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Originally published Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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A look at University Street and Second Avenue, ca. 1901

The clue to the time of the photo comes bottom-center with the Third Avenue Theatre's sidewalk poster for the play "A Woman's Power." It opened on March 10, 1901.

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THE SATISFACTIONS of street photography include cluttered cityscapes like this one at the northeast corner of University Street and Second Avenue. The principal tenant was a lawyer named Joseph Jones, who also hustled here "nice dry wood to burn." The mostly hidden banner reads, we think, "Joe's Wood Yard." Even without a caption on the photo, its subject is easily located because of Plymouth Congregational Church, the brick tower one block east on University at Third Avenue, far right.

Also on Third and made of brick, the backside of the Ethelton Hotel, far left, suggests a tenement except that the weekly rates of "$9 and up" were not cheap for the time. And we know the time within a few days.

The clue comes bottom-center with the Third Avenue Theatre's sidewalk poster for the play "A Woman's Power." It opened at "Seattle's only popular prices theatre" on March 10, 1901. This scene was recorded surely only a few days earlier. The repertoire players, led by Jessie Shirley, are trumpeted again far left with the larger, and no doubt colorful, billboard behind the horse. And The Seattle Times theater reviewer was pleased, describing Shirley's performance as "highly infectious to her audience." The play is complimented for the "purity and excellence of the moral it teaches."

After a good deal of delving with maps, directories and photographs, I learned of this northeast corner's pioneer oddity. Beyond woodpiles, it was not developed until 1903 when the brick-and-stone Walker Building was raised and stayed until the late 1980s. And Joe Jones was not the first firewood salesman at the corner. In the 1892 Corbett Directory, John King is listed doing the same.

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