Now & Then
Once host to affordable houses, land now is home to P-Patches
In Seattle's Cascade neighborhood, land that once was developed for affordable housing is now recycled as host to 50 P-Patches where gardeners grow food and flowers that nurture body and soul.
FOR A MOMENT, only, this historical photographer paused on Minor Avenue about 40 feet north of Thomas Street, aimed east and snapped this official record of Lot 5 in the 10th block of the Fairview Homestead Association's addition to Seattle. The photograph was taken in 1937 as part of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration's picture-inventory of every taxable structure in King County.
The tax assessment here was not very high because four 900-plus-square-foot homes are squeezed onto one lot. The tax card indicates that they were built in 1900. (Perhaps, but they do not show up in the ordinarily trustworthy 1912 Baist Real Estate map.) The original pioneer developers intended to help working families stop paying rent and start investing in their own homes. Innovative installment payments made the lots affordable.
If we may trust the 1891 bird's-eye view of Seattle, Minor Avenue was then part of a shallow ravine or very near it, which gathered runoff in this Lake Union watershed. And since 1996, as part of the Cascade neighborhood's public garden that spreads 50 lovingly tended P-Patches across this corner, rain water for the garden is collected into big barrels from the roof of the nearby Cascade Peoples' Center.
I am a very small part of the history of this corner, having lived from 1978 to 1980 in the house immediately to the rear of the principal home shown. My desk sat inside the longer window there and looked out on a blackberry patch where now are many kinds of berries, and veggies, and flowers. JoJo Tran, one of the gardeners here, plants for his table and many others. He reflects, "If you love nature, the environment, the colors of the plants, if you can see the beauty of the garden, you feel the beginning of love."
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at www.pauldorpat.com.
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.