First blog post

Hi, how are you ?

I would like your help. I am a hotel. I was built circa 1930-1931 and I am still around, so I have seen a lot. I have been witness to many things including, the advent of automobile travel, the burgeoning art-deco style movement, and the evolution of a robust community supported by the University of Washington. At the time of my creation, I was considered to be one of the most impressive and avant garde structures west of the Mississippi. You may have seen images of me, walked or driven past me, you may have even been or will be my guest, at some point. But do you really know me?

For the rest of this year, I will be sharing interesting bits of historical info about my life and times as a landmark hotel in the University District. But I still need your help to complete my story. If you, or someone you know, may have any photos or experiences that have been collected over the years and would like to contribute, please do so on my social media sites.

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4 Things You Didn’t Know About Seattle in the “40’s”

What dominated the U.S. and world news in the 1940’s was, of course, the lead up to and direct involvement in World War II. The popular music of the “swing era” included the big band sounds of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Duke Ellington Band, Benny Gooodman and Count Basie, among many others. Crooners of the day included, no less than, a young and exciting Frank Sinatra along with the “triple threat” presented by the sly and soulful Bing Crosby, who appeared on records, radio and in movies.

1. Boeing imports women from all over the country to work.

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Many brave young men took memories of those timeless songs and now classic movies with them overseas and onto the battlefield. They also brought with them the letters and notes from family and loved ones who were back home, stateside. As we know, they also brought with them and received, via the U.S. postal service, photographs of their sweethearts left behind. Servicemen also laid claim to the images of “pin-up” and calendar girls in their shared quarters, in lockers, on building walls and the painted images of flying beauties that adorned the front of their aircraft.

However, one of the most powerful images to ever come out of the war effort was not one of a winking, scantily clad belle but that of a strong feminine aesthetic. An iconic image of “Girl Power”, on full display, in poster form, that of “Rosie the Riveter.”
While most people know of her and that she has come to represent the women who were involved with the war effort in factories and manufacturing, most of those same people may not be aware that she is also representative of the many women who joined the war effort at the cost of leaving homes and families behind, in order to do so.

According to http://www.historylink.org/File/3340 , in June of 1943, Seattle-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing Company was forced to “import” women, nation-wide, due to a lack of locally available, skilled workers, as most of the eligible male population was off fighting in WWII. Many of those women had been recruited from all over the country to work and during training these women were housed in federally funded, temporary housing units built in the Denny Triangle area of present-day Seattle.

2. Ivar’s Acres of Clams opens at Pier 54.

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“Ivar’s” is a name that is synonymous with what the Pacific Northwest seafood scene is and has become. Most of those familiar with the Seattle based Ivar’s seafood restaurant chain are probably accustomed to its cuisine and aware of the current locations,  throughout the local area and regionally.

However, most people probably don’t know that the Ivar’s location on Seattle’s Pier 54 was, originally, home to Seattle’s first aquarium that Ivar Haglund had himself built in 1938. At first, Ivar had established a small fish and chips bar adjacent to his aquarium in order to feed his patrons but, later in July of 1946, he replaced that bar with the now famous “Ivar’s Acres of Clams” that accommodated nearly a hundred customers, on the same site.

For more info please go to: http://www.historylink.org/File/2501

3. Kalakala becomes world’s first to use commercial marine radar.

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As previously mentioned, in our blog post “3 Things You Didn’t Know About Seattle in the Thirties” The Kalakala was a truly astonishing marine vessel that roamed the waters of the Seattle area for many mid-century years. Her name “Kalakala”, in Chinook Indian jargon translates to “the flying bird”. A gleaming beacon of modernity and style coupled with a workhorse ethic, continually transporting people and vehicles in luxury accommodations across the Puget Sound up until the 1960’s, when she was later decommissioned. She was home to many firsts, as a ferry may go. From her unique steel structure and shining outer skin to her record breaking 3,000-horse power diesel engine, she was home to many state-of-the-art inventions. One such invention she received was put into use on February 14th 1946, allowing the Kalakala to become the first ever user of commercial radar for navigation, anywhere in the world!

To learn more about the interesting topic visit: http://www.historylink.org/File/9282
Also, visit them on Facebook and Twitter

4. University of Washington Medical School opens.

On the heels of Gov. Monard C. Wallgren’s 1945 signing of the Medical-Dental Bill authorizing the formation of UW Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, came further progress to the Seattle area. This seemingly good news was not without its own unique set of challenges. Apparently, in the decades preceding the achievement of a UW campus-based medical school, there were roadblocks put up, at many turns. In earlier scenarios, starting in the late 1800’s, there was a push for the establishment of a university department of medicine, despite an overall lack of candidates who were even qualified to enter high school! Further opposition came from the Washington State Medical Association to stall any such progress, in order to prevent any competitive surplus of qualified medical physicians.

However, a confluence of circumstances after WWII, including soldiers returning from war seeking education, coupled with a shortage of qualified physicians, physicians in need of continuing education, etc. then lead to official approval for the inevitable establishment of the University of Washington Medical School in October of 1946. The first classrooms and offices were located at King County Hospital and in various make-shift structures on campus.

To learn more about this topic: http://www.historylink.org/File/3332
Also, visit them on Facebook and Twitter

So, hopefully we learned a little bit more about the history of one of the most fascinating decades in world history, “The 40’s”, and our great city of Seattle!

