Like so many things here in the Southend, Northwest Tap Connection is more than it appears. The almost invisible grey building crouched behind a car wash and mini-mart off Rainier Ave and Henderson at the top of Rainier Beach Square, is bursting on the inside with a dance explosion and a hard-hitting commitment to the community. Much larger than it appears, the building seems to go on forever with every corner full of wiggling, giggling children. Girls check their postures in ballet plies, and boys bust a hip hop move or tap it out like friend of the studio, dance superstar Savion Glover.
Behind it all is proud Melba Ayco, owner of Northwest Tap Connection and full-time Seattle Police Department employee. “That I do both is not a mistake,” she says. “They go together.” Through Northwest Tap Connection, Ayko offers ballet, modern, African, swing, ballroom, and hip hop, as well as tap (including a class for boys called “hoofin”) to 125 boys and girls as a healthy alternative to other choices that the youth could make. A postcard for the studio points out that a philosophy...
By MALCOLM GRIFFES
U.W. News Lab
Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood is an up and coming center for the retro, weird, and quirky. One of the contributing factors in Georgetown’s renaissance is the Trailer Park Mall.
The mall is open Saturday and Sunday for customers to peruse the seven vintage airstreams-turned-boutiques. And this weekend, the mail will took part in the Georgetown Art Attack. For this month’s Art Attack, the mall will held an event called Trailer Park Trannies. These will featured drag performances by Sylvia O’Stayformore and Honey Bucket.
“It’s very John Waters,” said Shannon Anderson, who is the owner, operator and founder of the market.
The mall has been in business selling vintage clothing and home accessories for three years. It moved two years ago to a more prominent location on Airport Way South and South Homer Street. And while all the shops are in trailers, they are not all entirely street-worthy so the move was not as easy as hoped.
Each trailer is rented to a different vendor. Clocharde, owned by Keenan Dowers, specializes in “vintage glass and hostess wares.” It is housed in one of the smaller one-room trailers,...
In Seattle the 4th of July kicks off summer. School has been officially out for a week or two and the weather tends to be a little more predictable. If you have young people at home then you are searching for ways to occupy them. As a lifetime Seattle resident I am aware of many free and low cost activities – as I participate in many in my youth. Yes, some are that old… Here are some activities to keep your children and guests busy this summer:
On Wednesdays the Columbia City Farmer’s Market is open from 3-7 p.m. the Renton Farmer’s Market is open Tuesdays during the same hours. In addition to the latest produce and the absolute best prices on that bouquet of flowers that you are so deserving of, both markets have cooking demonstrations, community booths with local information, entertainment and activities for kids. They are also both located in vibrant walkable communities. You can sign-up for email alerts that will let you know what is in the market for the week and what activities are planned.
As it has done for ages, Seattle Public Libraries hosts its Summer...
Wiley Post and Will Rogers were the super stars of their time…an aviator with one-eye and a part-Cherokee lasso-twirling humorist, both out of Oklahoma. When they died together in a plane crash in Alaska August 15, 1935 it was a national tragedy.
Post and Rogers were a week into their trip of exploration. Post planned to fly across to Siberia and perhaps even repeat his round-the-world feat of 1933. Rogers was along for the ride, or part of it. The end came all too soon when the cobbled-together float plane Wiley piloted stuttered on lift-off from a brief stop and crashed into a lagoon near Point Barrow.
The Seattle Connection
Post and Rogers’ final journey began in Seattle…or more specifically at the Renton Airport (sometimes called Bryn Mawr airport) on the southern shore of Lake Washington. From here the fellows took off in the unnamed plane for the north after fitting it with pontoons and test flying it over the lake. The rest, as they say, is history.
Where tragic history goes, a memorial follows. At least one. The City of Renton chose to remember the heroes in 1949 by naming the refurbished float plane facility the Will Rogers-Wiley Post Memorial Seaplane Base....
Consider sponsoring the Kids Tent!
