One of the city’s first nine dumps was created at the southwest corner of Lake Union.
WHEN THIS “THEN” photo is enlarged, I count 18 teamsters grouped with their trash wagons across the pond, looking directly at the photographer, most likely James Lee. For many years, Lee was the photographer for the city’s Public Works Department: our own municipal photographer. Here, Lee looks northwest through the block bordered by Valley and Aloha streets, and Eighth and Dexter avenues. That solitary motorcar parked at the corner of Dexter and Aloha (upper left) might well be Lee’s.
Lee had other shots to take this Oct. 28, 1915, a Thursday with light rain. All had something to do with the city’s solid-waste services. Our photo is a record of a civic dump and numbered, we assume by Lee, 3,147. Two numbers back, No. 3,145 is the often-published close-up of a refuse wagon (like the ones grouped here across the water) picking up trash from residences on Capitol Hill’s Belmont Avenue. With No. 3,141, Lee looked into this same littered pit, but from Dexter Avenue and near what we have guessed is his car.
These years were a stressful time for garbage in booming Seattle. The city, which only recently had started collecting solid waste for delivery to its nine managed dumps, also had built five garbage incinerators between 1907 and 1914. These “refuse destructors” were disappointing. Meanwhile, the tide-stirred dump named Puget Sound was ever-inviting.
The concrete box, behind the eight posing wagons, is the Municipal Transfer Station. It was built for Seattle’s first public-owned trolleys, which started running in 1914 on Dexter Avenue between the business district and Ballard’s Salmon Bay. The station, delicately designed with arched windows and an ornamental banding of colored tiles at the cornice, is probably the work of Daniel Huntington, then the city architect. The transfer station bears a small resemblance to Huntington’s much larger Seattle City Light steam plant, near the southeast corner of Lake Union.
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Moving up Queen Anne Hill, note the steep grade separation to the left of the transfer station at the corner of Aloha and Dexter. The first lines of residences beyond this cut and up the hill were short-lived. They were sacrificed for the Aurora Speedway in the early 1930s. But on the horizon, left of center, stands the enduring outline of one of Seattle’s more majestic landmarks, the former Queen Anne High School.
Probably of greater interest to Seattle children on this day were Van Camp’s trained-pig performances at the Grand Theatre. After dancing, boxing and drinking milk from nursing bottles, these trained baby pigs were “passed through the audience for the children to pet.” The Grand was packed for all the little pig shows on Thursday and Friday.