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Then and Now: Zooming through Beacon Hill, ca. 1937
Car styles have changed and businesses have closed and opened, but life zips along atop Beacon Hill today just as it did during the Great Depression.
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THE SPORTY MOTORCAR flying north through Beacon Avenue on 15th Avenue South is going so fast we cannot read the year on the license plate. We don't need to. The original negative has it "Sept. 16, 1937."
It was seven years into the Great Depression and the fourth year for the New Deal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's federal program to boost the economy and make work for the unemployed. The Works Progress Administration made the federal government by far the largest employer in the Union.
On this day, The Seattle Times reported the WPA had paid out $2 million to the state. It wrote that the state's new but already effective Congressman, Warren G. Magnuson, had coaxed WPA funds from Roosevelt for "beautification" of Seattle's libraries and their grounds.
The newspaper that day also printed a photo of the newly elected Girls Club officers at Broadway High School. We learn in the caption that they, too, were committed to beautification. The new officers urged all of Broadway's 1,595 coeds to wear "middy blouses and skirts to school for uniform attractiveness."
Reading The Times' theater listings we discover that the Beacon Theatre, here on the left, featured tough guy George Brent in "Mountain Justice." Including the Beacon, 11 of King County's 16 Sterling theaters were neighborhood venues, showing second-run features.
The Piggly Wiggly, far right, was part of a market chain that flourished by promoting self-service grocery shopping. By 1937, most of Seattle's Piggly Wigglys had been converted into Safeway stores, a fate that soon fell on this little Piggly Wiggly. Beacon Hardware, just beyond the grocery, opened in the mid-1920s. It is last listed in The Times in 1965.
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