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.

Ivars 1.JPG

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.

 

ymca-1.jpg

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.

 

naches-tavern.jpg

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.

Advertisements

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!

DSCN9858

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.

Cocoanut 1.JPG

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.’”

rainier.jpg

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.

 

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.

Sicks.png

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.

LutherBur.png

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.

dscn5912
Aqua Theatre in 2010

Aqua.png

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

Seaf.png

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.

SP.png

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.

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?

Seafair 001.jpg
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.

Sat Sun.png
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!

Seafair 006.jpg

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:

Seafair 007.jpg
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!

Seafair 008.jpg
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.

Seafair 010.jpg
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:

Seafair 009.jpg
Kelly Waller was crowned King Neptune

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

Oh! The Places You’ll Go: Seattle Part I

Before the days of smart phones, Google Maps, and even Map Quest, what did you consult when you were lost? A good, old-fashioned map, of course! Often tucked in a glove box or thrown across the backseat, a trusty map could turn a lost traveler into a confident driver. But what if you consulted a map from 50 years ago? What sorts of things might you find?

Let’s find out!

MAP89.jpg
The covers feature recognizable Seattle landmarks

Distributed in 1967 by the Atlantic Richfield Company (also known as Arco), this map shows the greater Seattle area, from Tukwila to Edmonds, and West Seattle to Redmond. While many aspects of the roads and landmarks are the same, many aren’t. Part I will highlight a few spots around Seattle.

1. The Seattle Center

Seattle Center
Seattle Center, 1967-style!

A mere five years after the World’s Fair for which it was built, the Seattle Center had changed, but not much. Many of the buildings still stood, although they had different purposes:

  • The building that had housed exhibits for India and Korea became Youth Recreation
  • Senior Citizens Activities occupied the building left behind by Africa, Thailand, the Philippines, and the UN
  • “Show Street” was completely dismantled
  • The United Arab Republic made way for a World’s Fair Museum
  • The US Science Pavilion was christened The Pacific Science Center
  • The Christian Pavilion gave way to the Nile Temple
  • Part of the Gayway gave way to Space Needle Parking
SeatCenNow
Seattle Center now, courtesy of Google Maps

Even today, many of the Center’s trademark buildings still exist, although with different names. The Seattle Center is also significantly smaller, as pieces of it have slowly vanished over the years.

  • “Municipal Parking Garage” is now called “Mercer Street Garage”
  • “High School Memorial Stadium” has been shortened to simply “Memorial Stadium”
  • Space Needle parking? What Space Needle parking? Try looking under the EMP
  • “Food Circus” is now the plain old “Center House”
  • “Opera House” became “Marion Oliver McCaw Hall”
  • “Arena” or “Mercer Arena” was demolished earlier this year
  • The Sky Ride was moved to the Washington State Fairground decades ago

 

2. Downtown

Downtown
Downtown 50 Years Ago

Each red box on the map represented an important structure. Here is a guide to all 44 spots:

