Then & Now: 8th Ave NW & NW 58th Street

The black & white photo, courtesy Anna Jensen Kvam, was taken between 1903 & 1934 and appears in the book, Passport to Ballard, and is from the photo collection of Paul Dorpat.

The photo is undated, but we are able to assign an approximate date based on two factors. In 1903 the “Cow Ordinance” went into effect making it illegal for cows to roam freely. Then in 1934, our neighborhood became a construction zone when the city started grading and paving the dirt roads.  Since the cow is leashed and the road is dirt, we have an approximate date.

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8th and 58th - 2

Then & Now:  Looking north from the corner of 8th Ave NW & NW 58th Street

The location is approximate because there were too few data points for me to confirm the exact location. The first aerial photos of our neighborhood were taken in 1936, and by this date 8th Ave NW had been graded, widen and paved. One home in the original photo is still standing at 5816 8th Ave NW. Today the home is almost completely covered by trees and shrubs and barely visible in the photos.

then and now -1

The photo is of Jesse Jensen, who once lived at 330 NW 51st Street. Jesse was Anna Jensen Kvam’s father.  A 1967 Seattle Times article (see: JENSEN, K – April 9, 1967 – Seattle Times), describes Jesse as a “dairy farmer” and also as owning a “plastering business”.

If you believe you have additional information to help confirm this photos location, date or subjects, let me know. I would love to see how close I came to the exact information!

Thank you to my husband and sweet baby boy for humoring me on Sunday morning and walking up and down 8th Ave NW in order to figure out the approximate location.

Then & Now: 418 NW 65th Street

Constructed in 1925, this building’s first tenants included the Minni Belle Fountain Lunch restaurant at 418 NW 65th Street and West Woodland Hardware at 416 NW 65th Street. Just east of the building, at 412 NW 65th Street, White Rock Service Station was providing automobile services for vehicles in the neighborhood.

Business was booming on NW 65th Street in the 1920s as the West Woodland District continued to grow. Minni Belle’s closed about 1936, and West Woodland Hardware took over the coveted corner retail space where they would operate until moving to 501 NW 65th Street in 1944.

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West Woodland Hardware, 1937

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The New Woodland District Hall:

In 1937, the West Woodland District moved it’s district hall into the space previously occupied by West Woodland Hardware at 416 NW 65th Street. The original Woodland Hall, which is still standing at 419 NW 60th Street, became a grocery store for the growing neighborhood.

At the new location, several community groups were able to conduct business on behalf of the West Woodland Neighborhood.  One of these groups was the West Woodland Commercial Club (WWCC), a grassroots organization that had previously been meeting in homes and public spaces.  The WWCC organized Klondike Days, a two-day neighborhood celebration that included a parade, games of chance, music and dancing. The club also acted on behalf of the business district and neighborhood petitioning the City of Seattle for funds to improve roadways and other public services.

Another group that moved into the new West Woodland Hall was a social movement called Technocracy. The “technocrats” proposed replacing politicians and business people with scientist and engineers who had the technical expertise to manage the economy. This group grew in popularity during the 1930s, and all but disappeared after the start of WWII.

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Marcella’s tavern cafe, 1944

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Recent Changes:

In 1944, the building was again full of food and laughter when Marcella’s Tavern Café opened its doors. For the next 60+ years the location changed names many times; Ben’s Tavern opened in the late 1940s, Dan’s Tavern in the 1950s,  and Hagar’s Tavern in the 1980s.   Most neighbors remember Hagar’s because of the risque mural that once covered the west facing exterior wall of the building.  More recently, this building has been home to the Reading Gaol and 418 Public House.

The White Rock Service Station has been closed for many years, but you can still see the cement footprint of the station building in the NE corner of the lot.

There have been few changes made to the exterior facade of this building. The southeast corner has been modified so there is no longer an entrance and retail windows at that address. Several doors and windows have been modified on the north side of the building as well. Still present, the diamond roof-line embellishments and exaggerated external columns.

The property was put on the market Summer 2014 and sold Spring 2016.  For additional sales information click HERE.

418 two - Now

418 Public House, 2014

The black & white photos, courtesy the Puget Sound Archives, show the NE corner of 5th Ave NW and NW 65th in 1937 and 1944.

