Pacific Northwest | January 25, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineJanuary 25, 2004seattletimes.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

Built for Business
Photo
COURTESY OF LAWTON GOWEY
One century — plus a year — separates these views looking north on Second Avenue through its intersection with Marion Street.

 
 Photo
PAUL DORPAT
ONLY ONE FEATURE survives between this "then and now," and it has been truncated. On the right of the contemporary view, four of the original seven floors of the Marion Building have been lopped away (in 1955) at the southeast corner of Marion Street and Second Avenue. But while humbled on top, at the sidewalk the building now boasts a stone façade with monumental pillars. In 1918, the first floor was altered for the long-since-merged and folded National City Bank.

Tax records indicate the Marion Building went up in 1903. The intention of the early photograph from the Webster and Stevens studio (other than showing the new Marion Building and the red-brick gloss of Second Avenue) may be to contrast the two showy structures facing one another from the north corners with Marion. On the right is the Victorian clapboard Stetson-Post Building with the central tower. It was built in 1883, only six years before the ornate brick-and-stone Burke Building on the left was raised above the ashes of the city's "Great Fire."

When new, locals considered the Burke Block our best example of the latest design in business blocks. Many people mourned when the Burke Building was replaced in 1974 by the Henry M. Jackson Federal Office Building. In the 1880s Thomas Burke, its namesake, had been a resident in the Stetson-Post Building that was saved from the fire by the generous width of Second Avenue and the vigorous application of wet blankets to its steaming skin.

The Stetson-Post has only reached its midlife here. On Aug. 10, 1919, The Seattle Times noted its passing, describing it as "Second Avenue's last pioneer landmark." Lined with skyscrapers such as the Smith Tower, the Hoge Building and the New Washington Hotel, Second Avenue was our first "urban canyon."

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

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