Stop by the Capitol Hill library this Thursday from 6:30pm-7:30pm to hear me talk more about the images and stories captured in our year of CHS Re:Take. A preview is below.
It’s been exactly a year since the first Re:Take ran on CHS. The idea behind Re:Take is deceptively simple: take an old photo, blend it into the current scene, and write about the history of the spot.
Together the seventeen articles reveal one truly astonishing thing: very little has been written about the earliest days on Capitol Hill.
Relying mostly on digital resources, the series blazed new ground on streetcars, regrades, auto row, the gold rush, and esoteric family histories.
At Mercer and Summit, the most recent installment laid out the story of Seattle’s 1906 streetcar plan (#17, c1910, 9/30/2012), pivoting on its impact on the Summit neighborhood with the creation of the now-47 Metro line. This article had a bonus feature: an endless series of 2012 presidential election memes.
The story of the Broadway’s first streetcar line was perhaps the series’ tour de force, seen at James and Broadway (#13, 1891, May 18, 2012). Besides digressing into the life of a man born in 19th-century Vietnam, the article also debunked the origin story for the name of Beacon Hill.
Another candidate for the best in the series explained why those houses are on top of hills on Melrose and Pike (#9, 1909, 2/26/2012). It described the Pine Street regrade by tying together references from old topographic maps, birding magazines, state Congress minutes, and beautiful old engineering diagrams. This article was already in the works, but became a response to conversation in the comments of Re:Take #8.
At 12th and Union, the topic of forgotten regrades was broached with a description of the 12th Avenue regrade (#7, 1920, 1/29/2012). Seattle engineer R. H. Thomson’s plan to build a tunnel from downtown drew in the series’ highest readership.
The social network of auto row was a provocative claim that there was more going on than just neighborhood commerce at Pike and Melrose (#6, 1921, 1/13/2012).
A guided tour of one of our historic auto row buildings led to the story of an almost-built apartment tower at Pike and Belmont (#8, 1909, 2/12/2012).
Broadway’s first car dealership – and their experiment in electric vehicles seen at Summit and Seneca
Thomas - was the frame for a conversation on the meaning of life (#14, 1913, 7/4/2012) .
The series debuted with a couplet of loves stories (#1, 1934, 10/23/2011). A lucky inquiry to the Alaska State Library produced the autobiography of a one-time Capitol Hill resident who was a two-time Gold Rusher – both the Yukon and Nome. This document was just one of many primary sources linked to from the article, a feature which was dropped after the debut.
First Hill’s U.S. Assay Office, which purchased and smelted gold, provided an opportunity to chastise other historians (#4, 1905, 12/4/2011). How could everyone screw up something so simple as the date the building was built?
Volunteer Park was the site of our giving of thanks (#3, 1912, 11/24/2011). Thanks to William Seward for buying Alaska, and thanks to all of the Capitol Hill pioneers for spending gold lavishly.
Two gold rush anecdotes anchored the love story of a gifted young woman at Virginia and Minor (#15, 1910, 7/22/2012).
Esoteric Family Histories
The story of a man, his death, and his dream of being reborn on Mars was told at John and Broadway (#2, 1899, 11/6/2011).
The misplaced photographs of a world traveler who tried to leave her life to her family in photo albums found their way to 12th and Union (#5, 1957, 12/23/2011).
The pre-regrade neighborhood viewed from Broadway and Spring provided the opportunity to explore the lives of a few people who lived in the damp depression at Division Street, 12th and Union (#10, 1905, 3/11/2012).
The first presidential candidate to visit Capitol Hill was just one of the many characters pulled into family stories of the Carroll, the girls and th
e dirt at Thomas and Bellevue (#11, 1909, 4/7/2012).
The tale of a newly-weds moving to John and Summit served as second part in the Summit Line saga (#16, 1937, 8/11/2012).
Breaking the Mold
In a desperate attempt to make a new case for the Bauhaus block, one installment of Re:Take ditched the historic photo. Instead it focused on statistics to show that the Bauhaus block is special and should be saved (#12, 4/24/2012).
We’re looking forward to another full year of forgotten stories in Re:Takes for your enjoyment.
Next up is the conclusion of the Summit Line saga. Then who knows what! We’ve got photos of Victorians, the former location of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the home of an architect-soldier-artist, and so many other tales to pluck from Capitol Hill’s past.