The arch may have been better named the Schmitz Boulevard Arch because it wasn't really in the park.
IN AN AUGUST 1913 Seattle Times classified ad, C.W. Latham, a dealer of West Seattle real estate, asks, “Don’t you think it is a good time to come over and select that home site by the seaside?”
Latham’s reasons for moving to Alki were its new “$200,000 bathing beach, $60,000 lighthouse and $75,000 new school.” It was easy to reach the beach. Direct 5-cent trolley service from Seattle began in 1908. The dealer gave no address for his office. His instruction that it was “near the Schmitz Park Arch” was good enough.
The arch may have been better named the Schmitz Boulevard Arch because it wasn’t really in the park. In 1908, one year after West Seattle was incorporated into Seattle, the 2,700-foot-long boulevard was graded to the park proper, which was then first described as a 40-acre “cathedral” of old-growth forest. That same year, the German immigrant-philanthropists Emma and Henry Schmitz donated both the park and the boulevard to the city.
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A stripped log spans the arch’s columns, made rustic with a facing of river rocks. The construction is here still in progress; two additional posts to the sides have not yet been topped with their keg-sized stone flowerpots. The new Alki School, seen here far left across Alki Field, is partly hidden behind one of these incomplete columns. The school’s primary classes opened in 1913, also the likely year for this public-works photograph, which we discovered in “West Side Story,” the 1987 history of West Seattle edited by author Clay Eals.
Eals, an old friend, along with David Eskenazi, Seattle’s baseball historian, lured Jean Sherrard and me to their annual summer softball game at Alki Field. We, in turn, lured the players off the field and onto 59th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Lander Street to pose for this “Now.”
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.