In 1890, photographers William Boyd and George Braas formed a partnership, seeing, perhaps, in the new city being built above the ashes of the one...

Share story










In 1890, photographers William Boyd and George Braas formed a partnership, seeing, perhaps, in the new city being built above the ashes of the one that was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1889 an opportunity to put their “mirror” to the great changes — and prosper with them. The partnership lasted barely two years, and this example of their work most likely dates from 1892, although without a blade or leaf of landscaping we get no hints of the season.

The partners have titled it, lower-left, “Cherry St. Seattle” and given it the number “141.” The view looks west on Cherry through its intersection with Third Avenue, and everything within the frame, excepting the old clapboards on the far left, is nearly new. One can sense in this sturdy cityscape of brick, sandstone and fine lines what an elegant city Seattle was after the fire — and almost instantly.

Right of center are the New York Block at Second Avenue and, far right, the Occidental Building, then home of the Albemarle Hotel. On the smoldering heels of the fire, the Occidental Building was built quickly in three months and a few days. The New York Block was the opposite. First designs were ready in 1889, but the building was not completed until 1892. Both structures were later sacrificed for the grand terra cotta-tiled Dexter Horton Building, which occupies most of the “now” scene.

The Bailey Block at the southwest corner of Second and Cherry, far left, survives, although most of its stone-clad skin is hidden in the “now” behind the Alaska Building, which, when it was added in 1904, was Seattle’s first “absolutely fireproof all-steel frame” skyscraper.

“Washington Then and Now,” by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through www.washingtonthenandnow.com ($45) or through Tartu Publications at P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.