1892 Pioneer Building in Seattle: how and when was it built?

This is one of the most famous buildings in Seattle, and rightfully so. The structure is pretty stunning. The history of its construction has a bit of a mystery to it. Of course, this mystery is not exactly on the surface for everyone to see. One would have to actually investigate, to see the abnormalities. Let's start with the narrative.

The Pioneer Building
The Pioneer Building is a Richardsonian Romanesque stone, red brick, terra cotta, and cast iron building located on the northeast corner of First Avenue and James Street, in Seattle's Pioneer Square District. Completed in 1892, the Pioneer Building was designed by architect Elmer Fisher, who designed several of the historic district's new buildings following the Great Seattle Fire of 1889.
I could not find a better contemporary image of the Pioneer Building. There will be older photographs down the article, and those, in my opinion, represent this structure much better.

Seattle_-_Pioneer_Building-1.jpg

The Pioneer Building is a 94-foot-tall (29 m) symmetrical block, measuring 115 by 111 ft (35 by 34 m). The exterior walls are constructed of Bellingham Bay gray sandstone at the basement and first floor, with red brick on the upper five floors (with the exception of two stone pilasters which extended to the full height of the tower over the main entrance). Spandrel panels and other ornamental elements are terra cotta from Gladding, McBean in California. There are three projecting bays of cast iron, the curved bays at the corner and on the James Street facade, and the angled bay above the main entrance.
  • The building reflects a mix of Victorian and Romanesque Revival influences. The facades, with vertical pilasters and horizontal belt courses creating a grid, reflect Victorian compositional strategies. Details such as the round arches over groups of windows and the arched main entrance and corner entrance are Romanesque Revival elements.
  • The exterior walls are load-bearing, as is the firewall that extends through the building from the street to the alley. The interior structure is cast iron columns and steel beams supporting timber joists. As was typical practice in the period, the office floors were designed and built with permanent partitions forming 185 office rooms -a tenant would simply rent one or more office rooms. Light is provided to the interior through two atria—one in the center of the south portion of the building, the other in the north portion of the building.
  • Constructed at a cost of $270,000, the Pioneer Building was considered one of Seattle's finest post-fire business blocks. It has always been highly visible, forming a portion of one side of Seattle's Pioneer Place Park.
  • The Pioneer Building originally had a seventh floor tower room (with a pyramidal roof) located directly above the front entrance making the building 110 ft (34 m). It was removed as a result of damage caused by the 1949 earthquake.
1888 Seattle PI Article
1888-1.jpg

Source
I think the photograph below represents our building much better than the one above.
c. 1890
Pioneer_Building,_corner_of_1st_Ave_and_James_St,_Seattle,_Washington,_ca_1890_1.jpg

Well, this is basically it, as far as available information goes. Everything we have is virtually useless, for it contains no real history. Here are some of the "history" covering links we have:
The Architect
As was stated above, the building was designed by Elmer Fisher. He was born either c. 1840 in Scotland, or c. 1851 in the US. The gentleman supposedly died in 1905. As far as I understand, there is only one photograph of Mr. Fisher, and you can see it below. SH Blog already has an article dedicated to this specific architect:
FisherDWW.JPG

Please take a look at some of the projects attributed to this gentleman. Check out a different source emphasizing the issue we have with this guy.

elmer-bldg.jpg

Here is the last thing(s) we know about Elmer Fisher:
  • His official date of death as well as his final resting place is unknown.
  • He died in 1905, an architectural draftsman and carpenter.
Yesler-Leary Building
This building should have an article of its own. Yet, for the purposes of this article, we absolutely have to mention it, because up until 1889 it was the most prominent building in Seattle. This building will allow us to cover the area where the Pioneer Building will later stand.

