Citizens Build a Good Community – 1900-1929

Published 1993 by Queen Anne Historical Society, edited by Kay Reinartz, PhD
Chapter Ten:  Citizens Build a Good Community — 1900-1929
by Kay F. Reinartz, PhD

In the period following statehood, 1889, Washington experienced its own version of the great American westward movement.  In three decades the number of people living in the state increased fifteen-fold.  In 1900 the state population was 518,013, and in 1910 it was 1,141,990.  This 120% rate of increase was six times the national average.
Seattle was the fastest-growing place in Washington.  Its population increased from 42,837 in 1890 to 237,194 in 1910.  Seattle’s population in 1910 was about half the population of the entire state only 20 years earlier.  For the Puget Sound region the first decades of the twentieth century were a time of amazing economic, social, and political transformation.  Tens of thousands of foreign-born immigrants poured into the state, along with people from the Midwest, old South, and Atlantic seaboard.
Washington historian and regionalist Lancaster Pollard’s population studies of this period reveal that by 1910 the ratio of newcomers to the established population was greater in Washington communities than anywhere else in the United States.  Pollard’s research also shows that in many communities the flood of newcomers submerged the previously established community culture.  Ballard, Queen Anne’s neighboring community to the north, was one such community.  There the influx of Scandinavian immigrants who came in after 1900 essentially obliterated the established culture, which was basically east coast Yankee.

Analysis of the population information from the 1900, 1910, and 1920 federal census shows that the Queen Anne community did not attract foreign immigrants as the same rate as Ballard and many other King County communities.  The below discussion is based on numbers derived from a hand tabulation of census tracts for Ward Eight, which encompasses the Queen Anne district.  The Interbay district is not included.
In 1900 Washington’s population was 23 percent foreign-born, while the population of Queen Anne was just 20 percent foreign-born.  Only fourteen percent of these immigrants originated from non-English-speaking countries.  The flood of immigrants from abroad peaked around 1910, when the state census showed that 33 percent of Washington residents were foreign-born immigrants.  At this date 25 percent of those living on Queen Anne were foreign-born.  By 1920 immigrants accounted for only 25 percent of the state’s population, and ten percent of Queen Anne’s population.  Only six percent of these were from non-English-speaking origins.
When compared to other King County communities, Queen Anne’s immigrant population is remarkable for the high proportion of immigrants from English-speaking countries, specifically England and Canada.  In both 1900 and 1920, 40 percent of all immigrants originated from these two countries and constituted the largest cultural group.  In 1910, the peak of Scandinavian immigration to the Northwest, only 28 percent of the immigrants on Queen Anne claimed England or Canada as their homeland.  Those with Scandinavian origins dominated in 1910 and were second to Anglo-Saxon in all of the census.
Living on the west side of the hill in the 1920s at Second W. and W. Howe St., Stuart Prestrud recalls his block had Jensens, Sandstroms, Olsens, and Sundes.  The vast majority of immigrants were young single people.
The Knutsen Dairy — Good Norwegian Quality
In 1902 Knute Knutsen and his wife Sigrid Rongve Knutsen immigrated from Voss, Norway to Washington, making their home in Georgetown.  In the next ten years several children were born and the young couple worked hard and saved.  In 1911 they moved to Queen Anne Hill, making their home at Fourth Avenue W. and Fulton Street.  Knutsen rented a barn at Third Avenue W. and Armour Street and began dealing in cattle, for which there was quite a demand at a time when many kept their own cow.
As the Herd Laws curtailed cattle grazing, the demand for mil increased, and the Knutsens started a dairy.  They bought the milk from farmers in the Duwamish and White river valleys, who sent the tall cans into Seattle fresh each morning on the Interurban electric train.  The Knutsen family picked up the milk at the Interurban Station on Spokane Street and delivered it to homes on the hill six days a week by horse-drawn wagon.  The milk was kept cool with wet burlap jackets and ice placed around the cans.  The Knutsens quickly established a reputation for pure, raw milk and cream of “good Norwegian quality,” and always received top rating from the Seattle City Health Inspector.
Later the Knutsens kept their own dairy herd, grazing the cows in pasture close to the barns at Third Avenue W.  For many years the dairy prospered on Queen Anne, with the only competition coming from Harry Gould’s dairy located at Fourth Avenue W. and Raye Street.  Gould, who had made a stake prospecting for gold in the Alaskan fields, called his business the Golden West Dairy.  Later more competition came from Apex Dairy on Queen Anne Avenue and W. Dravus Street, and Vitamilk at the foot of the north slope of Queen Anne Hill.
Knute Knutsen and son William eventually moved the dairy to Bothell, where they served Seattle until 1990.

Courtesy National Park Service
Looking NW at 10th W and W Lee, May 1903

Above:  The west side of Queen Anne Hill continued to be rural, with small farms, typically on five acres, connected by ungraded country lanes.  Courtesy Olmsted Associates, Inc., Seattle Municipal Archives

The census shows that not only were the majority of Queen Anne residents American-born, but they came from a handful of states.  In 1900, 40 percent came from five states, which were, in descending order of representation:  New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  In 1910, 46 percent of the community’s adults originated from seven home states:  Washington, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.  Reflecting the maturing of the children of the pioneers, those born in Washington were the largest group for the first time on record in 1910, when they comprised 10 percent of the whole.  Census patterns for places of origin changed very little from 1900 to 1920.

