When Westlake Avenue was cut into the growing north end of Seattle's downtown in the early 1900s, the area was already established as a transportation center, which it remains today.

Share story

STARTING WITH its simplest part — the bottom — here in a view that looks east toward Capitol Hill, a nearly new Westlake Avenue intersects on a slant with Fifth Avenue.

Next, on the far side of Fifth, the car barns and repair sheds of the Seattle Electric Co., once the city’s trolley monopolist, are half buried. Pine Street on the right and Olive Way on the left, were both raised atop dirt “borrowed” from the nearby Denny Regrade.

By 1907 most of the avenues showing here — from Fifth to Ninth — were also raised. More than raised, Westlake was cut through the city grid from Fourth and Pike to Denny Way, as we know it now. That work began early in 1905 and was completed in November of the next year. Perhaps this view was recorded to show these changes.

An approximate date for this subject is 1908. The Waldorf Hotel was completed in 1907. It is the largest structure on the right at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Pike Street. The car barn half-sunk below Fifth on the far right was built in 1896 to replace another that was built in 1889 when the trolley company moved here and replaced horsepower with electric. (That first plant and much else on this block was destroyed in an 1896 fire.) In a 1909 photograph of an Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition parade, a Chinese dragon twists along in front of that barn at Fifth and Pine. It is significantly different from how it appears here, ca. 1908.

Eventually a super-sized Westlake Market used these old barns to sell groceries. It was in competition with the Pike Place Market until evicted for the 1916-18 construction of the first five floors of the Frederick & Nelson department store.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.