Every year the Columbia City Farmers Market reaches out to businesses, organizations, churches, non profits schools and more – in the neighborhood to host the Kids Tent at the market for a few hours on a Wednesday afternoon during the season.
The major benefit to hosting is the chance to share info about your business and interact with potential new clients who already live and shop in the neighborhood! And, it’s free!
Opening day of the market is Wednesday, May 1st.
Here is more info on sponsoring the kids tent -
The Kids Tent at the Columbia City Farmer’s Market is a special place for children to create craft projects, get their face painted or explore something new. Last year daycare centers, preschools, the Library and health clinics each sponsored a Wednesday of activities. We’re looking for more sponsors for this year’s market.
Sponsoring is easy to do! The market provides an 8′ X 8′ tent, long table and some chairs. You provide an activity. It should be a hands-on activity that would appeal to kids between the ages of 3 to 10. We ask that you arrive by 2:30 to...
On a long spring day,
When all is happily bathed
In the peaceful sun,
Cherry blossoms alone fall –
Unwilling to stay.
–Ki-no-Tomonori, 8th CE
It always seems like something of a miracle when the ornamental flowering cherries start to put on their show. The first to launch around here are the early-blooming, pink-petaled ‘Okame’ on Seward Park Ave just before Juneau Street heads into the park. In early February their buds start to plump up and explode into cherry blossom heaven by mid to late February – just when you need that burst of color to wake you up from winter.
But that’s only the beginning. Seward Park and Lake Washington Boulevard all the way up to Mount Baker are the setting for brilliant displays of Japanese flowering cherries, known collectively as sakura. Some of these Southend cherries were planted in the 1930s, in the wake of “cherry diplomacy” begun in Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin. As in the nation’s capital, these trees were planted throughout Seattle, and especially in Seward Park, to strengthen economic ties and friendship with Japan.
Sakura have been cultivated and admired for centuries in the island...
HERE IS THE CHURCH
It started with a small wooden church on a hill between the Rainier Valley and Seattle’s Central District named for the patron saint of Germany. St. Boniface was built, probably sometime in the 1890s, by and for German Catholic immigrants to the city who hoped to worship in their own language.
Information on the little German church is scarce. The 1901 and 1902 Seattle Polk Directories list “St. Bonifacius, German Roman Catholic” at 28th South and Massachusetts, along with the words “no services.” Later additions of the directory make no mention of the church at all. The 1912 Baist Map show the church alone on the hillside except for a small house immediately to the north. Anecdotal evidence indicates that a succession of caretaker families lived in the basement of the church, some German-speaking, some Italian.
THE ITALIAN TRANSFORMATION
By 1910 the area surrounding St. Boniface was made up largely of Italian immigrant families — so much so that the area was nicknamed “Garlic Gulch” — and thus the little church was the natural choice for an Italian parish. Seattle Bishop O’Dea called on the Jesuits to minister to the growing Italian community...
A young girl waits to ride the Rainier Valley Streetcar to school about 1930. The station is Taylor’s Mill, the small community just south of Rainier Beach where a sawmill stood until 1914, near the current location of Pizzeria Pulcinella today. This car is bound for Rose Street and points north. A caption on the photo identifies the motorman as one Bert Cohrs. This photo is one of a series of 158 images of the Rainier Valley streetcars collected by Harold Hill (not the Music Man, but a local train maven).
Train historian Warren Wing brought the collection to the attention of the Rainier Valley Historical Society in 2000 and a deal was struck for us to obtain these invaluable photos from Hill’s daughter. Sorting through the images, our volunteers determined that there were at least 44 different train cars in service during the streetcar era, 1891-1936.
RVHS will have more Rainier Beach photos to display…and sell…at the September 15 Art Walk Rainier Beach. Look for us! Or see more train cars on our website...
