensuing thirteen years the Denny Regrade, aka Belltown. neighborhood has seen many changes with the high rise structures promised or envisioned for it a century ago when the regrading was done.
Like the Haynes photo above it, this was taken sometime in the early 1890s and years before the hotel was opened by its fighting developers. The hotel is behind the unidentified photographer of this illustration copied from a piece of stationary.
Like the Haynes photo above it, this was taken sometime in the early 1890s and years before the hotel was opened by its fighting developers. The hotel is behind the unidentified photographer of this illustration, which we copied from a piece of stationary. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)
A warning published in The Seattle Times for the day the featured photo was dated and most likely recorded, December 11, 1936.
A warning published in The Seattle Times on the day the featured photo was dated and most likely recorded, December 11, 1936.

What were they thinking, the pedestrians and motorists here on Third Avenue?  Surely of the kings of England: both of them.  This is the day, a Friday, when it was at last fulfilled at 1:52 pm that the Duke of York took – or was given – the throne of his older brother Edward VIII who abdicated it for love. The Seattle Times, of course, trumpeted news about the switch, including a front page photograph of the new king’s daughter, the ten-year old Elizabeth who, an unnamed friend of the royals assured, as an “astute sharp-witted little girl” was figuring it out.  

 A sizeable detail from the front page of The Seattle Times for December 11, 1936.
A sizeable detail from the front page of The Seattle Times for December 11, 1936.

The neighborhood was then variously called the Uptown Retail Center, Belltown, and the Denny Regrade.  Only the first two names survive.  It is likely that many of these motorists on Third Avenue between Virginia and Stewart Streets remembered the regrade itself, and knew that they were driving under what only thirty years earlier was the south summit of Denny Hill. 

LaRoche's early 1890s look north on Third Avenue
LaRoche’s early 1890s look north on Third Avenue with his back to University Street.  The Denny Hotel effectively looms over the citiyi. 
The Washington Hotel, formerly the Denny, recorded from the southwest corner of Pike and Second Ave. The Pine and Second Avenue regrades encroaching on the hotel began their cuttings in 1903. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)
The Washington Hotel, formerly the Denny, recorded from the southwest corner of Pike Street and Second Ave. The Pine and Second Avenue regrades encroaching on the hotel began their cuttings in 1903. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)
The lobby most likely briefly before the hotel opened to Theo Roosevelt, its first guest, in the spring of 1903.
The lobby. most likely recorded briefly before the hotel opened in the Spring of 1903 to its  first guest, President Theodore Roosevelt,   With the hotel straddling the as yet undeveloped Third Avenue north of Stewart Street, the lobby was also stationed about 80 feet above Third’s future post-regraded elevation. 
Passing the mid-point in the hotel's destruction as seen looking north on Third Avenue looking through Pine Street.
Passing the mid-point in the hotel’s destruction as seen looking north on Third Avenue through Pine Street.
The White Garage's ornamental banding across Third Avenue from the garage on its east side. (2003)
The gone yellow White Garage’s ornamental banding at its cornice (or below it) across Third Avenue from another garage on the avenue’s  east side in 2003.

Just left of center, the six-story White Garage, the tallest of the five buildings on the east side of Third Avenue, fails to reach the elevation of the historic summit.  It is also short of reaching the elevation of what before the regrading was the basement of the majestic Denny Hotel, a.k.a. Washington Hotel, that sat atop the hill and advertised itself as “the scenic hotel of the West.”  Both the south summit and the hotel were razed between 1906 and 1908.

The Methodist church at the southeast corner of Pine Street and Third Avenue with the east wing of the hotel above it.
Left-of-center, outfitted and signed for theatre, the Methodist church at the southeast corner of Pine Street and Third Avenue with the east wing of the hotel still holding to the hill above it.
The church-as-theatre on the right at the southeast corner of Third Ave. and Pine Street, with the hotel long-gong and the south summit of Denny Hill mostlyi gone as well.
The church-as-theatre on the right at the southeast corner of Third Ave. and Pine Street, with the hotel long-gone and the south summit of Denny Hill mostly gone as well.

Given that the featured photo at the top was photographed  in the midst of the Great Depression, Third Avenue seems surprisingly rife with motorcars. A review of some historical vehicular statistics may explain the motorized zest.  Four blocks away at Second Avenue and Pike Street, and only thirty-two years earlier, the city’s street department counted 3,959 vehicles visiting the intersection, of which only fourteen were automobiles.  One year earlier there were no motorcars – everything moved by horse or by pedal. By 1916 many Seattle cyclists had turned into motorists, and Seattle had some 16,000 cars.  By 1921, with the doughboys returned from World War I, there were about 48,000 cars in Seattle. By 1929 there were 129,000 cars on the city’s streets.  

Of the two billboards above the Virginian Tavern, the one on the left advertises next year’s model 1937 Buick for $1,099.  Figured for inflation, the price seems surprisingly affordable.  In today’s showroom, the sticker would convert to about $18.400.   It seems that despite the ongoing depression, if one had a good middle class job, it was possible to own the mobility and prestige of a brand new Buick. 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, fellahs?   Ron Edge has put forward this week’s neighborhood links below – neither less nor more than nineteen of them, except that each is also bound to be packed with other links and so on and on.   I have not lifted so much.   It is, Jean, now nearly 5 am Sunday morning and I’m surrendering to my heart’s beating pleading for sleep.   However, should I survive the night I will return tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon to finish up this feature.  Now I lay me down to sleep . . . and the rest that passes all understanding.

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

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

THEN: Where last week the old Washington Hotel looked down from the top of Denny Hill to the 3rd Ave. and Pine St. intersection, on the left, here the New Washington Hotel, left of center and one block west of the razed hotel, towers over the still new Denny Regrade neighborhood in 1917. (Historical photo courtesy of Ron Edge)

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

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

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

THEN: Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill. Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner. (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

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

THEN: Looking south from Pine Street down the wide Second Avenue in 1911, then Seattle’s growing retail strip and parade promenade. (courtesy of Jim Westall)

belltown-moran-then

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

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

Now & Then here and now