This may be the earliest intimate bird's-eye of the West Seattle harbor. I have grabbed 1890 as its date on the evidence of a sketch that appeared in "Graphic...

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This may be the earliest intimate bird’s-eye of the West Seattle harbor. I have grabbed 1890 as its date on the evidence of a sketch that appeared in “Graphic,” a Chicago-based publication that this year included a fulsome article comparing West Seattle to the best that Switzerland had to offer in the way of sublimity. Graphic’s line drawing of the harbor is in every detail the same as this photograph, although it was copied from another photograph taken almost certainly within moments of this one a few feet farther southeast on what was then the clear-cut Duwamish Head.

The ferry City of Seattle, far right, is “streaking” into its slip after a run from the Seattle waterfront. The inaugural trip was made on Dec. 24, 1888. The long Northern Pacific spur that runs through the scene between the ferry and the waterfront was completed in August of 1890. And the two-mile-long cable railway that looped up Ferry Street to the West Seattle addition atop the ridge and back down California Way Southwest to the developer’s headquarters, the big boxish building far left, was formally opened on Sept. 6, 1890, with much hoopla.

California Way and Ferry Street meet on the far left of the ca. 1890 view.

Washington Magazine raised its own 1890 cheer for this harbor. “The landing at West Seattle is very attractive . . . owing to the substantial character of its construction and the beauty of its surroundings . . . What more can be said about West Seattle, except that it will be to Seattle before a year passes what Brooklyn is to New York and Oakland to San Francisco.”

“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.