The Rainier Valley’s Italian community has long been a focus of interest and curiosity. In 1915 sociology graduate student Nellie Roe made Garlic Gulch a focus of her master’s thesis “The Italian Immigrant in Seattle.” Her approach was clearly that of the anthropologist studying an arcane culture. The UW Social Sciences student describes the Italian families she visited as “like children in their simplicity, ignorance, and optimism.” A product of the Progressive Era, Ms. Roe can’t help but wish these families would accept help and instruction from charitable agencies, such as the Charity Organization Society, in order to assimilate into the dominant culture. Notably, Ms. Roe did not use the term “Garlic Gulch,” although she did remark negatively on the smell of garlic and cabbage pervading the homes.
Nearly a century later, another UW student, Richard Gilbert made the community the focus of his 2004 master’s thesis “Garlic Gulch: Interpreting the History of Seattle’s Rainier/Atlantic Neighborhood, 1903-2003. An urban planning student, Gilbert honed in on the negative transforming effects of highway planning on the community. Along the way, he picked up some revealing anecdotes from residents...
In a nail-biting race with a photo-finish for the underdog, the Rainier Beach Community Club-led “Friday South” district placed first in Waste Management’s “Think Green Recycling Challenge” winning its $50,000 prize for a “Main Street Makeover.” The Rainier Beach Community Club (RBCC) beat out other highly organized neighborhoods, such as Ballard and Wallingford, which vied for first throughout the 6-month campaign.
Community members living in the Rainier Beach neighborhood are encouraged to submit project ideas and locations for the $50,000 Main Street Makeover by sending a Project Submission Form to the Rainier Beach Community Club Board (RBCC) by June 30.
Waste Management’s Think Green Recycling Challenge encourages Seattle communities to reduce garbage and increase efforts to recycle and compost. For six months from October 2011 to March 2012, Waste Management monitored and recorded the tonnage of waste, recyclables, and compostables generated in each area, compared to the same timeframe the year prior.
Rainer Beach Community Club (RBCC) led the “Friday South” charge with the partnership of the Filipino Community of Seattle whose efforts included giving talks on...
Where could one find “Garlic Gulch,” a Stadium called “Sick,” an urban fireworks factory on a hill, a Japanese-American botanic garden, and the largest stand of old-growth timber in Seattle? All are icons of Seattle’s Rainier Valley, an area with a richly varied past and present.
Today we are happy to announce that our book, Rainier Valley, is here and available for viewing or purchase at the offices of the Rainier Valley Historical Society.
Over the past year Historical Society staff and volunteers put together the images and text for the book for Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. The book features 196 photos and documents tracing the history of the valley from the late 19th century to the present. Learn about the neighborhoods, businesses, institutions, and people that shaped this unique community.
The Rainier Valley Historical Society is dedicated to collecting the memories, photos, and artifacts of this region and using them to document and interpret the history of the Valley and surrounding communities. We are pleased to share some of the many photos in our own archives, as well as images loaned for use in this book by many local families and businesses.
There are so many beautiful mornings and evenings in the “hood”. Hope you take the time to enjoy one. I recently returned from attending a girlfriend’s fiftieth birthday on Kauai. We stayed in a place on the Ocean and were able to absorb wonderful sunrises, daily. It was easy. Hawaii is three hours behind us, so 6 a.m., was 9 a.m. Then heading to north Seattle upon my return, I saw an awesome sunset, as I headed west to a girlfriend’s home in Ballard. I am thinking, how beautiful. So beautiful, that the evening news also covered it.
Unless we are on vacation, we simply forget what we have. I read reviews from folks that vacation in our neighborhood and they rave about the views. Then walking the other evening I am reminded of the beautiful views we have throughout our Neighborhood. Everywhere you turn and almost from every block. We have Lake Washington, Seward Park and Mount Baker to the north. Lake Washington, the Cascades, plus Renton and Mercer Island to the east. Mount Rainer to the South. Plus, downtown Seattle and the Olympics, and parts of Seattle and Tukwila to the west. How often do you have a friend or someone from outside the neighborhood stop by and say, “Wow, this area has awesome views”?...
