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 and the Seattle area. 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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8 Things You Didn’t Know About Seattle in the “80’s”


The Miracle on Ice.  Back to the Future.  Cheers. Reaganomics. Madonna. Nintendo. The Berlin Wall. Miami Vice.Young people dancing

The “80’s” were a time of change, some say for the better. Some say for the worse. The “Baby Boomers” and their peace-loving ways had given way to the “Me” generation and all of its inherent excesses involving insider trading, savings and loan scandals. However, the 1980’s were also a time of great innovation. People now had access to, not just common broadcast TV, but also Cable Television and many more channels. Electronics came of age with the advent of: “Walkman’s”, VCR’s, “Boomboxes”, personal computers and video game consoles were all the rage, if you could afford them. The music scene also incorporated this new “futuristic” electronically synthesized trend, as well (think Flock of Seagulls,etc). Fashion and hairstyles had taken a turn for the weird, with attention to elevation in the shoulder pads of suit jackets and that of hairspray lacquered sculptures (refer back to Flock of Seagulls). It was an exciting time on and off screen.

A Man Walks Into A Bar…

Imagine that one autumn night, in 1980, you are in town from Montana, for a gig with your “classic rock” cover band, at a dive-bar in the not-so-nice (at-the-time) area of Pioneer Square in south Seattle. And on that particular night you just happen to run into a fellow musician, on the street, who is in town one day ahead of his scheduled performance. What would you do? Well if you were Phil Hamilton you would invite that musician to drop by to see your Lost Highway Band at the Old Timer’s Café in Pioneer Square, to enjoy the show, right? Well that is just what came to pass, when that musician came to the bar door, paid the $1 entry fee and sat down for a cold one at the end of the bar, and going seemingly unnoticed until he inched closer to the stage and asked if he could join in on a few tunes. And that night the “musician” hopped up on stage with a borrowed acoustic guitar to give the band and the 15, or so, club patrons a genuine thrill. That musician was none other than “The Boss” …Bruce Springsteen! BTW “The Boss” was so cool he even made sure all the bandmates had tickets to his show at Seattle Coliseum (now Key Arena).

For more complete details on this very cool story check out:

Seattle is Expensive

What Seattle structure cost approximately $15 million per story in height to build? These days one might guess that to be (assuming that there are ten feet to a story), the 76 story Columbia Tower ($200 million), the 11 story Seattle Central Library ($165.9 million) or the new 44 story F5 Tower ($450 million). But as you can see all those guesses would have all been incorrect. That particular honor goes to the West Seattle Bridge, which was dedicated on July 14, 1984 as a replacement for a previously low placed and damaged bascule bridge. West Seattle Bridge is just over 150 feet in height or 15 stories tall.

New Sound on Puget Sound

When people think of the Pacific Northwest, in terms of music history, they tend to recall the popular  “garage rock” bands of the 1960’s such as the Wailers, Sonics, Kingsmen, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix. They also, immediately, think of the 90’s era “grunge” sound. But few may be aware that in the early 1980’s Seattle was home to a burgeoning and creative “hip-hop” scene (influenced by New York city artists such as the Sugar Hill Gang and Run-DMC) replete with performances by local up and coming rappers such as the Emerald Street Boys from the Central District and break dancing contests at various social gatherings, radio and DJ events, at one point, even the annual Bumbershoot Festival got a taste of things to come. In fact, with many well covered hip hop events around the Seattle area it all came to a head when the Seattle Center’s Exposition Hall hosted a hip hop event to emphasize the blossoming of a new music and dance scene that would evolve and endure until this day and pave the way for rap icons and Seattle locals Sir Mix-a-lot and Kid Sensation.

For more details on this time in Seattle history:

A City of Firsts

Seattle has a rich and storied sports history. The Emerald City has been home to many professional sports teams such as the Seahawks of the NFL, the Mariners of the MLB, Sounders FC of the MLS along with the Storm of the WNBA and Reign FC of the NWSL. Sadly, Seattle NBA fans lost the Super Sonics franchise in 2008 to Oklahoma City. But the proud history of Super Sonics remains with one dubious distinction along with it, when on a stormy day of January 6th, 1986, the Sonics became the first NBA team ever, in league history to host a home game that was called on account of rain. The Seattle Coliseum (Key Arena) had a poorly built roof that allowed some significant rain in that day. If it wasn’t enough that the players were slipping and sliding on the court but the fans had to open up their umbrellas inside the venue to keep from being soaked themselves.

For more details on this unique story:

Breaking Around-the-World Flight the Fun Way!

Sometime, in 1987, over a bottle of scotch, three men began to lay plans to break the around-the-world speed record for that had previously been set at 45 hours, 32 minutes and 53 seconds. And after much deliberation and planning, the three prominent airline industry types had established that they would attempt this feat as a charitable event and the “Friendship Foundation” to serve underprivileged children, was born. Once the men had cleared many legal hoops, dealt with logistics and found enough funding and sponsors they were ready to make history. And so, at 7:14 p.m. they took flight from Boeing field, along with 100 passengers (once again, mostly industry types, along with celebrities, such as, astronaut Neil Armstrong and other philanthropists all paying $5,000.00, a piece) to make history. The plane they chose was a Boeing 747 SP that was on loan to the charity and renamed “Friendship One” for the event. This was no ordinary charity event and was more akin to a country club event, as one flight attendee remarked, “it was kind of like flying around in your living room, with a lot of nice people”. That was especially true because the plane had been outfitted with foam mattresses, movie board games, exercise bikes, a continuous feast and of course, cocktails that dried up all too quickly. After taking off and flying eastward, the plane landed only twice to refuel in Greece and Taiwan. They eventually landed back in Seattle  at 8:45 a.m. having circled the globe in 36 hours, 54 minutes and 15 seconds…and they raised $500,000 for charity!

For the full story:

Wanted: Drummer

When one thinks of Seattle the imagery that may come to mind is almost immediately directed toward the city’s Skyline with the Space Needle, Rain, Amazon, Starbucks and, of course, the Seattle “Grunge” sound. No band ever represented that sound more successfully than the seminal band Nirvana. They weren’t the first on the scene but they were, perhaps, the most iconic. And every band has to start with someone and Nirvana began with Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. However, after going through different name changes and drummers that weren’t quite the right fit, so on May 1, 1988 they finally took out an ad in a local area music rag, (the now defunct) The Rocket magazine to advertise for percussive talent. The ad in the classifieds read “DRUMMER WANTED. Hard, heavy, to hell with your ‘looks and hair a must.’ Soundgarden, Zep, Scratch Acid. Kurdt 352-0992.” Apparently, Cobain liked to be a bit playful with his name, from time to time, using “Kurdt”in the ad instead of the proper spelling of his name. And, well, the rest is history…

For a more on this story:

Westlake That Almost Wasn’t

Today, the Westlake Center is one of Seattle’s downtown landmarks, situated on Pine St between 4th and 5th avenues. It is home to a massive four story retail pavilion, a 21 story office tower, urban outdoor park and houses one of the iconic Monorail terminals. Though, Westlake Center took only 2 years to construct, the journey to do so, began over a quarter century earlier in the 1960’s when suggestions were floated to turn the area into a mixed use space. Many proposals were put forth, and many were shot down. The inevitable lawsuits from both preservationists and other entities continued back and forth for years, on into the 1980’s but eventually a compromise was reached. And on October 20th, 1988 the Westlake Center was open for business and pleasure.

For more interesting details please visit:

Panic in Seattle!

Everybody loves a good April Fool’s Day joke, right? However on the evening of April 1, 1989 some local comedians took it just a bit too far for some folks. So when the pranksters at the Almost Live! TV show aired a seemingly realistic account of the Space Needle’s collapse (with subtitles indicating that it was an April Fool’s joke) on Seattle’s KING-TV station, momentary panic ensued and then hilarity for most viewers. However, for a significant portion of those who either saw or heard of the “collapse” and didn’t get the joke trouble began to brew, similar to that of Orson Welles’ broadcast of The War of the Worlds broadcast, decades earlier.  See back in the day before the cellphones and the internet, news travelled differently, usually, by word of mouth or landline telephone service and when this bit aired most of those who had family or friends who were visiting or working at the Space Needle at the time were panicked and flooded both the 911 system and KING-TV’s phone lines, along with the Space Needle system, as well. Thankfully, there were no physical injuries just hundreds of battered egos. Of course, there were apologies given to those who hadn’t noticed the disclaimer issued at the beginning of the show itself that night.

