In the early 20th century, downtown Edmonds was a very different place.
Main Street commercial development between Fourth and Fifth avenues was already well underway. The , Edmonds' first commercial structure, completed in 1890, had already housed a succession of businesses, and the newly constructed were home to an array of commercial enterprises, including grocery and hardware stores, a bank and more.
There were confectionaries, general stores, even auto franchises and a gas station.
Further west, the Wharf District provided a very different set of goods and services. Stretching from the ferry landing east to just beyond present Sunset Avenue, catered to visitors and newcomers arriving by boat and comprised a variety of cafes, hotels, saloons, gambling houses and other diversions.
Nightlife could get pretty wild, and this led to various efforts on the part of city to .
In between these two there existed a one-block buffer zone along Main Street, bounded by Third and Second avenues. Containing several private homes, barns and undeveloped land, the area served as a kind of DMZ between the family and resident-oriented commercial businesses of upper Main Street and the more raucous Wharf District.
The first photo was taken from the southeast corner of Third and Main looking west, probably somewhere between 1918 and 1924. It shows the Robinson House and another private residence on the north side of Main Street, and what appears to be a storefront on the southwest corner.
The sign on the tree offers developing and printing services, a sign of the growing popularity of amateur photography (see Patch article "" for some amazing amateur photos of this event).
The two panorama shots date from the early 1940s. Both were taken from the old World War II era aircraft observation tower, built to give early warning of enemy air attacks (look for a future article on this interesting structure). The Robinson House is gone.
The area still serves to separate the retail-oriented commercial business core from the enterprises closer to the wharf, which are still evident in this photo.
After the war, the northwest corner of Third and Main became home to a succession of businesses, including Sater & Ridenour Heating Oil and the First Federal Savings Bank, later the Metropolitan Savings Bank and most recently Washington Federal.
The southwest corner housed the Edmonds Dry Cleaners, now Corry's Cleaners. The National Bank of Commerce occupied the southeast corner during the 1960s and '70s. It's now Bank of America.
Today, the block is best known as the home to the Edmonds Post Office. Other businesses include McGinness Allstate Insurance, Yen's Nails, the Edmonds Barber Shop and Mar-Vel Marble.
It's fast losing the feel of a transition zone and offers an increasingly seamless connection between the downtown business core and the restaurants, coffee shops and new multimodal transit center of the former Wharf District.