I've always been a fan of Paul Dorpat's "Now & Then" feature in the Seattle Times. I noticed a guy in the UK was making composited cross-time images by matching Google's Street View with vintage photos. I made some of my own -- Handy way to time travel without leaving the house, though I sometimes do take the present day shots when things don't align. All images can be clicked to see a larger size.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mystery Album, Part One

As I continue to make those cross-time images I've been relying less on Google Street View images and taking more of the "now" images myself. For the "then" pics I've been looking beyond the usual online archives and MOHAI for source material. I've been finding great images in old news photos and photo albums on eBay. One album in particular turned out to be a real gem. The photos are all from the early to mid 1930s and show a very active family growing up in West Seattle. Every picture is meticulously annotated by the mom, who must have been the person behind the camera.
I'm looking forward to seeing what these pictures might turn into. The family spent a lot of time visiting many popular destinations in Seattle and Western Washington, which makes them perfect for "now and then" treatment.
This all made me curious about the people in the photos. As much as I'm enjoying the pictures it's a little sad to think that such a lovely piece of family history ended up selling on eBay for under 15 bucks. That's pretty common. Sometimes there are no living descendants or an album ends up in a branch of a family with nobody to pass it on to -- or no interest in old photos.
I was able to use the names, dates and some landmarks near their house to find most of the people in the album. One of the photographer's sons is apparently still alive in Oregon, as are several grandchildren. I'm planning to contact the family to see if they have any interest in the album. It could be I bought this from them to begin with (oops) but I figure it's worth checking. I'll follow up if any news develops.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Far, Far Away

Here's another picture from my home town, but a lot people who grew up in the 70s and 80s will relate to this. A friend sent me a photo of the marquee being demolished at Bremerton's historic Roxy Theater yesterday. Coincidentally, I photographed the once-glamorous Art Deco movie house a few weeks ago, planning to make a composite of a crowd lined up to see Star Wars in 1977. If you grew up in Kitsap County back then, chances are you saw the original trilogy at the Roxy. In Panavision. AND color.

Its days as a movie palace were over years ago. There are certainly newer, better venues for watching movies but a lot of us will always be sentimental about walking under those neon lights for our first visit to a galaxy far, far away.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Just Wild About Harry - POTUS 33 In Bremerton

After a year-long break, I'm back with some new/old photo composites -- This time venturing back to my home county.

A recent eBay find netted some terrific snapshots of Harry S. Truman's visit to Bremerton, Washington on June 6th of 1948. This was the visit where many believe Truman's famous catchphrase "Give 'em hell, Harry!" was first shouted by a man in the crowd gathered on Pacific Avenue below the Elks Club (the present-day Max Hale Center) . A couple other towns tell a similar story but Bremerton's claim is pretty strong, or at least no worse than competing versions.

The photos from before and during Truman's speech are easy to match with present-day Bremerton -- Many of the buildings, including the terraced rooftop outside the Elk's Club still exist. The photos of Truman and his traveling companions stopping shortly before arriving in Bremerton took a little more digging. At first glance, it's just a nondescript country road.

Newspaper stories during the presidential visit mention Truman leaving Olympia early that morning with his friend, Washington Governor Mon Walgren (no relation to the famous senator). One story in particular mentioned the group -- a car of staffers and a Cadillac convertible for the dignitaries -- taking Highway 3 through Shelton. A note on the back of the photo lists Bremerton's mayor L. "Hum" Kean among the group. Given the direction they were coming from and the need to add Bremerton's mayor to the group it seemed like they must have stopped somewhere just outside the city.

Truman appears to be having an animated conversation with Bremerton mayor, Hum Kean.

This ended up being correct. The house seen in the background is in the town of Gorst, just south of Bremerton where Highway 3 meets Highway 16. Not the first place that comes to mind for a presidential visit but the brickwork on the house's back porch is still clearly visible today, though it's just peeking through dense trees and bushes. Several shots in the series show Truman, Walgren and Hum Kean chatting and milling about while a few onlookers enjoy their brush with fame. The image of a US president just hanging out with a small handful of people on a country road is remarkable compared to the huge contingent who travel with presidents today.

After his visit to Bremerton, Truman and Walgren boarded the governor's yacht, Olympos and left for Seattle while reporters followed on a specially chartered ferry. After giving a short address in Seattle Truman and his entourage visited  Fort Lewis before returning to Olympia, completing their loop.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Regrade Do-Over!


