Lake Union Improvement Company photograph album, 1891

Overview of the Collection

Lake Union Improvement Company (Seattle, Wash.)
Lake Union Improvement Company photograph album
1891 (inclusive)
1 album with 25 photographic prints and other materials (1 box) ; sizes vary
Collection Number
Photograph album comprising a historical photographic record of early Seattle and its expansion northwards along the shores of Lake Union
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

Selections can be viewed on the Libraries Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials Curator is required to view original photographs. Contact Special Collections for further information.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Lake Union Improvement Company was formed by the L.H. Griffith Realty and Banking Company; its purpose was to acquire and develop land between downtown Seattle and Lake Union along what is now known as Westlake Avenue.

Other Descriptive InformationReturn to Top

Frank La Roche (1853-1934) was born in Philadelphia, where he learned the trade of photography. He arrived in Seattle in July 1889 and established a studio that, in addition to portraits, specialized in scenic and industrial views of western Washington state and southeastern Alaska. He photographed scenes in the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush, circa 1897-1899, and made numerous views of Seattle streets and buildings, ships, logging activities, and American Indians. He made many trips to Alaska, and also traveled in California and along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, taking scenic views which he produced for sale to travelers. About 1914, he moved his studio to the town of Sedro-Woolley, north of Seattle. Frank La Roche retired about 1928, and died in Sedro-Woolley on April 15, 1934.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of an album which was used as a sales tool to woo potential investors. The album cover reads "The L.H. Griffith Realty & Banking Co., Seattle, Washington" and the title page reads "Prospectus of the Lake Union Improvement Company Under the Management of Mr. L.H. Griffith, Seattle, Washington." The name Luther Henry is inscribed on the inside cover of the album and may indicate that the album belonged to Luther H. Griffith.

The album contains 26 black and white photographs made by Frank La Roche, which depict early Seattle views and buildings, including views of the Elliott Bay waterfront, Lake Union, Lake Washington, downtown Seattle street scenes, and street railway construction of the Seattle Electric Railway and Power Company, in which Griffith also held an interest. A photoengraving of the Lake Union Improvement Company manager L.H. Griffith also appears. In addition to the images, a letter explaining the history of the company, a blank certificate share form, and a Seattle Press-Timesarticle discussing the Lake Washington Ship Canal are included in the album.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View the digital version of the collection

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Donor: Professor R. Joseph Monsen, 1977.

Processing Note

Processed by Shannon B. Lynch, 2005; Processing completed in 2005.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Container(s) Description Dates
Page item
1 1 Title page: "Prospectus of the Lake Union Improvement Company" circa 1891
2 [Blank page] circa 1891
3 3 Mt. Rainier circa 1891
4-5 4 Seattle waterfront
Panoramic view; Oregon Improvement Co. buildings, steamer Walla Walla, and sternwheeler S.S. T.J. Potterappear in photograph.
June 6, 1891
6 6 L.H. Griffith
: Photoengraving
E.G. Williams and Bro (engravers)
circa 1891
7 7 Letter
Paper insert. Letter provides a short history of the Lake Union Improvement Company "together with reasons why such an investment will prove very profitable to all interested."
8 [Blank page]
9 9a Pike Street, looking east from near 3rd Avenue circa 1891
9 9b Lake Union, looking north from near 5th Avenue and Stewart Street
Shows Westlake Avenue and the Norwegian-Danish Baptist Church at 6th Avenue and Virginia Street
circa 1891
10 10 Tracks and streetcar of the Seattle Electric Railway and Power Company, southwest end of Lake Union circa 1891
11 11 Blank certificate share form for the Lake Union Improvement Company 1891
12 12 [Blank page]
13 13 Looking north along the tracks of the Seattle Electric Railway and Power Company, west end of Lake Union circa 1891
14-15 14 Seattle map
Koch, Augustus (artist)
Page 14 shows Lake Union and vicinity; page 15 shows waterfront between Jackson Street and Virginia Street
circa 1891
16 16 View of Leschi Park at the foot of Yesler Way, looking west toward Lake Washington 1891
17-18 17 Newspaper article from the Seattle Press-Timesregarding the proposed Lake Washington ship canal June 16, 1891
19 19 Lake Washington shoreline circa 1891
20 20 King Street coal wharves of the Oregon Improvement Company
Sailing vessels at dock
21 21 Steamboats at the waterfront, foot of Main Street
SteamboatNorth Pacificat Oregon Improvement Company and Union Pacific Dock.
22 22 First Avenue, looking north from James Street
Pioneer Building appears at right. The streets were decorated in honor of President Benjamin Harrison's visit to the city on May 6, 1891.
23 23 James Street and Yesler Way, looking north from Pioneer Square
Welcome arch and decorations in honor of President Benjamin Harrison's visit to Seattle on May 6, 1891. Shows Collins Building bounded by Yesler Way, James Street and Second Avenue at center and Pioneer Building to left.
24 24 Looking south on First Avenue from near Columbia Street toward Pioneer Square
Streets decorated in honor of presidential visit, May 6, 1891.
May 1891
25 25 Downtown Seattle, looking south from the Denny Hotel
Denny Hotel was located between Second Avenue and Fourth Avenue, Stewart Street and Virginia Street; First Methodist Protestant Church (Third Ave, southeast corner of Pine Street) appears at left.
26 26a Looking north toward the Denny Hotel on Third Avenue from near Union Street
Burke Block at the northwest corner of Third Avenue and Union Street at left.
26 26b Seattle buildings and lake with Olympic Mountains in distance
Puget Sound Dressed Beef and Packing Co., Knapp Burrell and Company buildings appear.
circa 1891
27 27a Madison Street Park
Bathing pavilions and boathouse.
27 27b Lake Washington and Madison Street Park circa 1891
28 28a Lake Union from Denny Hill, looking north from Fifth Avenue and Stewart Street circa 1891
28 28b Men with fir log on railway cars
Caption on image: "Fir log for World's Fair Exhibit, 112 ft. long, 51 inches diam'r. Wt. 97,000 lbs."
circa 1891
29 29 Composite photograph of public schools in Seattle
Schools pictured: Denny, South Seattle, Olympic, T.T. Minor, Central, Mercer, Columbia, Offices of the Board of Education, and Rainier.
circa 1891
30 30 Power house and car barn of the Seattle Electric Railway and Power Company
Men posed by streetcar barn of Seattle Electric Railway and Power Company at 5th Avenue, northeast corner of Pine Street
circa 1891
31 31 Bank interior circa 1891
32 32 Composite photograph of Washington views
Pictured are the Seattle waterfront, Seattle from the Hotel Denny, the Olympic Mountains, Snoqualmie Falls, and Mt. Rainier.
circa 1891

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Buildings--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Central business districts--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • City planning--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Lakes--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Ships--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)
  • Waterfronts--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs

Personal Names

  • Griffith, Luther H.--Photographs

Corporate Names

  • Lake Union Improvement Company (Seattle, Wash.)

Geographical Names

  • Olympic Mountains (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Rainier, Mount (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Seattle (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Union, Lake (Wash.)--Photographs

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • La Roche, Frank, 1853-1934 (photographer)
    Corporate Names
    • L.H. Griffith Realty and Banking Company (creator)