Thursday, August 13, 2009

Then and Now

It's been a while since our last installment. This time around, the comparison verges on the surreal. It features something that no longer exists in Seattle: Denny Hill. The city fathers did not like this hill; they thought it was a hindrance to the development of a full-sized downtown. They decided to kill it just after the turn of the century. This took decades to finish. The methods of getting rid of Denny Hill were quite primitive. A lot of it was removed by horse carts, but the majority of it was simply washed away with pressure hoses. By the time most of it was done, the Great Depression was here and nobody was building anything. It took about 50 years for the so-called Denny Regrade to catch up with the rest of downtown. In some ways, it still lags behind.

Let's look at a view of your 2nd Avenue circa 1909 from the vicinity of Bell Street:

The two buildings in the distance are the Moore Theater and the Josephinium. They're still in that exact same spot. Nobody's moved them. But the weird thing about this photo is the prominent hill that starts on the east side of the street. Is it still there? Let's take a look:

OK, so the vantage point is a little different, but as you can see, the Moore and the Josephinium are up the street on the left and the hill is gone. Carted away. Formerly there. I imagine looking out my window across the street and seeing houses with rickety staircases rising up in the distance and seeing this grand old hotel at the top:

That's the Denny Hotel. Everything you see in the photo is no longer there. Isn't that just weird?

Anyhow, that's what Seattle's all about: hill removal.

No comments: