Green Lake, circa 1900, prior to the development of the park. Photo courtesy of MOHAI. Used with permission.
The Green Lake neighborhood was settled in the late 1800s as a quieter retreat from a growing downtown. Its first residents were akin to homesteaders, logging the area and gradually developing homes into a small neighborhood by 1900.
Courtesy MOHAI, PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection
The epicenter of the neighborhood is Green Lake Park. The park was created in 1905, and designed by the Olmstead Brothers landscape architecture firm as part of the city’s park system master plan. The neighborhood rapidly developed in the early 20th century into a bustling “suburb” close to Seattle.
Courtesy MOHAI, Seattle P-I Collection
Over the years, the area has seen an electric railway, model boats, hydroplane races, and performances by the Aqua Follies, at the Green Lake Aqua Theater.
Courtesy MOHAI, Seattle P-I Collection
Today, the neighborhood has over 10,000 residents, 2 schools, and dozens of businesses. Green Lake Park is one of the most popular in the city.
Posts in History
Green Lake’s Food Scene Circa 1950 + 1960
Recently the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections released some of their historic menus online and several include Green Lake. The menus give us an interesting glimpse into Green Lake life several decades ago. While there are a few from the 1980s – like Jake’s Green Lake and Green Lake Grill, two from the 50s and 60s caught our eye.
Green Lake Bowl Cafe
Courtesy of University of Washington Libraries Digital Collection
Several things struck us about this menu, like coffee in Green Lake for 10 cents, grilled halibut for 85 cents and a Sweden Freeze (I don’t know what that is, but I’d like one.) What a time to live in Green Lake! And did you see the hours? Open until 12 a.m. The 50s were a rocking time for Green Lake. The Green Lake Bowl Cafe was on Ravenna Boulevard, which now is the home of Parks’ Pharmacy. An interesting side note, according to a city website the Green Lake Bowl’s bowling alley floors are still intact at the Pharmacy today.
Okay, next menu – 10 years later and on the other side of the lake was a restaurant called Jerry Choi’s Cantonesia.
Jerry Choi’s Cantonesisa was located at 7850 Green Lake N, which is now the home of Duke’s Chowder House. An obituary for Jerry Choi says he owned the restaurant in Green Lake for 17 years. The 1960s menu features several interesting items, including Shark fin soup (now illegal in Washington state), a 10 course dinner cost $5.50 per person and an extensive 6 page menu of items starting at 90 cents.
To see the full menus for these and other Green Lake establishments, go to the University of Washington Digital Collections website.
And if you have any historic menus, let us know. We’d love to see them. Please share them here!
Happy 62nd Anniversary Evans Pool
Evans Pool 1955 via Seattle Municipal Archives
Sixty two years ago (this week) Evans Pool was dedicated as part of Green Lake Park. It cost $236,286.
According to the Seattle Municipal Archives “In 1955 (almost to this very date) Evans Pool was dedicated by then Mayor Pomeroy, Park board members and Park Department employees along with Roosevelt and Lincoln High School Moonlighters Swing Band. Among other events at the pool opening was a comedy diving exhibition by the Husky Swim club. En- trance fees when the pool opened were 10, 25 and 35 cents for children, youth and adults. Over 50,000 signatures were gathered in 1952 in support of a pool at Green Lake. Voters approved a money for the Green Lake pool in a Park Department bond in 1952 and ground was broken in 1954. Designed by Lamont & Fey, unique features of the pool at the time were port- holes allowing underwater viewing of swimmers. The pool was named “Evans Pool” in honor of Ben and Lou Evans, Recreation Directors of the Parks Department.”
This is What a Green Lake Christmas Party Looked Like in 1961
We recently ran across these Christmas photos taken at the Green Lake Community Center (then called the Green Lake Field House) dated December 8, 1961. The 57 year old photo shows children seeing Santa arrive and later lining up to chat with with his jolly self at what was described as a Engineering Department Christmas party. Notice the kids pointing and clapping as Santa makes his grand entrance into the room. While the styles in this photo have changed from today the excitement of seeing Old Saint Nick certainly hasn’t.
Happy Holidays Greenlakers!
