Alki Point in West Seattle is often called “the birthplace of Seattle,” but many argue that the nickname should belong to Georgetown instead. A week before the first settlers arrived at Alki Point, Luther Collins and several other people claimed land in what is now Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. The year was 1851, and Georgetown had taken its first step to becoming the bustling cultural hub it is today.

Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad, 1877

walla walla railroad

Photo: Seattle Public Library

On May 1st, 1874, 300 Seattle residents started building the Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad at Steele’s Landing in Georgetown. It wasn’t long before Georgetown became a hotspot for revelers from Seattle — by 1908, it was known as “the cesspool of Seattle” and had as many as 24 saloons operating 24 hours a day.

Maple School, ca. 1907

maple school

Photo: Seattle Public Library

In 1865, a school was built in Georgetown on land donated by Samuel Maple, one of the area’s original settlers. The school was torn down and rebuilt multiple times.

Laying pipe on County Poor Farm, 1933

county poor farm

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr

The Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of the House of Providence opened the County Poor Farm on May 3rd, 1877. It was the first hospital in the area. After 14 months, the sisters moved to a different hospital in Seattle, and the County Poor Farm closed. It reopened in 1890, and in 1893 a new three-story hospital was completed in the area. The County Poor Farm continued to operate just upstream as a shelter for the destitute.

Georgetown Public Library in the Old Georgetown City Hall building, 1940

public library

Photo: Seattle Public Library

On March 29th, 1910, Georgetown voters chose to be annexed by Seattle. The vote came just nine months after the completion of the new Georgetown City Hall; it later became a police station, a fire station and a public library.

Boeing Plant 2, 1953

boeing plant

Photo: Seattle Public Library

In 1935, the Boeing Company opened Boeing Plant 2 on the west side of Boeing Field. By the end of World War II, 6,981 B-17 bombers had been produced there. At peak production, the facility operated three shifts seven days a week, and employed thousands of workers.

Malt, Rainier and Bottling Works, 1966

bottling works

Photo: Seattle Public Library

In 1883, John Clausen and Edward Sweeny built a brewery that 10 years later became the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company. The complex eventually covered five acres and became the world’s sixth-largest brewery. Germans and Belgians made up much of the workforce and surrounding community. Much further into the future, the brewery was bought and transformed into Rainier Beer. 

Wooden railroad overpass, 1966

railroad overpass

Photo: Seattle Public Library

Industrial development dominated Georgetown after World War II. Its library closed in 1948, and its movie theater closed in 1952. Then, when Interstate 5 was completed in 1962, most business activity in the area shut down entirely. Georgetown School, which opened in 1898, experienced a 91 percent turnover rate in a single school year and closed in 1970.

The Hamilton building, 1966

the hamilton

Photo: Seattle Public Library

Between 1900 and 1910, Georgetown’s population increased from 1,913 to about 7,000. As industry and businesses grew, immigrant families settled near its factories and other places of employment. The Hamilton building was one of many structures associated with Georgetown’s commercial boom.

Hat ‘n’ Boots, 2002

hat and boots

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr

The Hat ‘n’ Boots gas station was built in 1955 and was the main attraction at Georgetown’s Buford Seals Frontier Village Shopping Complex. Legend has it that Elvis pumped gas for his Cadillac at the Hat ‘n’ Boots while filming “It Happened at the World’s Fair” in Seattle in 1963.

Rainier Brewery, 2007

rainier brewing

Photo: Joe Mabel

After Interstate 5 was completed, motorists could see little of Georgetown except for the 12-foot-tall red “R” on Rainier Brewery. The “R” was replaced in 2000 by the great green “T” of Tully’s Coffee, and the brewery is now a coffee roasting plant. Georgetown itself has experienced a revival since the 1990s and today “has mastered bohemian blue-collar chic.” 

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