Above:  Anne Craig displays her pet parrot and her garden at 200 Florentia Street in 1915.  Annie and her husband Charles bought the lot and built their home around 1897, after having rented a house at 232 First Avenue for several years.  Charles, who worked as a tallyman for the Stetson and Post Lumber Co., died in 1899.  Left to support her family, Anne began taking in laundry.  By 1909 she had formed the Flatow Laundry Co. with her neighbor Isador Flatow.  Annie Craig was vice president and Flatow president of the Belltown-based enterprise.  It is most likely that Craig managed the laundry while Flatow oversaw the pick-up and delivery end of the business.  Courtesy Paul Dorpat
From the 1890s Queen Anne Hill had a reputation of being a community of grand houses.  In fact, elaborate mansions represented only a small part of the community’s residences.  For each mansion built there were hundreds of attractive middle-class houses, and modest, yet neat and charming, laborers’ bungalows and cottages.  The census data for 1900, 1910, and 1920 verify that the Queen Anne community was composed not of wealthy lumber and land barons, but “average” people, who had begun simply and through hard work, careful management and perseverance, prospered.  They achieved a comfortable home and good education for their children, in a safe and caring community which they helped build.
The census data for 1900, 1910, and 1920 reveals that through the period more Queen Anne residents worked as laborers than any other occupation, with one man out of every three being a laborer.  Artisans rank second, with the building trades dominating, e.g. carpenter, plasterer, bricklayer, and painter.  Approximately one out of every five adults worked as an artisan, a percentage that remained constant for 30 years.
The only occupation to show substantial growth between 1900 and 1920 is business.  Business occupations such as merchant, clerk, sales, bookkeeping, and general office work grew from 18 percent of the total to 31 percent — a 72 percent increase.  This noteworthy change in the occupations of community residents is reflected in small drops in a variety of other occupations such as farming, services, artist, and musician.  By 1920 the number of government workers had almost doubled from 1900 but was still only five percent of the total.
The Queen Anne community has had a reputation in the twentieth century for being the home of a high proportion of professionals.  From 1900 to 1920, professionals consistently accounted for only ten percent of the total occupations.
In 1900 the population was young, with two out of ever five residents being under the age of 30.  One out of every four residents was a young adult between 16 and 30, and only one resident in ten was more than 50 years old.  The dominance of youth intensified in 1910 when three out of every five residents was less than 30 years of age.
In 1900 the typical household size was two to nine people, with the average being  4.4.  Two out of three residents rented their home rather than own it.  Nine percent of the households were headed by a woman.  One out of seven households took in boarders, who rented rooms and took their meals with the family.  Six percent of the community residents reported that they were boarders.  Families were large, typically with four or five children under age 16.
In 1910, at the height of the immigration period, households on Queen Anne were slightly smaller, and 14 percent were headed by women.  There wer3e fewer children under 16.  They accounted for only 22 percent of the total population in 1910, as compared to 37 percent in 1900.
The preponderance of young married couples and unestablished newcomers is reflected in the fact that in 1910, 82 percent rented their homes, as compared to 62 percent in 1900.  In addition, 28 percent of households took in boarders.  It was not uncommon to have three, four, or more children sleep in one room in order to be able to rent out extra bedrooms.
The 1920 census shows that the population had noticeably changed.  It appears that the dramatic influx of young single people had leveled off and the population picture as a whole was similar to that in 1900, with two notable exceptions:  a) home-ownership was at the highest level to date, with half the households now owning the house in which they lived; and b) people over 50 were becoming a more significant population factor, with 17.4 percent of the people belonging to this age group.
The flood of newcomers to Queen Anne naturally built their homes progressively higher up the hill.  Because the top of the hill is relatively flat, construction leapt from the lower areas to the top around 1900, leaving a belt of more difficult construction sites to be developed later.  This pattern, however, left the early homeowners at the top of the hill without transportation down to the city.
A citizens committee formed in 1902 dedicated itself to bringing public transportation to the top of the hill.  Members carefully analyzed the grades involved and concluded that the streetcar lines had to travel from Eight and Westlake Avenues north up to the “easy grade” on the east side of the hill, to Fifth Avenue N. and Newton Street.  An alternate route via Kinnear Park was also deemed feasible.  A counterbalance system to get the streetcar up Queen Anne Avenue was also recommended in the plan which was presented to the Seattle City Council.
The logic of the plan, coupled with the eloquence of the spokesmen, resulted in the eventual building of both streetcar lines and the counterbalance.  These trolley lines were extremely important at the time, for they established a thoroughfare from the business business center of Seattle to the existing and potential homesites on the upper reaches of the hill, as well as “to all the northern part of the city,” as the citizens’ resolution states.

Queen Anne Ave at Prospect St showing Queen Anne Streetcar #312, 1905

This streetcar, which navigated the steepest street in Seattle, became popularly known as the Counterbalance.  The hill continues to be called the Counterbalance more than half a century after the counterbalance streetcar went out of service.  Courtesy Queen Anne Historical Society

Enjoying success in their quest for thoroughfares, in 1900 the Queen Anne committee appeared before the Seattle Parks Board proposing the development of a scenic route at the top of the hill, to be called Queen Anne Boulevard.  At this time John Clise was a member of the Parks Board and received support for the idea from other Queen Anne residents on the board, J. M. Frink and George Cotterill.  In addition, John McGraw appeared before the Parks Board and spoke on behalf of the proposed route.
The Seattle Parks Board opposed the idea of the boulevard, since it was not a part of the new Olmsted Plan for Seattle’s boulevard and parkway system.  The proposed route followed ordinary city streets, which did not meet the 150-foot minimum width called for by the Olmsted Plan to provide space for tree plantings and other amenities.  The Parks Board finally agreed to the plan with the provision that the community pay some of the costs of development of the scenic route.

