Pacific Northwest | August 24, 2003Pacific Northwest MagazineAugust 24, 2003seattletimes.com home
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CONTENTS
COVER STORY
PLANT LIFE
TASTE
ON FITNESS
NORTHWEST LIVING
NOW & THEN
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT

Downhill From Here
Photo
COURTESY OF MIKE CIRELLI
The narrow-gauged railroad engine on the right of this early-20th-century Denny Regrade scene can be imagined as plowing into the Bon Marché's window display near the corner of Pine Street and Fourth Avenue — except that the Bon was built in the late 1920s, a quarter of a century after this historical photograph was recorded.

 
 Photo
PAUL DORPAT
THIS CURIOUS look into the Denny Regrade peers north across Pine Street. The photograph was recorded mid-block between Third and Fourth avenues probably in either late 1906 or early 1907. The brick paving on Pine Street was laid soon after the street was lowered about 12 feet at Third Avenue. Completed in the spring of 1905, the Pine Street part of the regrade was practice for taking away the rest of Denny Hill: the two humps of it north and south of Virginia Street.

The two regrade "inspectors" sitting on the planks to the right of the power pole are looking at what little remains of the south hump. Only a few months earlier, Denny Hill had risen 100 feet higher than shown here and held above it the grand architectural pile of Gothic towers and wide porticos first named the Denny Hotel. Because of its commanding view, this landmark was publicized through its brief life as "the scenic hotel of the West."

Another but more modest landmark missing from this hole is the old North School that opened in 1873 directly in front of the "inspectors." The school closed in 1887, the year Fire Station No. 2 was built next to it. The arched doorway on the left is the eastern bay of the fire station. Some of the dirt taken from this part of the hill survives a little more than a block away beneath Nordstrom. It fills what was a swamp at Fifth Avenue.

The distant houses at the scene's center were also doomed to fall in the regrade. The ornate structure with the small tower to their right, however, had been moved temporarily — from the west side to the east side of Fourth Avenue — to keep it out of harm's way.

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

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