1906: Seattle Central Library. Demolished in 1957.

Seattle Central Library
On the night of January 1, 1901, the Yesler Mansion burned taking most of the old library collection with it. The library records were salvaged, along with the 2,000 volumes of the children's collection. Other than those, though, practically the only books salvaged were the 5,000 that were out of circulation at the time. The library operated for a time out of Yesler's barn, which had survived, then moved to a building that had been left behind when the University of Washington had moved from downtown to its present campus.
  • By January 6, Andrew Carnegie had promised $200,000 to build a new Seattle library; he later added another $20,000 when this budget proved inadequate.
  • The new Carnegie library was to be built not far from the former university campus, occupying the entire block between 4th and 5th Avenues and between Madison and Spring Streets. The land was purchased for $100,000.
  • In August 1903, the city selected a design submitted by P. J. Weber of Chicago for a building to be constructed largely of sandstone.
  • Ground was broken in spring 1905 and the library was dedicated December 19, 1906.
  • The building was demolished in 1957.
  • Seattle Public Library
  • Central Library, 1906-1957
  • Seattle’s first Central Library, built in 1906, was magnificent
  • Photographs
The Architect
Peter Joseph Weber was born Cologne, Germany in 1863. He was educated at the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg. In 1891 he arrived in Chicago and secured a position as assistant to Charles Atwood at the World's Columbian Exposition. He was subsequently hired by D.H. Burnham & Company... bla-bla-bla ...Peter Weber died in Evanston, Illinois, on August 21, 1923.

Peter Joseph Weber

1863 - 1923
The Building


Number of ground level windows on the above image does not match the below photographs. Is it a photograph or a drawing?



c. 1910






Unknown Year


Unknown Year

It looks like on the above image we have the front stairs removed. Other photographs do not have those three doors either.

The Carnegie Library was demolished in 1957 and replaced by a newer building. This replacement was itself torn down in 2001.



KD: Good luck finding a single construction photograph. Could you please scroll up, and compare photographs dated with 1907 and 1914.
  • What do you think happened there?
  • Did they simply remove the dirt and did some legit updates to the structure, or excavated the surrounding areas to uncover the concrete surroundings?
  • Additional photographs
If there is anything else (pertaining to this building) you would like to share, please do.

Oh, and by the way, here's what they replaced the above building with. It existed until 2001.


And the building below is our current Seattle Central Library.

The bottomline to me here is that that tree on the right side of the building, at the very least, was not there when they were digging up the foundation. I can't prove that photographically, but come on (excellent argument, right?). Which means to me that they transplanted it prior to the end of the overall construction. Which just seems kind of odd.
i am not on about the trees. The weed growth around the base of the building is the 'vegetation' I am on about, apologies if I failed to make it clear. That is one years weed regrowth on bare soil. This sort of ties in with the tale of the tunnel under the library undermining the land and the site was probably abandoned until that was resolved which once again throws the two tantalising year build out of the window.

The tree cannot have been there when digging the foundation trench. It's location does seem odd but then again the line of trees to its right also seem odd. But lets not forget as the expo investigations show the people alive back then had the skills and ability to move living trees of all sizes. Why so close to the wall. The only thing that makes some sort of sense is it is to provide shade in a specific room Indeed that makes sense for the line of three. As I said only some sort. Some sort is also that the building was deemed to require summer cooling on that aspect or possibly the site was abandoned for years and the trees just grew so they left them there. The latter is unlikely given the lack of supporting evidence in that image. The weeds are annuals not perennials. Pioneer weeds so too speak.

Edit to add

Here is why I think the site was abandoned for some time but first that tree.
Look at the head of it. It has more growth on the side away from the building so it has an unbalanced head. The probable cause is either it was in the way so was pruned or it has been there for ages alongside the building and has grown lopsided to get to the light.
Also it is not that close to the building as its head makes it appear to be.

2021-03-12 09.42.47 stolenhistory.org 786d37ee829e.jpg

It has a similar scale to its trunk as the street trees. The street tree is within a kerbed paved pavement which suggests to me that as it is one in a straight row up the kerb these trees at least have been planted by man as part of the street furniture so too speak. The roots have yet to disturb the pavement or lift the kerb and the weeds around the trees mirror the weeds around the building.

2021-03-12 09.43.43 stolenhistory.org dbf1cdf9b7f2.jpg

The site cabin is made of some recycled boarding/hoarding as the window opening is cut right through the wordage.

