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Lakewood Landing: 1902

he Lake Washington Passenger Steamer L.T. Haas, about to dock at the Lakewood Landing | RVHS Photo: #93.01.352

This is a photo of the Steamer L.T.  HAAS about to dock at the Lakewood Boat Landing supposedly located on Lake Washington at the foot of Genesee Street.  It was 1902 according to the date written on the top left of the original photo.  It is one of several such passenger steamers that provided transportation for the early settlers in the communities surrounding the Lake.

Two of the main ferry landings in those early days were at Leschi and Kirkland. Leschi was the lake terminus for the Yesler cable car that climbed up and over Capitol Hill from the docks on the waterfront in downtown Seattle.  Traversing across Capitol Hill the tracks then dropped down to the lake on a very steep and long wooden trestle to the Leschi Landing.

The 1911 Polk Directory indicated there were several other landings which included the dock at Rainier Beach connecting with Kennydale, sometimes making a stop at the south tip of Mercer Island.  The hourly ferry service available between the landing at Houghton, north of Renton, and Madison Park was also listed. 

Others included the landing called County Dock located on the West shore of Mercer Island and providing daily service to Leschi, and there was the landing at Hazelwood, on the east-side, that had six boats daily to Leschi.  Colemans Landing was on the east shore and also had daily service to Leschi Park, which must have been a busy place. 

The passengers aboard the L. T. Haas are probably getting ready to disembark and those on the dock appear to be waiting to board for their return trip.  We speculate that the crowd of people are prospective real estate buyers who rode the Yesler cable car from downtown Seattle to Leschi Park and then boarded the L.T.  HASS for a cruise along the shoreline to Lakewood Landing where many attractive home-sites were available.

The Lakewood area was platted before Columbia City but the lack of transportation prevented promoters from trying to attract buyers to the Lakewood lots.  It was January 1, 1889 when the first Rainier Valley streetcar tracks were put down and they were laid specifically to get prospective land buyers to Columbia City. 

The “Rainier Ave. Electric Ry.,” as the first car-line was called, started at the foot of Washington Street on Railroad Avenue and with the aid of the underground counter-balance, climbed the hill to where 14th Avenue is today. It then turned south proceeding along the present route of Rainier Avenue. It was several years later however, before Rainier Avenue was built beside the tracks to accommodate the horse and buggy traffic and later the automobile.  

The promotion to sell lots in Columbia started in April of 1891. In March of that year the line was extended to Rainier Beach and later on to Renton. After a few years when the bigger steel cars were put into service, the line became the longest and fastest interurban in the state.

Lakewood was platted prior to 1890 and the plat map showed that Bryant Street, later 48th Avenue South, was designated as the main north-south route through the area and was 20 feet wider than the rest of the roads.  To this day all the property owners along 48th Avenue South enjoy the extra ten feet of city property in front of their homes.

Bryant Street crossed Genesee Street, or “G” Street as it was named on the plat map, about three blocks west of the boat landing on the lake.  “G” Street was graded at the Bryant Street intersection to eliminate the steep grade in anticipation of the Genesee Street car shuttle from Rainier Avenue.  That single car shuttle, which had been one of the original cars on Rainier Ave. Electric Ry., was later referred to as the “Galloping Gertie” or the “Dinky”, depending on the generation doing the reminiscing. 

The grading left Bryant Street dead ending, on both sides of Genesee, about twenty five feet in the air.  That resulted in a wooden bridge being built over Genesee Street to eliminate the dead ends.  We have a photo in our files, taken from the bridge, of the Genesee paving project in progress below. The bridge was removed a few years later and 48th Avenue, instead of becoming a main thoroughfare, as was the original plan, became a dead end street on both sides of “G” Street.

I have an enlarged copy of the above photo in my office and I keep looking at it, wondered about the exact location and configuration of the boat landing in relation to the surrounding shoreline. 

While examining a copy of the 1902 “Re-plat of Lakewood,” which is part of  “Maynard’s Lake Washington Addition to Seattle,” I noticed a reference to a boat landing at the foot of “G” Street.  It was nestled in between the seemingly non-ending row of platted, 30 by 120 foot waterfront lots that extended up and down the shoreline.  The plat map showed the lots starting at the present-day site of Sayres Park to the North and continued South to Ferdinand Street, the south end of the plat map.  The drawing on the plat showed two, side by side piers protruding out from the shoreline about half way to Ohler’s Island.

The island is located in the middle of a cove.  Since the early thirties it has been home to the Lakewood Marina and moorage facility.  The office and shop for the marina are on the island and the two moorage piers extend south, one from the island and the other from the pier that connects the island with the shore to the West, a distance of about 150 feet. 

It is hard to visualize the location of the original passenger steamer landing dock because the topography has changed so much over the years. By far the major change took place in 1917 when the lake was lowered 9 feet due to the construction of the Ballard locks.  Ohler’s Island was probably twice as far from the shoreline and half the size it is today because the higher lake level would have more than covered Lake Washington Boulevard. 

Analyzing the topography around the cove, the point of land, to the left in the background of the photo, has to be to the south of Ohler’s Island. The shadows in the photo indicate the pier was built in a southeasterly direction and the photo probably was taken at mid morning on a sunny summer day. 

The bushes showing in the lower right of the photo is an indication the pier extended from Ohler’s Island which meant that another pier had to connect the island to the shoreline.  This scenario makes sense because the deeper water, required by the L. T  HASS, was in a channel that comes in just south of the Island between the shallows on the North and South side of the cove.

Fortunately, those small lots along the waterfront were never sold but were replaced with the Boulevard which was part of the Olmsted Brothers plan to expand and develop a system of connecting parks and boulevards through-out Seattle. The plan was adopted by the city in 1903.

The recent voter approval of the Seattle Park Board’s bond levy will provide funds to increase and improve, over the next two years, Seattle’s wonderful park system. It will be just in time for the Parks Department’s planned 100th anniversary celebration of the Olmsted legacy. 

Days Gone By 

South District Journal 11/22/2000

By Buzz Anderson


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