Completed in 1912, five years after the opening of the Pike Place Market, the Corner Market Building is set like a keystone at the head of its landmark block bordered by First Avenue, Pike Street and Pike Place. The architect, Seattle’s Harlan Thomas, wrapped elegance around the corner with contrasting brickwork, generous arching windows along the top floor, and at the sidewalk, open stalls for selling mostly fresh foodstuffs.
The photographer Frank Shaw dated this, his 2×2 inch slide, April 12, 1975. Joan Paulson disagrees, and in this I join her. April 12th was the Saturday when the nearly week-long “Rain or Shine Public Market Paint-in and Historic Restoration” was fulfilled and celebrated. That morning, before the awards, artists could apply their last brush strokes to their assigned 4×8 foot primed panels, which for the next seven months would serve as both an exhibit and as a construction fence to separate and protect laborers and shoppers from each other.
It was Paulson who put the primed panels and about fifty painters together and, when needed, purchased the art supplies as well. Paulson recalls, “They could start painting on Monday. It rained on Tuesday. Most likely this is Wednesday or Thursday. There’s too much left to do with the panels and too few people for it to be the celebration on Saturday the twelfth.”
As a chronicler of Pike Place Market History, Joan Paulson notes the unique “bottom-up” energies that made protecting the market a people’s project. connecting historic preservation with urban renewal and its federal funding. Appropriately, a force named Friends of the Market fueled the victorious 1971 citizens’ initiative to “Save the Market.” In most of this, U.W. professor of architecture Victor Steinbrueck was never out of the picture, and here (at the top) in Frank Shaw’s slide, Joan Paulson has found him as well. Far right, in the shade of his straw hat, we may detect over his right shoulder, that the “savior of the market” is working on his own contributions to the “Paint-In.” In Jean’s “now” photo, although thirty-nine years later, Joan Paulson stands at the corner holding up a rolled paperin her right hand.
On Saturday April 12, at the high noon lunchtime awards ceremony, Steinbrueck was one of the winners. The judges explained that to this special “paint-in artist we give the whole Market to do with as he pleases for the rest of the day, and Roger Downey (one of the judges) will wash his brushes.” With work completed on the Corner Market Building’s exterior in late November, all the “unique-to-the-market masterpieces” came down, including the surviving half of Steinbrueck’s mural, the part not punctured by a beam during construction.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes Jean, a protracted attention to the Pike Place Public Market in 1975 with a selection of photographs scanned from volume 2 of the 5 volumes of Frank Shaw negatives huddled in 18 inches on a shelf to the side of me in this north end crypt. We will attempt to get our choices up before climbing the steps to join the bears, but we may not. If not we will finish it off after seven or eight hours sleep and a late breakfast. The captions here will be minimal. We will elaborate with them alter, and hope some of you may help. (See above. You can comment.) Joan Paulson is also going study them and she, obviously, is the expert for such content as is in what follows. Thanks again to Mike Veitenhauns, Frank Shaw’s nephew, whom I first met forty-plus years ago at Fairhaven College, he a student and I an artist-in-residence. The Shaw snaps that follow will be arranged in no particular order – unless you notice one.
RETURNING SUNDAY NIGHT JUNE 1, 2014, AROUND MIDNIGHT
And Here Follows, THREE APT LINKS Found and Posted by Ron Edge
I have also added a panorama with the Hotel York, which was replaced by the Corner Market building.
Here is the area shown on the Sanborn map of 1905.
Here, for the third week running, we belatedly thank Frank Shaw for another cityscape he chose to record with his Hasselblad camera on one of his winter walks in 1961. Standing off the curb of First Avenue South on the evidently idle Sunday of February 26, Shaw aimed north from Main Street through the two blocks that were for Seattle’s first half-century the principal commercial strip for this ambitious town. Commercial Street, not First Avenue South, was its name until the city’s “Great Fire” of June 6, 1889. Following that destruction, some of the avenues in the burned district were widened and here south of First Avenue the descriptive name “Commercial” was abandoned for the commonplace First Avenue.
On this Sunday in February, Shaw could safely step from the curb during his hometown sight seeing. For his repeat Jean Sherrard made the prudent choice of standing on the planted median strip. This landscaping was one of the charmed improvements made later on First South during the polished restoration of Seattle’s Pioneer Square Historic district – about twenty blocks of it.
Standing at the center of First Avenue South also allowed Jean to show us the sandblasted vitality of those enduring landmarks that stand to both sides of the historic street. What Shaw saw in 1961 was brick walls slathered with carbon grime and cosmetic colors and the often neon names of the street’s many taverns, single room occupancy hotels, hardware stores, loan-pawn shops, cheap-suits shops, and a few missions.
Judging from my familiarity with his many photographs, I’m confident that Frank Shaw delighted in this subject’s primary tension – that between this historic street of worn landmarks and the nearly new Norton Building (1959), which fills the center of this cityscape. Here, with its glass curtain walls, is Seattle’s first oversized demonstration of austere international modernity looming above this worn (but not worn out) old town neighborhood like a lower court judge with clean fingernails looking down from his high bench at the morning line-up of drunks, pickers and survival improvisators.
Now, a half-century later, we know the verdict. First Avenue South and many of its neighbors were saved. A mix of heroic forces for historic preservation had it over the cadre of Seattle politicians and developers who proposed razing both our Pioneer Square neighborhood and our community market at Pike Place in the name of “urban renewal.” They envisioned mostly more Nortons and convenient parking lots. And Frank Shaw would be there through it all recording many of the heartening victories for preservation.
This week, extras will run late, we fear. We’re engineering a switch to new servers and expect several bumps along the way.
Nevertheless, one ‘Where’s Waldo’ treat: for the eagle-eyed, spot friend of the column, John Siscoe, poised at the street corner in the ‘Now’ photo, only a few feet from the doorway of his delightful Globe Bookstore.
That’s it for now. But we’ll be back on a new server next week (cross our fingers).