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 integrated cross-time images by matching Google's Street View with vintage photos, so I made some of my own. It's a handy way to time travel without leaving the house. I sometimes resort to taking the present day version myself when the street cam doesn't offer a good match.
Bricks of Contention
The first brick is laid at the corner of 2nd and Washington October 19th, 1912, but there was trouble ahead.
Seattle wasn’t above taking a patronizing tone with younger
towns and communities over the last century, sometimes actively exerting
influence over its smaller neighbors -- all in the interest of mutual
prosperity, of course.
A small headline in the Seattle Times in 1912 reads “Bremerton
To Have Its Streets Paved.” The short paragraph that follows describes Bremerton’s
mayor Paul Mehner and a large crowd gathered for the laying of the first brick
at the corner of 2nd and Washington. The project was to cover ten
blocks of the young city with a mix of bricks and asphalt for the price of
$60,000.00. This photo probably depicts that October 19th ceremony.
But the was story wasn’t so simple. The ongoing competition
between Seattle and Tacoma soon surfaced in the bricks lining Bremerton’s
streets. The bids received for the paving project were neatly typed up in the
city council minutes but the winner, J.S. Kenyon, was hastily added by hand
after the fact.
After some correspondence and a factory tour the Bremerton
city council clearly favored bricks from the Denny Renton & Coal Company in Seattle. Kenyon opted for a more affordable product from Standard Clay of Tacoma.
Property owners, including the estimable Sophia Bremer, argued in favor of the Denny Renton bricks. But Kenyon was adamant – and he had the backing of friends
and business partners at City Hall.
The debate only grew. An independent testing firm (from
Seattle, of course) confirmed that the Tacoma bricks were uneven in shape and below
the standard required by the contract. A lawsuit temporarily halted the paving
work, ironically on the street shown in this photo. The issue ping ponged back
and forth between the city council, lawyers and the contractor for over a year. The Seattle Times remarked that Bremerton’s plunge into “modern
municipal activities” had brought “little happiness to residents and taxpayers.”
It appears the project was quietly completed more than a year
later. I'm guessing they went with the Tacoma bricks.
ps: Special thanks to Sean Hoynes for snapping the “now” image!