I've been fortunate to hear from better informed experts on Seattle's past topology as I've posted these photo mash-ups over the last few years. That first batch especially had a few mistakes. Sometimes the image alignments were a little off -- Sometimes a lot. David B. Williams was nice enough to point out that the 1914 photo of the McNaught house was actually situated on the southeast corner of 6th and Marion, not the northeast as shown in my original composite. So, here's a do-over with the house where it should be. If anything, the elevation difference looks even more dramatic now. Thanks, David!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Just Passin' Through

This image from around 7th and Jefferson gives a sense of what it might look to drive through Seattle on I-5 in 1887 or 1888, a year or two before Washington attained statehood. The dramatic growth of the city is remarkable when you compare wider shots that contrast a town of wood and brick with the glass, steel and cement of today. Of course the stage will be set for Seattle's next growth phase by Great Seattle Fire which cut a huge swath through many of the buildings to the left in 1889.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lighter Than Air

Here we see the majestic USS Macon gliding above Seattle's Green Lake on August 22, 1934. The airship was traveling to its new station near San Francisco but took a leisurely route with time for a number of photo ops along the way. The Macon was a marvel of engineering and was designed to be a "flying aircraft carrier" with five small fighter planes. But even before the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 airships didn't have an encouraging safety record. The Macon's sister ship, the USS Akron, crashed off the coast of New Jersey the previous year with a loss of nearly all hands. The Macon too would be gone in February of 1935 when it crashed into the Pacific off the California coast near Monterey. Unlike the Akron disaster, all but two of its 76 crew members survived. The Macon's wreckage wasn't discovered until 1991 and the site is now a designated marine sanctuary.
Many of the residential houses from the era still stand today, though the area was clearly much more rural with some pastures and farms still evident. Both the baseball field and the Green Lake boathouse are present in the 1934 photo as well. The biggest change was certainly the addition of I-5 which eventually snaked through the fields in the central foreground.

Monday, August 17, 2015

An Arterial Materializes

Seattle commuters: Expect construction delays on I-5 before 1962. Not that things cleared up much after that.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Onward & Upward

For many Seattle old timers, 1st Avenue was historically a patchwork of bars, second hand stores and some of the city's more colorful adult-oriented businesses. As Seattle made the transition from a blue collar town to an epicenter of technology many of these institutions and the buildings that contained them have given way to a more gentrified (some would say clinical) appearance. Here we see present-day 1st Avenue near Virginia Street contrasted with a 1968 view. It's interesting to note that the offices for web-based real estate giant Redfin are in a crisp new high rise where Al & Leon once sold furniture across a rambling array of storefronts.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Change From On High

Another experiment contrasting aerial views from different times. This time combining an 1891 bird’s eye view of Seattle with a semi-polygonal version from present-day Google Earth. The 1891 image was rendered by lithographer E.S. Glover for the A.L. Bancroft company in California who specialized in text books and large aerial views of cities up and down the West Coast. These lithographs were somewhat idealized, both for clarity and aesthetic reasons – The perspective is fudged a lot to include both a street grid and the distant scenery. This makes lining up the horizon and landmarks a bit tricky but there is enough overlap using the waterfront and a few landmarks to get reasonably close. It's also possible to appreciate how successive decades of regrades removed a number of the rolling hills that once dominated the landscape of downtown Seattle.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Camp Harmony

This is a follow-up to the previous image of Japanese Americans boarding trains on the Seattle waterfront in 1942. I thought it would be interesting to mash up two aerial images this time. The results aren't perfect, but it gives a good sense of scale. 7390 residents lived in these hastily constructed barracks at the Puyallup Fairgrounds called Camp Harmony from May to September of 1942. The sections of the camp had simple letter designations. Area A is the block in the upper left of the photo. Area B is to the upper right near the present-day freeway. Area C is in the lower left. Area D was the most surreal of all, being situated in the middle of the race track and surrounded by grandstands, attractions and the roller coaster track. Most residents of Camp Harmony were transferred to the more permanent Minidoka and Tule Lake internment camps.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2 Million Bricks

This site at 7th and Madison housed four different school buildings over a 75 year period, concluding with this impressive edifice. Seattle's Central School was opened in 1889 and was almost immediately overcrowded, forcing the district to rent annex space from a number of nearby churches. As the 20th century unfolded the school had the opposite problem as downtown residences were replaced with office buildings. After surviving social and economic shifts and several earthquakes, the school was demolished in 1953. The lot was leased for parking until the site gave way to the construction of Interstate 5 in the early 1960s.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

An Embarrassment of Riches

My work took me to Bordeaux, France last week, so I thought I'd have a little fun remixing images from that part of the world. Making cross-time composites seems easier in a town where buildings are routinely hundreds of years old. The city is so absolutely crammed with landmarks that show up in countless paintings and photographs it's hard to choose.

It's also interesting from an urban planning standpoint: Most buildings in the heart of Bordeaux are carefully protected and preserved so very little has changed appreciably since they were first constructed. Compared to my Seattle images, where entire city blocks have been replaced multiple times during a scant 100 years, it seems like Bordeaux is preserved in amber.

