|Title||Rainier Avenue streetcar tracks next to Columbia Library under construction, Seattle, July 6, 1915 |
|Photographer||Nowell, Frank H., 1864-1950 |
|Caption||This library was built with funds from Andrew Carnegie. |
|Notes||Caption on image: 50 ft. North of Angeline St. looking North, July 6 - 1915.|
Photographer's reference number: 15166.
Embossed on image: Frank H. Nowell, Central Bldg., Seattle, U.S.A.
Handwritten on verso: Columbia Library.
See transcribed article in "Additional Information" below for more information.
Building construction--Washington (State)--Seattle
Street railroad tracks--Washington (State)--Seattle
|Places||United States--Washington (State)--Seattle|
Columbia City (Seattle, Wash.)
|Digital Collection||Rainier Valley Historical Society Photograph Collection |
|Accession Number||96.073.001 |
|Ordering Information||To order a copy of this photograph, please email Rvhsoffice@aol.com and mention the Accession Number. |
|Repository||Rainier Valley Historical Society, Seattle |
|Repository Collection||Benson Collection |
|Physical Description||1 photographic print: b&w; 7 3/4 x 9 3/4 in.; torn |
|Digital Reproduction Information||Scanned as a 3000 pixel TIFF image in 8-bit grayscale, resized to 640 pixels in the longest dimension and compressed into JPEG format using Photoshop 6.0 and its JPEG quality measurement 3. |
|Additional Information||It took a lot of lobbying by the local citizenry to convince the downtown officials to build a library in Columbia City. With grants from the Andrew Carnegie foundation the city was building several libraries around Seattle and our local leaders were persuasive enough to get one built in Columbia. It opened on December 30, 1915.|
The total cost including furniture and fixtures was $35,000. We think the design chosen for our Columbia Library was the best of any of them.
Rainier Avenue, at that time a two-lane, wood planked street was to the right of the streetcar tracks in the above photo. Later Rainier Avenue was graded, the streetcar tracks were moved to the right and two lanes of brick paving were put in on either side of the tracks.
There was a deep ravine that came down from Columbia School and entered a small lake called Lake Austin, before continuing down into Wetmore Slough. The Slough was where the Rainier Playfield is today and it continued north along Rainier Avenue almost to Franklin and also extended east along Genesee Street to 47th Avenue and north along 43rd to Lake Washington. It entered the Lake where the Sayres Hydroplane pits and the relatively new Rowing and Sailing Center are located. This part of the slough is now known as Genesee Park. Salmon used to come up the creek behind the library to spawn.
There was a lot of talk about the town of Columbia becoming a lake port by dredging Wetmore Slough. The digging for a canal from Puget Sound through Beacon Hill near the future site of Columbian Way had been started. Then the decision was made to put the locks at Ballard and they were completed in 1917. Lake Washington was lowered 9 feet in the process and the Slough dried up. The digging at Beacon Hill helped to fill in the tide flats of Elliot Bay.
Old timers tell about the horse that died when it fell into the ravine containing the creek. Concluding there was no easy way to get it out and as the local people had starting using the ravine to dump their garbage, they decided to leave the horse where it was. The garbage soon filled the ravine and it became the Columbia Park that we enjoy today and is the site for our annual Rainier Valley Heritage Festival every August.
Columbia Park was threatened in the '50s when a commercial developer wanted to build on the park behind the Library. The Pioneers of Columbia City, the predecessor to the Rainier Valley Historical Society, led by local attorney Phil Weiss, got involved and convinced the city it should remain a park. A lawsuit between the city and the developers worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court and ended with a victory for the park.
By Buzz Anderson, 9/16/98