  1. Benjamin Franklin Hotel: Demolished in 1980 for an expansion of the Westin Hotel
  2. Bon Marche: First sold in 1986, it changed its name to Macy’s in 2005
  3. Canadian Pacific Dock: It once ferried people between Seattle and B.C. Now it’s gone
  4. Central Bus Terminal: The site is under construction
  5. Chamber of Commerce:This ornate structure now houses businesses  5a. City Hall
  6. City Light Building: Now home to Expediors, a freight forwarding service
  7. Continental Trailways Bus Depot: Now a parking garage
  8. County Building: Now called King County Superior Court
  9. Doctor’s Hospital: Now part of Virginia Mason Hospital
  10. Federal Court Building: Today, it’s called US Appeals Court
  11. Federal Office Building: The Unites States Post Office occupies this site today
  12. Federal Reserve Bank: Current Home to the Washington Department of Licensing
  13. Ferry Terminal:  Also called the Colman Dock
  14. Fireboats Station: Serving you since 1902. Serving you from this building since 1963
  15. Frederick & Nelson: A new shopping center now occupies this lot
  16. Harbor Patrol Station: The Harbor Patrol moved to Lake Union in the 1960s
  17. King Street Station: Built in 1906, it was finally returned to its former glory in 2013
  18. KOMO Radio and TV Stations: Some things never change
  19. KTNT TV Studios: Present-day parking lot
  20. Logan Building: This 10-story office building was built in 1959, renovated in 2009
  21. Mayflower Hotel: Celebrating 90 years of operation in 2017
  22. McDougall’s: This department store closed in 1966 and was demolished in 1971. It is now the site of a brick parking garage and Ludi’s Restaurant
  23. New Washington Doric Hotel: Elvis stayed here while filming “It Happened at the World’s Fair” in 1962. Now home to many as the Josephinum Apartments
  24. Norton Building: Built in 1959, this office building still stands
  25. Old Armory: The armory stood from 1909-1968. The site is now retail and offices
  26. Olympic Hotel: Open since 1924
  27. Penney’s: After nearly 50 years of business, this location closed in the early 80s. The building was demolished, and replaced with the Newmark Tower a decade later
  28. Pike Place Market: Thanks to preservation efforts in the 60s and 70s, the Market remains and is a hot tourist destination
  29. Post Office: The post office still operates a branch at this location
  30. Pubic Library and Civic Information Center: The 1960 library building on the old map was replaced in 2004
  31. Public Safety Building: Now the home to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Seattle City Hall, Seattle City Council, and Einsten Bros. Bagels
  32. Rhodes: This branch of “Seattle’s Home-Owned Department Store” was closed in 1968 and demolished in 2005 for the WaMu Center Bank Tower
  33. Roosevelt Hotel: Hosting travelers since 1929
  34. Seattle General Hospital: Originally a hospital and nursing school, it merged with Swedish Medical Center in 1978 and moved. This building seems to have been replaced
  35. Seattle Park Department Administrative Building: Now called “Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent’s Office”
  36. Seattle Post-Intelligencer Building: The Seattle P-I moved from this building in 1986 and became online-only in 2009. The City University of Seattle now occupies this building
  37. Seattle Times Building: Now located in offices next-door, the Seattle Times sold their original building in 2013. Demolition started last year
  38. Smith Tower: Built in 1914, it’s the city’s oldest skyscraper
  39. Transit Service Office: Go to this location now and you’ll find a supermarket and a Starbuck’s
  40. Union Station: Today, it’s the beautifully-restored headquarters of Sound Transit
  41. Virginia Mason Hospital: Although much larger now, Virginia Mason still resides at this location
  42. Washington Athletic Club: Built in 1930, the club became a city landmark in 2009
  43. YMCA: 50 years later, this branch is still open
DowntownNow.png
Downtown Now, Courtesy of Google Maps

3. Museum of Science and Industry (MOHAI)

Planning a trip to MOHAI? Don’t use this map! If you do, you may find yourself near the University of Washington when you really need to be on the south end of Lake Union.

Mohai2.png
MOHAI in Montlake

In 1967, MOHAI was situated in East Montlake Park off of East Park Drive. The museum opened in early 1952, displaying a collection of artifacts and photos that had been gathered since the 1910s by the local historical society.

The museum rapidly grew and expanded over the nest decade and a half, but when Highway 520 moved in, getting to the museum became more challenging. Voters who had once saved the museum from complete highway encirclement were upset by the heavy traffic through their once-quiet neighborhood and opposed subsequent museum expansion plans.

In the 1970s, MOHAI was plagued by unprofessional and unscrupulous employees. Artifacts were improperly handled, and some were even stolen. Employees who spoke up for the betterment of the museum were dismissed and/or publicly shamed. Staffing changes in the latter part of the decade pulled the museum out of the rubble, displaying more of its collections and shifting the focus of its exhibits back to local history.

In 2012, sixty years after the museum first opened, it relocated from Union Bay to Lake Union, setting up in the former Naval Reserve Training Center (also called Naval Reserve Armory).

The armory was built between 1941-1942 by the Works Progress Administration for $500,000. It operated as a naval training school during the second world war, but was decommissioned shortly thereafter. In 1946 it received renovation funding, in 1998 it was disestablished, and in 2009 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Mohai1
MOHAI’s Current Home

Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along

People all over North America are familiar with Red Robin restaurants. Everybody knows about their big burgers, cartoon mascot, and secret French fry seasoning. But what many people don’t know is that the first Red Robin opened in Seattle.

