home Pacific NW Magazine home

Cover Story Plant Life On Fitness Taste Northwest Living Now & Then

Now & Then
Bay Watch

In the 90-plus years that separate this "then" from its "now," Lake Washington has been dropped 9 feet and the campus waterfront on Union Bay has been extended with fills and the construction of sports facilities such as the 1927 Hec Edmundson Pavilion (center) and the 1920 Husky Stadium (right). The timber trestle has also been replaced with a concrete one that passes over both the old Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad right-of-way (now part of the Burke-Gilman Recreation Trail) and Montlake Boulevard Northeast.

spacer Photo PAUL DORPAT
WHEN THE UNIVERSITY of Washington moved north in 1895 from downtown, the new site was commonly referred to as the Interlaken Campus. Views such as this confirm the name. Most likely this scene was photographed during or soon after the makeover of the campus for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

The unnamed photographer looks southeast across Union Bay. Madison Park is right of center, and Webster Point, the southern extremity of Laurelhurst, shows on the left just above the stairway that descends from the pedestrian trestle. Between them we look across Lake Washington to an eastside waterfront softly filtered by a morning haze that hangs over the lake on what is otherwise a bright winter day. This is Medina — or will be. In 1909 no palatial beach homes or bunkers attract our modern flotilla of gawkers.

Lake Washington is here at its old level before it was slowly dropped 9 feet in 1916 for the opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. At the old lake level the unnamed island right of center was still separated from Foster Island, behind the screen of trees on the far right. Now joined, they can be explored on the Arboretum Waterfront Self-Guided Trail.

We might have wished that the photographer had shown more of the trestle. It was most likely constructed for access to the shore, groomed as a picturesque retreat for visitors to the exposition. Its construction of both peeled and unhewed logs repeats one of the Expo's lesser architectural themes — the rustic one. The trestle spans the old Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern, the railroad that opened the hinterland of King County in the late 1880s. It first reached this point beside Union Bay in the fall of 1887.

Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.

Cover Story Plant Life On Fitness Taste Northwest Living Now & Then home
Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company