2021-03-12 09.44.05 stolenhistory.org d3ed9716909f.jpg

Here we see a stone working facility much much smaller than the ones in the other photo. That it is a structure put to the same use is evidenced by the roof which is also lift off as the piece to its left which seems to have blown off and fallen away is evidence of.

2021-03-12 10.08.01 stolenhistory.org 8a9539574c38.jpg

Add in the general air of neglect about the site, the total lack of workmen, the piles of waste stone lying about and it now seems obvious this building was incomplete when the site was abandoned. Up to roof level for sure but the presence of a crane on the roof suggest the roof was not finished and the building was not watertight.
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@jd755, there is a wealth of information in this reply of yours. Thank you.

In reference to the transportation.
We come back to steam traction engines simply because I have first hand experience of what they can and cannot do and the aftermath of their passing. They concentrate weight onto their contact points with the road. Unlike say a tank or excavator which distributes it across a wide track thus lowering the pounds per square inch pressure on the ground.
Imagine your foot being stood on by a lady wearing stilettos and then one wearing sneakers. The former will hurt like hell because the psi is much greater assuming it is the same lady in each pair of shoes.
We do not have steep hills in every single area in question. Some areas are pretty flat. Yet, we still see horses instead of motorized vehicles.

As far as tanks go, I am not sure whether they had those in 1830s. I won't be surprised if they did. But what they did have way prior to 1900, were the tracked vehicles.



Polish mathematician and inventor Józef Maria Hoene-Wroński designed caterpillar vehicles in the 1830s to compete with the railways.
  • The British polymath Sir George Cayley patented a continuous track, which he called a "universal railway" in 1825.
  • In 1832 a steam ploughing engine using continuous tracks was built by a British textile manufacturer called John Heathcote which apparently was somewhat successful but was lost when it sank into a swamp by accident and was then abandoned as the inventor did not have the funds to continue development.
  • In 1837, Russian inventor Dmitry Zagryazhsky designed a "carriage with mobile tracks" which he patented the same year, but due to a lack of funds and interest from manufacturers he was unable to build a working prototype, and his patent was voided in 1839.
That was from Wikipedia, and we have not even touched the dreadnaught wheeled vehicles. The below is from here.








You seem to have great difficulty in accepting concurrent technologies working alongside each other whereas I have practical experience of them co-existing.
Only if it was an exception from the rule (like this), but not the rule itself.

If steam powered vehicles were running around in 1820s-30s, I do not understand how 70 years later a horse could be a concurrent technology. Why should I accept an anomaly like that? Horses and oxen should have been a 70 year old technology in 1900, and under no circumstances a concurrent one.


As far as construction goes, I do not see any transportation related concurrent technologies working alongside each other. In just about every 19th century (and up to about 1905-10) alleged construction photograph we either have horses, or we don't have anything at all.
  • Based on the researchable available technology, I can see horses and vehicles utilized simultaneously up to about 1850-1860.
    • 1860 is pretty generous, imho.
  • After 1860s we should not have any horses, unless... unless there is something we do not know.
The below photograph is claimed to represent 1895. In a different place they say it's 1905. If we compare this photograph to the image above, we get:
  • 1895: 60 years between these two vehicles
  • 1905: 70 years between these two vehicles
Are we going to accept that this is what 60-70 years of technical progress should look like? This thing below is straight out of 1830s. Yet, this is the first time I see a prior-to-1905 bus in Seattle.


I'm pretty sure that even today we could use horses for construction purposes. We could also write a manual on how to build a skyscraper using some outdated technology. Why would we do something like that? I don't know, them 19th and early 20th century people did it for some reason, imo. Then, if we censor out every manual predating the one I just mentioned, our descendants will think that it was how we did things. Well, these are just my thoughts.
One aspect that is overlooked or not even considered is the twin roles of vested interest and legislation. These two are played together to further one another so too speak. Example from my life.
I was born in 1960. Prior to my birth in the late 50's the first motorway had been built on the island. Prior to its creation the roads could still not replace the rails when it came to moving people and moving raw materials/finished goods around the place. Trains could carry way more than any motorised vehicle for longer for less cost more effectively.
Trouble came in the vested interests of the oil corporations owners, the road building corporations owners and the car building corporations owners. Also the vested interest of people whose names we never know who really run government.
Basically a Dr Beeching was brought in by government to evaluate British Rail and see what could be pruned away to get it to become profitable. Alfred and Robert McAlpine built roads. They would be direct beneficiaries of any reduction in the railway network. They were very good friends of Dr Beeching.
Hence the Beeching cuts decimated the branch line network of the railways and put no extra effort in improving the main line network which had the effect of throwing much more freight and passenger traffic onto the roads. The car manufacturers created new cars more 'affordable cars' and began selling the freedom of the open road to the very same people who could no longer use the railway to get from A to B. The trucks manufacturers of the day gained immensely as the freight once carried by rails was now left with the hobsons choice of road transport.
The vested interest of the government was in taxation of motor vehicles of all shapes and sizes. People and freight travelling by rail were not directly taxable as it was the train operating company that was taxed but when the cars and truck sales took off then the tax on them passed directly to the individual people and the of course the government now had the door wide open to ramp up both the cost of taxation and the scope of taxation.
The vested interest of the people who really run governments states countries nations is one of a further removal of personal liberty from the individual and their increased concentration of said individuals within towns and cities.