In 1911 cooking classes were a part of the required curriculum for girls, as were manual trades for boys, in the old Columbia School. In another image from our upcoming Arcadia book on the history of the Rainier Valley, here girls at Columbia School one hundred years ago learn about homemaking. Very few married women worked outside the home. Note the gas burners and breadboards for making “real” baked goods. The numeral “4” written on the image identifies Miss Cunningham, teacher, overseeing the budding homemakers.
Classes in cooking and sewing for girls had become commonplace in public schools after the turn of the 20th century. During World War II boys joined girls in home economics classes so that they might help out at home – many mothers joined the workforce during this period. During the free-wheeling sixties and seventies, the gender barrier between “home ec” and “shop” broke down even further. For good or ill, today’s school schedules leave little room for these pursuits.
The Rainier Valley Historical Society is putting together an illustrated history of the Valley to be published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images of America series in 2012. This is one of the photos.
By 1950 automobiles were the desired mode of transportation. Whereas most Rainier Valley residents had done their shopping close to home by necessity, now they could easily travel to other parts of the city for great deals – perhaps even to the newly opened Northgate Shopping Mall at the north end of town. Columbia City merchants decided to capitalize on the lure of the automobile to encourage residents to shop locally.
For a limited time shoppers earned lottery tickets by purchasing goods from local merchants. The grand prize: a 1950 Buick two-door Sedanette. The paper reported that the young man who won the car took the mike and asked “Who wants to buy the old klunk I’ve been driving around?”
Here admiring the car are (from left) Arthur Anderson, Grayson & Brown Hardware; Hy Funk, Columbia Food Center; C.W. Wedin, Columbia Realty Company; Jay Jacox, Halverson’s 10-cent Store; Menzo LaPorte, Rainier Valley Barber, and Russ Vold, Northwest Appliance Sales and Service.
I often drive north on Renton Avenue South in Rainier Beach to catch the light rail to downtown. I’m usually in a hurry but I always notice Kubota Garden and imagine what stunning scenes its meandering trails reveal. Farther down Renton on the east side of the street before the intersection at Henderson, there’s a 1920s, two-story brick building with a grassy lawn and a circular driveway. I always assumed it was an apartment building. I had no idea that a little research would reveal its connection with a gilded-age millionaire evangelist from the east coast, his daughter Florence who died at age four, and a nineteenth-century social movement.
In 1899 this property was dedicated as the Florence Crittenton Home. In the second half of the nineteenth century, Charles Nelson Crittenton made his millions in wholesale drug distribution in New York City. Yet, for all his wealth and business endeavors, he could not save his beloved youngest daughter, four-year-old Florence, from the ravages of scarlet fever. His soul-searching after her death in 1882 led him to Christian charity work in the slums of New York City and ultimately to a decision to pour his grief, energy, and financial resources into offering refuge...
Our beautiful Seward Park is 100 years old this year. In its long history it has been a part of many Rainier Valley celebrations, including the short-lived Rainier District Fiesta (1915-1919), the Rainier District Pow Wow (1934-1991), the Filipino festival Pista Sa Nayon (at Seward park since 1995), and, of course, Seafair.
Pow Wow was hugely popular in its heyday, attracting crowds as large as 30,000 (in 1950) to Seward Park for races, beauty pageants (including one for babies), pie-eating contests, and signature events like the husband-calling contest. The local papers could not get enough of Pow Wow, no doubt due to photo ops such as this one!
This summer the Rainier Valley Historical Society is featuring photos from Pow Wow in our window exhibit at 3710 S. Ferdinand Street in Columbia City. Stop by for a look!
For more information on the fascinating history of Pow Wow, read the detailed article by Cassandra Tate on HistoryLink. http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=9526
For information on events at the park this summer, link up with the Friends of Seward Park website: http://www.sewardpark.org/
• Rainier Valley Historical Society
The Rainier Valley Historical Society is putting together an illustrated history of the Valley to be published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images of America series in 2012. This is one of the photos.