Above:  The scenic route called Queen Anne Boulevard winds around the crest of Queen Anne Hill nearly 3-1/2 miles, providing grand views in all directions.  Called a boulevard, the route follows various streets, including W. Highland Drive, Bigelow Avenue N., and W. Raye St.  The route includes several retaining walls, the best known being the Wilcox Wall on Eight Avenue W. and W. Highland Drive, built in 1909.  Doris McClure Linkletter, whose family lived nearby on Eight Avenue W. remembers going for walks as a child with her father up the long stairway to W. Highland Drive.  She, like many youngsters before and since, marveled at the wall, which appeared to be constructed of wood, for the surface had wood grain and knot-holes, yet was as hard as the concrete sidewalk.  Illustration by Jim Stevenson, Courtesy Queen Anne Historical Society
Constructed between 1911 and 1916, the boulevard was the only route by which commercial vehicles could reach certain sections of Queen Anne Hill.  Queen Anne residents were happy with the boulevard for a time, but by the 1930s the complaints began pouring in and have not stopped since:  “maturing trees are blocking the views; tree roots are buckling the sidewalks; and the sewer lines are clogged by roots.”  The Parks Dept. understood that many of the problems arose from the “cutting of corners” at the beginning and the failure to follow the standards established for boulevards throughout the city.  For decades to come Queen Anne Boulevard would be a headache for the city parks and engineering departments.
The Panic of 1893 caused only a brief pause in the real estate market in Seattle’s residential suburbs.  Between 1899 and 1918, 25 subdivisions were platted for Queen Anne Hill.
While Queen Anne Hill’s south slope was filling up, there were large undeveloped tracts on the north side of the hill facing Phinney Ridge and Salmon Bay.  In 1926 Queen Anne Park was subdivided.  Looking back to that era, George Knutsen, whose family lived nearby, recalls, “The north side of Queen Hill was interesting in those days.  A lot of construction and activity of a growing district.  It was a neighborhood of sawmill workers.”  The concrete streets of the Queen Anne Park subdivision had just been poured when the Great Depression hit.  The developer went broke and the project was taken over by others.  Dozens of houses stood half-finished for years.
The new subdivisions on the north and west slopes were quickly dotted with new houses, which the proud owners all too frequently were forced to travel through mud or dust in season to reach.  So aggravating were the dirt streets that the planking of Tenth Avenue W. and McGraw Street in 1902 triggered a mini building boom.
The conditions were similar on other parts of the hill which had been occupied longer, with the exception of the south slope.  Thanks to persistent citizens action in the 1880s and 1890s, south slope dwellers enjoyed the amenities of graded and planked roads and sidewalks, as well as access to the municipal water and sewer systems.
Continuing the tradition firmly established in the 1890s by Dillis B. Ward, George Kinnear, Judge Eben and others of organizing community pressure on Seattle City Hall for improvements desired by Queen Anne residents, the Queen Anne Improvement Club was formed around 1901 with the expressed mission of “bringing the needs of the Queen Anne Community before the Seattle City Council.”
People living all over Queen Anne developed a strong sense of neighborhood early on.  Certainly the hilly topography coupled with the fact that everyone traveled by foot or by public transportation brought neighbors into frequent contact which encouraged the formation of friendships and mutual interests.  Many of the neighborhoods formed that own local improvement clubs.  These neighborhood improvement clubs were often led by women who were more persistent in pursuing local improvements than the men, whose work and interests took them away from the home neighborhoods.
The improvement that initially concerned the clubs were not glamorous.  They began with the basics:  graded and paved streets and sidewalk; fire protection; sufficient water mains to support fire fighting; street lights; and sewer mains.  Normally the clubs worked for these improvements through the established systems of citizens’ petitions and letters, and community delegates appearing at Seattle City Council meetings to speak on behalf of community interests.
One of the first accomplishments of the Queen Anne Community Club was the paving of eight blocks of dirt road on the north side of the hill around 1905.
As basic utilities and public works improvements were achieved, the improvement clubs shifted their focus to the development and maintenance of parks, playgrounds and tennis courts, as well as community celebrations and festivals.  Often the improvement clubs undertook extensive fundraising to pay for special projects, such as additional books for the community library or play equipment for the children’s playgrounds.  In the 1920s the improvement clubs folded or were absorbed into the Queen Anne Community Club.
The city engineer’s records show few street and utilities improvements for Queen Anne in the first years of the twentieth century.  This situation changed because of two factors.  First, the city-wide adoption of the Local Improvement District (LID) system for building utilities, which places the cost of improvements on the property owners.  The second, and most critical factor was leadership provided by neighborhood improvement clubs.
In 1907 Queen Anne’s neighborhoods began to hum with the work of street paving and the laying of sewer and water mains.  A quick analysis of the record provides insight into geographic focus of the activities.  The 19 separate improvements completed in 1907 — street grading and paving, water mains and hydrants, and lateral sewer lines principally — concentrated on First and Five Avenues N.  In 1908 the focus shifted to Mercer and Westlake.
By 1909 the Queen Anne Improvement program had worked up a real head of steam.  More than 31 improvements were completed on several parts of the hill, especially in the Ross district and Rodgers Park area, as well as Galer, Republican, and Fourth N.  Between 1907 and 1914 the community received hundreds of miles of sewer lines, water mains, and paved streets.
As the son of the Chief Inspector of the Seattle Water Dept. Charles H. Jenner, J. Kirkham Jenner had a keen interest in the municipal water system.  He recalls that the water main running in front of their Nob Hill home in 1925 “was made of wood coopered from staves and bound by iron rings every several inches.”  Ten-year-old Kirk and the other neighborhood children loved to watch the Water Dept. crew repair leaks.  The men would first dig up the street and find the lake; then, Kirk recalls, “they would sit around the excavation, carving little wedges of wood with their pocket knives” which they pounded into the leaking area.  The wedges swelled with the moisture and made a permanent seal.
Street improvements varied with the terrain.  Streets at the top of the hill were macadamized, while those around the edges of the hill, particularly on the west and north sides, were simply upgraded dirt.  In some cases planking was placed over the dirt.  Frequently, dirt streets had pedestrian plan walks across the street at the intersection to keep pedestrians’ feet out of the mud.  In 1914 the engineering department stopped using planking entirely in favor of macadam and concrete surfacing.  On ordinary side streets sidewalks were usually two-plank-wide paths running alongside the road.  By the 1920s all sidewalks were made of concrete, as were curbs.
Between 1915 and 1930, a total of 143 separate projects brought good-quality paved streets, water mains, sewers, and sidewalks to most parts of the hill.  By comparison, utilities construction work continued on a greatly diminished schedule throughout the rest of the century.
Gradually electric and telephone wires have been put underground, with this improvement beginning on the south slope and working around to the north side.
In 1900 the Queen Anne Post Office was opened on Queen Anne Avenue between Republican and Harrison.
From early in the twentieth century the City of Seattle maintained a number of public utilities in the Queen Anne community area, including the Aloha Street Substation, the 365 Ward Pumping Station, and the Animal Control Center on Elliott Avenue.  Nearby in Interbay is the Salmon Bay Fishermen’s Terminal, Port of Seattle.  In 1917 there were streetcar barns at 309 W. Ewing and Nickerson at Third Avenue W.  The Municipal Street Railway Maintenance Shop was at Aloha Street and Dexter Avenue.  Puget Sound Traction Light and Power Station was at Fifth Avenue N. and Mercer.
One of Queen Anne Improvement Club’s crowning achievements was the securing of adequate fire protection between 1900 and 1929.  The steady laying down of water mains and installation of fire hydrants at frequent intervals, as well as the steady water pressure provided by the Queen Anne water tower, greatly aided effective firefighting.  After 1910 noticeably fewer homes were reduced to cinders in minutes as owners stood helplessly watching.
In 1900 the community had a single fire station at First Avenue W. and Lee Street.  Old Chemical Wagon No. 3 was replaced in 1902 with a combination hose and chemical wagon, which was a converted 1890 Holloway chemical wagon.  A new fire station was built for this equipment directly south of the water towers on Lee Street.

