Please allow me to beat this one to death.

Yes.  President Harding’s last photos in my grandmother’s album.

OMG.  Leave it alone!


I found a copy of the actual event flyer from July 1923.

Now we can see an overview.  See what the Bell Street Pier looked like when President Harding rode in his motorcade.

You can make out train tracks.  Look at the far left – you can see the window locations on the building and…a pole.  You can also see blackness under what appears to be a short bridge and a railing that abruptly ends.  Important stuff.

The “PORT OF SEATTLE” with “BELL STREET PIER” signage can be signage can be seen at the far left.

Upon studying “Grandma’s” photos further and in comparison to the “press” photo (below), I feel BOTH were taken within seconds of each other – but from opposite side of the motorcade.  Please note my scribbles:

“Grandma’s” on top, “press” below.

And note the following obervations:

  1. Pole – also painted white at the bottom;
  2. The prominent roof of a car (circled) parked along the pier and next to the pole;
  3. The group of four men marked with the proverbial “X marks the spot(s)”;
  4. The wooden railing in both of Grandma Kono’s photos; and,
  5. The US Marine Corps on one side of the motorcade, the US Navy on the other.

Amazing.  These are two rare images taken from different sides of President Harding and within seconds of each other.


With the flyer image, we now know train tracks ran along the pier.  Trains are also visible in the press photo.  There are MEN atop the rail cars.

Due to the angle, it is believed the photos in Grandma Kono’s album were taken from atop the rail cars.  Off to the left just outside the field of view in the picture (just like the grassy knoll in the famous Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination).

Ergo, I cannot fathom Grandma Kono climbing atop a rail car…let alone in a dress as was customary at that time for ladies.

Or would she?  Nah.

So…I don’t believe she herself took the pictures.



Perhaps it was Grandpa Hisakichi!

OK.  Stop.

19 thoughts on “Dadgummit”

  1. The real pity is that the press photo was not taken at an every so slight angle to the left…and the photographer of the pics in your family album would have been in the shot!

    1. Indeed, yes!

      Bloggers! This commenter is a photo analysis genius! He was able to spot in “grandma’s” photo the news photographer who took the opposing shot…in the shadows! Thank you, Dr, Dirk!

      You can see his appended notes by placing your mouse over the image…

      Private Photos of President Harding

  2. Even if she didn’t take the photos it doesn’t mean she wasn’t there! Don’t investigate yourself out of a great family story! Sometimes ignorance of the facts works to your advantage! 🙂

  3. After scrolling up and down at least thirty times to compare pictures, I have come to the conclusion that of course your family took that picture! It’s all in the angle, and the lighting, and …..and …..and …..stuff! Ok !! so I just believe it to be so! Still very awesome! 🙂

  4. Some nice investigative work, Mustang. :/ Reminds me of some I used to do.

    Here’s a thought: IF the railroad is on an elevated bed (as they often are) then ol’ Gram could’ve been on the tram, busily snapping away – out of the window, which would have been open (yielding the clear quality we see).

    Just a thought, mind you. However, I am thinking if you can find no other copy – and this was in HER album / collection – AND she was a photographer (of any kind) – then these could be hers, and would be of historic value.

    Regardless, if they ARE the only photos (and there are no copies) then they are rare indeed. Well worth noting and preserving, using modern archival techniques. Plus – who knows?

    Again: some excellent sleuthing, using photos for comparison of angle and possibilities.

  5. Yeah as with a couple of people above, I have been flicking back and forth between the two photos comparing them and the vantage points. Here’s my two penn’orth; I reckon both photos were taken with the same camera because of the faults on the photographic film possibly caused by a light leak in the camera – see the whiter bits in the corners and down the right hand edge of the frame. It appears similar in both prints. People would pay good money for an app that does that now!

    1. As of today, Ian, I am of the belief these were processed across the hallway from my father’s room at the Hotel Fujii. The room was occupied by a man he remembers as “Mr. Suwaji”.

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