DSCN3579

The 1,200 square foot building, located by the south end of the University Bridge at 3272 Fuhrman Avenue East, was erected in 1916. In 1943, it opened as Sam’s Tavern.

Sam, the tavern’s owner and namesake, sang in a barbershop quartet. He loved the song “When the Red Red Robin” so much that he changed the same of his tavern to “Sam’s Red Robin.”

DSCN3593
Exterior, February 16, 2010

In 1969, Gerry Kingen, the son of local restaurant owners, bought the Red Robin Tavern. He continued to run the establishment in the same spirit as Sam, serving up booze, popcorn, and sandwiches to university students and local houseboat inhabitants.

Four years later, the Red Robin briefly closed for a remodel. In addition to building a deck on the back of the building, Kingen added burgers, fish & chips, and steak to the menu. Large wooden electrical cable spools with a layer of thick resin on top served as tables.

When the restaurant reopened, business tripled. In response to the success, Kingen opened another location in Northgate.

dscn3590.jpg
Front Entrance with Stained Glass Window

In 1979, two Red Robin regulars opened the first Red Robin franchise in Yakima, Washington, and the following year Red Robin opened a location in Oregon.

As for the building on Fuhrman Avenue? Sadly, unlike most locations posted here, the original Red Robin no longer stands. Only a few months after my February 2010 visit, this location closed, citing expensive maintenance. The 98-year-old building was demolished August 28, 2014.

DSCN3587
Old Mascot?

Now an empty parking lot, the future of the site is uncertain. It appears that the most popular suggestion is to build multi-story apartments.

RR Now.png
Courtesy of Google Maps

The demise of the building can actually be traced on Google Maps street view, which shows the slow regression from 2008 to 2015. The 2015 view shows the old flooring still in place, as well as the old sidewalk.

Flooring.png
Hardwood and Brick Flooring, 2010

While the decor was fairly mainstream Red Robin when I dined there, the building had a character unique to this specific location. Wood-covered walls, stained glass, and the smallest bathrooms known to man were just some of the features that made this location a true dining experience despite the standard menu, furniture, and glass-covered sun room.

DSCN3581
Custom Stained Glass

Interestingly, a new Sam’s Tavern has opened up in Seattle. With locations in Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, and Redmond, its about page credits Sam’s Red Robin as its predecessor.

 

 

Yet Another Opening Day!

Today is Opening Day! With a noon cannon blast and the raising of the Montlake Bridge, boating season in Seattle will officially begin.

While Seattle has a long history of special maritime celebrations, it is believed that the first Opening Day Parade took place May 3, 1913. Seven years later, the parade and regatta moved to their present location at the Montlake Cut when their sponsor, The Seattle Yacht Club, moved to Portage Bay. It has been an annual event ever since, even during World War II.

Cards 013

The boating parade attracts thousands of visitors. While exact attendance numbers are unknown, it is estimated that as few as 4,500 and as many as 250,000 have lined the shores to eat picnics and watch the passing boats.

Originally, anybody who wanted to participate in the parade was welcome, but when numbers of entrants reached 1,000 in the mid-1970s, the Coast Guard intervened. Ever since, participants have been required to register, keeping the number of boats in the parade closer to 200.

Cards 014
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON; BOATING CAPITOL OF THE WORLD. With numberless fine inland waterways and beautiful Puget Sound, boating is the most popular recreation of Seattle residents. Boat Season Opening Day is a huge civic event.

In 1959, the theme “Hell’s a Poppin'” was selected, and the parade has been themed ever since. Other themes have included “The Ancient Mariner” and “Out of This World,” as well as this year’s theme, “Emerald City Aahs.”

Since 1986, rowing crews from the nearby University of Washington have participated in Windemere Cup races prior to the parade.

Please enjoy this 1960s-era postcard, and get out there to see those boats!

Opening Day

Fifty-five years ago today the Seattle World’s Fair opened. It was the first World’s Fair held in the U.S. since 1939, and only the third fair held after the end of World War II.