In 1903 the new two-story Fifth Avenue W. Fire Station opened at 1520 Fifth W.  Later that year the two-bay station got a brand new shiny American Metropolitan 550 gallon-per-minute steam pumper and the unit’s name was changed to Engine Company No. 8.  This was a major improvement since the steam engine could pump water at greater pressure than that available at the hydrant.

Fire Station 8, 1907-1963. Rebuilt 1963. Warren Ave N and Lee Street

In 1908 Queen Anne received two new fire stations.  The Fourth Avenue N. Station, at Fourth Avenue N. and Thomas Street in lower east Queen Anne, was built to replace the firehouse that would be razed during the Denny Regrade.  Temporarily closed from 1921 to 1924, this station served as the Fire Alarm Office from 1924 to 1960.  It was razed in 1961 to build the Space Needle.
The Warren Avenue Fire Station was built in 1908 at 1417 Warren Ave. N.  Engine Company 8 moved to this station and a few months later Ladder Company No. 6 moved into the Five Avenue W. Fire Station.  Receiving the ladder company was a “feature in the Queen Anne Improvement Club’s cap,” since there were only three ladder companies in all of Seattle at that time.  The ladder company engine was a Seagrave city service ladder truck with two 35-gallone soda-acid chemical tanks and hose reels.  All of the ladders were ground ladders and the longest could be extended 45 feet.  Late in 1909 the second bay in the Fifth Avenue W. Station was filled by Hose Company No. 24, which had been used at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition that summer.
Within minutes of the fire alarm sounding, the fire station bays would burst open and the big horses dashed out, hooves pounding the cobblestones as they went flying down the street to the blaze.  Spike and Frank provided the horse power at the Fifth Avenue W. station in the 1910s.  The brown and black pair were well known to the neighborhood’s children, who loved to hang around the station petting the horses, feeding them sugar lumps and staring in awe at the big red engines, which the firemen were always polishing.  Sometimes the firemen let the children sit in the driver’s seat for just a moment, but only a moment.  “We might be called to a fire any minute!” they were told.
Queen Anne had advanced from one to four fire stations in less than a decade.  The next change was the replacement of horse-drawn equipment with motorized trucks.  All of the firemen and the neighborhood were out on the street on November 14, 1914 to see the splendid new Gorham-Seagrave 800 pumper truck drive up to the Warren Avenue Fire Station.  With built-in hose storage, the need for a separate hose wagon was eliminated.
With the shift to motorized equipment everyone was concerned with the fate of Spike and Frank.  Spike retired to a ranch in Bothell, where he was cared for by a fireman’s father, and Frank, leaving his old partner-in-harness, retired to the grassy fields of the Sulphur Springs resort on Lake Sammamish.  Reports were that whenever either horse heard an alarm his ears perked up and he expectantly ran to the barn — undoubtedly looking for his engine.
In 1924 the Lee Street station got a new Seagrave 800 with a 40-gallon soda-acid chemical tank.  The Fifth Avenue W. station was sent a 1913 Seagrave city service ladder truck that had been used in downtown Seattle.
William C. Hunter, who grew up in the Ross district in the 1920s, tells us about the impression the motorized fire engine made upon the children in his neighborhood:
The main arterial thoroughfare from upper Queen Anne was Third Ave. West.  Down the street came the fire engines from upper Queen Anne.  For roughly eight blocks there were no major intersections, so the fire engines … roared along without slowing until they reached Dravus St.  For nearly two blocks before the junction with traffic, Third West was flanked on the east side with high cement bulkheads, which bounced the sound of the approaching fire truck, amplified it, and gave loud warning to the entire neighborhood west of the bulkheads that a fire truck was coming!
We children stopped our play, and ran to get a glimpse of the great red truck.  It was a sight and a sound to behold as the driver reduced his speed.  That added to the terror and fascination of the scene.  The big engine belched and backfired, and thundered on its way.  The same man who cranked the siren pulled the cord on the bell, so as the big engine rolled by, it was roaring thundering, wailing and clanging.
Some of the neighborhood children circulated the rumor — which I think they really believed — that it was those men on the red truck who started fires!  They regarded the noisy fire truck as a sort of demonic invasion from Hell, to set fire to some home in our neighborhood.  I am not sure that I ever believed what they told me, but I will admit that the rumor added just a tinge of fear to my fascination with fire trucks.