For more on this hysterical evening in history:

Seattle and Hotel Deca: A great city and fantastic hotel

Seattle is a great city and has many unique stories to tell. That’s why when you are in town we recommend a stay with us at Hotel Deca and allow yourself to take advantage of all the nostalgia our iconic, landmark hotel has to offer.  Thanks for taking the time to ride the “New Wave” into the Eighties. We really enjoyed taking you “Back to the Future” and check back for our “90’s”edition…coming soon!






7 Things You Didn’t Know About Seattle in the “70’s”

Retro 70's Roller Disco Couple

Disco. Watergate. The “Fonz”. Oil Shortages. Bellbottoms. Three Mile Island. Punk Rock.

The 1970’s were surely a mixed bag of happenings. We saw a lot of it on television and if you were lucky enough, you could do so from the convenience of your Lazy-boy or couch with the help of a remote control (although, you still had get up to adjust the antennae from time to time).  Music was also changing, and in many directions, for example, The Carpenters and The Clash couldn’t be anymore divergent in sound and tone. We had political scandals and turmoil. We, surely, had fashion scandals, just think “Polyester”. Automobiles weren’t doing so well either, cough… (Pinto). But that doesn’t mean the decade was boring,… not by any means.


Tropic of Cancer

Remember “The Library” episode of Seinfeld that included Jerry’s, seemingly, unreturned library copy of the Tropic of Cancer? Of course, you do because that episode was a classic, for sure. Jerry was looking at some serious trouble from library investigations officer “Lt. Bookman”.  However, if Jerry had a similar situation here in Seattle, all that time ago, he could’ve benefitted from Seattle Public Library’s first day of amnesty from late fees, on March 26, 1970 when 9,000 overdue books were returned!


A Starbucks is Born!

Coffee. Where do you get it? Seattle, and just about anywhere in the world these days, thanks to the increasingly popular demand for fresh-roasted coffee drinks. And when you think of coffee what is the first name you think of? Starbucks. However, the mega chain of café/lounges that serve up our beloved, daily portion of caffeine has very humble roots here in town. Starbucks opened their first store, in March of 1971, right down on the Seattle water front area at 2000 Western Ave. However, when that first Starbucks opened, it was NOT, initially, intended to serve coffee drinks (until another 10 years!?!). But we know how that story turned out. BTW – The very second store they opened, in 1972… just down the road from Hotel Deca in University Village.

For more info on this subject:

Tower of Clams

Most folks, are familiar with Seattle and the Pacific Northwest’s iconic buildings and architecture.  Our city is home to some of the world’s most recognizable buildings, such as, the Space Needle, Columbia Tower and Smith Tower. When it was built, at 38 stories tall, Smith Tower was for some time the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. With its unique pyramidal top piercing the sky and gracing its “neoclassical” design, it was a gem to behold. And if you were the icon of another kind you had to own. And in May of 1976, if you were the very eccentric, Ivar Haglund, of “Ivar’s Clam’s” restaurant fame, you had just purchased that jewel for 1.8 million “clams”!


Punk Goes the Bowie

As the 70’s progressed, so did the music that was listened to. You could have your choice of any number of types of tunes and genres, on the radio and in record stores. However, if you were into “punk” and “pop”, and just happened to be at the Seattle’s Paramount Theater on the evening of Saturday, April 9, 1977, you were in for a special treat. Already reaching mega “rock-star” status, was one somewhat inconspicuous to play sideman to an up-and-coming and somewhat, oddly, perverse Michigan singer and stage performer. That night saw the world re-known musician and singer, known as “David Bowie” (real name, Davey Jones) play mentor and musical collaborator to the “father of punk rock”…Iggy Pop (real name, James Newell Osterberg, Jr.) perform on stage, together, along with Iggy’s backing band at the time, for a 90-minute classic show that was recorded and eventually released as the bootleg album “Iggy & Ziggy — Iggy Pop & David Bowie Live in Seattle 4/9/77. “ Guess who was the show’s opening act? Blondie!

For more detail on this:


Heads or Tales

The 70’s were a time of social, cultural and political upheaval. The world of politics (as we all know) is a dog-eat-dog world. Most elections and campaigns these days have all the subtlety of an air raid siren. And even the smallest of small-town politics can become a hotbed for fundraising, debate and otherwise intensify to a viral level. However, on December 1st, 1975 a tiny Seattle area election was determined by a simple coin toss and brought national attention to the race. When the ballots were counted for mayoral candidates for Seattle’s Clyde Hill neighborhood, incumbent Liberino “Lib” Tufarolo and councilman Miles Nelson showed to be a tie at 576-576, King County Superintendent of Elections, Ralph Dillion was forced to decide the election, according to Washington state law “by lot”, meaning by a traditional coin toss. Dillion, therefore, performed the toss and Nelson it was…by a “head”.

To fill in more blanks please visit:


Are You Experienced?

Jimi Hendrix. The name itself conjures up images and memories of the electric guitar and legendary sounds of the Sixties and early Seventies. His likeness and spirit are forever, enshrined in a sculpture, that occupies space on a side walk in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. And, while most everyone knows that the magnetic performer and musician was born and raised here, in the Seattle area and passed away on September 8th, 1970, in London, UK. Most people don’t know that his remains are interred at Greenwood Cemetery, in the Seattle-area neighborhood of Renton, known more for its home furnishings retailers (IKEA), than as that of the final resting place of a rock icon. RIP Jimi.

For more history on Jimi’s final resting place please visit and like:

Odd Couple

Street fairs. They are lively, fun and quite common these days. Most every city and town has one and Seattle’s University District is no exception. In fact, the “U-District” has accommodated this ever more popular annual event for 47 years now and is still the “longest running festival of its kind in the nation” and still going strong.  However, this street fair is the brain-child of, an unlikely couple, that of Andy Shiga, a local Japanese American merchant and longtime pacifist and corporate Safeco executive Ron Denchfield.  Just goes to show what great things can happen when people get together for a good cause.

Seattle and Hotel Deca: A great city and fantastic hotel

Seattle is a great city and has many unique stories to tell. That’s why when you are in town we recommend a stay with us at Hotel Deca and allow yourself to take advantage of all the nostalgia our iconic, landmark hotel has to offer.  Thanks for taking the time to “Journey” back to the Seventies, with us, and “Don’t Stop Believing” that we will back to ride the “New Wave” into the 80’s with our next post, coming soon.

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Seattle in the “60’s”


Peace. Love. Flower Power. Volkswagen Beetles. Beatle-Mania. Space Race.

Peace Dove Guitar

Words and names synonymous with many things from and of the 1960’s. An era that was filled with change, revolt and turmoil, overseas and at home. An American generation known as the “Baby Boomers” that were loosening up and starting to enjoy more social freedoms, while they had just gotten their driver’s licenses and were growing their hair out. They were still enchanted with the “race to the moon” while they were listening to  new forms of music on their turntables and car stereos. Popular tunes by singer-song-writers and folk heroes, as well as, the more psychedelic sounds from rock n’ roll performers, such as, Seattle’s own electrifying Jimi Hendrix, along with The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin and of course, the biggest of them all…The Beatles. Seattle was there for all of it.

1.Beat-less in Seattle

In 1964, Beatle-Mania had a vise-like grip on the nation’s teenagers. On August 21
of that year, Seattle got their first in-the-flesh Beatles experience when the group played their debut Washington state concert at the Seattle Center (now Key Arena). 14,000 five-dollar tickets had sold out, well in advance, and phones rang off the hook at the airport, hotels and radio stations as frenzied fans tried to determine the whereabouts of the band.