c. 1887
Yesler-Leary_Building_on_1st_Ave,_ca_1887.jpg

Here is one additional view of this Yesler-Leary Building:
c. 1885
Yesler-Leary_Building_on_1st_Ave,_ca_1885.jpg

this is a turntable for the tram cars

SF turntable example

If we were to believe the Seattle Public Library we have the following narrative compliant data for the Yesler-Leary Building:
  • Built: 1883
  • Destroyed: 1889
    • The Yesler-Leary Building burned down in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889
Some Yesler-Leary Building links:
The Great Seattle Fire of 1889
The Great Seattle Fire was a fire that destroyed the entire central business district of Seattle, Washington on June 6, 1889. The conflagration lasted for less than a day, burning through the afternoon and into the night, and during the same summer as the Great Spokane Fire and the Great Ellensburg Fire. Seattle quickly rebuilt using brick buildings that sat 20 feet (6.1 m) above the original street level. Its population swelled during reconstruction, becoming the largest city in the newly admitted state of Washington.
Yesler-Leary Building in 1889
Ruins_of_Yesler-Leary_building,_1889.jpg
Aftermath_of_the_fire_of_June_6,_1889,_looking_north_on_1st_Ave_S_at_Yesler_toward_the_ruins_o...jpg


Before
yesler-1.jpg

Source

After
yesler-2.jpg

Source

yesler-3.jpg

Source

I was struggling to find a better post-fire view North from the Pioneer Square on the 1st Avenue. That's because it used to have a different name in 1889. Apparently it was called Front Street. Anyways, here is the direction we need.
north on 1st ave.jpg

Below we have a photograph covering the direction indicated by the above arrows. I believe the photograph was taken slightly south of 1st Ave and Marion street intersection.
Seattle_Fire_Front_Street_Frye-Opera-House_Union-Block_1889.jpg

Essentially, the entire area got annihilated. The below map of the 1889 Great Seattle Fire could have a better resolution, but you get an idea.
  • #3: Yesler-Leary Building
  • #4: Occidental Hotel
  • Full Map
seattle-fire-map.jpg

As the story goes, Seattle quickly rebuilt using brick buildings that sat 20 feet above the original street level. Help yourself.
Construction of the Pioneer Building
From the official narrative we know that the Great Seattle Fire happened on 06/06/1889. From the same narrative we get statements similar to the below ones:
  • By the time the fire swept through the city, the foundation for the new Pioneer Building had already been excavated.
  • The ensuing construction boom slowed the completion of the Pioneer Building.
  • When it was completed in 1892, the beautiful building of red brick and terra cotta was arguably the finest "fireproof" Richardsonian-Romanesque designs created by architect Elmer H. Fisher.
  • Source
Construction Photographs
I was real surprised to find photographs resembling the construction. Well, may be they do demonstrate construction processes utilized in 1890's, I do not know for sure.
  • Photographs are zoomable at their source.
  • In the below photographs, we are looking North on 1st Ave aka Front street, and the photographer was more or less on top of the Pioneer Square. Naturally, we are seeing 1st Avenue North from the Pioneer Square.
  • The Pioneer Building is being built in the right.
The images are dated with c. 1890. Remember what the area looked like some time on, or after 06/06/1889.

#1: 1st Ave., looking north from Pioneer Square, ca. 1890.
  • Shows Merchants National Bank and the Starr-Boyd Building to the left, Pioneer Building under construction on the right.
c. 1890
1st Ave., looking north from Pioneer Square, ca. 1890- 1.jpg

#2: 1st Ave., looking north from Pioneer Square, ca. 1890
  • Handwritten on verso: Pioneer Square under construction.
1st Ave., looking north from Pioneer Square, ca. 1890- 2.jpg


Several Zoom-ins
zoomin-1.jpg

zoomin-2.jpg

zoomin-3.jpg

zoomin-4.jpg

zoomin-5.jpg

In reference to the above c. 1890 photographs:
  1. There appears to be no issues photographing in motion in 1890.
  2. This entire area was annihilated on 06/06/1889.
    • Surrounding structures do not look brand new to me.
  3. The Pioneer Building being built on the right. Is this what a superfast construction process should look like?
Abnormalities
I know that I have repeated this many times already. Per the narrative, this entire area was destroyed by an alleged urban fire on 06/06/1889.