Kinnear Park was given to the community by George and Angie Simmons Kinnear in 1889.  It was only the first of many parks that have been given to the community by Queen Anne citizens.  These include Franklin Playground and Kerry Park.
In the twentieth century, midway down the south slope of Queen Anne Hill an ample spring gushed forth.  George Kinnear had piped this spring in the 1880s as the water supply for his home and gardens, as well as Delamar, his nearby guest house.  In 1904, wishing to protect the spring and the storage tank beside it from private and street development, the Kinnears deeded the site to the City of Seattle “as a park forever,” reserving the right to “maintain or rebuild any part of the system.”
It was named Franklin Playground in 1909 in honor of Kinnear’s friend Mayor John Franklin Miller; the same year the site was graded and turned into a park.  The water tank was covered with land fill, with access retained through a manhole.  A clay-surfaced tennis court, swings and teeter-totters were added and the playground landscaped.
The popularity of the tennis court brought forth a small petition from annoyed neighbors who did not enjoy the exuberant shouts of the players or the resounding whacks of well-placed rackets sending the ball.  The Queen Anne Hill tennis fans successfully countered with a petition, thick with signature sheets, for the retention of the courts.  The courts continued to be used for decades until weeds and rain won the battle for the clay surface.
At the top of the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, about 50 feet above the Franklin Playground, there is a rather narrow bench of land along W. Highland Drive, between Second and Third avenues.  It was too narrow to be suitable for a home site, and remained overgrown with grasses and wild flowers until the 1920s when it became Queen Anne’s most popular viewpoint, Kerry Park.
In 1927 Albert S. Kerry Sr. and his wife deeded the land to the City of Seattle to be dedicated to “park purposes.”  The Kerrys’ plaque, mounted on the park wall, expressed their desire “that all who stop here may enjoy this view.”  Delighted with the wonderful site, the Parks Department developed it as a viewpoint park with a low wall at the top of the slope, cinder walks, and a drinking fountain which served as the park’s modest centerpiece.  The park was immediately popular and the heavy use of the drinking fountain became a first-class nuisance to those living in nearby homes.  Every time the drinking fountain’s handle was turned the neighbors’ plumbing would bang loudly.  Franklin Playground, located directly below the viewpoint, was administratively absorbed into Kerry Park.
High up on the southwest brow of the hills is Phelps Park, dedicated on July 7, 1904 in honor of Thomas Stowell Phelps, who, as lieutenant on the ship Decatur, aided in repelling the Native American attack in the Battle of Seattle in January 1856.  Located on the southwest corner of W. Highland Drive and Seventh Avenue W., this site was selected to honor Phelps because, from the viewpoint, one would have been able to see the ship Decatur lying in the harbor.  Years later this park would acquire two addition names:  Marshall Viewpoint (1960) and Betty Bowen Viewpoint (1977).

Observatory Park
In May 1902, the area of First Avenue N. and Lee St. holding standpipe water towers was designated Observatory Park, and the public was free to ascend the stairs to enjoy the view.  In 1904 a second tank was built.

Water Towers looking north

From the days of the Mercers and Dennys, people living on Queen Anne Hill have noted that sound often carries very well up the hill, undoubtedly because of the presence of large surrounding bodies of water.  In 1919 Florence Spaulding, a 20-year-old University of Washington student, wrote to a friend watching and hearing the jubilant Armistice Day celebration, making the end of World War I, from Observatory Park.  She wrote, “Because of the fly Mother wouldn’t let me go into town, but we climbed the big water tower to see the fireworks, and we could actually hear the people downtown hollering.”  By the time Florence’s son Carl Nordstrom was old enough to enjoy climbing to the top of the towers for the view, Observatory Park was closed (1934).

English and Canadian Immigrants Come to Queen Anne Hill — The Criddle Family

Frederick P. Criddle’s family was among those from England which came to the community around the turn of the century.  Fred’s mother, Isabella Powell, came from New Brunswick, where her Tory ancestors had gone after the American Revolution.  Fred’s father, William J. Criddle, was born in Cornwall.  Times were hard in England in the 1880s and Frederick Criddle’s grandfather, Frederick J., who was a carpenter, decided to come to the states with his partner, also a carpenter.
Leaving their families in the Old Country, in June 1889 the pair was working in Connecticut.  One evening, as they were reading the newspaper after dinner at their boarding house, William turned to his friend and said, “See that huge fire that they had in Seattle?”  The other replied, “Yes, and there will be a building boom out there,  Let’s go out.”  The following Friday they drew their pay, packed up their tools and few belongings, and caught the train for Seattle.  “Grandpa always told the children,” Fred recalls, that “Denny Hill was still smoking when I got here!”  In fact, there were no fire hydrants on Denny Hill in 1889 and the fire was left to burn itself out.
After two years of working and sharing a room in a boarding house, the two mean had established themselves sufficiently to send for their wives and children, which included seven Criddles.  After renting a little house on Valley Street, just off Taylor Avenue N., Criddle built his family a home near the intersection of Elliott Way and Mercer Place.  Large old maple trees found at that place once surrounded the Criddle house.

