The landscape at what is now Seattle Center, 1900
In 1903, the Denny land became home to Recreation Park Base Ball Grounds, the first stadium for the Pacific Coast Baseball League's Seattle Siwashes.
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THE LAWN just north of Seattle Center's International Fountain has a sundry history. Young pioneers David and Louisa Denny picked their claim here in the early 1850s and planted a garden that became an important source of produce for Seattle.
The Denny farmhouse was at Third Avenue and Republican Street, which is about one long horseshoe's throw to the north from where, respectively in this "then" and "now," government horses are corralled and young people mingle. The land east from here to the south end of Lake Union was mostly open, and so, useful for farming. It also had some swampy edges and thereby provided water for cabbages and beets while attracting ducks for hunting.
After the growing family built a larger home, nearer Lake Union, their farm was tended by Chinese immigrants and was then popularly known as China Gardens. The U.S. Army took possession in 1898 with a short-lived corral meant to supply horses and mules for the war with Spain and then the Philippine Insurrection.
In 1903, the Denny land became home to Recreation Park Base Ball Grounds, the first stadium for the Pacific Coast Baseball League's Seattle Siwashes, a name meaning Indians that was lifted from the Chinook trade jargon. Most likely the Siwashes did not know they were playing ball on grounds that long ago had been used by the Duwamish Indians for potlatches, their ritual gathering for gift-giving.
Civic Auditorium, the first modern addition to the potlatch area and Denny garden, was born of a gift. Pioneer Square saloonkeeper James Osborne gave $20,000 to the city in 1881, and with the interest that gift bore over the next 50 years, the auditorium was finally built. That laid the groundwork for a Seattle Center that would be devoted to performing and play.
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