Oh! The Places You’ll Go Part II

Welcome back for another look through an ARCO street map from 1967! If you missed part one, you can find it here.

1. Sick’s Stadium

Baseball fans across the US have surely heard of the Seattle Mariners. Local fans, of course, know that they play home games at Safeco Field. Long-time Mariner fans will likely remember when the M’s played at the long-gone Kingdome. But long before the Mariners debuted, Seattle had a minor league baseball team called The Seattle Rainiers.

They played at Sick’s Stadium.

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Located in Rainier Valley at the intersection of McClelland Street and Rainier Avenue
(now Martin Luther King Jr. Way), Sick’s Stadium was built in 1938 for $350,000. The stadium was named in honor of Emil Sick, owner of both The Seattle Rainiers and the Rainier Brewing Company. In 1955, Fred Hutchinson (namesake of the Seattle cancer research center) became manager of the team, which had been the country’s most popular minor league baseball team based on game attendance. He left in 1956 to manage the St. Louis Cardinals, but returned three years later.

Televised baseball games caused attendance to drop, and Sick sold his team to the Boston Red Sox in 1961. He preserved ownership of the stadium. In November 1964, Sick and Hutchinson died within one day of each other. Ownership of the park transferred to Sick’s family, who chose to rename it Sicks’ Stadium, rather than the original Sick’s Stadium. The Red Sox sold the team to the California Angels, and the Rainiers were christened the Seattle Angels.

In 1967, Seattle was awarded a major league team… But only if they promised to build a bigger venue within three years. In 1969, voters passed a campaign for the Kingdome, but Sicks’ was expanded to serve as a temporary home until the Kingdome could be completed. The Seattle Pilots took debuted in the largely inadequate field.

Sick’s Stadium hosted not only baseball in the 1970s, but rock concerts and a wrestling match. It quickly fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1979, two years after the completion of the Kingdome.

Now, a Lowe’s Home Improvement store sits where Sick’s once was. The store has erected a commemorative plaque at the site of First Base.

2. Luther Burbank School for Boys

Located on Mercer Island, the Luther Burbank School for Boys actually closed in 1966, a year before the map is dated. The land originally belonged to Charles C. Calkins, who founded the community of East Seattle on the upper part of Mercer Island. He built an extravagant home for his family and an equally extravagant hotel, which guests accessed by a ride on Calkins’ steamboat.

The 1893 depression, the death of two of his children, and a house fire drove the Calkins Family from their homestead. Charles mortgaged off all he had and left the community.

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In 1890, Seattle Mayor Cicero Newell and his wife opened a parental school for boys and girls at the intersection of East Union and 35th Street. Not long after the departure of the Calkins Family, Newell leased their hotel and moved the school. Neighbors were not particularly fond of the hotel’s new use, and Newell felt that the Calkins’ property would be better suited for his school.

In 1903, local school districts were authorized by the state to create truant schools, and the following year the Seattle School District bought the Calkins homestead property. While school buildings and dorms were going up,  Newell moved 40 students (30 boys and 10 girls) to a tent on the new property. Newell served as superintendent of the new school until the completion of its first buildings.

William Baker ran the school for a short time before being replaced by teacher and house parent Willis Rand. Rand oversaw the school’s development  for more than 35 years. A hospital, barn, and laundry facility were built on the site, as was a self-sufficient farm that students tended.

The Mercer Island Parental School began taking in “morally delinquent” youths, who were required to stay at the school until they were paroled. The average stay was nine months. As many of its students came from broken homes or alcoholic parents, the school provided its students with education, emotional development, and medical care.

The school’s horticultural department was excellent. After half a day in class, students would work on the farm, tending to orchards, livestock, and their own gardens. In 1928, all female students were moved to Martha Washington School. The school changed its name in 1931, both to eliminate the stigma of parental schools as homes to delinquents and to honor the famous botanist Luther Burbank.