The Geology of Queen Anne Hill

Published 1993 by Queen Anne Historical Society, edited by Kay Reinartz, PhD
Chapter One:  The Geology of Queen Anne Hill

by Bill Laprade

The Puget Sound basin lies between the Cascade Range on the east and the Olympic Mountains on the west, and is open to the Pacific Ocean through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Bedrock ranging from 10 to 50 million years old in exposed at the ground surface around the margins of the basin and occasionally south of Alki Point and Boeing Field in Seattle.  Geologists estimate that the bedrock lies more than 1,500 to 2,400 feet beneath Queen Anne Hill, buried by glacial and non-glacial sediment in the past two or three million years.
The great ice ages commenced over three million years ago.  Geologic evidence indicates that at least four and perhaps as many as six glaciations have occurred since the beginning of the Pleistocene Epoch.  In the Puget Sound basin, ice originating in the coastal and inland mountains of British Columbia coalesced and progressed south, stopping approximately 50 miles south of Seattle.  Since the retreat of the last glacial ice from the Seattle area about 13,500 years ago, the land has been modified by rising sea levels, erosion, and landslides,  The waters of Puget Sound reached their present level about 5,000 years ago.
Egg-shaped Queen Anne Hill is one of the original seven hills of Seattle.  The others were Capitol, First, Beacon, Magnolia, West Seattle, and Denny.  The latter hill was removed in the Denny Regrade project.  Queen Anne Hill lies between three bodies of water — Puget Sound, Lake Union, and the Lake Washington Ship Canal — and the central business district of Seattle.  The deep depressions of Elliott Bay, Lake Union, and Lake Washington are filled with water and the uplands are mostly covered with human developments.

The geological materials exposed on or around the margins of Queen Anne Hill were deposited during the Vashon stade of the Fraser glaciations, the last incursion of continental ice into the central Puget Sound area.  A stade is a substage of a glacial period.  Of the three stades in the Fraser glaciation, only the Vashon deposited sediment in the greater Seattle area.  At its height, Vashon stade ice advanced past Olympia and covered Queen Anne Hill with more than 3,000 feet of ice.
Glacial remains of the Vashon stade on Queen Anne Hill are represented by four recognizable types:  Lawson Clay, Esperance Sand, Vashon till, and Vashon recessional deposits.  Lawton Clay is the oldest deposit and the others are progressively more recent.  All of these soils were deposited between 17,500 and 13,500 years ago.  Only the recessional deposits were not overridden by glacial ice.  A subsurface profile through the hill from north to south shows the relationship of the units to each other.  The interior of the hill is undoubtedly composed of Olympic non-glacial deposits from the interglacial period immediately before the Vashon Stade and of sediments from older generations.  These deposits and sediments, however, are not exposed at the ground surface or in shallow drill holes.


The oldest unit, Lawton Clay, is present below elevation 200 feet on the east, north, and west peripheries of the hill.  On the south slope, this material is covered with Vashon till.  Lawton Clay can also be seen in building excavations on the north side of the hill and on the steep excavation slopes along Westlake Avenue.  It represents the deposition of sediments in a lake that formed as the glacial ice advanced south and blocked the northern part of Puget Sound, eliminating the salt-water connection through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  The clay consists of laminated to massive gray silt and clay with scattered thin layers of fine sand.  At Fort Lawton (Discovery Park), from which it takes its name and where it can be seen along the south beach, it is 82 feet thick; on Queen Anne Hill it ranges from 125 to 175 feet thick, as measured above sea level.
Overlying the Lawton Clay is the most extensively exposed geological unit on the hill, the Esperance Sand.  It is found on the steep slopes and on much of the top of the hill.  This deposit of sand, or mixture and sand and gravel, was laid down by streams issuing from the front of the advancing Vashon-Age ice sheet and for this reason is commonly termed advance outwash.  It is currently thought that the entire width of central Puget Sound basin was filled to elevation 400 to 500 feet with this deposit before the ice overrode the area.  On Queen Anne Hill, Esperance  Sand is about 150 to 200 feet thick.  It is found in the excavated slope to the northeast of the corner of Queen Anne Avenue North and Garfield Street, and it was well exposed during the excavation for the Queen Anne Pool at 1st Avenue West and West Howe Street.  Perhaps the best exposure of this deposit is along the top of the south bluff at Discovery Park.  The contact of the sand with the underlying Lawton Clay is commonly gradual and contains alternating layers of clay, silt, and sand.
As indicated on the subsurface profile, Vashon till overlies the advance outwash.  Vashon till, composed of clay, silt, sand, gravels, cobbles, and sporadic boulders, is commonly termed “hardpan” because of its very dense and compact nature.  This deposit is the debris that was carried along the base of the glacial ice.  It is not always present, but where it is, it ranges from a few feet to more than thirty feet thick.  It is limited in exposure on the top of the hill, but it can be seen in building excavations in the lower south side of Queen Anne.  One good viewing site is a parking lot excavation slope to the northeast of the intersection of Second Avenue W. and John Street, and it is also visible near the top of an old borrow pit just west of Twelfth Avenue W. and W. Howe Street.
The youngest geological unit on Queen Anne Hill associated with glaciation is Vashon recessional outwash.  It was probably laid down as streams flowed through the low area between Queen Anne Hill and Fremont when the glacial ice melted.  Found along the south side of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, this outwash deposit consists mainly of medium dense, silty sand, with minor amounts of gravel.  It is also deeply buried below fill in the Interbay lowland, as that area served as an outwash channel during the recession of the glacial ice.  Recessional outwash sand is also commonly found on the uplands in isolated pockets no more than a few feet thick, overlying till.

