On Seattle's First Hill ca. 1923, landmarks included the still-welcoming Sorrento Hotel, the Catholic St. James Cathedral, the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, and the First Presbyterian Church.

Share story










Throwing long shadows across Eighth Avenue, a late-winter sunset lights up a trolley heading south from Pike Street (bottom left) to Union Street, where it will turn right for its last leg into the business district.

The unnamed photographer stands on the roof, probably, of the Jackson Apartments at 1521 Eighth Ave. and records a neighborhood of hotels, apartments and furniture stores in the middle ground below a First Hill horizon. Left to right, the lineup of landmarks there includes:

Upper left: the still plush Sorrento Hotel; below it the dark brick mass of the since-passed Normandie Apartments at Ninth Avenue and University Street. Next are the twin towers of St. James Cathedral and to its right the Van Siclen Apartments, which face Eighth a half-block west of Seneca. Then comes the nearly new Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, with its gleaming cream tiles and centered dome, since 1998 home of one of Seattle’s greatest cultural assets, Town Hall. To the right are the twin domes of the preacher Mark Matthews’ First Presbyterian Church — one dome for his office and the other for the radio station of what became, the congregation claims, “the largest Presbyterian church in the world.” Far right, the brick tower of Central School at Sixth Avenue and Madison Street completes the horizon-line tour.

The likely date for this scene is 1922-23. The same photographer on the same visit to the roof turned around and recorded the Cascade neighborhood to the north. We will study that next week.

“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.