Zoomable
Map_seattle_fire_1889_1.jpg


#1: Under what circumstances could we have the below:
1891-map2.jpg

1891-map.jpg

#2: How was this 1890 magazine possible?
1890-seattle.jpg

WS-Seattle_1.jpg


KD: I think there is something seriously wrong with this entire story line. Prior to 1889, cities in this area chose not to burn. Then year 1889 decided to visit the Washington Territory:
The Pioneer Building:
  • When do you think it was built?
  • Was the above presented construction real, or staged?
Photographs to examine:
Please share your opinion on the above.
 

jd755

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You have the arrow on the wrong bend. The car is making a right turn not a left one and is going up the gradient in front of the big windows in the Occidental.
God I must be blind. From your linked article Banta.
Denny and Maynard gave him a strip where their land holdings joined along the Seattle waterfront.
Evidence that the land under the pioneer building is either entirely or mainly made up backfilled land?
 
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  • Banta

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    Evidence that the land under the pioneer building is either entirely or mainly made up backfilled land?
    I dunno, it's probably just imprecise language. I mean, the Pioneer Building, from what I can tell, is only about 1000 feet from the current waterfront anyway. Obviously not what you want if someone is selling you a house "on the beach" but close enough for government work.

    But who knows? Everything is all paved over now, so it's hard to even confirm the areas you pointed out in the 1884 map. However, it's indisputable that some land reclamation was going on. To the extent and for how long... well, it's difficult because it seems like prior to 1875ish, Yesler, Doc Maynard, and the other frontiersmen could act unilaterally with no real record or accountability required. Well, as long as they could appease the locals that is.

    Chief_seattle.jpg

    Chief Seattle, in 1864, died 06/07/1866

    Phew, it's a good thing the Chief held on for a few hours there, or else I'd be forced to talk about numerology again! Also, isn't it interesting who we get pictures of in the mid to late 19th century and those we don't?

    Edit: So, I can't believe I hadn't seen this yet:

    Plan_of_Seattle_1855-6.jpg
    A map of Seattle, drawn at the time of the Battle of Seattle [1856], part of the Puget Sound War. Map shows the sloop USS Decatur and the bark Brontes in Elliott Bay, Henry Yesler's mill, wharf, and a pile of sawdust, indigenous settlements in and around town (depicted with tipi-like symbols). The camp in town is labeled "Tecumseh's Camp", the one in the woods just north of Yesler's Mill is labeled "Curley's Camp" On the slopes above the town there is text saying "Hills and Woods thronged with Indians". A sand spit separates a tide marsh from the tide flats of the bay. The location is roughly where Seattle's Pioneer Square is today. The main north-south street is today's First Avenue, the main west-east street shown is today's Jackson Street. Today's Yesler Way would terminate at the wharf.
    In case you can't see where the mill is supposed to be:

    Screenshot_20210304-200221~3.jpg

    I've tried spinning my Google map around in a bunch of different ways, and I can't reconcile the differences here at all:

    Screenshot_20210304-194125~2.jpg

    The marker is the Pioneer Building. I think we need to seriously question if Yesler's mill was the future site of the building. Or how much the land was recovered/altered, however, judging by the location of the mill relative to the lake (if that's what is now Lake Union), it seems like the mill would be further north. Or even further further north, if that lake is Green Lake.
     
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    You have the arrow on the wrong bend. The car is making a right turn not a left one and is going up the gradient in front of the big windows in the Occidental.
    We are probably looking at different areas on the map.