Rand retired in 1942, and although the school and farm continued to operate, they slowly fell into disrepair. By the 1950s, the school was overcrowded, and the buildings inadequate. A 1957 state law change mandated that the state run all Parental schools. The Seattle School District leased the land to the state but continued to oversee operations at the school.

The state had to decide to rebuild the entire campus or build a new school on state-owned land and relocate. Mercer Island had become increasingly suburban, and many residents felt that a school for delinquents was not a fit for their community. The debate continued until 1963 when a new school was recommended to be built in Preston, Washington. Echo Glen School opened four years later to 83 students from Luther Burbank and Martha Washington Schools.

Even with the school gone, debate continued on what to do with the land. In 1968, the Forward Thrust bond designated it a park. The wooden buildings on the property were burned down in 1976, but the 1928 dormitory was restored and stands to this day.

3. Snippets of Seafair

Seafair has been an integral part of summers in Seattle since 1950, and it is so popular that a few of its landmarks were showcased on this map.

Perched on the southern tip of Green Lake, the Aqua Theatre was launched the same year as Seafair. Originally the home to the Aqua Follies,  a group of performers who put on “swim-musicals”, the theatre also hosted musicals and concerts before it was mostly demolished in 1979.

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Aqua Theatre in 2010

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The second piece of Seafair commemorated on this map is one that hasn’t changed: the Unlimited Hydroplane race course!

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4. Sand Point

Now home to Seattle’s second-largest park, Sand Point Naval Air Station was an important military fixture from 1920 to 1970.

When the U.S. was entering World War I, the Navy asked Captain Luther E. Gregory to scope out a location for an aircraft base in the Puget Sound Reason. Gregory recommended Sand Point in Seattle, but the war ended before the Navy made their final decision. However, a group of veterans began lobbying the county to build an airport at Sand Point and the county began buying small farms on the site Gregory had recommended.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held June 19, 1920, and from there the development of Sand Point began.

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An air strip was built and an Army hangar was brought in from California, but the station lacked funding and could not be officially accepted by the Navy without action from Congress. On the last day of January 1921, Congress approved Sand Point as the best location for the type of station the Navy desired. More than a year later, the Navy officially secured control of the land and funding from congress. The first permanent hangar was completed in 1923 and development continued through the 20s.

With the onslaught of the Depression brought a lack of funds. Despite this, the Sand Point runway was finally paved, and the New Deal groups like the Civilian Conservation Corps helped erect more structures.

After the outbreak of World War II, Congress allotted $4 million to the improvement of Sand Point (Naval Air Station Seattle). Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sand Point became an important hub for air traffic, plane repairs, and supplies. More than 8,000 people worked at Sand Point during the war, but by late 1945, employment dropped to 3,000.

The Navy announced that it would close Sand Point in 1950, but three months before its closure, the Korean War broke out and the station was needed once more. As it had in the years after the World War II, Sand Point was responsible for the repair and overhaul of aircraft. After the Korean Conflict ended, Sand Point resumed its regular purpose as a training base. As the naval base on Whidbey Island continued to develop, the need for Sand Point lessened. It closed in 1970.

Sand Point is now home to Magnuson Park, which features many of the station’s buildings from its early years of development.

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Seafair Saturday!

I’m sure you know that today is Seafair Saturday. But did you know that fifty years ago today it was also Seafair Saturday?

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Schedule of Events Brochure

Back in 1967, Seafair was  a 12-day celebration featuring parades, sports tournaments, concerts, cultural celebrations, and, of course, hydroplane races. The festivities began on Friday, July 28th and concluded on Sunday, August 6th. In addition to all of the area festivals and tournaments, major events headlined each day:

July 28- Queen’s Coronation

July 29- Grande Parade – Bon Odori

July 30- Shilshole Seafair Fun Day – Fiesta Filipina – Bon Odori

July 31- Greenwood District Parade

August 1- Camera Day

August 2- Lake City “Gay Nineties” Festival Parade

August 3- Arrival of the Fleets – Kids’ Seafair Day

August 4- Capitol Hill District – Festival of Flags and Parade

August 5- Seafair Trophy Unlimited Hydroplane Race – Torchlight Parade

August 6- Gold Cup Unlimited Hydroplane Race

The schedule brochure flaunts Seattle’s designation as an “All-America City”, an honor it had been awarded just the year previous.

