From ‘It’s the Water’ to the new Waterfront Park

Many roads converge near the site of the former Olympic Brewery Bottling Works.

THE AMBIGUITY OF this waterfront corner is revealed by its signage. In Jean Sherrard’s “Now” photo, the city’s green Pine Street sign seems to merely rest on the wire fence in the foreground above the cyclist pedaling the red bicycle. Rather, it stands at the northeast corner of Alaskan Way and — what?

This is the point where Pine Street and the linked Stewart Street, Olive Way and East Olive Street begin their 40-plus-block course, or 2-plus-miles east from the central waterfront (soon interrupted by Pike Place Public Market) through Seattle’s slim waistline to Lake Washington.

Although hard to read, there is also a sign for Stewart Street fixed to the southwest corner facades of the Olympia Brewery Bottling Works in the “Then” photograph. The sign is just above the last wagon on the right, which puts it at the northeast corner of Stewart Street and Railroad Avenue. Perhaps for excitement or distraction during the Great Depression, the last street name was changed from Railroad Avenue to Alaskan Way. Some contending choices were Cosmos Quay; Sea Portal Avenue; Commerce Way; and one that came close to winning the contest, Seatlaska Way.

Hidden behind the Bottling Works was the north portal to the Great Northern Railroad’s tunnel beneath the city. The carving of the hole and blasting of about a dozen squatters’ shacks that were in the way began on April Fools’ Day 1903. The about-a-mile-long tunnel was completed on Jan. 2, 1905.

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The building of the Holden Warehouse on the left at Virginia Street soon followed, and in the spring of 1906, the Virginia Street Dock across Railroad Avenue was built as a near twin to the Gaffney Dock, its neighbor to the south. (They are out of frame to the left.) As…

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