Did Colonel Sanders Develop His Famous Recipe Here in Green Lake?
via History Link
A bit of Green Lake folklore made its way onto our desk and while we’re not one to encourage the rumor mill, we were intrigued! Apparently, and we stress “apparently,” rumor has it that the white hair, white suited, black bow tying Colonel Sanders perfected his famous “finger licking good” chicken recipe right here in Green lake!
A bit of sleuthing revealed accounts that the culinary wiz actually did spend some time here in Green Lake.
Here’s the scoop: Legend has it that the famous Col. Harland Sanders was once a short order cook at former Twin Teepees, the well-known establishment that was destroyed by a fire and demolished in 2001.
In Walking Seattle, by John Owen, the author flushes out the juicy details:
Walter Clear, the owner of Twin Teepees “met another energetic restaurateur who had fallen upon hard times… He offered his new friend (then known as Harold Sanders)… a temporary job as a cook at one of his downtown Seattle restaurants. ” Issues quickly arose when Sanders ignored his duties and was found up to his elbows brainstorming his ‘finger lickin’ good’ recipe. (We just had to include this!) Ones continues, “To keep peace in the kitchen, Clark moved his friend to the Twin Teepees, where the man’s fascination with herbs and spices continued.”
After 10 months in Seattle, Harold moved back to Kentucky and began to call himself “Colonel Sanders.” Believe it or not! Did he develop his famous recipes just to the North of Green Lake’s shores? We may never know.
Here Came the Cavalry: Rare Pictures of Green Lake released
Look what we found in The New York Public Library’s recently released archive of 180,000 public domain photos: the U.S. Cavalry, in 1899, on the shores of Green Lake. The Third Cavalry Unit is preparing to embark to Manila to fight in the Philipine-American War, a rebellion lasting from 1899-1902 which erupted after the Treaty of Paris transferred control of the Philipines from Spain to the U.S.
Turns out Mohai has these plus a few more, all shot by a photographer named Anders Beer Wilse:
Where did they camp? It’s thought to be near Woodland Park. The wooden structure in the background of the laundry picture looks like bleachers – an early version of the Boathouse? The descriptions mention “Camp Robinson,” which probably refers to Captain and Quartermaster W.W. Robinson Jr., pictured among the group (best known for building Discovery Park’s Fort Lawton).
Green Lake Tree Lighting 1941
Seattle Municipal Archives, Item No. 18803
In case you didn’t notice, Green Lake is full of holiday spirit! Not only do we boast our very own “Christmas Lights Tour,” but also decorate trees with twinkly lights (tree lighting must be hard wired into your Green Lake DNA). Case in point is a mysterious and beautiful photograph taken in 1941. And while we’re not sure who is responsible for this stunning snapshot or the backstory for this Christmas tree lighting, we think you’d agree that its captures Green Lake’s unique holiday spirit.
The Mother of all Snowstorms: 1916
Brrrrr, it’s cold out there! But, this recent chilly weather is down right balmy compared to the frigid storm of 1916, considered by many to be the mother of all snowstorms (for here anyway).
As local historian Paul Dorpat reports, this snowstorm was the second biggest, but most visually recorded. “By the year of our second biggest snow, cameras were nearly as commonplace as shovels. Almost certainly, more photographs of the 1916 snow were kept, copied, and shared more than for any other of Seattle’s snows. Importantly, Seattle has had no snowfalls since then to fairly “compete” with it for snapping.”
The photo above, for example, shows skaters on Green Lake, Jan 30, 1916 – before the snowfall “killed” the skating.
As Dorpat notes, “Through the first 30 unusually cold days of January, 23 inches of snow had fallen on Seattle. January 30th was a Sunday, and for this “day of rest” an estimated 3,000 skaters and their admirers descended on Green Lake. Many stayed well into the night, encouraged by the Seattle Park Department, which lit several bonfires along the shores. On Monday the 31st snow began to fall again, lightly at first, but steadily. About seven inches accumulated by 5 in the afternoon. That was enough to “kill the skating.”
So if this weather has you humming the oldie but goodie song “Baby It’s Cold Outside”…. just remember the winter of 1916!
To read more go to: http://pauldorpat.com/seattle-now-then-archive/a-history-of-seattle-snows-exposed/seattle-snows-part-5/.