Seattle Councilman Al Rochester first proposed the idea for a Seattle World’s Fair in the early 50s. By January 1955, so much interest had been generated that the state legislature rounded up $5,000 for a group to study a fair’s feasibility. Smart advertising caused public interest to explode, and in 1957 Seattle voters passed a $7.5 million bond for the development of a Civic Center/fairground.

The goal was to host a fair in 1959 in honor of the 50 year anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo, a fair hosted at the University of Washington to celebrate the first shipment of Klondike Gold Rush gold through Seattle. When it became apparent that the 1959 deadline was too ambitious, the fair was pushed back to 1962.

In addition to the funding from the citizens from Seattle and the state legislature, the federal government, local businesses, and civic boosters helped to fund the fair.

To commemorate the 55th anniversary of opening day, I have an envelope to share with you. Scroll down to check out what’s inside.

DSCN8813
Four cents to ship a spoon First Class!

This packet, which contains two pieces of paper and a souvenir spoon, appears to have been sent to fair boosters as a thank-you gift.

DSCN8814

WorldFair 001.jpg

The pink sheet reads as follows:

“Dear World’s Fair Booster… As a BONUS for your patience and public spirit, we are making available additional World’s Fair Souvenir Spoons at a cost of fifty cents (50c) per spoon. We now have a sufficient supply to make possible IMMEDIATE DELIVERY…on ANY NUMBER you order…IF YOU ORDER WITHIN THE NEXT THIRTY DAYS! This offer also includes World’s Fair literature and each spoon will be individually packaged. Have them sent to yourself or your friends. Send to: “Invitation Spoons” PO Box 919 Seattle 11, Washington”

The price of 50 cents is equivalent to about $4 today. As for the address “Seattle 11, Washington”, it made use of the postal district/zone numbers introduced in 1943. Zip codes were not introduced until 1963.

WorldFair 002.jpg

This second sheet is basically an advertisement, enticing the booster to attend the fair he/she helped make possible. Interestingly, it focuses on attractions that are now Seattle Center landmarks: The Science Pavilion (now Pacific Science Center); the Coliseum Century (now Key Arena); and Seattle’s most famous landmark, the Space Needle. The Monorail gets special attention, as does “The World of Entertainment”, which included Gracie Hansen’s “Paradise International.” The building that housed Gracie’s show is now a multipurpose building in Ravensdale, Washington.

WorldFair 003.jpg

On the flip-side of the advertising letter are paintings of what was to come. Check out the one of the monorail. It doesn’t look much like what Alweg actually built.

The metal spoon features an Space Needle-styled handle adorned with the words “Seattle World’s Fair ’62.” The spoon itself is engraved with the official ’62 World’s Fair logo.

DSCN8820

DSCN8815

DSCN8818

Snow Day!

While it can make the morning commute an even bigger headache, this week’s sudden snowstorm has been a blessing to those hoping to hit the slopes this weekend. In honor of the beautiful yet sometimes pesky snow, take a look at Summit West circa 1962!

cards-003
Double Chairlift and new Skihaus Restaurant, Lodge, and Gift Shop

At a height of 3,865 feet, Summit West, also known simply as Snoqualmie, is the family and beginner ski slope at Snoqualmie Pass. Operated by the same company as Alpental, Summit East, and Summit Central, it features two quad chair lifts, one triple chair lift, four double chair lifts, two doube chair lifts, and one handle-tow lift.

Public use of the area dates back to 1933 when the City of Seattle operated a city ski park named Municipal Park. Seven years later locals objected, saying that Seattle was too far away from the area (about 46 miles) to claim it as a city park. The city relented and sold the park to Ski Lifts, Inc. who changed the park’s name to Snoqualmie Summit Ski Area. Shortly after, the new owners installed a rope-tow.

Although business was spotty during the war years, Webb Moffet, the owner of Ski Lifts Inc., focused on developing the area to attract more visitors. Nighttime skiing arrived in the late 1940s when Moffett installed gas station lights along the slopes to allow employees the chance to ski after hours. Soon paying guests were staying for nighttime skiing as well, making Snoqualmie the second place in the country to offer this type of skiing.