    By the way, from the narrative we know, that when the fire took place on 06/06/1889, the foundation of the Pioneer Building was supposed to be fully excavated.

    seattle24.jpg

    I will show two older photographs below, but at first let's see where those photographs were taken from. My Google Maps screenshot is not perfect location-wise, but that's the best I could do without actually going there.

    pioneer-sq-3.jpg

    Conveniently, the below photograph is dated with 06/05/1889.
    • What is this building on the right I marked with X?
    • Y - Yesler-Leary Building or the former location of the Yesler-Leary Building on today's maps.
    • X - was supposed to have the excavated foundation of the future Pioneer Building right about where it stands. May be the foundation was a bit east of my "X" mark, but that would mean that half of the building we observe on the below 05/06/1889 photographs had to be destroyed for that to be the case.
    06/05/1889
    Yesler_Way_looking_west_from_1st_Ave,_June_5,_1889-1.jpeg

    Source

    1884
    Seattle_Street_Railway,_the_first_streetcar_in_Seattle,_at_Occidental_Ave_and_Yesler_Way.jpeg

    Source
    On our 1889 plan, the area looks like this.

    pioneer-square.jpg

    Source
    X appears to be located where our Pioneer Building stands today. Here is how I would place those 1889 pre fire buildings on the today's map.

    seattle-1x2.jpg


    KD: Where am I wrong?

    EDIT: I see where I’m wrong. X is the Occidental Hotel.
     

    Banta

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    Where am I wrong?
    You're not wrong, the world is. In the 6/5/89 picture, the building on the left is where the Olympic Block building is claimed to be built after the fire (despite showing up in the '84 and '89 birdseye view drawings, looking very similar). It's location is obscured in the 1884 photo (because it's taken further back), but the beer hall on the left appears to match up (O=Olympic Block, b=Beer hall):

    Screenshot_20210305-012238~3.jpg

    So, the two photos here and the 1889 birdseye seems consistent. The outlier is the 1884 birdseye, which doesn't depict your X building properly.

    Seems like this mysterious X building very well could be the "foundation" of the Pioneer Building (which does have a segmented look to it, IMO). So if we ignore stories about mill locations and fires (and then ignore the destruction photos), it almost makes sense.

    Starting to feel like we're playing "whack a mole" here. Attempting to reconcile one issue only makes another one pop up. Which I guess is a solid indication that none of these images are in any sort of chronological order, despite what they're claimed to be dated as.
    I see where I’m wrong. X is the Occidental Hotel
    Are you sure about that? Doesn't seem like enough distance between the Yesler-Leary building and it. Especially in the 1889 photo. The whole thing makes sense to me if I think the 1884 picture is taken basically in front of the Occidental and the '89 a bit further up the street.

    However I do also think staring at all this is starting to make me quite literally insane, so you could very well be correct.
     
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    Are you sure about that? Doesn't seem like enough distance between the Yesler-Leary building and it.
    I'm fairly certain. That's Occidental Hotel being built in allegedly 1887.
    • Once again, looks more like renovations to me.
    • We are facing mostly West here.
    • Yesler-Leary Building can be seen behind a as along the edge there.
    Image #1
    occidental-hotel-1887-then-mr.jpg

    Source
    And this here is also claimed to be 1887. The hotel is finished.
    • We are facing mostly East here.
    Image #2
    5-occidental-hotel-ca-1887-web.jpg

    Source
    And the below contemporary photograph taken from the same point Image #1 appear to show that today we have way more dirt at this intersection. That's Yesler Way and 2nd Avenue, by the way. Where did this hill come from.
    • Compare Image #1 to Image #3.
    Image #3
    occidental-hotel-now.jpg

    Source

    What happened at the point where the photograph was taken from? Does it look like it got 20 feet higher?

    occidental-hotel-now2.jpg

    And to top it off, here is another 1887 depiction of the same Occidental Hotel.
    • Z - is where our Pioneer Building is today.​
    • My red line indicates an approximate grade we have today on Yesler Way next to the parking lot (used to be this Hotel)
    hotel-ocident-13.jpg

    Source

    What's interesting... below is the actual photograph of the Occidental Hotel in 1884 (allegedly). And it's leveled s well.

    1920px-Seattle_Street_Railway,_the_first_streetcar_in_Seattle,_at_Occidental_Ave_and_Yesler_W...jpeg

    Source
    • What happened there to get it buried like that.
    • If we continue that grade up, for the hill keeps on going up, we could bury buildings 15-20 stories high.


