The road to West Seattle, 1916
Trolleys from Seattle first reached the west shore of Elliott Bay in 1907, the year of West Seattle’s annexation to the city.
Special to The Seattle Times
YOUNG’S COVE, seen at low tide in the “Then” photo, is a notch defined by Pigeon Point on the west side of Elliott Bay. Looking across the bay from central Seattle, you don’t notice Pigeon Point because it blends in with the greater mass of West Seattle and its pronounced Duwamish Head. In 1904, the settled area in the cove was named Youngstown after William Pigott and a local judge established the Seattle Steel plant there. At the far right in the “Now” photo, you can catch a glimpse of the plant (now Nucor) and that neighborhood.
Trolleys from Seattle first reached the west shore of Elliott Bay in 1907, the year of West Seattle’s annexation to the city. They came by way of a new swing bridge over the Duwamish River that was roughly in line with Spokane Street. After curving around Pigeon Point and into Youngstown, the electric cars then turned north to Duwamish Head, reaching Luna Park on June 27. Built on pilings, Luna Park was the grandest of the many attractions that extended to Alki Point at the tip of the Duwamish Head, which the trolleys reached in 1908.
By 1914 the circuitous route to Alki was straightened. The Spokane Street trestle had been recently extended, reaching West Seattle here at Admiral Way. This look east on Spokane Street was recorded on April 16, 1916.
To show Spokane Street’s development into a West Seattle funnel, city engineers counted the traffic using it between 5 a.m. and midnight on one day in early November 1915. The partial list recorded that 291 street cars carried 11,699 people, 692 automobiles carried 1,501 people, 203 jitneys (taxis) carried 744, and 155 horse-drawn vehicles carried 187 more across the West Seattle Bridge.
In 1916, the West Seattle Commercial Club began the long campaign for a “high bridge” to West Seattle, lifting the traffic above the railroad tracks. In 1929 the trestle shown here was replaced and Spokane Street lifted with fill. The concrete Fauntleroy Expressway, flying through Jean Sherrard’s “Now,” was added in the mid-1960s.
In 1978, Capt. Rolf Neslund rammed his ship into the West Seattle Bridge, rendering it beyond repair. A new high bridge was dedicated on Nov. 10, 1983.
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.