Libraries

EB_White_and_his_dog_Minnie

E.B. White in Maine with his dog, Minnie

 

I’m featuring E.B. White again this week. Known to 20th century readers of the New Yorker magazine, he is best known for his three beloved, classic children’s books: Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He also co-authored  a classic book for writers, The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White.

In case you need some peace and quiet in the midst of your summer, here is another of White’s quotes:

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company in sad times and happy times, for books are people —people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”

The Depression and 1920s Real Estate

One Summer by Bill Bryson, featured in the January 31, 2017 Delancy Place selection, begins, “The 1920s saw an unprecedented real estate boom — far more buildings than needed and almost all financed with bank debt — which led to the Crash of 1929 and the massive bank failures and economic contraction of the Great Depression. In the 1920s America  became a high-rise nation. By 1927 the country boasted some five thousand tall buildings — most of the world’s stock.”

As the westward movement grew, Seattle was no exception. My father, Hans Pederson, had reached the city from Denmark in 1886 when it was still largely a frontier town with an economy based on timber, fishing, wholesale trade, and shipping. The Northern Pacific Railroad, a massive downtown fire, and the Klondike gold rush sparked a population influx that led to major city construction. In 1890, Seattle was the 70th largest city in the nation. By 1920, it was the 20th.

arctic_club_terra_cotta_walrus

Terra Cotta sculpture of a walrus used on the face of the Arctic Club building in Seattle. Hans Pederson, 1916 building contractor, courtesy Wendy Wiley  c2016  

 

In 1916, Pederson  built the Arctic Club, featured in the above photo, as a gathering place for alumni of the Klondike Gold Rush. Sixteen years later, one of the last buildings he constructed was the six-story King County Courthouse. After that,  no other contractor built a major building in downtown Seattle for twenty years.

A rags to riches and back to rags tale, like many another Depression era story.

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