    As far as our Pioneer Building goes...
    • The below photograph was taken from approximately there, I think.
    p-square.jpg

    What can we get from this image?
    • They say it's c.1887 again...


    KD: The entire Pioneer Square area has an additional underground level, and in some places two stories are underground. We know that the PTB claimed that approximately 20 feet of dirt were used to raise the city during the so-called rebuilding process.
    • We have exactly zero proof of any dirt moving activities related to this project. That's a lot of dirt by the way.
    • Also dirt levels pertaining to the Occidental Hotel are highly suspicious, imho.
     

    jd755

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    No you have the wrong bend in the tram tracks I meant.

    In this photograph you can see the curve the track takes (or will take as the track is not visible in that photo) making a right turn into Yesler from Occidental. The bloke on the left is stood on it. I cannot stick letters and or lines on sorry.

    occidental-hotel-1887-then-mr.jpg

    In this photograph the same curve is present turning the exact same way into Yesler from Occidental. This time the street car is stood on it.

    Seattle_Street_Railway,_the_first_streetcar_in_Seattle,_at_Occidental_Ave_and_Yesler_Way.jpeg

    The doorway in the building immediately to the right of the front of the street car in the bottom photo is the same doorway at the far end of the scaffolding in the first.

    Here is the same curve.

    2021-03-05 09.56.10 stolenhistory.org 80cadc06f556.jpg

    EDIT to add here is the curve again from this page in 1888

    2021-03-05 12.03.39 i0.wp.com a3206a3262f1.jpg

    Banta you rogue. That hand drawn map of Seattle drawn 1855-6 what a find. Its rammed with detail clearly drawn by a man who had knowledge of geography in contours and levels, its symbology and how to draw the right perspective. And people on the other place are saying such work is impossible without going up in the air in some contraption, dear god. The man who drew this walked the land and knew what he was looking at.

    As a slight aside I would just like to say this is the first investigation I have taken part in where I feel we are getting somewhere/ My gratitude to KD for starting shorg 2.0 and my fellow contributors are true friends. Most heart warming.

    Right from the hand drawn map its confirmed my suspicion that Yeslers mill would be right on the coast for ease of processing from tree to lumber and shipping and sail by water. Ships and boats carry more lumber than horse carts and much further.
    The jetty I had a laugh at as from just one in 1855 they were breeding like rabbits by 1884!
    But what really struck me is the area of that sawdust pile. Either Yeslers mill was producing sawdust not lumber which though possible seems unlikely as I cannot think of a market for sawdust offhand or he was selling a lot of lumber far more than the records suggest which would not be a surprise to be honest. Overstate one thing when understating another is how accountants operate even today.

    sawdust.jpg

    Where did all that sawdust go?
    Could it have been washed into the water by storm water running off the denuded land?
    It was a big enough feature of the time to be recorded by the surveying US army officer.

    Here's a bit of speculation.
    Suppose the sawdust pile did shift into the water and instead of floating off which it couldn't as it was already soaked it instead sank and along with any soil being washed along with it or over it formed a solid if spongy 'new land'. Yesler would I'm sure have noticed this and may have thought of an ingenious plan to increase his landholding by filling in the sea with waste from his mill. If the sawdust land had spread under the jetty he may have noticed how the jetty logs trapped the sawdust and stabilised it so from then on its a simple matter of piling in upright logs laying some horizontally to form a low wall and then carting the sawdust not to a pile on dry land but to the newly created land creation infrastructure.
    A next to no cost way of gaining usable land without treaty, claim or buying and selling anything.
    As long as any lumber the mill produced paid for Yeslers running costs and probably living costs it didn't need to make a profit.

    Well I went and searched using the term sawdust pile 1880's
    And this was the third result. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40487469?seq=1

    Seattle is a city built upon sawdust. Research into old records bears ... deep in the sawdust piles. ... The decade of the 1880's marked a new period. (Portland ...
    It's jstor and I don't have an account but there is a preview.

    Now I recognise that KD was most likely already aware of the sawdust connection but still blew me away I have to say.

