This Week in Queen Anne History

People inspect the remains of the Wheeler Street Bridge in this July 1, 1924 image.  The bridge was one of a network of trestles constructed between 1911 and 1920  over the railroad tracks in lowlands of Interbay, between Queen Anne and Magnolia.  A spark from a train passing below ignited the timber trestle of the Lawton Way Bridge near its intersection with the Wheeler Street Bridge.  A northwest wind carried the flames to the Wheeler Street crossing, completely damaging both bridges beyond repair.   Along with bridges at Garfield and Dravus streets, the Wheeler Street Bridge was one of the three primary crossings between Queen Anne and Magnolia.  Neither of the damaged bridges was replaced after the fire; but the Garfield Street Bridge was replaced in 1930 and is commonly known as the Magnolia Bridge.

Wheeler St. Bridge Fire.  July 1, 1924.

Image courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives, #28652


Queen Anne Yesterday & Today

Looking north on Fifth Ave. N., March, 1917

The scale of the commercial block of 5th Avenue N. between Aloha and Valley streets has changed little since this photo was taken in March, 1917.   Streetcar tracks seen in the 1917 image have been paved over; but electrical lines are seen above in both images, as the city moved to “trackless trolley” buses powered by overhead wires in 1941.  The buildings on the east side of the block do not survive, but the west side retains some of the buildings seen in the historic image; most notably the brick building occupying the northwest corner.  The ca. 1900 commercial building, which was a meat market in 1917, remains nearly unchanged on the exterior and serves as restaurant space today.  Its neighbor to the south was built in 1911 but has been significantly altered, including a second-story addition.  Originally clad in brick, the building housed a bakery and a barber shop in 1917 and is now the location of a pizza parlor and a coffee shop with apartments above.  The building that now separates them was constructed in 1920.

Looking north on Fifth Avenue N. today

The blocks of 5th Avenue N. north of Aloha Street have changed significantly in scale. The single-family homes that occupied the residential blocks in 1917 were replaced by apartment and condominium buildings constructed from the mid-20th century onward.   Although blocked by apartment buildings in today’s image, one of the houses visible on the east side of 5th Avenue N. in the historic image still stands:  the second house up from Aloha Street on the right side of the 1917 image, with a gable roof punctuated by two dormers at its east end, was built in 1905 and remains a single-family home.

This Week in Queen Anne History 

In this June 26, 1936 image, a worker sits atop a 140-foot-high steel arch during construction of the North Queen Anne Drive Bridge.  The bridge was built to replace an aging wooden trestle bridge that previously spanned Wolf Creek Canyon.  The new bridge provided a connection to the Aurora Bridge, visible in the background, which had been completed in 1932.  The North Queen Anne Bridge was one of many WPA infrastructure improvement projects that put Americans to work during the Great Depression.  Completed after just eight months of construction, the two-hinged steel arch bridge was the first of its kind built in Washington.  Ordinance No. 110343, signed by Mayor Charles Royer on January 3, 1982, made it a designated city landmark.

Image courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, #10594