I literally watched rail lines being closed and then pulled up to prevent their subsequent reinstatement and over my years have watched the roads get more numerous, get bigger and wider, fill up with motorised vehicles which get more numerous, bigger, heavier which render the stated advantage of 'freedom of the road' moot. Along with the raft of penalties and enforcements brought in by legislation and rule changes imposed by government with the incredible increase in the size of towns and cities its crystal why horses and their utility had to go

So between vested interest, legislation, rules and regulations of what is and isn't permitted within a claim of jurisdiction changes in society are driven.

When people could use a horse for the transportation of themselves, goods, raw materials, passengers they were free to roam quite literally everywhere. There is no need for a road, there is no need to get permission from an authority to travel, no need to pay anyone anything, no way to tax or regulate travel or regulate or tax when people come and when they go.
When motorised vehicles appear though the freedom everyone could enjoy began to vanish. No matter what the motive power it requires something to run on.
Rails or roads mean people must give up their freedom to travel as and when and instead only be able to travel at the whim of other people they don't know and have never heard of. By their very nature rails and roads degrade in use as the vehicles that use them are the source of the degradation as said vehicles cannot operate on anything but the rails and roads so they are concentrated within the limits of rails and roads instead of being spaced out over trails and the wider landscape as horse transport is.

The first reaction of government, in truth the only reaction of government is too increase itself at every opportunity and its people manufacture all manner of such opportunities. So when it comes to steam power on roads the obvious issue they could jump on and regulate & tax was the damage they cause to the roads due to their immense weight concentrated into small contact points. Alongside this runs the danger of these machines being hard to manoeuvre though built up areas in towns and cities, dangers of fire caused by the burning of coal and its attendants sparks, the possibility of the things exploding and what happens when one breaks down in the road. In other words the government could use 'the public good' to register and tax these machines after a certain period of course to allow for the physical impediments to manifest themselves.

So a builder who uses oxen or horses to pull heavy items around would obviously look at the steam traction engines and see one machine replacing many animals and would hopefully see the advantages and disadvantages of both then come to a decision on which is more likely to put more money into their pockets. if the machine could do as its manufacturers claim and the running costs are cheaper then it is likely the animals are sold off and the machine comes in.
If the machine does not live up to expectations the operator cannot then lose face by 'going back' to animal power so must seek a better machine or develop the one he has.
Then the ogre of regulation rears its head once a critical mass of machines in use has been reached and once the catalogue of problems in 'the public realm' has been built. Then government can step in and regulate and begin charging the operators of the machine for their regulatory powers.

Those who decided that machines were not worth it are sitting pretty as animals and carts cannot be taxed or registered and regulated so these forms of transport endure alongside the machines for ages until the government changes the rules and regulations and starts fining the animal transporters for soiling the highway or some such or begins charging them for the removal of animals which die on the job for example.

That is a rather long winded way of showing how it is possible for horses and oxen to be seen in photographs working often alongside machines for decades. They are simply better suited to whatever circumstances the individual operator regards as being the ones that maintain or increase their income.

The capacity of the horse and cart is as useful as the capacity of the wheelbarrow. Wheelbarrows are built to allow a limited amount of anything to be moved by one human body all day long if required without too much fatigue of that body. The horse and cart is similarly built to ensure a limited amount of fatigue to the horse body.
Horse or man is simply hitched up to the wheelbarrow/cart and off they go. Should either tire or get injured its a piece of piss to rope another in and off you go. Should the cart break then again change it out for another and off you go.
With a steam traction engine such immediacy is a physical impossibility. It has to be oiled, watered, coaled, fired, got up to pressure all before it moves an inch. It the has to be coupled up to the cart/load and has to have a crew of at least two people before it can do anything.
If a man or horse driver forgets something or comes across an impasse en route then it is a simple matter to go around it or turn back and get whatever has been forgotten. With a traction engine pulling a cart this turn around has become a complicated process and not practically feasible. It has to sit and wait until the impasse is removed thus affecting the plan of the day. Similarly if it runs out of fuel or develops a water leak or the pressure relief valve blocks then the machine cannot move until resupplied. Indeed if the pressure relief valve is blocked then the fire has to be dropped out to prevent explosion and the machine is quite literally stranded.