    A bit more speculation but the reason why Banta could not locate the old mill onto the present day google map is because the mill site is so far inland from the current waterfront its impossible to do so.
    Sawdust used as landfill will consolidate quite easily and quite well. It will degrade and rot quite slowly but will gain a surface of plant and fungal life fairly quickly and insects will populate it from the get go. It will continue to settle and when fully rotted the surface would be much lower than it was when first deposited but it likely wouldn't be just sawdust being used as fill. Not sure what the trees being processed were but from the maps it appears to be mainly conifers. Lots of resinous bark and branches would likely end up in the fill. These rot much more slowly so provide a longer period of consolidation and would have kept the surface higher than it would otherwise be.
    As the fill advanced it would dry out as the tides would pushed further and further away so in the same way a marsh becomes solid ground by draining. By pushing the front of the pile further into the sea the land dries out.

    Speculation but if we run with it the mill site 'moves' further and further inland as the filling moves further and further into the sea.

    seattle-with-water-system-on-stilts-1870.jpg
    • Water System on Stilts, 1870 Courtesy MOHAI (2002.3.552)
    seattle-ca-1869.jpg
    • Seattle, ca. 1869 Courtesy Washington Historical Society (1995.10.1)
    regraded-1st-avenue-originally-called-front-street-seattle-1878.jpg
    • Regraded 1st Avenue, originally called Front Street, Seattle, 1878 Courtesy MOHAI (1983.10.6138)
    Seattle_PioneerSquare_tideflats.jpg
    • Tideflats near Pioneer Square, Seattle Courtesy UW Special Collections
    cip14a.JPG
    • Denny regrade headline, Seattle
    cip01b.JPG
    • The first platting in Seattle, 1850s.
    All of the above from here Building Seattle -- A Slideshow History of Seattle

    Front street when first named was a street on stilts it seems from that photograph so the area on both sides of it was water or tide flats back filled with sawdust & debris maybe?
    If so lends credence to Pioneer square being entirely tide flat/ backfill land.
    Who was this Denny?
    Who did the first platting?
    How does the coastline under the platting match the Army officers map?
    Like San Francisco the platting goes out into the water/tidal flats. Very interesting.
     
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  • AnthroposRex

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    You're not wrong, the world is. In the 6/5/89 picture, the building on the left is where the Olympic Block building is claimed to be built after the fire (despite showing up in the '84 and '89 birdseye view drawings, looking very similar). It's location is obscured in the 1884 photo (because it's taken further back), but the beer hall on the left appears to match up (O=Olympic Block, b=Beer hall):


    So, the two photos here and the 1889 birdseye seems consistent. The outlier is the 1884 birdseye, which doesn't depict your X building properly.

    Seems like this mysterious X building very well could be the "foundation" of the Pioneer Building (which does have a segmented look to it, IMO). So if we ignore stories about mill locations and fires (and then ignore the destruction photos), it almost makes sense.

    Starting to feel like we're playing "whack a mole" here. Attempting to reconcile one issue only makes another one pop up. Which I guess is a solid indication that none of these images are in any sort of chronological order, despite what they're claimed to be dated as.

    Are you sure about that? Doesn't seem like enough distance between the Yesler-Leary building and it. Especially in the 1889 photo. The whole thing makes sense to me if I think the 1884 picture is taken basically in front of the Occidental and the '89 a bit further up the street.

    However I do also think staring at all this is starting to make me quite literally insane, so you could very well be correct.
    I think the disaster photos come first. Then they built the city and changed stuff over time. The common historical narrative has it out of sequence.
     
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    As far as regrades go, we allegedly had a whole bunch.
    • Seattle's first 58 regrades "consisted largely of cutting the tops off high places and dumping the dirt into low places and onto the beach". The most dramatic result of this was along that former beach, filling the land that constitutes today's Central Waterfront. Today's Western Avenue and Alaskan Way lie on this landfill.
    • These informal regrades came to an end around 1900; later regrades typically required changes to areas that had already undergone some development.
    • Regrading in Seattle
    The First Avenue regrade was started in 1897 and completed on January 6, 1899.
    We are interested in regrades predating 1897.