Beatles In Seattle

Booked into a local, waterfront hotel, the Fab Four holed up inside and fished from their room while a phalanx of Seattle’s Finest manned a crude plywood and barbed wire barricade erected to keep the screaming hordes at bay. The harbor patrol made sure fans did not breach the hotel from the water side. The day after they left town, the carpeting from their hotel room was ripped up and sold to frenzied fans as souvenirs.

Riding high on the week – old release of the film “A Hard Day’s Night” and the unique situation of having not one, but 5 singles in the Billboard Top Five, when the Beatles set foot on stage at the Seattle Center they had firmly cemented themselves as the one of the  most important groups in music history.

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 2.  Seattle Torn in Two: The I-5 construction controversy

Sixty years ago, Seattle was literally torn in half. The 1950’s brought a stabilized economy, and a nationwide housing boom along with the need for, better and more efficient, thoroughfares to keep pace with the explosion in automobile ownership. Seattle’s sprawling layout was fairly devoid of efficient road ways, and getting around and across town was difficult. It was decided that the best path for the new Seattle Freeway would be straight through the middle.

Seattle, WA

The state bought out homes from families in the proposed 20-mile path. Some were demolished, some moved to other areas. About 4,500 homes and businesses, including a historic fire station built in the 1890’s, were razed to make way for the project. Entire neighborhoods were obliterated. Protests and attempts to save significant structures were unsuccessful.

Construction began in December 1960, and was completed nine years later, in 1969. The ribbon -cutting ceremony included the requisite local dignitaries and beauty pageant winners to celebrate Seattle’s leap into high speed road travel. According to, the roadway is also notable for the inclusion of a nuclear bomb shelter, buried under the Ravenna Boulevard Bridge, the only such structure in the U.S. that is incorporated into a freeway.


3. Just a teenager when she left us…The Aqua Theatre

This has to be one of the coolest and funkiest out door venues to have ever existed. Anywhere. Built in 1950, this crazy little place was located in and on Green Lake in north Seattle. Originally, designed to be home of the local “Aqua Follies” and other similarly, light-fare, and aquatic themed events, the Aqua Theatre was constructed as an outdoor amphitheater, complete with Hi-Dive towers on either side of a floating stage separated by a “moat” in between the audience on the shoreline and the performers on stage.

Man standing on springboard, preparing to dive, (B&W)

Many high profile acts and entertainers performed for audiences over the years. The Aqua Theatre had its real “heyday” in the mid-to-late Sixties when the likes of Bob Hope spun jokes on stage during the 1965 Seattle World’s Fair. The Aqua Theatre really started to take off when larger acts, such as, Sonny and Cher began to book the venue. “Grateful” of her new found fortune, this “Led” the Aqua Theatre to book much larger acts and so with it came her down fall.  For various reasons (most safety related), and after years of faithful service, at just nineteen years of age, she was retired in 1969, after a performance by a burgeoning band, The Grateful Dead. Only some remnants of her original self still remain and have mostly been re-purposed.

To read more about great rock music history (i.e., Led Zeppelin’s performance) and see cool pics of this venue please visit and like:


4. May-Day, May-Day Seattle….!!!

Baseball in the 60’s was “America’s past-time”. No less so, was it in the city of Seattle. However, most folks don’t know that the Mariners were not always the only Major League Baseball team in Seattle. According to that honor goes to the “Seattle Pilots” baseball team. They played only ONE season in the Emerald City, back in 1969, before an American League inspector deemed, the long defunct Sick’s Stadium, “inadequate” for MLB baseball activities.

Baseball player walking with bat

Initially, ownership lead efforts to build a new Seattle venue that was up to MLB par. However, the team eventually relocated and became what we now know of today as,…The Milwaukee Brewers!?

For more on Seattle Pilots history:


5. Dune Buggy or Moon Buggy ?

So, most of us who can remember when music was purchased and played back on disks (both analog and digital), also probably remember the “Space Race” that was the culmination of America’s NASA space agency and its many rocket and lunar modules of the day, intended to take astronauts to the moon and back. Many know that the USA succeeded in doing so, and that upon their return they brought back many spectacular geological lunar samples. However, in order to do so the astronauts needed a practical and efficient way to traverse the moon’s surface and in a safe manner.

