A young girl holding a bouquet of roses leads an automobile festooned with American flags across the McGraw Street Bridge to kick off the celebration of its opening on September 16, 1936. Seattle City Engineer Clark Eldridge occupied the car making the inaugural crossing of the WPA-funded, $90,000 span. Eldridge designed several WPA-funded bridges during his tenure, including the adjacent North Queen Anne Drive Bridge, which also opened in 1936. The McGraw Street Bridge, which is located on McGraw between Second Avenue North and Nob Hill Avenue, replaced a rickety timber trestle and provided residents of the northeast side of the hill access to the Aurora Avenue Bridge, which opened in 1932.
Image courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives, #10912
This 1903 south-facing image was taken from what is now West Bertona Street, which bisects the Seattle Pacific University campus between 3rd and 9th Avenues West on the north side of Queen Anne. Prior to the 1916 completion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, this area was called Ross, named for John Ross who settled a claim here in the 1850s. The creek that was Lake Union’s natural outlet to Salmon Bay, now the location of the ship canal’s Fremont cut, was known as Ross Creek.
In the foreground a cow grazes in the fenced yard of a home that stood on land now occupied by University buildings. At right-center is the four-story, 1893 Seattle Seminary building. Seattle Seminary was founded by the Oregon and Washington Free Methodist Church Conference to educate missionaries, teachers and elementary school students. The seminary building, now called Alexander Hall, was the lone school building until 1905. The building was designed by architect John Parkinson, who left Seattle for Los Angeles after the panic of 1893 and established himself as a leader of the profession and left a mark on the city-scape that includes such landmark buildings as the Los Angeles City Hall and the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Originally built on a 5-acre parcel, the school and its curriculum steadily expanded; and in 1915 it was renamed Seattle Pacific College. With the addition of graduate-level courses in 1977, it was renamed Seattle Pacific University, and now occupies 45 acres.
Taking today’s image from the same vantage point would be impossible without scaling the roof of the building that stands where the photographer did 117 years ago. But the view would be no less obscured by mature vegetation than it is from the vantage point of my iPhone, about 20 yards south of the original. Of the several homes and outbuildings surrounding the Seminary building in the historic image, only one remains (although it is not visible in today’s image). To the upper-left, in the midst of a stand of towering evergreen trees, the central gable of the Hazzard/Griggs House peeks out above the roof-line of the long-gone houses in the foreground. The house, at 67 West Etruria Street, was built in 1894 and is one of very few homes remaining on Queen Anne that were constructed before the turn of the century. It is a beautifully maintained historic home in nearly-original condition, other than a sympathetic addition on its south side.
In this August 2, 1912 image, work is under way on the North Trunk Sewer siphon tunnel at Third Avenue West and Ewing Street, now the location of the West Ewing Mini Park.
In 1892, under the direction of Seattle City Engineer R. H. Thompson, construction began on a comprehensivesystem of sewers and sewer tunnelsto divert sewage away from freshwater lakes and tidal areas and out into Puget Sound. Construction on the North Trunk Sewer began in 1911 to serve an area of about 30 square miles. Because the North Trunk system crosses the Lake Washington Ship Canal, tunnels were built beneath it to accommodate sewer pipes and other utilities. Shafts were dug 80 feet down on either side of the canal, and a brick-lined tunnel was constructed between them.
In the image below, a diver prepares to inspect the North Trunk Sewer’s outfall at Fort Lawton, in a photo taken by the engineering department on the same day.
When the city’s engineering department undertook building the sewer system that it has maintained, expanded and improved upon on ever since, the idea of treating sewage didn’t exist and the long-term impact of depositing it into Puget Sound was a known unknown. In the intervening years, treatment plants were introduced into the system; and more recently, building regulations requiring the inclusion of landscaping designed to absorb storm water runoff were put in place to mitigate the risk of raw sewage overflow into our water systems. Despite these efforts, incidents of overflow still occur during storms.
The same week 108 years later, construction is again under way at the Third Avenue West and Ewing Street site. In an effort to prevent future contamination during periods of high water input into the system, Seattle Public Utilities and King County Wastewater Treatment Division have begun work on the Ship Canal Water Quality Project. The project includes building a new 8-ft-diameter tunnel under the Ship Canal to convey polluted storm water and sewage to a new 29-million-gallon-capacity storage tunnel, building a drop shaft to direct flows into the new tunnel, and installing new pipes to convey stormwater and sewage to the drop shaft. More detailed information on the project can be found via the link below.