Rainier Valley’s Italian heritage goes more than a hundred years. Back then, the Valley was largely forests and farms, with the streetcar running down the middle. Many of the area’s farmers were immigrants, and many of those immigrants were from Italy. In fact, the neighborhood around Atlantic Street was so heavily dominated by Italians that it was called “Garlic Gulch.”
The Borracchini family opened a bakery in the Italian neighborhood in 1922, and their son Remo, still operates it. Remo describes the neighborhood when he was a child: “Our church was Mount Virgin church. We had several Italian grocery stores at Atlantic Street, Italian pharmacy, Italian barbershop. The residents were mainly east and west of Rainier Avenue going all the way up to Beacon Hill. As far south as – oh, a little south of McClellan Street. We had the ballpark. We had the Vacca Brothers farm. And we had the Italian language school here, at Atlantic Street.”
Keye Luke at Franklin High School
The actor Keye Luke (1904-1991) is most often remembered as “Number One Son” to Warner Oland’s Charlie Chan in the popular series of detective movies in the 1930s. Luke, in fact, had a long career in Hollywood playing both bit parts that called for an Asian and more memorable roles, including the original Kato in the Green Hornet serial films and Master Po on the Kung Fu TV series.
His years at Franklin High School (Class of ’22) seem to have destined him for a much different career. He was not a member of the schools Dramatic Club, but rather a member of the Art Club and Art Editor of the Tolo. The 1922 Tolo Annual contains over a dozen Keye Luke fantasy line drawings of impressive intricacy. One may guess these were pen and ink drawings given the motto assigned to his yearbook photo. It seems he also played “Indoor Baseball” and “Midget Basketball” during his formative years.
Fellow students were assured that Luke would become a graphic artist. The “Prophecy” for the Class of 1922 foresees fellow graduate “Burton Edwards sitting for the renowned artist, Keye Luke, as a model for magazine covers.”
Seattle is seeing some exciting real estate sales activity early in 2011. Since mid-January, Buyers have been moving off the fence and into their new yards in certain neighborhoods in and near South Seattle. The most popular neighborhoods in the area right now are Capitol Hill, Madrona, and Madison Valley, Madison Park and Leschi. Even properties that have been sitting for 6 months or more have received offers. There have been instances of multiple purchase offers and short market times, properties receiving offers after less than a week of market time. In some cases, Buyers are paying for and completing “pre-inspections” before making their offer in order to gain that competitive edge. There are about 36 pending sales in this area that occurred after January 1, 2011, representing 58% of available inventory.
Next in line are the neighborhoods of Mt Baker, Seward Park, Lakewood, Columbia City and North Beacon Hill. Mt. Baker is taking the lead here for short marketing times and properties throughout the area that entered the market during the slow months we saw last November and December are now being snatched up. There are approximately 45 pending sales that have occurred in these areas since January 1, 2011,...
We recently ran across this photo along with some of our Franklin High School memorabilia. The donor speculated that the fellow signing autographs in the middle of the crowd might be Will Rogers. In fact, it is almost certainly William S. Hart, star of numerous silent western pictures in the teens and twenties. Hart is credited with shaping the iconic rough and ready Hollywood cowboy in films such as The Bargain (1914), The Toll Gate (1920), and Tumbleweeds (1925). Already in his fifties when this photo was taken in the early 1920s, he did not make the transition to talkies. Flashier cowpokes like Tom Mix, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers, dressed in silver buckles, 10-gallon hats, and plenty of fringe, dominated oaters of the ‘30s and ‘40s.
In the photo Hart wears his trademark outfit, including Stetson and neckerchief. At 6 foot, 2 inches, he towers above the throng of adoring high-schoolers. Notes on the back of the photo indicate it was intended for publishing in the weekly Tolo newspaper.
Humorist Will Rogers does have his own, sad connection to the Rainier Valley. It was from the Renton Airport — then called Bryn Mawr Airfield — at the southern tip of the Valley that Rogers and his friend,...
