Filling Seattle's tidelands took decades. The enormity of the project can be seen in the tideflat that reaches all the way to Beacon Hill along Holgate Street.
SEATTLE’S TIDEFLATS are evident far inland in this 1923 view over the guardrail on South Holgate Street.
Then, buildings sat on pilings like those supporting the 45 steam-heated rooms of the Holgate Hotel, at the scene’s center, and the Alaska Stables, far right. Today, the filled area supports trucks and buildings on concrete foundations.
Asahel Curtis (the more famous Edward’s younger brother) dated this negative May 22, 1923. It is one of Curtis’ many recordings of what was named the “Ninth Avenue Regrade.” Ninth is now Airport Way, which runs north and south at the end of Holgate. On the far side of Ninth are joined twin factories that were built like wharves above the high tides that then still reached Beacon Hill behind them. The surviving structures are partly outlined in white.
Airport Way’s first incarnation was in the early 1890s as a 24-foot-wide plank trestle called Grant Street. Approaching the business district at its north end, Grant was given the grander name “Seattle Boulevard.” For the most part, it ran a few feet off shore from the often-sodden Beach Road, which was first surveyed in 1862 at the base of Beacon Hill. (In the winter, travelers took to the hill.) The trestle was soon joined in 1892 by the Grant Street Electric Railway, which reached its power plant in Georgetown and beyond to South Park.
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Already in 1919, the Alaska Stables began running classifieds in The Times under “Livestock,” selling its horses, harnesses and saddles. By then, the sounds of trolleys, trucks and motorcars were heard on Seattle Boulevard.
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