by Walter Carr
The birth of Elliott Bay Book Company contained many challenges, especially where to locate and what to name this imagined “complete personal bookstore.” Having found that most promising (and available) storefront at 109 South Main Street, “in the Heart of Pioneer Square,” the desire was to launch the store with a name appropriate to the newly inaugurated and flourishing historic district neighborhood. Honoring the role our waterfront (that Bay) played in Seattle’s beginning, the name at founding became: The Elliott Bay Book Company.
Having researched historic 19th century photographs of the city’s waterfront, Seattle artist Nola Ahola created a dockside image of a trimast ship, waterfront lumber mill and Alki Point all worked into a freehanded oval logo—our trademark! With this inspiration, Marten Hagglund, who operated the Architectural Art Glass studio in the Square, created the artistic stained glass logo window which has graced our entrance for four decades.
As a small group of us on ladders (including Marten) finished installing the window on a June evening in 1973, a visiting couple paused to admire the window’s beauty. “Just how old is a window like that?” one asked. We couldn’t resist, while glancing at our watches, in replying: “Oh, about 30 minutes old.” Not to abuse these admirers, we revealed the complete story of that glorious window, and introduced Hagglund.