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Seafair Weekend Schedule

Some of you may remember last year, when I posted selections from the 1963 Seafair Trophy Race Booklet. In addition to the brochure excerpt above, I have selections from the 1967 Seafair Gold Cup Regatta Magazine!

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This magazine, dated Sunday, August 6th for the Gold Cup Race, features advertisements, sponsor information, and a guide to the hydros and their drivers, Let’s take a look at 1967’s Unlimited roster:

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Gale’s Roostertail weighed in at a whopping 10,000 pounds!

In addition to the roster, the magazine provided spectators with their very own scorecard!

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Keep Score from the Sidelines!

While the majority of the book is dedicated to the Unlimited Hydroplane races, several pages are dedicated to the Limited Hydroplanes which raced on Green Lake July 28th, 29th, and 30th.

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Check out the groovy ad for the Fair!

The last page I’ll share with you is the last page in the booklet, featuring the Seafair royalty:

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Kelly Waller was crowned King Neptune

Whether you’re watching the festivities from Seattle or your living room, have a happy Seafair Weekend!

On the Shores of Green Lake

What is that strange concrete structure perched on the south end of Seattle’s Green Lake? It’s a staircase, it’s a set of bleachers…It’s the Aqua Theatre!

Or, at least, what’s left of the Aqua Theatre.

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The Aqua Theatre, October 23, 2010

Now just a shell of its former self, its hard to envision what the theatre looked like in its glory days. Today, it’s a popular spot for joggers, and the perfect bench for anybody wanting to rest a while and look out over Green Lake, but at its peak, it had the capacity to seat 5,582 people.

Built in a mere 67 days for the first-ever Seafair (1950), the 5,200-seat Aqua Theatre would become one of Seattle’s most popular outdoor performance venues. At a total cost of $247,000 (about $2,477,741.49 today), the Aqua Theatre was by no means a budget building, but for the next two decades its seats would often be filled to capacity for concerts, plays, and other performances.

Opening day for the Aqua Theatre was August 11, 1950 for what an advertisement described as a “flashy, splashy water spectacle”– The first-ever performance of The Aqua Follies–and it sold out. 5,200 people came to see a night of ballet, comedy, singing, dancing, and high-diving.

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Aqua Follies Ad from 1963 Seafair Booklet

Aqua Follies performances (also called “Swim Musicals”) enjoyed immense success throughout the 1950s, as did other forms of entertainment. The Summer Opera Company produced “Music Under the Stars”, concert versions of operettas accompanied by ballet. Full-length plays and musicals including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Oklahoma!”, and “The King and I” were also performed at the Aqua Theatre to the music of a floating orchestra.

To accommodate the popularity of the shows, 382 additional seats were added in 1960. Two years later, the World’s Fair brought visitors from around the globe to Seattle and the Aqua Theatre for an array of events from musicals to a jazz festival to performances by Bob Hope. The Aqua Follies performed for 21 nights, rather than the usual 13. But along with the visitors and the success, the World’s Fair also brought new, indoor performing spaces, such as the Coliseum (now Key Arena) that were fresh, comfortable, and out of the rain.

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View from the Top

The Aqua Follies performed their last show in 1964, and the theatre began its descent into disuse and disrepair. It remained a venue for concerts, often catered toward the younger crowd. On August 8, 1966, The Northwest Battle of the Bands Championship was held at the theatre. For as little as $2 (about $15 today), a person could see Don & the Goodtimes, Merrilee & the Turnabouts, The Sonics, George Washington & the Cherrybombs, The Bumps, The Live Five, Jack Horner & the Famous Plums, Dusty Springfield,  Sam Sham & the Pharaohs, and vote for a winner!

