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Originally published Friday, May 2, 2014 at 10:04 AM

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Building bridges between neighbors in old Seattle

Perhaps this historical photograph was an attempt to show off the closely packed collection of three bridges that in their last days were fittingly called by one name, Latona.


Special to The Seattle Times

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WHILE I HAVE not yet found a date for this look into the Latona business district, I think it was recorded, perhaps by a municipal photographer, to show off the closely packed collection of three bridges that in their last days were fittingly called by one name, Latona.

Out-of-frame to the left (east), the University Bridge also crossed the narrows into Portage Bay. With a speech by Edmond Meany, the University Bridge was dedicated on July 1, 1919. Meany was by then the oldest of the University of Washington’s history professors. With his wife, Lizzie, Edmond lived on 10th Avenue East at the north end of the bridge. A living landmark, Meany was a brand name with both the University District’s art deco hotel, the Meany (since renamed the Deco), and the university’s largest auditorium, named for him. Exceptionally, both structures were named for him before his death in 1935.

The professor had also attended the dedication of the Latona Bridge, exactly 28 years earlier, on July 1, 1891. A boy’s choir from nearby Fremont serenaded those gathered for the ceremony. (Both the Fremont and Latona neighborhoods were incorporated into Seattle on April 3, 1891, an annexation that added about 17, at the time remote, square miles to Seattle but very few citizens.) Most likely, Seattle pioneer David Denny was also at the ’91 dedication. Denny built the bridge as part of an agreement with the City Council, which gave him the right of franchise to build his trolley line over the bridge to the newly annexed Latona and the future University District, then still called Brooklyn.

Here with trolley tracks leading to it, the lift-span trolley bridge is on the right. Curiously, at the subject’s center, the right southbound side of the swing bridge made for vehicles is crowded with them. Perhaps they are headed for the 1919 dedication of the new bridge that was then still variously called the 10th Avenue Bridge, the Eastlake Bridge and sometimes even the Latona Bridge.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.



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