    There are two things none of these regrades can explain:
    • 1. There are at least two stories of a red brick building buried underneath the Pioneer Building. What building could it be, if the narrative says that at the time of the fire, there was only a foundation of the future Pioneer Building there? What buried that brick structure and what building was there before the Pioneer Building?
    • 2. How did the south-east and north-east corners of the Occidental Hotel aka parking lot got buried under approximately 20 feet of dirt. These are James street & 2nd avenue and Yesler Way & 2nd avenue intersections.
    What do you think about this?
    • On November 14, 1960, the Seattle Times ran a story about the “almost forgotten ‘ghost town'” under downtown Seattle. Entering through the kitchen of the B&R Restaurant at 105 1/2 Yesler Way and equipped with a flashlight, reporter John Reddin and Fire Chief William Fitzgerald descended two flights of stairs into a dim and dusty cavern. They found a series of passageways and old store fronts, as well as old wooden columns.
    • Seattle Map 4 – Downtown Catacombs
    CD5269BF-6305-4C6E-970F-607BBA06BAD4.jpg

    Here are parts of what we have down there, accompanied by the PTB narrative.


    Virtual underground tour.

     

    Banta

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    I'm fairly certain. That's Occidental Hotel being built in allegedly 1887.
    Okay, I think I agree now, after taking some time away. I guess it's a perspective thing that makes it seem like the Occcidental is too close to the Yesler-Leary building.

    Does this whole area:

    Inkedpioneer-square_LI.jpg

    Fit in here?

    InkedYesler_Way_looking_west_from_1st_Ave,_June_5,_1889-1_LI.jpg

    To which I reply, very confidently, I guess?

    It's still very confusing, because these dates are all over the place. If that one picture is 1884, it's amazing:
    Seattle businessman John Collins (1835-1903) purchased Brown's stake in the hotel; Collins gained his wealth from diverse investments in real estate, railroad stock and mining shares; he gradually took control of the property from his co-owners; looking for greater profit, he demolished the Occidental Hotel #1 in 1883 and erected Seattle's first upscale hotel, the larger Occidental Hotel #2 in 1884; this first Occidental Hotel had a wooden frame, a dangerous method of construction for hotels in the 19th century, due to the constant risk of fire. Ironically, it was the Occidental Hotel #2, which burned in the Great Seattle Fire of 06/06/1889.
    And they decided to make the building look aged too, apparently:

    1920px-Seattle_Street_Railway,_the_first_streetcar_in_Seattle,_at_Occidental_Ave_and_Yesler_W...jpeg
    Also dirt levels pertaining to the Occidental Hotel are highly suspicious, imho.
    Right. Speaking of the original Occidental, here are supposedly images of it, from 1880 or 81, depending on who you want to believe:

    1776.jpg

    853-president-hayes-in-1881.jpg
    O.T. Frasch published a postcard of the Occidental Hotel #1 in 1911 bearing the caption: "President Hayes addresseing Seattle's entire population in [sic] 1881 where Hotel Seattle now stands." (See O.T. Frasch postcard #853, 1911; Hayes actually visited Seattle, WA, on 10/11/1880.)
    So, not that I necessarily believe that this picture is what it's supposed to be depicting at all, especially given that the second picture didn't appear until 30 years after the fact (not sure about the first), but if that is the location of our future brick Occidental, what the hell is going on here with the hills? (EDIT: I'm thinking that these are reenactments of some kind, perhaps for the 1909 exposition, but that's just a guess.)
    Indeed
    As a slight aside I would just like to say this is the first investigation I have taken part in where I feel we are getting somewhere/ My gratitude to KD for starting shorg 2.0 and my fellow contributors are true friends. Most heart warming.
    I agree with this sentiment fully! I also strangely like being called a "rogue."
    A bit more speculation but the reason why Banta could not locate the old mill onto the present day google map is because the mill site is so far inland from the current waterfront its impossible to do so.
    Your speculation seems possible to me, but I'm still confused by the positioning of the lakes, relative to the Mill/Pioneer Building. They don't exist in the modern time... so I guess they would have had to been filled in too?

