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.
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.
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
In this 1903 photo, three ladies stroll by vacant lots on Highland Drive while a young girl waits for them to catch up with her on 1st Ave. N.
Looking east, Highland Drive and 1st Ave N. The shingle style home on the right was designed by Seattle architect Edwin Houghton in 1899 for attorney Charles Riddle. Considered to be among the finest examples of the shingle style in Seattle, the Riddle House still stands but has been altered. The neoclassical revival style home on the left belonged to Seattle businessman James W. Clise. The home served as a boarding house during the Depression, and sat vacant for a time before being used as housing for war workers and soldiers’ families during WWII. The home was later destroyed and the lot subdivided; the three houses occupying the land today were built in the mid-1970s.
In today’s image the Riddle House is blocked by mature trees, but the Polson House is visible on the right. Built in 1906, the early Craftsman Style home remained in the Polson family for nearly 100 years. The Polson House featured an elevator (removed), which is believed to be the first installed in a Seattle residence. The current owners undertook an extensive restoration after purchasing the historic home in 2011.