If Seattle’s streets could talk, they’re likely to tell you the stories depicted in Clayton Kauzlaric’s photos.
Kauzlaric uses Photoshop to juxtapose archival photos with present-day images of the same location.
Take, for instance, the stretch of Alaskan Way that houses the ferry terminal on Seattle’s waterfront. These days, it’s an unremarkable place where a McDonald’s sign greets passersby. But it has quite a history — it’s also the same place Japanese residents were made to board trains headed to internment camps back in 1942.
To help transport contemporaries to that historic point in time, Kauzlaric aligned the current landscape with an archival image of the internees’ somber march.
“The image of the internees crossing Alaskan Way is hard to believe,” Kauzlaric said. “Can you imagine any of us leaving our homes with a day’s notice?”
Since he began the “Then & Again” project a year ago, Kauzlaric has completed some 30 images so far. One depicts the city’s Depression-era Hooverville, which housed some 1,000 residents at its peak, on the Seattle waterfront, just across the Alaskan Way viaduct from CenturyLink.
“The fact it’s gigantic and that it lingered for a decade is hard to imagine today,” Kauzlaric said.
Another image shows the creation of the Denny Regrade, which involved flattening Denny Hill by sluicing it into the water in 1897. Others illustrate the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1889, which started with a cabinetmaker’s boiling pot of glue and destroyed 25 city blocks of what would later become Pioneer Square.
Then there are the snapshots of lighter moments. One captures Luna Park, the “Coney Island of the West” in West Seattle that closed in 1913 due to concerns over decency, leaving behind only pilings in Elliott Bay that surface at low tide. Others show the Golden Potlatch celebrations, which included parades, concerts and demonstrations by “automobilists.”
“Where we’re walking, these other things were happening,” Kauzlaric said. “There’s this whole other underlying story that’s really interesting.”
Retelling the city’s history through photos gives Kauzlaric a lot of enjoyment. But he’s quick to add that neither the technique nor the idea is wholly original. Many others already subscribe to the cross-time editing method, says Kauzlaric, and Seattle Times columnist Paul Dorpat spent decades highlighting the stark differences between the city’s past and present.
Still, each of Kauzlaric’s images offers a quick and relatable history lesson like few others.
“It just creates some immediate context. It’s some portable form of history, I think,” he said.
And he’s found the images prove especially of service to the city’s numerous transplants, some of whom are his co-workers.
“They say they really enjoy being able to learn more about this place they’ve moved to,” Kauzlaric said. “I was at least made to go through Washington state history class in junior high. This gives them a chance to understand the area better.”
Kauzlaric plans to continue creating cross-time photos of the Puget Sound area including Bremerton, his hometown. Among his ideas for future work: the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. You can find all of his images on his website.