Pacific Northwest | July 20, 2003Pacific Northwest MagazineJuly 20, 2003seattletimes.com home
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CONTENTS
COVER STORY
PLANT LIFE
TASTE
NORTHWEST LIVING
NOW & THEN
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT

Downhill From Here
Photo
COURTESY OF MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES
Short of hiring a cherry picker or climbing a light pole, there was no way to faithfully repeat this historical scene with the contemporary photograph. The regrade that leveled this area makes that impossible. But both views are of Ninth Avenue at Denny Way — or near it.

 
 Photo
PAUL DORPAT
This is a rare look into the regrade upheaval at the northeast corner of the by-now-long-lost Denny Hill. To either side of the digging on Ninth Avenue the slope of the doomed hill can be followed as it descends to Westlake Avenue off the photograph on the right. Denny Park is at the top of the bluff on the left.

Part of the technique for this street work is revealed in the picture. While the workers, bottom right, extend the rails for the narrow-gauge train on a new bed, the steam shovel is removing dirt from the elevated old rail bed. The old line of railroad ties runs up from near the center of the bottom border of the photograph, where seven or eight of the timbers have not yet been moved to the new bed.

One of a few odd jobs done in the general neighborhood of the hill around 1911, this Ninth Avenue Regrade was separated by several blocks from the Denny Regrade's grander earth-moving to level the area. In 1911, a dozen years of cutting away Denny Hill came to a stop on the east side of Fifth Avenue and left a cliff there that was considerably higher than the one seen forming here on the left (west) side of Ninth Avenue. The motive was to widen the Westlake business strip to make at least two relatively flat blocks between Ninth and Terry avenues.

Like the cliff along Fifth Avenue, this one survived until the rest of the hill was scraped away between 1929 and 1931 when the Denny Hill neighborhood from Pine Street north was at last set at the present elevations of the extended Denny Regrade. But for 20 years between 1911 and 1931 the cliff on the left separated Ninth Avenue from Denny Park above it.

Paul Dorpat and Genevieve McCoy's award-winning illustrated Washington state history, "Building Washington," is now available for $50 from Tartu Publications, P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145; 206-547-7678.

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