Following the recession and wasting of glacial ice in central Puget Sound about 13,500 years ago, geologic processes began that continue to this day:  erosion and gully formation, lowland filling, hillside soil weathering, and landsliding.  The rate at which these processes initially occurred is unknown, but it is likely that all of them were more rapid on the denuded, recently deglaciated slopes.  For the past several thousand years, the rate of erosion, sedimentation and land-sliding has probably been somewhat constant.  During the same time period, sea level rose gradually about 300 feet to its present level.
When European American settlers arrived in Seattle in the mid 1800s, Queen Anne’s sister hill, Magnolia, was virtually cut off from the mainland by the nearly-connecting tide flats of Salmon Bay to the north and Smith Cove to the south.  The tide flats were covered with soft mud and sand, and peat deposits dotted the surface.  The edges of Interbay were mantled with landslide deposits that came from the hillsides to the east and west.
Minor gullies have developed on the post-glacial landscape throughout Queen Anne Hill, but only one has developed into a deep ravine.  The half-mile-long ravine on the northeast side of Queen Anne Hill has its mouth near the toe of the north slope, and currently extends to Lynn Street on the south, following the right-of-way of Third Avenue North.  A 1910 Seattle Engineering Department topographic map shows that this gully once extended much farther south, to the vicinity of Newton Street, but it was subsequently filled in.  Prior to the placement of the fill over which the present roadway is built, a 300-foot-long bridge spanned the creek along Boston Street over a 55-foot-deep ravine.
Three geologic factors appear to be responsible for the formation of this gully:  (1) erosion by the ubiquitous springs in the vicinity of Queen Anne North Drive, (2) the impervious till cap on the upland to the south of the gully, which promoted surface runoff of precipitation, and (3) the highly erosive Esperance Sand in the area between the springs and the drainage basin to the south.  Two high structures, the McGraw Street Bridge and North Queen Anne Drive Bridge, were built across the ravine by the Seattle Engineering Department in 1936, with General Construction as the contractor.
The slopes around the edge of Queen Anne Hill are very steep in many places.  The soil on these slopes is loosened by gravity, root action, freeze-thaw cycles, and chemical changes.  Throughout the Puget Sound area, this loosened soil rind, termed colluvium, is commonly three to ten feet thick.  Based on drill holes for residential developments, colluvium is as thick as 15 feet on the east slope, west of Aurora Avenue.  The bowing and bending of the trees that grow on the hillside are a result of the downslope movement of the colluvial soil.  This rind of colluvium is commonly involved in landslides, as it is loose and susceptible to the absorption of water in its inter-particles’ void spaces.
Landslides were and continue to be an important geological process in the sculpting of the hill’s topography, especially on the east and west sides of the hill.  Many of the landforms on these flanks of the hill still exhibit classic landslide topography, such as hummocky ground at the bottoms of steep slopes and steep-sided amphitheaters or bowls.

Springs are common to many of the landslide-prone areas on Queen Anne Hill, and are located around all sides of the hill.  They normally run throughout the year but are especially productive in the winter.  On the east side of the hill, the spring line is between elevations 150 and 200 feet.  On the north side, it is found between elevations 100 and 150 feet, and on the west side it is observed between elevations 125 and 200 feet.  The most prolific springs on Queen Anne Hill existed on the south slope in the vicinity of Fourth Avenue North and Ward Street  before they were incorporated into the city storm drainage system.  Nearly all of the springs are found at the contact between the Lawton Clay and the overlying Esperance Sand.  Precipitation infiltrates into the ground and travels vertically through the pervious sand until it encounters the top of the more impervious clay and silt of the Lawton Clay.  The water then moves laterally until it emerges from the slope in springs.  Many of the springs around the periphery of Queen Anne Hill were used for drinking water by early settlers.
Between 1882 and 1890, five spring-fed water supply systems known as Union, Maggs, Griffith, Kinnear, and Peterson were installed on Queen Anne Hill.  The Union Water System was one of the largest water supply systems in the city, yielding about 80,000 gallons per day.  It was located at the large spring in the vicinity of Fourth Avenue North and Ward Street.  The Maggs System, in the vicinity of Seventh Avenue North and Garfield Street, provided water to the southeast portion of the hill and portions of the Denny Regrade area as recently as 1950.  Springs are still found scattered around the hill, but most have been captured by drainage trenches or tunnels and have been routed into the storm drainage system.
Landsliding is closely related to the presence of springs due to the internal pressures that build up in the ground when water is blocked or inhibited from escaping.  The zone of particular hazard for landslides on Queen Anne Hill is defined by a band around the hill on the east, north, and west sides.  It is commonly referred to as “The Contact” because it is defined by the contact between the Lawton Clay and Esperance Sand.  Larger slides appear to be related to a gradual increase in the water table over the winter months followed by an intense or prolonged period of rain.  These slides are commonly slumps that form large amphitheaters.  Such topography is common on the east side of Queen Anne Hill, uphill from Aurora Avenue, and between Howe and Galer Streets, as well as along the west side of the hill, east of Elliott Avenue West and Fifteenth Avenue West, and between West Howe and West Comstock streets.
The West Galer Street landslides that occurred in 1909, 1916, and from 1951 to 1954 are examples of a slump.  Much of the material that slid off the bluff just south of the ramp to the Magnolia Bridge came to rest behind a restaurant at West Garfield Street and Fifteenth Avenue West and was hauled away by Seattle Engineering Department crews during the 1950s episode.  Horizontally drilled drains to relieve potentially destabilizing pressure deep in the ground were installed in 1988 during construction of residential units adjacent to the slide area.

On December 11, 1983, a large mass of saturated earth flowed down the east side of Queen Anne Hill, crossed Aurora Avenue and stopped on Dexter Avenue.  Although this mudflow occurred along “The Contact,” and natural spring seepage was a contributing factor, buried drain lines and fill placed on the hillside over the top of the spring water sources were also causes.


