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Saturday, December 1, 2012 - Page updated at 09:30 a.m.

Now & Then
Seattle service station fell to Interstate 5

By Paul Dorpat
Special to The Seattle Times

MY HUNCH is that this smartly named Central Seattle Service Station opened in 1925. It does not appear in the 1924 Polk City Directory as a garage or service station, both of which it was a year later.

I also found a promotional photograph, taken in the spring of 1925, that shows the station on the east side of Sixth Avenue, one lot south of Marion Street. That photo shows a group of nurses pointing at an empty block and a big billboard that makes the hopeful, but as it turned out mistaken, claim that "On this Site will be Built Seattle General Hospital."

Directly above the billboard the gleaming white service station appears at 812 Sixth Ave. Its signs offer Associated Oil Products, Motormates Official Brake Service, Cycol products, parking, storage, repairs, cars washed and polished, and free crankcase service. Located on the side of First Hill, the incline was handy for coasting and starting cars with bad starters — a common problem then — on compression.

My second hunch is that the close-up of the Standard Oil station printed here (and beside it the Crescent Apartments) was recorded sometime during the 1930s. Cars were in need of more service then because so few new ones were being bought during the Great Depression.

Still, there were lots of cars. While population growth in the previously booming Seattle slowed significantly in the 15 years between 1922 and 1937, the number of motor vehicles increased then by 211 percent. And the block that once was marked for a hospital became for many years a place to park cars.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at

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