The landmark brick Colonnade Hotel, built in 1900, survives — but the ‘spite mounds’ do not.
HERE, SIDE-BY-SIDE in one photograph, stands a three-part lesson in the changes at the slope of Denny Hill between about 1890 and Jan. 17, 1905 — the date consistently inscribed on this and a dozen other photographs uncovered by persistent explorer Ron Edge.
Most were recorded within two blocks of this unidentified photographer’s prospect on the north side of Pine Street between First and Second avenues. Many of the subjects are readily identified, especially the Denny Hotel, standing at the top of the hill’s north summit. Both grand and picturesque, the hotel is the centered landmark in six of the 13 photographs, self-evident even in the midst of the smoking regrade’s unfiltered commotion.
Many more intimate subjects — like polluting steam shovels and spraying water cannons — are also readily found in several of the photographs. In our “Then” photo, there is a wagon on the left and a cadre of regrade watchers gathered far left at the corner of Second and Pine.
You would, of course, be correct to treat the Ice Age remnant standing like a wedge of chocolate cake at the center of the scene as its oldest part. This monolith is part of the pioneer claim marked by Arthur Denny, one of the city’s first founders, as his Third Addition to Seattle. During its regrading years, standing remnants of the hill were sometimes described as “spite mounds” that were kept free of development — including cutting — by owners objecting to the special taxes levied for the regrade’s public works improvements.
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We are left with the bookends of our “trinity” on Pine Street. The Griffith Hotel, far left, was an early and impressive addition to what would become the city’s retail district. It is depicted lifting its four stories at the southern base of Denny Hill in the 1891 bird’s-eye view of Seattle. The four floors of the landmark brick Colonnade Hotel, showing far right, were first built in 1900. They survive, reaching west of Jean Sherrard’s “Now” photo to the corner of Pine Street and First Avenue.
Should you care to play hide and seek with all 13 of Edge’s Denny Regrade prints dated Jan. 17, 1905, you will find them in the blog listed below, along with additional captions and other photos from the same “corner” of the Denny Regrade that have reached us through other collections.