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

Now & Then
WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT
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A Makeover Made Over
 
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In the nearly 63 years that separate these two views, all the same structures on the west side of University Way north of its main intersection at Northeast 45th Street have survived. However, all the 56 listed tenants (including the apartments) on this side of the street have changed — and most of the uses have changed as well. Gone from 1940, for instance, are G.O. Guy Drugs, Buster Brown Shoes, the Diamond 5 Cents and $1.00 Store, Brehm's Delicatessen, VandeKamp's Dutch Bakery, Mannings Coffee Shop and the Egyptian Theater. Gone but still remembered.

 
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Perhaps it does not require much visual discipline to conclude that these two scenes are similar, but they are uniquely so. In both, University Way — aka "the Ave" — has been ripped up north of Northeast 45th Street. (Although we cannot see it here, south of 45th was a work in progress then and now, too.)

The older view was photographed sometime in July 1940. On the previous 12th of May, gas-powered buses replaced the then-48-year-old trolley service to the University District. After the trolley tracks were removed, the rough center of the street was exploited as a temporary parking strip while the curb lanes were reserved for moving traffic. On Aug. 11, trolleys returned to the Ave, but they were maneuverable, trackless ones. In this scene, their overhead wires are not yet installed.

The contemporary scene shows the Ave at last getting the remake its advocates began imagining nearly 10 years ago. Most importantly, it is becoming a street with wider sidewalks that will encourage more people to use the Ave without bumping into each other, unless they want to.

Thankfully, the plans for the new University Way include several kiosks featuring permanent photographic exhibits of University District history and this, its "main street." The Ave got its cosmopolitan advantage in 1895 when the university arrived beside it. In 1940, University of Washington English professor Frederick Padelford described University Way as "the silver chord" connecting the campus and the community, "where town and gown mingle to their mutual advantage." And by Seattle standards, life on the Ave has always been extraordinary.

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

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