Stay tuned for more bits and pieces of Pacific Northwest history coming soon….!

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Seattle in the “30’s”

Coffee and high-tech have not always dominated the Seattle conversation…

Back in the “Thirties”, or the 1930’s to be more exact. Three decades into the beginning of the last century. A time just after the boom era of the “Roaring Twenties”, but a time that, unfortunately, ushered in “The Great Depression” that put millions of Americans out of work and sometimes out of a home. Times were hard yet the people in the city of Seattle and University of Washington persevered and managed some great historical accomplishments. Hotel Deca just happens to be one of those achievements.

 

1. Hotel Deca

Construction on the hotel began in 1930 and was completed in 1931. Initially, opening as the Edmond Meany Hotel, the landmark project itself came about as the product of a collaboration between various financial and industry sponsors along with local community efforts. The naming process of the hotel came about as the result of concerted efforts to involve the residents and students of the University of Washington. In the end, they overwhelmingly chose local UW academic hero and icon…Professor Edmond Meaney.

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The hotel was a smashing success, garnering many prestigious prizes and accolades. It was an amazing and unique architectural master-piece that incorporated the increasingly popular and evolving “art-deco” style of the day. In addition, the beautifully silhouetted flutes only helped to further emphasize the vertical component of the hotel’s grand 16 floor exterior. Architect of the building, Robert Reamer, attempted to make every guest room a “corner room” with the inclusion of special geometric window extrusions from the walls of the guest rooms.

 

Although, the building itself has undergone several name and ownership changes, much of the hotel’s original interior and exterior remain intact. Over the years, multiple renovations have been made to the hotel property but have always been made, specifically, towards ensuring that more contemporary conveniences are available to guests, while still retaining a casual, yet historically elegant feel for an all around fantastic experience.
For more excellent historical info and photos about the Hotel Deca, please go to HistoryLink.org:    http://www.historylink.org/File/9163
And follow them on Twitter:  @HistoryLink

 

2. UW Rowing

So, just recently, the University of Washington Women’s Rowing Team won the NCAA Championship, in historic fashion, by being the first team to capture the NCAA Women’s Rowing title by sweeping all three races at the National Championships. With this unprecedented victory the University of Washington (UW) has further cemented its place in American collegiate history. But this latest accomplishment also serves to offer up another important lesson in UW athletic history and lore.

Just imagine this, it is 1936 and the Summer Olympics are being held in Berlin, Germany, where the games are seemingly at the epicenter of many socio-political tensions afflicting European states and countries at the time. The Olympic games were originally meant to be a grand event to help settle disputes and, therefore, promote peace between ancient warring Greek city states and the like.
This would be the very last summer games held before the onslaught of World War II.
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With Germany, seemingly, at the height of its pre-war power, there came to be a renewed national fervor in proving Aryan domination in all things competitive. And as the host nation they did win more medals than any other. One of those very interests Hitler and the Nazi’s had at the Olympic games was the sport of international rowing. The had no doubt they would be victorious. But some hard-working and very determined young men from the fledgling Pacific North West of America had other ideas in mind.

 

The UW Men’s rowing team that was sent to the Berlin Olympics in 1936 after having over coming many trials and tribulations. Most of the young men on that American Olympic team were from the Pacific North West working-class and depression-era hard scrabble backgrounds, unlike many of their privileged and well-to-do eastern domestic and international counterparts. However, when the time came to shine on the international stage in Berlin, these UW students proved their worth and came up as Gold Medal winners, in the end, beating out the more  experienced and dominate British, Italian, Hungarian, Swiss and especially the Germans teams, in the most prestigious rowing classification. These fine young men and their stories are the subject of a recent PBS documentary “The Boys of ’36”.To see a clip and learn more about this tremendous achievement:

 

3. MV Kalakala
Along with the opening of the Hotel Deca (formerly, The Edmond Meany Hotel) in the 1930’s, there was another art-deco and futuristic inspiration to arrive in the Seattle area to compete for attention. This was not just a structure that served many guests but one that was used move people and automobiles, in and around the Puget Sound area. Her name was “Motor Vessel Kalakala”. In 1935, the Kalakala was put into operation.  She was a beautiful ship.

 

The Kalakala was very beautiful, she was also very different, having been designed and constructed in the modernistic stream lined and art-deco styles of the day that were gaining more popularity, especially,  within contemporary car and train construction. She was covered in an amazingly reflective metal skin that was nearly seamless and looked more like a plane with out wings, gleaming on the local area waters which she traveled.
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For as beautiful as she had performed and shined, as is well known, all things must come to an end. With her slim profile and age in service from 1935 until 1967. Unfortunately, she lived a very rough life in retirement. She continued on to serve in various, somewhat not-so glamorous industries (i.e fish processing), as her light began to fade. At times, over the course of decades many attempts to preserve, renovate or re-invent her all failed and finally, in early 2015 she was towed to Tacoma, WA and was parted out and scrapped.
We hope her memory will live on in people’s memories, old postcards and photo images.

So, there you have it! 3 Things about the Thirties in Seattle for you think about. One of the subjects we have mentioned lives in the distant past, another whose run has, just recently,  ended and yet another whose story is an ongoing adventure. All these stories and more give rise to Seattle’s rich history and continue to help make it such a great place to live and a wonderful place to visit.