OTTO THEODORE FRASCH was one of boomtown Seattle’s most energetic postcard photographers of the early 20th century, when the public interest in sending and collecting postcards with “real” photographs was popular. Local collectors cherish postcards with the “O.T. Frasch Seattle” credit and caption.
In this look east on Yesler Way, where it crosses above Fourth Avenue, Frasch printed the names of three of Seattle’s primary civic buildings on postcard No. 173. First, left of center, is the triangular-shaped City Hall. It was the brick replacement for the comically named Katzenjammer Castle city hall, nearby at Third and Yesler, located in what is now City Hall Park. Earlier, Frasch had made another postcard, No. 19, that included both municipal buildings on Yesler Way.
Otto and Mary Frasch came from Minnesota in 1906. Elsie, their first daughter, was born on the way. A charming picture of the three is included on otfrasch.com, which is web-mastered by Elsie’s great-grandson, David Chapman. More than 500 images of Frasch’s Seattle and surrounds are featured, including Luna Park (the family lived nearby on West Seattle’s Maryland Avenue), the Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exposition in 1909, the city’s Golden Potlatch parades from 1911 to 1913, and the 1908 visit of the Great White Fleet.
This “real photo postcard” most likely dates from 1908. Although barely visible in this printing, a monumental “welcome” sign for the fleet stands high on First Hill to the left of the King County Courthouse dome, which resembles a wedding cake. City Light is the third landmark noted. The citizen-owned utility stands above the northwest corner of Seventh Avenue and Yesler Way.
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Frasch did not include in his caption the private Grand Union Hotel, on the far right. The hotel opened in 1902 and survived 81 years. The May 15, 1983, issue of this newspaper includes a photograph of the hotel’s destruction under the caption, “Going Going Gone.” The Grand Union “came down without a whimper, ending years of anxiety by the city over the lack of stability in the turn-of-the-century building.”
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