Space rover buggy illustration

Two major contractors were considered at the time: Boeing Company and Bendix Corporation.  It was a “long road” to get there, including many different designs, some even included “pressurized-mobile laboratories”.  However, in 1969, the contract to design and build a $19 million lunar rover was awarded to Seattle’s Boeing Company. The finished product was eventually accomplished, mostly in the Seattle area, by testing and using a stripped down buggy-type concept vehicle that ran a single electric battery-powered motor at each of the four wheels. $38 million later, it flew aboard Apollo 15 on a mission to the moon.

To read more details about the lunar rover and see some of the other very imaginative lunar rover design concepts, from over the last hundred years, or so please visit and like:


6. Fifty five and Still Alive…The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair

The year was 1962 and the year of the “Century 21 Exposition”, but we mostly call it the Seattle World’s Fair now. This was a time, when most people harken back to the many futuristic space-age expos and buildings that were erected on what is now the Seattle Center area. In fact, even Elvis himself, was here to appear in a movie, aptly titled “It Happened at the World’s Fair”. Major celebrities, of the day, were in attendance, such as Bob Hope, Prince Philip “Duke of Edinburgh”, Walt Disney, and even Dr. Jonas Salk, among many others.

Needle No Clouds

We could go on and on about the World’s Fair, for example, “Did you know that the very top spire portion of the Space Needle used to light up the night with gas jet nozzles, like a fiery sword atop its spaceship-like appearance?” Instead, allow yourself to be transported back to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and take in all the really, genuinely cool photos and and lots of quirky information with help from a fantastic web link provided by the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Just a few more tidbits for you: the average price for a gallon of milk in 60’s was $0.49? A first class stamp was $.04. And the average cost of a one night stay at the University Tower Hotel (Hotel Deca) was “priceless”…or, about $20. So, we now know that the city of Seattle was very dynamic from many perspectives during the “60’s”. And, yes…”Times’ they were a changin…”

But don’t change that dial because we’ll be right back to explore the next totally, way out decade soon!!!

























5 Things You Didn’t Know About Seattle in the “50’s”


Elvis. Baby Boomers. TV Dinners. Sputnik. Hula-Hoop.

These are just some of the images that come to mind when recalling the “50’s” era. It was just a scant few years after WWII and just the beginning of the Cold War with nuclear threats on both sides of the Iron Curtain, both plentiful and terrifying.  This was also a time when American families began to gather around the household television set, (rabbit-ears antenna atop the TV, of course) located in the living room to watch and enjoy one of only three available broadcasting channels, at the time. Out front, on the newly minted driveway, next to the well-manicured lawn was parked the, ridiculously large, American-made family automobile. These vehicles were stylishly aerodynamic in shape, from the gleaming chromed front bumpers and curvaceous hood to the generously proportioned set of tail fins in the rear.

Most Americans utilized these automobiles for travel to work in the cities and then back again to these idyllic landscapes that were located in one the many new outlying “suburbs”, where the majority of new home construction began to arise.  And on those car trips one could listen to the latest music craze of the era, and what has become to be known as “Rock n’ Roll”, which could be heard in all its glory on any one the ubiquitous non-stereo, Amplitude Mode (AM) dashboard radios, of the day.

However, as these new models, with significant increases in horse-power, began to arrive in showrooms across America they began to give rise to what is now commonly referred to as, “the car culture”. And with that came era of the “hot-rodders” whose main aim and goal was to go fast. Really fast. But this need for speed was not just confined to land. A daring few took that philosophy of velocity to the water, which brings us to our first segment about the “50’s” in Seattle.


  1. Hydroplane Racing World Record is Broken on Seattle’s Lake Washington

Going fast on water can be a thrilling and dangerous endeavor. Many of those attempting to do so will find themselves taking their very own lives in their hands each time they enter the cockpit.  If the crash doesn’t kill you then the water may just drown you. In spite of these dangers, many have answered the call to action, and some even realized their dreams of breaking world records.