The two buildings to the far right are actually in this painting by Louis Burgade from 1835. This is a view from the then-busy quay of Chartrons; one of several key piers that comprised the heart of commercial shipping to and from Bordeaux. The building where I worked for most of last week is a couple hundred yards to the right.

Bordeaux has many great avenues filled with restaurants and shops. Here we have a postcard view of the intersection of Cours Victor Hugo and Rue Sainte-Catherine from 1905 featuring a "Federal and Presidential" festival. The street hasn't changed much. Lining up buildings is incredibly easy when relatively little changes for hundreds of years.

The occupation of France was a painful chapter and Bordeaux was no exception. Here, Wehrmacht troops parade with a marching band at Place de la Comedie in 1942.

This merges a painting by Pierre Lacour and dates to the 1804-1806 timeframe. Lacour was facing in the opposite direction and slightly south of the viewpoint in the other painting.

Monday, October 20, 2014

City of Destiny

I had a request for cross-time images set in Tacoma. Fortunately, the "City of Destiny" has preserved a wealth of beautiful old buildings, which makes aligning past and present images much easier. Here's a view looking roughly southeast, shot by Tacoma photographer Paul Richards in 1910. Richards' shot looks across the Puyallup and Foss Waterways to the industrial heart of New Tacoma with "Mount Tacoma," as many called Rainier at the time, looming in the distance. Tacoma's old City Hall can still be seen near the foot of South Stadium Way, along with the pointy-topped dome of the Northern Pacific Building. The view from the roadway is only visible during the Fall and Winter these days -- a wall of white maple trees have put the intervening 100+ years to good use.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kitsap War Years

The postcard image was listed as a "1930s" street scene from Bremerton, but the movie marquee at the Tower Theater tells a different story. "What A Woman" starring Rosalind Russell premiered in 1943 so the scene dates to the heyday of my hometown -- The war years when the intense level of activity at the ship yard swelled Bremerton's population to 80,000. It's never matched that number again, but that's just as well. Many images from the time show shipyard workers living in hastily built shacks as the town struggled to house its mushrooming workforce.
The Tower Theater at 522 4th Street was one of a good half dozen movie theaters in downtown Bremerton. Those that weren't irreparably damaged by the quake of 1949 (like the Rialto) fell victim to the shifting economics of the region and were mostly gone by the 1960s.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Glory Days of "The Silver Slug"

The iconic and awesome Kalakala… Few vessels ever matched it for look and style. After its completion at the Kirkland Shipyards, Kalakala began service between Seattle and Bremerton in 1935. It was an immediate sensation and for a time was the second-most photographed object in America (after the Statue of Liberty). It sailed the Bremerton-Seattle run and other duties well into the 1960’s. Most Seattleites know the story of the vessel languishing on a beach in Kodiak, Alaska as part of seafood processing operation and its eventual “rescue” in 1998. Sadly, the once-revolutionary ferry is now rusting away on Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway, still in sore need of repair and restoration.
The Colman ferry dock itself has been rebuilt quite a few times due to fire, catastrophic ship collisions and the usual march of progress. In this image both terminal buildings are slated for destruction. The current building will be replaced as part of Seattle’s ambitious waterfront project as a spiffy multimodal transit hub planned for completion around 2021. Behind Kalakala the previous Art Deco style terminal building is, like the ferry, also a relic of the 30s. Both would be history by the end of the 1960’s.
But this picture recalls a better time for the streamlined ferry. Here we see its stainless steel exterior gleaming in the sun in a photo taken by Frank Shaw in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Behind, we can see how the Seattle skyline has mushroomed in the last 50 years.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

More Time Travel News


Well, it's not technically time travel so much as time comparison, but you get the idea. The latest coverage to hit the Seattle area news-o-sphere is up on KPLU's Quirksee website. It's really gratifying to see the great response to these images. Seriously -- I only made them for fun, thinking I'd just share them with a few Facebook friends. After they appeared on Reddit things went a little insane, but fun!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Then & Again On The Air!

I did a little interview with Evening Magazine, a local news and human interest show on KING-5 here in the Northwest. We talked about my cross-time images and some of the underlying ideas that motivate me to make them.
You can see the segment online here:


And yes, they did misspell my last name. It's traditional.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shoreline Redefined

I love this waterfront shot from the 1890's taken near the foot of present-day Broad Street. The shoreline was further inland before industry reshaped Seattle's waterfront.
Many Native Americans who remained in Seattle after white settlers arrived lived in shacks on the waterfront, including Chief Seattle's daughter, Angeline (Kick-is-om-lo in Lushootseed). Renting a dugout canoe was a common way to get around the waterfront, or to West Seattle.