Thursday, September 26, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 109

Second Avenue, Seattle, Washington, 1906 -- tinted version

Second Avenue in downtown Seattle was the heart of the shopping district when this photograph was taken in 1906.  As a result there are several cards of this era showing the street from different angles.  A couple of other cards have been previously shared.  The sidewalks are crowded and the street has streetcars and trolleys as well as horse drawn vehicles and a couple of automobiles.  The black & white picture above has been partially tinted but still mostly grayscale.  

Black & White version of the photo with the billboard advertisement

A famous northwest photographer, Asahel Curtis, took the photo.  The Curtis family had come to Seattle in 1888 from Minnesota when Asahel was about 14 years old.  Both Asahel and his brother Edward were photographers.  Edward documented the traditional life of the native people while Asahel photographed Washington’s natural resources, industries, early cities, historic events and the general population.  In 1897 he left Seattle to spend two years in the Yukon recording the Gold Rush.  Asahel was also one of the founders of the Mountaineers and even led climbs up Mount Rainier.   The Asahel Curtis Nature Trail named in his honor is located near Denny Creek just west of Snoqualmie Pass.  He died in 1941 leaving over 60,000 images that are now held in trust by the Washington Historical Society, Tacoma, Washington.

For more information about Asahel Curtis, his life and work, see:

There are a couple of interesting things about this card.  It is unused, has a divided back, but was pasted in an album so the reverse is somewhat damaged.  It was published by the Globe Novelty Company of Los Angeles, California but printed in Japan.  I have seen several of these old cards printed in Germany but this is the first one from Japan.  In the process of tinting, I think, the advertising billboard has been left as a blank box.  Another copy of this exact picture shown above has the advertisement for Wilson Whiskey.  Wilson's adopted the slogan "That's All" in 1904.  The Wilson Distillery was later bought by Seagrams.  The card is not numbered but does have the official Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909 logo at the upper left corner.

I think I counted about 9 streetcars and perhaps one cable car or trolley in the picture and began to wonder when they first started using them in Seattle.  The first streetcar line was built by Frank H. Osgood in 1884, was horse drawn, and ran along Second Avenue.  It was a huge success.  Osgood changed to electric streetcars in 1889.  A second type of similar transportation was the cable car constructed in 1887 by J.M. Thompson and Fred Sander that ran from Pioneer Square to Leschi Park by way of Yesler and Jackson Street.  The cable car used a pulley like a ski lift.   By 1898 there were approximately 22 different independent lines that connected business and suburban areas.  Many of the city buses today still follow these routes. 

The firm of Stone & Webster began quietly acquiring the independent lines and founded the Electric Railway Company.  There was an outcry and concern about the creation of a monopoly but the company managed to win a 40-year city franchise in 1900.  Stone & Webster also invested in other lines linking Tacoma, Seattle and Everett.  Eventually the consolidated company became Puget Sound Power, Light & Traction Company, the forerunner of Puget Power and Washington Energy. 

For additional information, please see:

As a family history note, at the time he met and later married Maggie Landaas, Edd Lorig worked on the streetcar line that ran from West Seattle to Ballard.  Edd hung the lantern on the back car and Maggie would watch the light on the streetcar as it pulled away after he had seen her safely home in the evenings.  Edd and Maggie were married in Seattle in 1894. 

Edd Lorig & Maggie Landaas, 1894

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