Unlimited Hydroplane Race

One such person did so right here in Seattle, on June 26th of 1950.  His name was Stan Sayres and he broke the previous hydroplane world record of 141.1 mph set in Great Britain by Malcolm Campbell and his boat the “Blue Bird K4”. The boat in which Sayres accomplished this feat was name “Slo-mo-shun” and he sank the previous record by nearly 18 mph. One of the more interesting points about this story is the fact that Sayres boat was designed, built and maintained all by Seattle-area residents. The only non-local portion of the boat was the WWII aircraft engine and the boat’s propeller.

To learn more about this record setting event please go to

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  1. The Mystery Surrounding One of Seattle’s Largest Bank Robberies

The story of the Pioneer Safe Deposit Vaults break-in, over the three-day weekend celebrating Washington’s  birthday (Feb. 20th-22nd, 1954), is one befitting of any great bank robbery movie. Located in the Pioneer Square area, at the time, were the Pioneer Safe Deposit Vaults inside the turn-of-the- century structure that housed both the Kenneth Hotel and Merchant’s National Bank…the scene of the crime.  The vaults themselves had, previously, survived fire damage, consequential building damage and at least one earlier attempted burglary involving the use of dynamite.  Top local authorities had come to the conclusion that the vaults themselves were impenetrable.

Pioneer SQ (4)

That all changed when over a few days in February of 1954 when thieves, numbering approximately three to four men, broke in to the vaults and emptied out the most of the contents of approximately 400 safe deposit boxes. Using various pieces of welding equipment and power tools, the thieves broke into the building and then torched a hole small enough to climb through into the vaults and passed various safe deposit boxes to another accomplice to rifle through.

Smartly, these thieves took only cash and nothing that could be fenced or claimed by insurance, such as gold, jewelry and other valuables that would surely be investigated further by insurance companies and not just the police and other authorities. Additionally, these professionals left all the equipment used on the heist at the crime scene to avoid detection. The estimated take was approximated to be about $200,000 – $500,000.

The only substantial leads that were ever discovered in this case involved a mysterious, blonde-haired man in his 30’s, driving an ordinary-looking work van, who rented welding equipment from a business in Tacoma and single bond that was later cashed in Nevada. This was a mysterious Seattle crime to rival that of D.B Cooper in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970’s. Who knows, someday we may just find out… “who dunnit.”

To learn more about this intriguing mystery please go to

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  1. When The Russians Came to Town

Despite the uncertain times caused by the rise of the Cold War in the “50’s”, international efforts were still made to try and ease tensions between the U.S. and the Soviets. One of those inroads lead right here to Seattle, when in mid-October of 1955 a delegation of 10 head Russian architects, housing officials and an interpreter/censor, headed by the lead official architect Alexander Vlasov, made their arrival. These delegates were on a 30 day, 13 city, nationwide tour of American building and construction facilities, sponsored by the National American Home Builders (NAHB) and seen as an opportunity for the Russian delegation to “view the American way of life in its true setting, the American home” (The Seattle Times).  The visit was arranged in order to help the Russians build and offer more low-cost, accommodating new housing construction to supplement and replace much of what was lost to the destruction of World War II.


However, during their two day stay here in the Seattle area, mixed in with the obligatory polite handshakes, head nods and politically sensitive cultural gestures, also came about some amusing and somewhat, unnerving stories. While on their bus ride to an Everett the Russians were taken aback by the large volumes of traffic and asked if the local motels along the way were housing for the “underprivileged”. At some point, they shared a bag of delicious, fresh doughnuts along the way and proclaimed them “pouchki”, a Russian delicacy invented by their countryman, as well, claiming the invention of the telephone.

Unfortunately, after touring multiple U.S. facilities and obtaining a decent wealth of construction knowledge and samples to return to Mother Russia with, there was little good news for the delegation. There were very reluctant to discuss any opinions on what they may have thought about what American building techniques, etc. compared to Soviet styles of architecture and so on. Surprisingly, while still on U.S. soil, the Soviet government had decided to condemn the efforts of modern soviet architecture and dissolved the academy that architect Alexander Vlasov was in charge of, in addition to ordering him to return home immediately. It was thought by some, including the Soviets that he may try to defect while here in the U.S. As some noted, his departure on the Queen Elizabeth back to Russia was melancholic at best, but he did present a positive front before leaving while trying to assure those seeing him off that he would survive and persist.