Above:  Denny Regrade No. 1 in 1910.  Pinnacles of land remained where hold-out owners refused to sell.  Those owners later were required to excavate at their own expense.  Excavation after 1906 was made by hydraulic sluicing.  Courtesy University of Washington, Asahel Curtis Collection

One of the most remarkable civil works projects in the Pacific Northwest was the removal of Denny Hill, just south of Queen Anne Hill, between 1903 and 1926.  This area is now called the Denny Regrade.  In a scheme envisioned and championed by R. H. Thomson, the Seattle Engineer in the early 1900s, several parts of the city were regraded to open it up and improve the transportation network.
The regrading of Denny Hill was the first of these projects undertaken by the city and was accomplished in two phases.  The first regrade, on what is now the western half of the area, was performed between 1903 and 1911 and used hydraulic sluicing methods to wash the soil into Elliott Bay.  In 1928 the eastern half of the area was levelled using electrically-powered shovels and a complex series of conveyors.  These two regrades accounted for the removal of six million cubic yards of soil from an area of 62 city blocks.

Lake Union was formerly connected to Salmon Bay by a small creek that was enlarged to a narrow canal for log transit.  As part of an ambitious scheme to change the drainage of Lake Washington, between 1911 and 1916 the Sammamish River, the Cedar River, Lake Washington, Union Bay, and Lake Union were directed through the newly-engineered Lake Washington Ship Canal.  The Fremont Cut was part of this project.  The excavation was made into Holocene-age alluvium and colluvium, essentially soft mud.  Harder Vashon till and Lawton Clay were encountered in the bottom of much of the excavation.  The excavation of mud, sand, and soft clay was accomplished mostly by hydraulic sluicing and steam shovel.  Much of the material was pumped into adjacent low-lying ground.  Concrete walls along the sides of the canal, extending several feet below water level for wave protection, are supported on piles.

The earliest transformation of Interbay was performed around 1910.  This involved dredging a channel to lower the water table, thereby drying other areas for athletic fields.  A limited amount of filling was also done at that time.  Filling, chiefly as an open-air landfill dump, continued intermittently from 1911 to 1968.  The thickness of the fill has reportedly settled a great deal and the presence of methane and other gases in the landfill has been well documented.
The construction of Aurora Avenue was completed along the alignment of Seventh Avenue North in 1932 as part of the Pacific Coast Highway chain.  It significantly impacted the east side of Queen Anne Hill, cutting through the landslide zones there and triggering slope instability in several places.  Landslides were curtailed after stabilizing measures were undertaken in 1933 by the Seattle Engineering Department.  However, an occasional slide still occurs.
With regard to landscape changes, the two most geologically significant periods were probably the first few hundred years after the disappearance of the Vashon stade ice and the last one hundred years when European American settlers moved in.  Earlier modifications were large, with concomitant environmental consequences; smaller changes will be the watchword of the future.  Limitations spelled out by Seattle’s Sensitive Areas Ordinance and the State of Washington’s Growth Management Act will enable us to move into the twenty-first century in a sensible manner.

Bill Laprade has lived on Queen Anne Hill since 1974.  His spouse, Mary Lou, teaches at John Hay School and two sons, Jed and Joseph, have been active in sports and community affairs on the hill.  Bill coached soccer for 11 years in the Queen  Anne Soccer Club.  He is an Associate with Shannon & Wilson, Inc., a geotechnical engineering and environmental consulting firm, where he has practiced engineering geology for twenty years.

Reference: QUEEN ANNE GEOLOGIC HISTORY with David B. Williams

This Week in Queen Anne History

November 25, 1948 was a typically cold, wet and windy Thanksgiving Day in Seattle; but an event in Queen Anne that afternoon was anything but typical.  At 1:45 pm, the first television broadcast in Seattle history brought the Wenatchee-West Seattle high school football championship game from Memorial Stadium to an estimated 1,500 television sets in the area.

KRSC-TV was Seattle’s only television outlet at the time, and one of just 15 television stations in the United States.  In preparation for television broadcasting, KRCS, which had provided AM radio since 1927, launched Seattle’s first frequency-modulation (FM) radio station in 1947.  The station operated out of a former corner grocery store at 301 Galer on Queen Anne Hill.  The station’s new $25,000, 140-foot transmitter tower could reach television sets within a 25- to 30-mile radius.

Two cameras situated in the stands above the 50-yard line captured the entire game and half-time entertainment.  One of the cameras was equipped with a telephoto lens for close-up shots, and the other had a wide-angle lens.  A microwave relay transmitter mounted on the roof of the stadium carried the images to the transmitter tower.  The live presentation was among the nation’s first triple-casts, with the game being called on-air on AM, FM, and television.

The few hundred Seattle residents who owned television sets invited neighbors to gather around their small black-and-white screens to take in the game from the dry comfort of their homes.  Bars and appliance stores with sets on display were crowded with curious spectators to the grainy action.  One appliance store reported that 2,000 people had passed through its doors during the broadcast.

The game itself was an anticlimactic mud slog that ended in a 6-6 tie.  Heavy rain by half-time contributed to broadcasting challenges, including a hum created by wet microphone cords and the outage of a transmission line that caused the game to go briefly off air.  KRSC-TV co-founder and general manager Robert Priebe told The Seattle Times, “We picked one of the hardest television assignments to begin with but, in spite of adverse conditions, such as sunlight reflecting on the wet field, we have enthusiastic comments.”

The game as it appeared to television viewers. image courtesy Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Despite being the first to bring television to Seattle, KRSC-TV struggled with the high broadcasting costs and low sponsorship revenue that plagued many early providers before regular and full programming schedules were established.  Dorothy Stimson Bullitt (1892-1989) purchased the station for $375,000 in May 1949, marking the first sale of a television station in US history.  Bullitt relaunched the station as KING-TV.