New York Library Makes Thousands of Photos Available Online

This week the New York Public Library released thousands of its public-domain items — including maps, posters, manuscripts, sheet music, drawings, photographs, letters, ancient texts — as high-resolution downloads, available to the public without restriction.

The general public, including those of us who live in Seattle, can now access thousands of amazing high-resolution photos for free. Previously users would have to make a request and pay a processing fee.

I did a quick “public domain only” search, using Seattle as my search term, and 32 results appeared, including this amazing lithograph of early Seattle by Henry Wellge, dated 1884.

seattle 1884

This is a great resource for researchers, or a great way for the rest of us to kill an hour or two.  To access materials click HERE.

Little Jimmy & the Gilman Shelter House Chimney

One of my favorite West Woodland Neighborhood stories took place in January 1953 at a snow covered Gilman Playground.  The boy’s name was Jimmy Wright and his adventure made the front page of the Seattle Times.

Little Jimmy was enjoying a day at the park, playing in the snow with his school chums, when he decided to climb to the top of the Gilman Playground shelter house.  Side note, the Gilman Playground shelter house is listed by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods on their Historical Site Database.  For more Gilman Playground history click HERE.  

Once on top, Jimmy showed his friends that he could indeed fit in the chimney opening…. and swoosh!  Just like Santa Claus, Jimmy slid down the chimney into the room below.   Unfortunately for Jimmy, the shelter house was locked from the outside and the only person with a key was park superintendent Ben Evans.

After finally being released, he ran to his step-father, soot faced tears streaming down his cheeks, and proclaimed, “Never again!”  One trip down the chimney was enough for Jimmy.

Article below courtesy the Seattle Times Archive.

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Then & Now: Looking west from NW 55th Street onto Market

The black & white photo was taken on March 1, 1956 and comes to us courtesy the Seattle Municipal Archives Photograph Collection, Item No: 53109.

The “Then” photo was taken at the corner of NW 55th Street and NW 55th Place (west tip of Greenwood Triangle Park) to record the completion of the Market Street widening project. The photo shows Eagle Service Station at the corner of 6th & Market and directly across the street an IGA Grocery Store, which today is home to Brimmer & Healtap Restaurant. To the north of these businesses, you can see the Curly Cone ice-cream stand which once stood on the parcel now occupied by Veraci Pizza.

This old grocery store’s facade is elegant and includes a corner entry topped with a gabled parapet and cast stone ornamentation. It is clad in yellowish tan brick, with decorative brickwork that extends around the exterior of the building. The original display windows with intact transoms flank the entry and the wood-and-glass door is original. As a result, the building is included in the Seattle Historical Site Inventory. For additional information about the building, please visit:  http://web6.seattle.gov/DPD/HistoricalSite/QueryResult.aspx?ID=361

Market and 52 BH Then and Now - Market and 55th short

Then & Now: Looking East at the corner of 8th Ave NW and Market Street

The black & white photo, courtesy the Seattle Municipal Archives, shows the intersection of 8th Ave NW and Market Street in August 1955.

The “Then” photo was taken to record the completion of the Market Street widening project. The project expanded Market Street and connected it to North 46th Street. On the right side of the photo you can see Moss Grocery and the homes that once lined the south-side of the intersection.

In the “Now” photo, Shell Service Station sits on the parcel once home to Moss Grocery and Ballard Mandarin Restaurant is on the left side. This same restaurant was once home to Inn Binn Restaurant, a wonderful family owned eatery that served amazing pot-stickers.

Market and 8th - Aug 1955 Then and Now - Market and 8th

Then & Now – Market Street Widening

Updated: 09/29/2017

In 1903, the Seattle Parks Commissioners hired the famed Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm to design a comprehensive system of parks and boulevards for the city. West 55th Street was once part of the city wide boulevard system created by the Olmstead Brothers. Creation of the boulevard was intended as the western approach to the Woodland Park Zoo.

The western approach to the zoo was never fully realized, and as the NW corner of Seattle continued to grow there was a very real need for a direct route into downtown. Remember, the trolley tracks had been pulled up for the war effort, and public transportation meant locals were taking the bus.  Seattleites were buying cars at a record rate; easy to finance and gas was cheap.  People wanted roads.    

