Rowe’s Belltown Row, ca. 1888-’89
Seattle’s Belltown and the rest of downtown was rife with horse-drawn carriages in the late 1880s, but electric trolley cars would soon take their place.
Special to The Seattle Times
The Seattle Times first used this historic photo on Sunday, March 14, 1934, for its then-popular pictorial series “Way Back When.” The photo was submitted by Times reader Loretta Wakefield and was one of 10 historical scenes sharing a full page. The caption reads, “A buggy show during 1875 — Louis S. Rowe was the manufacturer whose carriage display enticed Seattleites 60 years ago.”
Not quite: 1875 was the year the 40-year-old Lewis (not Louis) Solomon Rowe arrived in Seattle to stay. Rowe’s way with carriages began in 1848 when, as the youngest of nine children, he left the family farm at the age of 14 and bound himself for two years to a carriage maker in Bangor, Maine. He was paid $30 the first year. By 1861, Rowe was in San Francisco and still employed by a carriage manufacturer. However, by also running the shop and working by the piece, he made $60 to $70 a week.
In Seattle, Rowe first turned to selling groceries from a shop built for him by Henry Yesler on First Avenue at the foot of Cherry Street. With the cash from cauliflower and candy sales, Rowe bought land and lots of it, including this southwest corner of First and Bell. Here in the mid-1880s he built his “Rowe’s Block” and soon started selling and caring for carriages.
This photo was recorded late in 1888 or early in 1889. On March 30, 1889, electric trolleys took the place of horse cars on these tracks running through Belltown to Lower Queen Anne.
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.