Businesses and building projects — and one door to nowhere — surrounded the former Ewing Street.
FOR THIS WEEK’S “Now” photo, Jean Sherrard moved a few feet north of our “Then” shot. The brick Google building at the corner of Fremont Avenue and 34th Street got in his way.
While both views look west from the north end of the Fremont Bridge, the historical photographer stood a few feet south of Jean’s prospect to include, on the left, the new double trackage of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The construction confusion on the right hides the work-in-progress of the grade separation between the railroad tracks and the line of businesses on the north side of Ewing Street.
Businesses shown in this first block west of Fremont Avenue start with, left to right, a dye works, a pool hall, a cafe, a real estate office, a loans and insurance office, the New York Laundry (which, in a 1910 Seattle Times classified ad, was looking for an “experienced ladies’ clothes ironer”), and Star Plumbing and Sheet Metal Works.
The plumbing store shows two small windows on its second floor, with a door between them that oddly and imprudently opens to neither steps nor a balcony. This is surely a vestige of this business row when Ewing Street was at its original elevation, about 20 feet lower than it stands here. Continuing to the right, the business lineup continues with more community necessities: a bar, an undertaker, a store for shoes and another for home furnishings.
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Ewing Street was named for Henry Clark Ewing, a precocious real estate agent who came to Seattle with his parents as a 14-year-old in 1886 and was building his own real estate office within 10 years. In the biographical section of “Seattle and Environs,” judge and pioneer historian Clarence Hanford describes Ewing as one who “has acquired a wonderfully intimate knowledge of realty values, and his judgment of such carries as much significance as that of any other man’s in Seattle.”
Ewing’s significance reached Fremont in the 1890s with his own street name. However, beginning in 1923, the street remembered Ewing only south of the canal, where it was kept in the mostly residential Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. On the industrious Fremont side of the canal, Ewing and its historical connotations were surrendered for another street name, North 34th Street.
I feel safe in ascribing the date for the “Then” photo as sometime from 1910 to 1912. On Sept. 2, 1910, The Seattle Times reported, “Work was begun this morning on the new Fremont Avenue viaduct across the Lake Washington Canal site just below Lake Union.”
We note that the bridge is called a viaduct in The Times report, and the canal merely a site. Committed canal cutting between Lake Union and Shilshole Bay began in 1911 and continued into 1916. Although about two stories taller than the first bridge at Fremont, the new “viaduct” was much longer and so actually resembled a viaduct while reaching new and higher grades at both ends.
Also in 1911, the north shore of Lake Union received a second temporary bridge — a lower pile-driven viaduct that reached across the northwest corner of the lake from Westlake to the foot of Stone Way. The Stone Way Bridge was razed in 1917, soon after the viaduct on Fremont was replaced by “the busiest bridge in America,” the bascule span on Fremont Avenue that we still cross and/or wait to cross.