In late 1912 or early 1913, the pedestrian trestle from the Pike Place Market first reached the waterfront about 100 feet north of the Pike Street Pier.

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IN LATE 1912 or early 1913, the pedestrian trestle from the Pike Place Market first reached the waterfront about 100 feet north of the Pike Street Pier, seen here on the far right. Crossing above Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way), the high trestle was a fine prospect from which to study the waterfront. Here, an unnamed photographer has used it to record a busy but unidentified event. Some of this cityscape is still familiar, like the Smith Tower (1914), which appears on the horizon near its center.

I will guess that this is a scene from 1916. That year the Pacific Net and Twine Co. became the principal occupant of the Pike Street Pier. The pier also became the central-waterfront headquarters for the fishing fleet and fishermen’s voluntary groups like the Fishing Vessel Owners Association, as well as a variety of related professions such as sailmakers and fish brokers.

What we witness is not business as usual on the waterfront, but an extraordinary moment having most likely to do either with the visit of a VIP or a mobilization. I think it is the latter and will even bet that this is another record of National Guard troops heading for the Mexican border to fight Poncho Villa and/or the Mexican regulars on the wet morning of June 25, 1916.

A few of Seattle’s estimated 16,000 cars in 1916 have joined the confusion. After World War I, cars and trucks would demand more room on Railroad Avenue and get it. By 1928 about 129,000 cars were on city streets, often using this splintered waterfront trestle as a dangerous detour around the congested central business district.

“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.