Pacific Northwest | March 14, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineMarch 14, 2004seattletimes.com home
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CONTENTS
COVER STORY
PLANT LIFE
TASTE
ON FITNESS
NOW & THEN
SUNDAY PUNCH
LETTERS
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT

Parked over Pioneer
Photo
COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF HISTORY & INDUSTRY
In the nearly 39 years between this week's Then and Now panoramas, Pioneer Square has grown not only its shade trees but also its reputation as the center of a landmark historic district that in 1965 was still in danger of wholesale destruction. Henry Yesler's restored Pioneer Building is on the far right.

 
 Photo
PAUL DORPAT
EARLIER THIS WINTER I climbed — well, drove — to the three-story prow of Pioneer Square's primary eyesore (since 1962), the flatiron parking garage that founders so convincingly that we now commonly call it "the sinking ship." I took a sequence of four photographs to record the contemporary view.

I was following in the footsteps of my friend Michael Cirelli, who climbed the "ship" 39 years earlier to record the square when its survival was still very much in doubt. The veteran Navy photographer recorded the "then" shot with two 2¼-inch exposures. However, as much as Cirelli, a lifelong antiquarian now deceased, cherished the historic neighborhood, his two negatives did not quite cover the subject. When put edge to edge, they leave out a 60-foot section of the Merchant's Bank Building, top center. Soon after Cirelli took his photographs, the entire building went missing, razed and replaced by another concrete parking garage.

The jazz club Penthouse was one of the last renters of the ornate old bank building, and in Cirelli's right negative one can read (with magnification) on the Penthouse marquee that the great alto-saxophonist Cannonball Adderley is inside. On the authority of jazz historian Chris Sheridan's "Bio-Discography of Julian Cannonball Adderley," that puts Michael Cirelli at the "ship" sometime in late September 1965. That is but five months after Bill Speidel opened his Underground Tour into what Seattle Times columnist John Reddin then called the "Yesler Way Catacombs." As evidenced by the crowd gathered beside the pergola in the "now" scene, the tour continues to play its part in preserving this historic neighborhood.

Paul Dorpat and Genevieve McCoy's Washington state history, "Building Washington," is available for $50 from Tartu Publications, P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145; 206-547-7678.

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