Thursday, October 29, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 218

Foundation piles for the Smith Tower, ca 1910

This is a rather amazing look into the construction of the Smith Tower in Seattle Washington.  Plans for the construction of the tower were considered as early as 1909 with commencement of the project in 1910.  The tower was completed in 1914, a 42 story building the tallest west of the Mississippi at the time.  It continued to be the tallest building on the West Coast until the Space Needle was built in 1962.  The postcard photo shows the 1281 friction piles that support the tower and notes that the L.C. Smith Building weighs approximately 49,000 tons.  To provide some idea of immensity of the project, notice the small blue dots in the picture, these are the workmen. 

No publisher or photographer is given on the front or reverse of this card or on the one below that shows the completed tower.  Since both cards do have the same design on the reverse; however, most likely they were published about the same time by the same company dating them to 1914 or shortly thereafter.  The original photos would have been black & white, then tinted before mass producing as postcards.

L.C. Smith Tower, ca 1914-1920


The next postcard below shows the tower after dark.  Frank H. Nowell, who took many of the pictures for the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909, is identified as the photographer and the Loman & Hanford Co., of Seattle, published the card.  Loman & Hanford was a stationery and printing company (1894-1955), later bought out by the Portland, Oregon company, J.K. Gill (1868 – 1999).  Neither of these companies exist today.

Smith Tower after dark

The Smith Tower was funded by and named after the American industrialist Lyman Cornelius Smith (1850-1910) who died before the building was completed.  His son, Burns Lyman Smith, had convinced him to build the 42-story structure instead of the 14-story building he had first envisioned.  During the course of his life Smith was involved in several business ventures, livestock, lumber, firearms (L.C. Smith Shotgun) and eventually typewriters (Smith-Corona).  The firearms and typewriters proved to be the most successful.  The shotguns were produced from the 1880s to about 1950 with a brief revival in 1967, then retired in 1972.  Computers caused a decline in typewriter sales beginning in the 1980s. 

For more information about Smith Tower and L.C. Smith, see:

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