This week looks into the financial district during Seattle's greatest boom years, the two decades after the Great Fire of 1889, when the city grew...
This is the third week in a row that we have featured looks into the financial district during Seattle’s greatest boom years, the two decades after the Great Fire of 1889, when the city grew from about 40,000 to nearly 240,000.
Here, about eight years after the ca. 1900 scene shown last week, an unnamed photographer records Second Avenue looking south from mid-block between Marion and Columbia streets, which is being crossed by a lonely motorcar and an electric trolley on the Lake Union line.
What stands out and up in this view is at its center: the Alaska Building (1904), Seattle’s first skyscraper, at the southeast corner of Cherry Street.
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The banner strung across Second Avenue mid-block above the trolley reads, in part, “Old Time 4th at Pleasant Beach (on Bainbridge Island), Boats Leave on the Hour, 50 cents. Including Dancing and Sports.” So the photograph was recorded early in the summer. Since there is no evidence of the citywide promotions connected with the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo, we choose 1908 — a century ago — as a likely date.
The Hinkley Block, far right, dates from 1892, and here it is filled with lawyers, dentists and even some artists. The brick paving on Second is about 12 years old. The oldest structures in this scene are the two on the left: the Colonial or Chapin Block on the northeast corner of Columbia and the Boston Block south across Columbia. As noted last week, both were built before the fire of 1889 and provided great service to businesses thereafter. Post-fire photographs from 1889 show these two buildings standing alone above the burned-out 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.