Northwest Neon II

Welcome back for the next installment of Northwest Neons! If you missed part one, you can catch up on that here. I also want to say thank you to my friend, Keegan, for helping me gather snapshots of neon signs throughout the state. Some of his pictures will appear today and in the weeks to come.

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Ivar’s Fish Bar; Seattle, Washington

Ivar’s is probably Washington’s best-known eatery chain. Its roots date back to 1938 when Seattle local, Ivar Haglund, opened the first Seattle aquarium on Pier 54. Children and adults alike flocked to Pier 54 to view local animals such as Patsy the Seal, Barney the Barnacle, and Oscar and Olivia the Octopuses. Outside, Haglund sat on a stool with his guitar and sang songs about the aquarium’s inhabitants.

Before long, Haglund and West Seattleite Roy Buckley opened a fish and chips counter across from the seal cage. Its wild success angered the neighboring Steve’s Restaurant, causing the counter to close after only a year. In 1946, Haglund opened his Acres of Clams Restaurant and accompanying Fish Bar, which remain in business today.

 

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Skagit Valley Family YMCA; Mount Vernon, Washington

The Skagit Valley Family YMCA has served Mount Vernon and its environs for over 100 years. Its white brick building has stood on Fulton Street since 1941.

This sign, sporting the logo the Y used between 1897 and 1967, probably dates to the 40s or 50s. Several years ago, it was removed from the building and placed into storage.

 

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Naches Tavern; Greenwater, Washington

On the way to Mount Rainier in the tiny town of Greenwater sits the Naches Tavern. Origins of the tavern go back to 1919, but the sign likely dates from the 1950s. The name, likely derived from the nearby Naches Pass, has been associated with the tavern since at least the 1920s. The original 1919 building burned down sometime after 1926, and the current one replaced it.

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Summer 2018 Theme

Today is the first day of summer, which also means it is the official start of the summer 2018 series here on The Northwest Past! In 2016 we explored historic motels around the state, and although 2017 saw a hiatus from a summer theme, I’m happy to announce the theme for this summer is… Northwest Neons!

Over the next several weeks, we will explore historical signs around the state and the histories of the places they advertise. So buckle your seat belts and get ready for the first installment in Northwest Neons!

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Apple Cup Cafe; Chelan, Washington

Some of you probably recognize this sign from a few months back on the blog when I attended the Mahogany and Merlot event in Chelan. Named in honor of the hydroplane races hosted on Lake Chelan from 1957-1960, The Apple Cup Cafe has been serving locals and tourists alike for 61 years.

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Cocoanut Grove; Bellingham, Washington

Perched off of Marine View Drive in northern Bellingham, the unique spelling of this bar’s name suggests it, or at least its sign, has been around since the 1940s or 50s. In addition to food and drinks, the Cocoanut Grove  offered live entertainment and dancing as well. The Grove was also the location of a September 1980 meeting of Veronica Lynn Compton, a protegee of strangler Kenneth Bianchi, and victim Kim Breed.

The bar was noted in a June 28, 1953 journal entry of poet Gary Snyder as he described a trip to Gooseberry Point: “We went back by the same road, and by the outskirts of Bellingham Jack pointed out a ratty looking place called Coconut Grove where he said he had spent time drinking with a ‘rough crowd.’”

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Rainier Beer; Seattle, Washington

Yes, I know a reproduction sign has been placed atop the old Rainier Brewery in Georgetown, but this one is the original, now on display at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).

Rainier Beer was launched in 1893 by the son of a German immigrant who had run a successful brewery in Wisconsin. 11 years later, Rainier’s producer, the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company, was the largest brewery West of the Mississippi. By 1912, it was the sixth-largest brewery in the world.

Although the brewery’s success was hampered by Prohibition, both it and the Rainier name were purchased in the mid-1930s by Canadian brewer Fritz Sick and his son, Emil. New management brought life back into the company, whose success allowed the Sicks to purchase the Seattle Indians, a local baseball team, and rename them in honor of the beer.

The iconic revolving neon “R” was installed atop the brewery sometime in the 1950s. It greeted millions of people passing through Seattle until 2000, when Rainier beer ceased production. For several years a Tully’s Coffee “T” stood in the same location, but in 2013, a replica Rainier R was constructed and placed atop the old brewery.

 

Parking Palace

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of parking in the city? Parallel parking? Pay-to-park lots? Dark cement parking garages?

How about a groovy parking garage-meets-shopping-center?

Meet the Parkade in Spokane, Washington!

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Park in style!

There is no doubt that the automobile’s postwar popularity affected the US in the 1950s, but it affected Spokane, too. At this time of economic prosperity, downtown Spokane, which had been the city’s commercial hub for decades, was turning into a ghost town. As vacant buildings crumbled, they were demolished and turned into parking lots.

In 1961, a group of concerned businessmen joined together with the goal of revitalizing downtown. They hired a New-York based company (Ebasco) to assess the situation and make suggestions.

The report found that downtown suffered from deteriorating buildings, inadequate parking, congestion, and a general unattractiveness. Downtown reportedly suffered from a “general aura of drabness.”

What was Ebasco’s suggested remedy? A $26 million revitalization plan that included the removal of beautification of the riverfront, new buildings, and eight blocks dedicated to pedestrians. However, after two times on the ballot, taxpayers never approved the Ebasco Plan.

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SPOKANE, WASHINGTON. The Parkade Plaza–shopping and parking combined with beautiful architecture–Downtown Spokane, The HEART OF THE INLAND EMPIRE.

While the entirety of the Ebasco Plan was rejected, the call for more parking and revitalization was answered in the form of the Parkade Plaza. Built in 1967 to the tune of $3.5 million, the Parkade replaced 6 crumbling buildings with parking for nearly 1,000 cars and eight shops. The dramatic structure receive an award for “excellence in use of concrete” the following year.

The Parkade proved to be popular and useful for the 1974 World’s Fair and is still in use today. Several of its revolutionary and modern features, such as sloped floors, may now be common in parking garages, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s wild design makes it unique.