In order to make really accurate predictions about what will happen this year to our local real estate market, one needs a few tools of the trade. Let me see….. one crystal ball, recently dusted and buffed to a glossy shine with water and vinegar – check, and one magic wand, battered but tuned up, – check. Oh yeah, also useful: one magic hammer that can successfully nail Jell-O to a tree.
I always find it interesting to see how the local experts do with their predictions. I like Matthew Gardner of Gardner Economics, LLC.* He is a land use economist and considered to be one of the foremost real estate analysts in the Pacific Northwest. He predicted job growth in 2010 and that did occur. Job growth entered the plus column in Seattle mid-way through last year, primarily in the areas of professional services and information. I’m not an economist, but the fact that those particular kinds of jobs grew made Mr. Gardner happy. King County still lags behind the national unemployment rate, increasing from 8% in the first quarter 2010 to 8.4% in the third quarter. Our unemployment rate will need to shrink some before any real recovery can get a foothold. Mr. Gardner was cautiously optimistic about the improvement...
This year marks the 100th year of operation for the Lakewood Seward Park Community Club.
Take a look at the Seward Park peninsula today and imagine what the terrain across Andrews Bay looked like 120 years ago. The woods along the west side of Lake Washington between Hudson Street on the south and what is now the Stan Sayres Pits, and bounded by 42nd Avenue on the west, formed a triangular piece of land called Lakewood. Guy Phinney, a wealthy lumber mill owner, purchased and platted Lakewood in 1883.
By 1903, the area was booming thanks largely to proximity to the Southern Railway which ran through neighboring Columbia City. It wasn’t long before the “clearings in the wilderness” were sold and pioneers from Canada, England, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, as well as the U.S. Midwest began removing trees for their new homes.
Few Lakewood residents owned automobiles at the turn of the century, and walking or traveling by cart and horse over the hill to the city, especially at night, was less than desirable. Transportation issues spurred the organization of an improvement club. Canadian real estate broker named Albert George Corbett presided over the first meeting of the male-only Lakewood Improvement...
Sometimes we don’t know—or we forget—the extraordinary things we have in our own backyard.
In Rainier Beach, on the corner of Renton Avenue and 55th Avenue South, a large engraved stone quietly announces the 20-acre South End refuge called Kubota Garden. The garden is a landscape of winding paths and ponds, bridges and waterfalls, rocks and open spaces. It is filled with evergreen conifers, rhododendrons, Japanese maples, and bamboo. It is one of Seattle’s premier public gardens, free of charge and open year-round during daylight hours.
Kubota Garden was unknown to me and my husband when we settled in the South End ten years ago. We couldn’t believe our good fortune when we first strolled through the American-Japanese Garden, as it is described at the entrance. We felt as if we had left Seattle far behind climbing the Mountainside, a traditional Japanese feature of the garden that mimics a walk in the mountains. It was created to celebrate the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. The feature rises 65 feet high with ponds and waterfalls. When we reached the top, we launched twigs we imagined as whitewater kayaks down the miniature waterfall and watched them twist and turn and fade from sight. It was...
Nestled along the banks of the mighty I-5, and bordered by King County airport to the south and industrial SODO to the north, Georgetown has over the years thrived and grown into its own unique neighborhood in South Seattle. Its brewery-town past has morphed into a creative and vibrant present that we should all get to know as part of Southend Seattle.
Time to Explore!
The Metro bus 106 reroute, taking you all the way from Skyway, up through South Seattle neighborhoods Upper Rainier Beach, Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill and cutting through Georgetown on the main Airport Way drag, makes it easier than ever to explore this neighborhood without your car. How better to enjoy a few cocktails at the many Georgetown hangouts?
Take the 106 or hop on your bike and pick up a cup of high-octane coffee at All City (1205 South Vale Street), which has been brewing the beans for a few rainy years now. Hang out for a while with the locals, read your paper, and plan your day with a little espresso pep.
First on the list – see...