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  1. World Heavyweight Boxing Championship

When did it occur?  Thursday, August 22nd, 1957. Who fought in the boxing match? Floyd Patterson versus Thomas Peter “Pete” Rademacher. Where did it happen? Right here in Seattle. How did this ever come about? Well, that is the true story of an ambitious amateur Olympic boxer and home state favorite who put dreamed up an outlandish idea, then strategically cobbled together and cajoled his way to building an unprecedented sporting event in the Pacific Northwest.

Black and white Vintage boxing gloves

It all began when Thomas Peter “Pete” Rademacher, a successful amateur boxer from the Yakima Valley in Washington State, was hospitalized due to a boxing related injury, while training for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. While recovering he came up with the idea that after winning gold he would be the very first ever amateur boxer to make the direct transition to a professional title fight. And after much forethought and planning he made his dream come true.

After winning gold in Melbourne he then went on to arrange and fund a title fight between himself and the current title holder Floyd Patterson. However, convincing the current champ, Patterson, to engage in the fight took a bit more financial creativity. However, his persuasiveness and persistence paid off when he went on to help build a corporation called Youth Unlimited, with help from financial backers in Georgia. This entity that was to not only help youths achieve great things but also fund Pete’s dream of a title fight in his Pacific Northwest home.

So, after much financial wizardry and heavy local promotion in the Seattle area, including various news outlets, Pete finally had his fight. The match was held at, the now defunct, Sick’s Stadium, where the Rainier’s baseball team once called home, that held up to 26,000 spectators and was located at the crossroads of Rainier Ave S and S McClellan St.

And on that day in August of 1957, Pete started off strong, even flooring Patterson, once, in the early rounds. However, Patterson, eventually, laid siege to the amateur boxer, who was only used to 3 round bouts, while the champ was used to the 15 round professional format in which the fight was fought. Although, very few, including the majority of sportswriters and boxing enthusiasts present at the fight,  gave Pete much, if any, chance to win the match, most everyone felt they got their monies worth, as Pete endured a punishing 15 rounds and lost in the end. However, during the post-fight interview Pete was quoted as saying “I’ll never have another thrill like I had tonight if I live to be a hundred”

Even in the loss Pete had accomplished a win. He brought the national lime light to a town with no professional sports teams and little to cheer for. That night they cheered for him, the hometown hero…“Big Pete”.

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  1. Don’t Shoot!

“Any publicity is good publicity” as the saying goes. However, on October 12, 1957 one Bothell, WA man nearly found out, in a very hard way, that may not always be the truth. While attempting to promote an upcoming, local Jaycee’s youth event, Vern Strong, put on a bear costume and scaled the town’s Christmas tree. He was armed only with promotional leaflets, which he was dropping from the tree to those on the ground. Locals didn’t recognize the man as being in costume and mistook him for a real bear. Shortly thereafter, towns folk, hunters and the local sheriff’s deputy, alike, all had their rifles and guns trained on poor Vern and nearly “took him out”, thinking he was a dangerous, furry carnivore.


Only when the sheriff’s deputy took aim through his scope did he notice that the bear was wearing shoes and immediately made haste to inform other of the mistaken identity of that costumed man,high in the tree. After climbing back down to the base of the tree and removing his fake bear head and proclaimed “It was awfully hot up there.” To which the deputy replied, “Buddy, you don’t know how warm it nearly was.

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The “50’s” were a great time in American history. For many Baby Boomers, it was considered “The Golden Years”. A lot was going on back then and with that, we hope that you have learned a few things about the “50’s” in Seattle that may have escaped you. “Well, it’s ne for the money, Two for the show, Three to get ready, now go, cat, go!”

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.


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 , 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.


“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.

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


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!

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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.

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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.

2017-06-10 15.39.54
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.
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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.
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.
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.