Did you know that Smith Tower used to be over 1,500 feet tall? Unfortunately, we ended up getting too many complaints that we were obstructing views of Elliott Bay, so we downsized a bit back in the '50s. #themoreyouknow ...
Seattle Street Railway
Who doesn't love transit? Well, guess what, a lot of people apparently. But not people in Seattle. Seattle's first horse-drawn streetcar was established in 1884, with electric streetcars entering the scene in 1889. By 1900, Seattle had 22 independent streetcar lines, making road travel in and around Seattle much easier and convenient for its growing population.
By 1936, there were 410 streetcars running on 26 electric routes. Despite average daily fares of $11,000, the system was in trouble as it had run up a $4 million deficit and still owed bonds from WWI. I would like to say that things got better, but they didn't. But due to increasing debt, aging parts, and politics, in April of 1941, Seattle's last streetcar completed its final run.
Okay, I lied. It does get better! After a bunch of will-they-won't-they and politics I don't really understand, in 2006 the City of Seattle broke ground for the South Lake Union Streetcar.
Image 1: Seattle Street Railway's first streetcar ca. 1884. Image by Theodore Peiser
Image 2: South Lake Union streetcar ca 2019 ...
On the morning of May 24th 1949 – 70 years ago today – the University of Washington lost its first carillon. The bells, donated by Seattle Times publisher A.J. Bethlen in 1912, hung in a converted water tower at the north end of campus. Built in 1895, the wooden structure was quickly engulfed in flames after a mysterious fire broke out inside the tower. By the time fire crews arrived, flames had spread to the neighboring mansions on Fraternity Row. The tower and its bells could not be saved.
Thanks to a generous gift from UW alumnus Gordon Peek, who listened to the music of the original Chimes decades ago, SHKS Architects planned and designed a new carillon for the UW. Working closely with BNBuilders, 47 bronze cast bells fabricated by Royal Bellfoundry Petit & Fritsen in the Netherlands were installed atop the ventilation tower at Kane Hall. Completed in 2018, the new carillon structure and bells are clearly visible and audible across a wide area of campus. Swipe for photos of both the new and the old!