A Haunted Relic in Green Lake?
One doesn’t have to look too far to find a historic architectural gem in Green Lake. Case in point is a little, well actually massive, relic that looms large in Green Lake Park. Just what am I’m referring to exactly? The Green Lake Arch, located near our very own Community Center.
This impressive classical piece of architecture was in fact once part of the Martha Washington School for Girls. Built in 1921, the school was located on the shores of Lake Washington and consisted of Georgian-style brick buildings designed by architect Floyd Naramore. The school was operated by the Seattle School District and was intended to aid neglected and unfortunate young girls. It eventually closed in 1957.
According to HistoryLink.org “in 1972, the City of Seattle purchased the site and, in the following year, transferred it to the parks department.”
The building remained abandoned and rumors spread of eerie sightings of ghostly apparitions.
As HistoryLink.org notes, after a decade of discussions the city council eventually voted for the demolition of the historic building and creation of a park on the site.
The distinctive arch was in storage and in 2009 it was brought to Green Lake as part of city’s Shade Park and Plaza, funded with monies from the Pro Park Levy. So while for decades the arch greeted young students as they entered into the school to day, it’s now an elegant and welcoming focal point of Green Lake’s plaza.
via History Link
To read more on the Martha Washington School for Girls see History Link.
Green Lake After the 1949, 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake
Recently it seems that much of Seattle is abuzz with the possibility that a massive shaker that may be in our future. The recent New Yorker article (July 20, 2015) seems to have awakened a new awareness that an earthquake will inevitably hit Seattle, at some time.
A photo from 1949 showing earthquake damage to the shore of Green Lake reminds us that the Pacific Northwest has always been prone to such natural occurrences.
According to HistoryLink.org, “On April 13, 1949 at 11:55 a.m., a 7.1 magnitude earthquake occurred in Western Washington centered between Olympia and Tacoma. As of 2002, this is the largest earthquake in Puget Sound since non-Indian people started to immigrate and settle along its shores… Earthquake damage in King County communities varied significantly. …. In King County, the quake’s strongest ground shaking was in Auburn, Richmond Beach and in parts of Seattle. Damage was considerable to well-built structures and extensive to poorly built ones. Some buildings collapsed. Chimneys, factory stacks, columns, and monuments fell. Heavy furniture overturned. People had difficulty driving…. Due to old construction and unstable ground most buildings in Pioneer Square received some damage. Cracks opened in the earth near Green Lake. One thousand and nine hundred brick walls throughout the city collapsed, fractured or bulged. They were condemned and had to be replaced… Cracks opened in the ground, some spouting water six feet high. Seattle gas lines broke in 100 places but fortunately no fires occurred. Books toppled off Seattle Public Library shelves at the Carnegie downtown branch at the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and Madison Street.”
So, while we can’t look into a crystal ball and predict when an earthquake may occur, this is a timely reminder that we should always have an emergency plan in place. This week Seattle.gov launched an official notification system called Alert Seattle. Their website provides some great information on not only earthquake preparedness, but also how to prepare for any possible emergency.
One of Green Lake’s Oldest Homes is For Sale
The Frederick A. McDonald house is one of the oldest homes in Green Lake, built in 1890, and its for sale.
According to the listing on Zillow:
“Nestled above Green Lake, this elegant Victorian preserves the sophistication and craftsmanship of that era but with todays comforts. The completely renovated 1890s home retains its original stained glass windows, grand staircase, solid oak doors and millwork. The parklike setting features secluded patios, a Koi pond, fountains and the massive Italianate stone-walled gardens and stairs to Green Lake. A romantic carriage house and private mother-in-law make this property a rare find.”
It would be interesting to know how much it cost to build the house back in the 1890s because today it is selling for $2.4 million.
Notice the trolley on the lower left side of the screen. That’s the same trolley that would circle Green Lake back in the turn of the century. No, not this past century… the previous one!
This house photo may look familiar to you… we posted about the home last year and its relation to the mysterious grave marker on the east side of the lake.
Whoever buys the home is truly buying a piece of Green Lake history.
And a special thanks to reader James for giving us a heads up about this house!