Snoqualmie Summit continued to grow throughout the 1950s. Thunderbird, the summit’s first chairlift, opened in 1954. Two years later, Thunderbird Restaurant opened at the top of the summit, offering skiers warm food and majestic mountain views. The completion of Skihaus, a restaurant, lodge, and gift shop, completed the Summit’s status as a wintertime tourist destination.

cards-004
SNOQUALMIE SUMMIT SKI AREA, WASHINGTON, 46 miles from Seattle on Highway #10, is a popular resort with its double chairlift (shown in foreground), three PomaLifts, twelve rope tows, Thunderbird Restaurant at top of chairlift and new SKIHAUS — recently completed fabulous lodge.

Ski Lifts, Inc. operated Summit West and its surrounding summits through 1998, when it sold to Booth Creek Ski Holdings, Inc. Thunderbird Restaurant closed in 1990, due at least partly to the lack of running water and indoor plumbing.

Although renovated and hardly recognizable if not for it’s sharply sloped roof, Skihaus still exists. Now Webb’s Restaurant, it continues to serve thousands of hungry skiers every season.

A Charming New Year

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful end of 2016 and a great start in 2017! To kick off the year on the blog, I thought I’d share one of my Christmas gifts with you:

Cropped.jpg

I’ve seen many variations of these charm bracelets online, featuring different varieties and styles of charms. Mine features six distinct charms–The 1962 World’s Fair logo, Chief Seattle, a dugout canoe, an airplane, the Monorail, and the Space Needle– but other bracelets include totem poles, a ferry boat, The Science Pavilion, The Coliseum, a salmon, and a Washington State logo. Seattle World’s Fair bracelets exist in both gold and silver and range in quality from inexpensive to high-end.Some of the charms featured tiny gems and colored enamel (including a Galaxy Gold Space Needle charm!)

 Although versions of completed bracelets exist still attached to their original cards, I believe charms could also be bought separately, allowing visitors to augment existing bracelets or start from scratch.

Many World’s Fair souvenirs commemorate only the fair itself, but these bracelets also nod to Seattle’s character, history, and economy.

logo

Century 21 Logo: This blue enamel charm features the official logo of the 1962 World’s Fair. Running from April 21 to October 21, the fair’s official name was “Century 21 Exposition”, and its theme was science and how it would change life in the next century.

Chief.jpg

Chief Seattle: Although not in his exact likeness, this charm represents Seattle’s namesake. Chief Seattle, also known at Chief Sealth, was a member of the Suquamish Tribe who lived near the shores of Elliott Bay. When members of the Boren-Denny party arrived to scope out the area, Chief Seattle welcomed them and sent men to show them around. He is well-known for his welcoming attitude toward white settlers and for his speeches, which are oftentimes regarded as pro-environment and pro-Indigenous rights. He was christened Noah when he was baptized into the Catholic church.

Canoe.jpg

Dugout Canoe: The indigenous Washingtonians enjoyed the bounty of salmon, shellfish, and cedar trees available in their land. They used cedars to build longhouses and canoes. The dugout canoes produced by the Suquamish people were prized for hunting and transport and traded all along the West Coast.

Boeing.jpg

Boeing: This Boeing jet (a 707?)  looks ready for takeoff! From mail carriers to bombers to commercial airline jets,  Boeing has been filling the sky with an assortment of aircraft for 100 years. By the time of the fair, Boeing was actively involved in the Space Race and employed thousands in Washington and Alabama. Although Boeing’s president hated fairs, the company’s Spacearium was a popular attraction at Century 21.

monorail

Alweg Monorail: Known simply as “The Monorail”, this futuristic train was built in Germany by Alweg. While officials briefly considered using the monorail to link Seattle with Sea Tac Airport, its red and blue trains linked the fair to downtown. Alweg won the bid for the train when they offered to underwrite the costs of construction, but within six months, over 8 million riders had generated much more than the 3.5 million construction costs. Following the end of the fair, Century 21 Corporation gained ownership for free. They sold it to the City of Seattle for $600, 000 in 1965.

needle

The Space Needle: What part of the fair is more iconic than the Space Needle? Built in a mere 400 days, this 605-foot tall structure offered panoramic views of Seattle and fine dining among the clouds. Along with the Monorail, it opened in March 1962, almost a full month before the opening of the fair.