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Tue, Jan 27, 2015




Updated Friday, January 4, 2013 at 12:14 PM

The rise of the Space Needle and KeyArena

By Paul Dorpat
Special to The Seattle Times

FROM HIS WINDOW in the comely Lower Queen Anne Wedgewood Court Apartments, Frank Owen Shaw watched the Seattle World's Fair, Century 21, take shape, especially its largest part: the Washington State Pavilion. With most of Seattle, Shaw also watched the Space Needle perform as a rising barometer of the fair's heated construction.

From 1957 to 1962, the lifelong bachelor lived in his 1931 apartment on the corner of First Avenue and Republican Street, kitty-corner from the old Warren Avenue School site chosen for building the pavilion — later named the Seattle Center Coliseum and now called KeyArena. During the more than two years it took to build the pavilion, Shaw, a Boeing quality-control expert, took photographs to mark its progress.

When he moved out in late March 1962, weeks before the fair opened, the last 2-by-2-inch slide Shaw took from his second-floor flat showed the nearly completed Coliseum topped by what a 6-year-old once described for me as "our splendid Space Needle." Shaw framed them together with his apartment window and meticulously captioned the slide, "Last shot from former Apt window, March 20, 1962, 5:30 p.m."

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NOW: On our September visit to Shaw's corner, we could not get into what was Frank's Apartment 203, so Jean extended his 10-foot pole and took this look kitty-corner at First Avenue North and Republican Street. The Coliseum (now called KeyArena) is hidden here behind the landscape and the Queen Anne post office.

THEN: Work on the Washington State Pavilion began early in 1960. For Frank Shaw it wasn't until the early summer of '61 that the Space Needle suddenly emerged from the pavilion's roofline and kept on ascending. From his apartment window, Shaw photographed this view of the superimposed landmarks on Sept. 16, 1961.


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