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, so I made some of my own -- though I sometimes take my own "now" photos to improve alignment. It's been fun to time travel and think about people and events that happened in our region's past. All images can be clicked to see them at full size.

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.



Seattle would have looked a lot more like San Francisco today if the city leaders hadn't decided to smooth out a lot of the hills downtown. Low areas were raised by building a new street level, sealing off the original ground floors and creating Seattle's famous underground. High points were blasted with fire hoses and dumped into Elliott Bay via various sluiceways and conveyors. Hundreds of structures were either moved or destroyed. It took decades to complete and the result is a town that is... uh... well, still pretty damned hilly. Here are some regrade photos juxtaposed with the present day.
Looking towards King St. Station (the little pointy thing in the middle) in 1909. The original was shot more to the left (closer to Weller St.), but this still works pretty well. Seattle was pretty apocalyptic looking for some time. 

A freshly regraded view of 4th in 1909 vs. the same intersection today

Denny Hill as seen from 2nd and Pine, with the soon-to-be destroyed Denny Hotel. The hill was slightly more to the right, but I had trouble lining up the shot.

A before and after at 6th and Marion with buildings from 1914.

Plummer's Store

1st (formerly Commercial) & Main in 1869 and today. The waterfront was a lot further inland before the landfill and seawall were added.

UPDATE: Wow. Is my face red (seriously... it was really sunny today). All the attention these images have been getting has had one great result: People can point out things I mess up. Seattle historian Ron K. Edge was kind enough to point out that my image at 1st and Main wasn't correct the first time around. The image featuring Plummer's Store from 1869 was one of my first attempts at compositing past and present photographs. I've since learned a lot about the layout of Seattle over previous decades, but I clearly still have a lot to learn! Here is the image again, this time at the right intersection. Thanks, Ron!

Ducks & Unrest

A couple of Seattle's iconic Duck tour bus-boat-things headed into a labor demonstration on 7th street in 1919.

The Home Stomping Grounds

I'm originally from Kitsap County, so I rounded up some images in and around Bremerton and Silverdale, Washington. First, Washington Avenue around 1909.

2nd Avenue in 1940. The shipyard building is still there today, but all the businesses here are long-gone. The Rialto Theater was damaged in the quake of 1949 and subsequently demolished. Bremerton had a busy, vibrant downtown back then.

A Boy Scout parade in downtown Bremerton, 1946. Let's catch that new movie "Spellbound" with Gregory Peck!

This is mostly for my Kitsap peeps. It's not filled with historic significance, but back in the day Silverdale only had one four-way stop with a red flashing light at the intersection of Bucklin Hill Road and Silverdale Way. The White Light Tavern was one of the town's finer cultural attractions.

Carriages: Horsed & Horseless

4th and Columbia in 1905. I like how the retaining wall from both eras line up. The distinctive building in the middle is the venerable Rainier Club.


Seattle Fire Aftermath - 1889 + Today

The Occidental Hotel was a gorgeous building that stood where we find the "sinking ship" parking garage today near Pioneer Square. The older photo dates from the mid 1880's.

The Occidental only stood for only seven years. It was one of the many casualties of the Great Fire of 1889. The sad remnants of the fa├žade and entryway line up pretty well with the parking garage here.

Continuing with another dramatic picture from the Great Fire of 1889. Here's the corner of 1st and Yesler. Whether through fire or civic improvement, Seattle has a tradition of getting periodically flattened.

The ruins in the previous picture would be at our backs here, as we look more directly up 1st from Yesler. Before the fire this intersection contained buildings that separated what was then Front Street (to the north) from Commercial Street (to the south). After the fire, the two streets were united to create the present day 1st Street.

Fun In The Urban Canyon

Long before Seafair, Seattle was all about the Golden Potlatch. Up top is a shot from the big parade in 1913 near 2nd and Marion. Interesting that the Google Street View car captured some protesters on the left side of the street. It looks like they're joining the party. The second shot is another Potlatch celebration from between 1911 and 1914, this time just a bit further north on 2nd. Check out the street lights decorated as totem poles.


A Painful Journey

Japanese residents boarding a train during their forced relocation to internment camps in 1942. This was shot in front of the ferry terminal on Alaskan Way. It looks like the Marion Street pedestrian bridge is packed with spectators.


A Glamorous Mirage

Want to catch that great new band The Sonics? How about The Wailers? It's a generic Walgreen's today, but this site in Des Moines off Highway 99 is where the Spanish Castle ballroom once stood. Built in 1931 and demolished in 1968, Jimi Hendrix played some of his earliest gigs there. His song "Spanish Castle Magic" refers to the venerable venue. The building was just stucco and neon, but it had a great look at night in the late 1930's photo (bottom).


Cherry Land

Pictured here is Tameno Habu Kobata standing in front of her family's Cherry Land flower shop during its peak in 1941. By the end of the year, the business would be closed and the Kobata family interned, along with most other Japanese-Americans in the Northwest. Buildings along this portion of Jackson were later torn down to make way for I-5, which stands over most of the shop's old footprint today.


The Dubious Beginning

This is the Northgate Mall in either the late 1950's or early 1960's, complete with totem poles and a canoe motif above the bus stop. Northgate Mall has the distinction of being America's first shopping mall -- Makes sense for the rainy Northwest, though it looks pretty sunny in the old postcard shot on the left.


A City Within A City

A lot of cities across America had "Hoovervilles," shanty towns that sprang up after the Great Depression hit. Seattle was no exception. The future home of Terminal 46 was put on hold as the economy worsened, and the land was used for makeshift shacks, mostly occupied by single men. Seattle's Hooverville had about 1,000 residents at its peak, elected its own mayor and enforced hygiene codes. By the time WWII began, the makeshift town was burned and bulldozed, but the site was used for nearly a decade before then.


Holiday Wartime in Bremerton

Downtown Bremerton from the late 1940's, all done up with Christmas lights. That metal scaffold-looking thing just above the star is a stanchion for an anti-aircraft blimp. It's nice to see how the Roxy theater looked when it had its full compliment of neon lights.


A Pier Full of Awesome

Residents of Seattle once looked across Elliot Bay at a glowing beacon of pure fun. Starting in 1907 you could take a trolley or ferry to West Seattle and enjoy the attractions at Luna Park, named after the original on Coney Island. The park had two Vaudeville theaters, the Great Figure Eight Roller Coaster, the Giant Whirl ride, and indoor water attraction called the Natatorium and rotating attractions from baby incubators to the amazing Ostrich Man. The buildings were completely outlined with thousands of electric lights.

But, it didn’t last long. After numerous injuries to patrons and the growing influence of the temperance movement the park was shut down and dismantled after just seven year in 1913, leaving only a few lonely pilings you can still see at low tide and the remnants of the Natatorium’s foundation which became part of Anchor Park.


A Fiery End

A B50 Superfortress crashed just after taking off from Boeing Field in 1951. It clipped the Rainier brewery and destroyed the Lester Apartments, killing the six crewmen and five residents on the ground. In a previous life the apartments once had the distinction of being the largest bordello in the world, set up by Seattle's mayor and chief of police, no less. The site is now beneath I-5.