Pacific Northwest | September 14, 2003Pacific Northwest MagazineSeptember 14, 2003seattletimes.com home
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PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT

New Destinations
Photo
COURTESY OF LAWTON GOWEY
Two new Seattle Municipal Railway buses are posed for photographer Asahel Curtis along the west curb of Broadway Avenue between Pike (behind the photographer) and Pine streets in 1919. The Booth Building appears above the buses in both the "now" and "then" views, although in the intervening years some of the ornate Spanish roofline has been removed.

 
 Photo
PAUL DORPAT
While the subject here is evidently the two new White Motor Co. buses in the foreground, we also catch above them, center left, a glimpse of Cornish School. Below the eaves the sign "Cornish School of the Arts" is blazoned, and to either side of it are printed in block letters the skills that one can expect to learn in its studios: "Art, Dancing Expression, Language." From its beginning in 1914 Cornish meant to teach all the arts.

A catalog reference for this image indicates it was probably photographed late in 1919, or two years before Cornish moved from the Booth Building here at the southeast corner of Broadway Avenue and Pine Street north a few blocks on Capitol Hill to another Spanish-styled structure, the school's still-used home at Roy Street and Harvard Avenue.

When the city took public control of all the streetcars in the spring of 1919, it purchased a dangerously dilapidated system at a price so dear it precluded most improvements. The few exceptions included these buses, bought to reach parts of the city that the old private trolley system did not service. These buses are signed for Magnolia, whose developing neighborhoods were mostly not reached by the street-rail line that ran to Fort Lawton.

Bus-company owner Thomas White started out making sewing machines in Massachusetts in 1859. He was still around in 1901 when his company made its first steam-powered automobile in Cleveland. Gas-powered trucks were added in 1910; buses followed. The best-known and longest-lived White buses were the red ones used for narrated tours at Glacier National Park. They were a park fixture until retired in 1999.

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

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