Published on [Permalink]
Reading time: 2 minutes
Posted in:

One of my favorite Seattle icons could be in danger

Megan Burbank, writing for The Seattle Times:

A demolition permit has been filed for the iconic Elephant Car Wash, which has operated at the corner of Battery Street and Denny Way since 1956. City records show that Seattle property management company Clise Properties applied for the permit on Oct. 4, a development first reported by the Daily Journal of Commerce.

However, the salvage assessment filed with the permit application states that the area to be demolished covers no more than 750 square feet of the property. According to the site plan filed with the demolition application, the footprint of the existing car wash is 4,701 square feet.

It is not clear whether the car wash’s iconic rotating sign will be affected by the demolition. Designed by Seattle’s “Queen of Neon,” Beatrice Haverfield, the pink elephant sign was installed in 1956, and is composed of bent neon with 380 blinking lights. Over the years, the sign has become one of Seattle’s most popular landmarks, and has even appeared in commercials and TV shows about the city.

I love this damn sign. It’s big, bright, and just freaking happy. It adds to the little quirks about Seattle that I love. Back in 2017, I purposely got a hotel just up the street from the Denny Triangle, where the sign sits and got lucky enough to have a window view of the thing. Here’s to hoping it’s preserved.

UPDATE: It looks like the sign will be donated to the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in Seattle’s South Lake Union district. More from the Seattle Times:

The pink elephant sign — designed by Seattle’s “Queen of Neon,” Beatrice Haverfield — will be donated to the Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union, which boasts an already-impressive collection of neon signage from other defunct and departed Seattle businesses, including the original Rainier Brewery ‘R,’ the 26-foot-tall Washington Natural Gas blue flame and many more.

In the post-World War II era when neon began adorning Seattle businesses, it “represented sophistication, a little bit of glamor,” said MOHAI director Leonard Garfield. “Particularly after the war, Seattle was beginning to fill the role of a city on the world stage. The Elephant Car Wash sign is part of that tradition — but with an element of whimsy.”

Reply by email