On May 11, 1969, the Aqua Theatre hosted Three Dog Night with opening acts Spring, Jaime Brockett, Translove Airlines, and Led Zeppelin. The theatre and surrounding areas was packed. Those who didn’t have tickets perched in trees, sat atop the concessions stand, sprawled out on nearby lawns, huddled on a nearby dock (causing it to sink slightly), and crowded the stage in canoes and rubber rafts. Some even swam in the stage’s pool!

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Later that summer, city inspectors discovered that the structure was damaged and the facility was condemned. The Aqua Theatre’s last performance was on August 20, 1969, featuring the Grateful Dead.

The following year, the diving towers were removed and the demolition slowly progressed until 1979 when most of the seating was demolished and a new shell house was built.

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Top Corner

I visited the Aqua Theatre in October 2010 (I sure wish I was there August 8, 1966, instead!) It has a wonderful history board hanging on the back side, filled with information and historical pictures. The theatre itself is quite a sight to see! I’m not sure why large chunks were cut out of the structure (structural soundness, perhaps?), but the remains account for about 3 out of 7 original seating sections.

It was fun to look out at the lake and envision where the stage once was.

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For further information, and great historical images and memorabilia, I encourage you to check out these links on Historylink.org:

Aqua Theatre–Seattle

Led Zeppelin Rocks Seattle’s Outdoor Green Lake Aqua Theatre on May 11, 1969

Also, check out this great Aqua Theatre footage from the Kiro 7 Archives.

And, of course, if you ever find yourself near Green Lake, I encourage you to go see what remains of the Aqua Theatre for yourself.

Seafair Weekend

Welcome everyone, on this lovely Seafair Friday! I thought today would be an appropriate time to take a break from the Summer Motel Guide and take some time to participate in  the 66th annual Seafair celebration!

In honor of Seafair and its iconic hydroplanes, I invite you to leaf through the following selections from a 1963 Seafair Trophy Race booklet!

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The 50 cent price tag is equivalent to about $3.94 today

This 35-page booklet hails from the time when hydros still raced on Green Lake and Seafair was a 10-day celebration in early August. As the title suggests, most of the booklet is dedicated to the hydroplane races, but it also contains a complete schedule of Seafair events, and a few noteworthy ads.

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Who else would love a return of this Seafair font?

Take, for example, this lovely half-page advertisement for the Aqua Follies, a Seafair staple from 1950 to 1964. For as little as $2 (about $15.75 today), Seafair celebrators could catch an outdoor performance of singing, dancing, comedy, water ballet, and diving.

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Can you pick the winner?

Look at this handsome bunch! Page 9 gives us a quick look at the year’s hydroplane drivers, while the surrounding pages provide short biographies. Many of these men were seasoned drivers–one with a racing history dating back to 1939–but a few were competing for the first time.

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Tempest weighed more than 8,000 pounds

Also included is the 1963 Hydroplane roster, which was still subject to change. Here lies all of the information about 1963’s hydroplanes that anybody could want, except the race results. The previous owner penciled in a few corrections.

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The mighty Aqua Theater pales in comparison to the size of the race route

Page 22 presents us with a map of the hydroplane race route on Green Lake. Details in the booklet state that the course must be three miles long, in water at least 5 feet deep, oval-shaped, and include two turns with a minimum clearance of 600 feet.

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The back cover doubles as a Thriftway ad

The back cover features Miss Thriftway, the hyrdoplane who had won the President’s Cup, the Governor’s Cup, and the Lake Washington Race the previous year under the name “Miss Century 21.”

I wonder who will win this year?

Enjoy your Seafair Weekend and, of course, the hydroplane races! For a complete list of events, visit the official Seafair website here.