Here is print No. 12,920 in the Museum of History & Industry’s collection of historical photographs. On the back of the image is the caption: “Exterior view of Seattle Steel Company shortly after it began operation in 1905.”
The rising smoke and steam confirm that the superheated work of transforming the industrial scraps, piled here on the south side of the factory, into usable steel is under way. Much of it was rolled and stretched into bars used to strengthen concrete, like that used in Seattle’s first skyscraper, the then-1-year-old, elegant Alaska Building, which stands at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and James Street.
William Pigott, the factory’s founder, was variously described as a “devout Catholic” and “patriarchal capitalist.” As soon as Pigott announced his factory plans in 1903, the small neighborhood on Pigeon Point began to boom with mill workers moving into new but modest homes. Pigott soon called it Youngstown, after another patriarchal company town with rolling mills in Ohio. Youngstown resisted incorporation into its much larger neighbor, West Seattle. When Seattle did annex it in 1907, the company town came along, most likely for the better sewer and water systems. By then Youngstown supported four saloons and a public school, the latter built by the mill. The community also kept its eye on the frequently flooding Longfellow Creek that flowed through it into Young’s Cove.
Drawn “from plans only,” a captioned footprint of the factory was printed in the 1904 Kroll Seattle real estate map. The map names a stock house, heating house (with the smokestacks), rolling mill and several attached wings. Beyond these, the map notes, “tide flats, being filled in.” These Young’s Cove tidelands between Pigeon Point and West Seattle would be reclaimed and covered by the expanding factory. Longfellow Creek is now carried to Elliott Bay via a culvert.
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Pacific Northwest magazine readers may recall the May 25 cover story on this factory. See it online at http://bit.ly/1y2SKBF.
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.