WE AT “NOW & THEN” admit we can be lured into April folly any old day of the year. While fishing the currents of popular history, we occasionally pull in old boots and dogfish. This year, we extend the opportunity to our dear readers to troll along. 

Our “Then” photo, looking north at Seattle’s downtown business district, is a revelation. Fearless photographer Frank H. Nowell arranged for an early ride up to the unfinished (and unwalled) 35th-floor observation deck of the famed, pointed Smith Tower. In 1913, one year before the tower opened, Nowell captured this early panorama from the loftiest human-made structure on the West Coast. 

Following in his footsteps 108 years later, I repeated the panorama (“Now1”) and made several telling discoveries — of alteration, misinformation and exaggeration — ideal for an April Fools’ multiple-choice challenge in which we peel back a layer or two of the Smith Tower’s terra-cotta-clad onion. 

Question 1 (see “Then” and “Now1” photos):

In our primary pair of photos, several decades of growth have obscured the northern prospect. Which of the following still can be seen? 

A: The Central Building 
B: Queen Anne High School 
C: Lake Union 
D: The Rainier Club 
E: St. James Cathedral 


Question 2 (see “Now2” photos):

Our second pair of photos reveals a more recent switcheroo. In a view north along the Second Avenue canyon, the Space Needle seemingly has disappeared. Where has it gone? 

A: Magician David Copperfield followed up his Statue of Liberty vanishing act.
B: The Space Needle was returned to the box it came in. 
C: Yet another condominium joined the fray. 
D: Amazon created a new pop-up Seattle headquarters. 
E: Regraded Denny Hill re-emerged to assume its rightful place. 

Question 3 (see “Now3” photo):

At the Smith Tower’s front entrance, a brass plaque has misinformed passersby since 1989. Which of the following statements is/are not true?  

A: Lyman Cornelius Smith was from Syracuse, New York. 
B: The Smith Tower is 42 stories tall. 
C: Smith was a founding partner of Smith & Wesson. 
D: L.C. accumulated much of his wealth manufacturing typewriters. 
E: In 1914, Smith Tower was the tallest building outside New York City. 

1: A, D and E 
2: C 
3: B (even a generous observer counts no more than 38 stories), C (Horace Smith founded Smith & Wesson) and E (at 495 feet, Cincinnati’s Union Central Tower was 30 feet taller). 

The rubric
One correct answer: You’re a Mercer Mess.
Two correct answers: You’re a Pike Pundit.
Three correct answers: You’ve attained Seattle Chill.