Paul Dorpat publishes first Now & Then column on January 17, 1982.

  • By Priscilla Long
  • Posted 6/04/2001
  • Essay 3333
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On January 17, 1982, Seattle historian and photographer Paul Dorpat (b. 1938) publishes his first "Now & Then" column in The Seattle Times: Pacific Magazine. The column compares two photographs, "repeating" a view of downtown Seattle taken in 1919 at Pike Street and 4th Avenue with a view of the identically located but very different Pike Street and 4th Avenue taken in 1981. Dorpat's Now & Then column will become a Seattle institution as well known and loved as the Smith Tower or Ivar Haglund's Acres of Clams restaurants.

Each week for more than a thousand weeks (still running as of 2002) Dorpat compares Now with Then photographs of Seattle -- her streets, lakes, docks, buildings, bridges, hills, regrades, visitations, occasions. The photographs are accompanied by a genial and detailed reflection on their mutual but mutated subject.

On the occasion of his 1,000th column, Dorpat reflects on not two but three photographs: the first "Then" photo of Pike Street and 4th Avenue taken in 1919, his then "Now" photo taken in 1981, and a new "Now" photo taken in 2001. He writes:

"It is gratifying but not particularly draining to type out '1,000.' For a reporter with a daily beat, 1,000 articles may be delivered in a frantic four or five years. But for this weekly columnist my 1,000th article, and the 999 before it for that matter, have been approached at a more leisurely pace. It has taken about seven months short of two decades to create a thousand 'Now and Thens.' Now thicker and grayer, I am moving at a more leisurely pace too. ...

"...[A] pleasure of this work has been my association with heritage groups and other historians. When I began my study of regional history in the early 1970s, the people who gave their full time to the subject could be counted on the right hand of a careless sawyer -- about 2. Now we are legion. ..." ("Batting a Thousand").

Paul Dorpat is the principal historian of this Website ( and the author of several books and a video (Seattle Chronicle) on Seattle history.


Paul Dorpat, "Batting a Thousand," The Seattle Times: Pacific Northwest Magazine, June 3, 2001 (; Paul Dorpat, Seattle: Now & Then Vols. 1, 2, and 3 (Seattle, Tartu Publications, 1984, 1989, 1997).

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