An east-west highway between Ballard and the University District was studied as early as the 1920s (see map below), but in the mid-1940s discussion was heating up again and the City was preparing to proceed with construction. Neighbors along the route sent petitions of protest against the project. One asserted that the highway “is not whatever needed, since we have our streets and avenues all in sufficient for anybody who wants to travel through that District. If any improvement should respectably seem necessary, such could be established at a trifle of the cost in comparison with this proposed plan with all its burdensome expenses and destruction.”

Another petition claimed that the initial plans for the highway decades earlier “was opposed by the people of the District. The Merchants Improvement Club then was brought to shame for such an unreasonable plan, and promised never to bother us again.” The petition went on to list existing streets that provided a good route up the hill from Ballard to Phinney Avenue, insisting that this project “is really not needed.”

City Engineer C.L. Wartelle responded to the protests with the following:

The protestants appear to be mainly owners of properties which will be affected by the new route and their immediate neighbors. The protest is based upon the assertion that the connection is not needed, existing streets being sufficient, and that hundreds of families will be required to find new homes.

We believe the necessity of this route is obvious to all those who have studied the problem. Some twenty years ago the matter was before the City Council, and the only reason it did not proceed at that time was because no way could be found to finance it. The petitioners state the hundreds of families will lose their homes. There are 36 houses and 3 garages that will have to be taken. Most of the houses can be moved to new sites. It is regrettable that these 36 home owners will be inconvenienced, but there does not seem to be any other recourse.

We would therefore recommend that the condemnation proceed, and the petitioners be so informed.

Construction went forward in 1949 despite the neighbors’ complaints, although current residents might argue with not-so-speedy Market Street being designated a “highway.”

The completion of the Market Street widening project in 1955 allowed for direct access from Ballard into Fremont, Wallingford and beyond. Market Street became a critical commercial thoroughfare and to this day, goods and service continue to travel on this stretch of roadway.

Map of proposed surface and tunnel routes for proposed Ballard-University highway, dated 1929, courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives.

SMA 1591 - Ballard University HWY - Tunnel

Before & After Aerial of Ballard-University Extension:

The & Now - Market Street widening II

The left photo was taken in 1936 and the right photo in 2012. Both are courtesy King County Department of Assessment. When comparing the photos you can see the Market Street spur that now runs diagonal through the neighborhood. Many of the homes that were impacted by this roadways construction were moved to nearby vacant lots, including lots in the West Woodland neighborhood. In a future post I will highlight some of those homes. (Update: See photos here).

To read more about the Olmsted Brothers Park and Boulevard System plan please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/history/

 

Photos of progress – Market Street Spur Construction

The Seattle Engineering Department has an official name for the Market Street spur – the Ballard and University Extension. This east leg of Market Street was completed in 1949 and connected the West Woodland neighborhood to Fremont, Wallingford and beyond. The rest of the Market Street widening project wouldn’t be completed until 1955, but for neighbors using the newly created spur, it made the trip into downtown Seattle fast and efficient.

The photos below are courtesy the Seattle Municipal Archives and show the very west end of the spur from the start of construction until completion in December 1949.

Approximate modern day view HERE.

March 25 1949 with date

Market Street 1 - July 1949

Market street 2 - oct 1949

Market street 3 - Dec 1949

1947 Aerial of the West Woodland Neighborhood

This aerial photo of the West Woodland Neighborhood is dated April 25, 1947 and comes to us courtesy Ron Edge. Thank you so much for this amazing contribution Ron, it is a wonderful gift for the community.

What I love about this photo is the old brick West Woodland Elementary is still standing at the corner of 4th Ave NW & NW 58th Street. The Market Street spur, connecting NW 55th Street to NW 46th Street in Fremont had not yet been constructed and NW 55th Street was still a small two lane neighborhood road.

Aerial from above Ballard to Fremont - West Woodland April 25, 1947 (1)

I have saved the photo to Google Drive so that you can download a high resolution copy and examine closer to truly appreciate this amazing photo! Let me know what you find as you are searching the photo. Link to Photo HERE.  Please note, file size is 16 MB.

Thank you again Ron!

Then & Now – Aerial of West Woodland Elementary

Did you know that a portion of 5th Ave NW is under the West Woodland Elementary School playfield?  It’s true!  After the original brick school was demolished in April 1990 to make way for the new building, the roadway and foundations from homes on the west side of the street were simply buried.

