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.
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.
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
COMMUNITY RESIDENTS PREDOMINANTLY NEW ENGLANDERS AND MIDWESTERNERS
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.
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.
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.
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.
A LEGACY OF PARKS GRACE AND ENRICH THE COMMUNITY
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).
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.