The power of humans giving credence to the printed word of other humans in acts and notices is indeed mightier than the sword. The power of human beings to take any opportunity to screw over other human beings for their own personal gain knows no bounds save for the other human being saying NO and precious few do that.
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@jd755, while I do agree with many things you say, I think the real reason for the 50-70 year technological stagnation I mentioned above, lies not in the stagnation itself (I don't think there was any) but in a certain event that forced people to use inferior technologies, sometimes supplemented by a more advanced tech. I think the below two photographs somewhat illustrate what I'm trying to convey here.
  • I do understand that you think that technologies co-existed, and I tend to agree with that. But not to such a degree.
  • Co-existence between 1830 and 1905-ish would have been visible in the photographs. That clearly is not the case.

Hi, please excuse any format/protocol mistakes as this is my first time posting on the site.

I've found some potentially useful information to contribute regarding the history of the Seattle Public Library. As I'm unsure of how to correctly format a response, I'm including the article link so that interested parties might be able to gauge its usefulness.

It details who owned (and massively profited from the sale of) the land parcel for $100 000; what was on the parcel of land prior to the library; details about the building plans and construction, including the use of "cladding" and bricks; and difficulties and delays encountered, including damage caused when the library cracked and sank due to tunneling (the compensation claim for repairs and to finish construction of the building just happened to also be $100 000). There's also information regarding the Basement, interiors, and stages of expansion.

Of the Architect Peter Joseph Weber, it seems he arrived in Chicago from Argentina in spring 1891, and "joined the team that was planning the World's Columbian Exposition, working as an assistant to New York architect Charles B. Atwood. When that work was complete, Weber was hired by that exposition's chief architect, Daniel Burnham (1846-1912), and contributed to many of Burnham's well-known buildings." Weber allegedly entered numerous competitions and was "a runner up in the competition to design the Washington state capitol building in Olympia."

It also includes some interesting information about "mud" as there were difficulties for patrons being unable to gain entry to the newly opened library due to inaccessibility and "accumulation of mud" :

"Mud Interferes With New Public Library," (The Seattle Times headline, December 21, 1906, p. 16): "Seattle's new public library is to all intents and purposes inaccessible. Unpaved streets, lack of sidewalks, and the accompanying accumulation of mud are serving to seriously embarrass library patrons... When one leaves the car it is to become lost in a veritable wilderness of mud."

It also includes images and names of involved parties, construction companies, etc. There's also the potential for further research as the article includes all of its sources.

Apologies again for any incorrect posting protocol, but I hope that others might be able to glean some useful information from the article.
First of all, jd is amazing, as always. Just had to address this. Let's pull up the 1905 picture again:

I think the time frame to determine mud flooding is getting smaller. Now between 1900 and 1905. I was researching some silverplate antiques and was lead to a archived 1900 magazine that sported a NEW manufacturing jewelry Building for "S. O. Bigney in Attleboro, Mass."
So I checked to see if I could find out what it looks like now. I could not see a current pic; however, I came across a 1909 Dated Postcard of a sunken S.O. Bigney Building that matches the original windows - but a tad shorter, and a newly remodeled staircase on the second floor (sunken windows on the bottom one)s. (It took it looks like 2 years for it to be created originally).
The archived magazine is a joy to flip through - I am sure I can find other buildings as well in that time frame to compare.

Screenshot_2021-05-31 Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review, 1899-1900, Vol 40 Free Downlo...jpg Screenshot_2021-05-31 s-l640 jpg (JPEG Image, 640 × 424 pixels).jpg
When I started down this rabbit hole about buildings possibly being built by prior civilization, I started to compare population sizes to the time of certain buildings being constructed. Then I started reading about the architect. And my mind was blown. I came across the St Mary's church in Fall River MA. The architect was Patrick Keely, had zero building experience, no schooling. Came to the USA at around age 21, and if he worked till 70 yrs old. He built about 2 churches a year for almost 50yrs. NO WAY IMO. This an insane amount of work. Anyone else find this odd?
This is also the same builder who designed the Holy Trinity Church in Boston. I hope one of you guys dig into this.
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