    What's more reasonable? Massive sawdust piles changing the coastline and filling in lakes, or the mill actually being located further north and completely misreported? And as usual, I wonder if it's a little of column A and a little of column B.
     
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  • jd755

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    That god awful car park certainly throws the eye. It is not set at right angle to contour. It rises up from 'stern to bow' from the point of entry contour perhaps an artistic architect thing that didn't work out but too was realised too late. Yesler way today has been regraded into more of an incline over a shorter distance that the Yesler way of Occidental Hotel days. Why and when I don't know but the accommodations planners and architects go to for the motor car are legion and the ones involved in that car park need to be take out and given a damn good slap.

    James Street on the other hand seems not to have been touched since Occidental days and neither does 2nd Avenue.

    The 'hidden Seattle' looks like a movie set to be honest. The stone block wall is interesting though. They look like limestone and have been quarried and shaped but where in the Seattle area were there any quarries dating to the mid 1800's and what stone did they carry?
    They remind me of the stone on that red building behind the car park and the foundation of the bank? in one of the other Seattle threads, so many its confusing sorry, could be the regrade one. Have you ever heard of any urban explorers who have been in the 'forbidden parts' with their cameras as I feel sure they would capture a more authentic underground Seattle experience.
    EDIT to add
    Not sure when the regrading happened if it ever was regraded. I appreciate perspective is important but in this photo the lot of the hotel/car park in relation to the the grade looks the same as today. And the streetcar track now runs straight past Yesler and not into it. This puts it into the electric streetcar era. Poor bloody horses must have struggled up that grade, assuming it was the grade in the horse car era.
    1898
    imlsmohai_1506_full.jpg

    Source
     
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    Banta

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    So, not strictly about the Pioneer Building, but since this thread is sort of about the whole area now, I just have to show you this. From the 1904 Bird’s Eye View KD posted in the other thread:

    doge.JPG

    #59 is the Pioneer Building. Across the street, you can see a very tall and suspiciously unlabeled building. Nowadays that would be the location of the Hoge Building. Big narrative problem here:
    The Hoge Building is a 17-story building constructed in 1911 by, and named for James D. Hoge, a banker and real estate investor, on the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Cherry Street in Seattle, Washington. The building was constructed primarily of tan brick and terracotta built over a steel frame in the architectural style of Second Renaissance Revival with elements of Beaux Arts. It was the tallest building in Seattle from 1911 to 1914 with the completion of Smith Tower...

    ...The site of the Hoge building, at 705 Second Avenue, was the location of the cabin of Carson Boren, reputedly the first white man's house in what was to become Seattle. The cabin was later replaced by a row of 1 and 2 story shops facing Cherry Street which would all be destroyed by the Great Seattle fire. Hoge's uncle, John Hoge, a wealthy businessman of Zanesville, Ohio purchased the site soon after the fire and erected a three-story brick building to house his company: Washington Territorial Investment Company, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Washington National Bank, and several other small businesses. Hoge would form Union Trust & Savings Bank (later renamed Seattle Trust Bank and merged with Seafirst Bank) in 1903 which would become the ground-floor tenant of his new building.

    Hoge commissioned the architectural firm of Charles Bebb and Louis Mendel to design the building. Construction began in March 1911. The steel frame of the building was constructed at an amazing pace, with all 18 stories completed in 30 days, a feat which broke all records at the time.
    Something is seriously wrong here. Again, I'm sorry to pollute this thread, but I was too excited about this find not to immediately share.

    EDIT: Now I'm not sure, maybe the Hoge building is supposed to be on the other corner. But what else would be so big and prior to 1911??
     
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  • Banta

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    It’s weird that for such a prominent building (just read the description) they did not assign it a number.
    • Took them only 11 months to get it built. Yup.
    Agreed. It was the tallest building in Seattle until the Hoge building in 1911. Yet the library that supposedly hadn't even started construction gets a number.
     

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