During the Summer of 2013 a ground source heat pump was installed under the playfield and a member of the construction crew shared with me that they needed to drill 80 holes, 300 feet deep for the project, but there had been a few delays. Several of their massive drills had failed as a result of coming into contact with old home foundations, re-bar and other construction debris that was used as fill when this area was covered.

Looks like this stretch of 5th Ave NW doesn’t want to be forgotten.  

WWES - Then - SPS aerial photo

Then & Now - WWES aerial - with markings

The black & white photo was taken in July 1960 and is courtesy Seattle Public Schools. Special thank you to Janet Ness, Archives & Record Management, for sharing this wonderful photo with all of us. In order to create the “now” comparison photo, I used Google Earth.

Do you remember this stretch of 5th Ave NW? Or did you live in one of the homes on the west-side of the street? Share your memories below or to westwoodlandneighbors@gmail.com.

A trip to Hooverville

A little over a year ago, I had a series of phone conversations with Vern Vellat, West Woodland Elementary class of 1941.  During those calls, Vern shared stories about growing up in the West Woodland Neighborhood during the Great Depression.  One of those stories is detailed below.  

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West Woodland Elementary School, Class of 1941.  Vern can be found in the last row, second student from the right.  

The stock market crash in October 1929 helped trigger a devastating depression that dominated the Northwest for nearly a decade. The economic downturn gradually affected more and more people.  By the time President Hoover left office in 1933, 13 million people in the United States were unemployed.  Some unemployed became transients, searching for jobs and food.  In Seattle, unemployment was 11% in April 1930, rising to 26% by January 1935. 

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Photo of 6th Ave shacks, dated 1939, courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, item #39279

Vern’s family lived at 508 NW 62nd Street in a modest two bedroom home.  During the Depression his sister, her husband, and her children moved in, as well as a neighbor friend who’s father had to leave Seattle in order to find work.  At any given time 12+ people might be calling this address home.  Money was tight, but Vern’s Dad slowly enhanced the home in order to relieve the population pressure.  Vern’s family was not unique in this regard, many families in the neighborhood would “double up” in order to guarantee a roof over their children’s heads during this period.

Verns Family

Photo of Vern Vellat’s Family, date unknown, outside his home at 508 NW 62nd Street.  

On a Sunday in 1933, Vern’s eyes were opened to the extent of unemployment in Seattle. His Dad drove him to ‘Hooverville’, located on the waterfront near the former location of Seattle’s Skinner & Eddy Shipyards (SODO Neighborhood).  Hooverville was littered with shanties, shacks, and shipping crates.  Any reusable building product was conscripted to help make homes for the unemployed.  Trip intent?   Hire a former fellow machinist for two days at $3.00 per diem.  This was considered a bonus rate only given to friends and family.

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Photo of Hooverville, dated 1932, courtesy King County Archives, Photo ID: 90.2.1794

Vern shared with me that there were six classmates’ families that had started their own businesses during the Depression.  Hiring was slow and business was slower. Finding a job to pay rent, buy food, and care for your family was paramount.  Several of Vern’s older friends graduated from Ballard High School and immediately signed up for Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  The CCC provided jobs working in National Parks, road construction, and much more.  

Also, three West Woodland Neighborhood Dad’s went to work for Work Progress Administration (WPA).   The WPA work-relief program employed more than 8.5 million people, with an average salary of $41.57 a month, building bridges, roads, public buildings, public parks and airports.  The Seattle WPA was housed in the old Irving School building, located at 14th Ave NW & NW 52nd Street, near Gilman Playground.  The original school building is long gone, this location is now home to the Seattle Gymnastics Academy.  More information about this school can be found HERE.  

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Photo of Irving School, dated 1938, Courtesy MOHAI, Image No. 24411.  

Businesses on NW 65th came together to help the neighborhood as well. They organized themselves into a group known as the ‘West Woodland Commercial Club’ and would hold monthly meetings at 416 NW 65th Street (now part of the 418 Public House). The club hosted Saturday matinees at the Woodland Theater, two movies would be shown, and during intermission the businesses would give away prizes of food, clothing and coupons for other services. Vern said that each Saturday there would be a long line of people waiting to get into the theater for this event.

Woodland Theater - 1937

Photo of the Woodland Theater, dated 1937, courtesy of the Puget Sound Archives

Stay tuned for future stories from Vern Vellat.  More information about Seattle’s Hooverville can be found HERE.