Remembering Riverside’s history: Plaza dedication

January 29, 2012 at 1:20 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

That Saturday gathering in northeastern West Seattle was on one level about a plaza –

… but it was really about the people. This corner of West Seattle, now towered over by the high bridge, is Riverside, for decades a home to fishing families, mostly Croatian immigrants, whose descendants have mostly moved on, but won’t let the history (as detailed in the plaque inscription) be forgotten:

They gathered Saturday for the dedication of Riverside Memorial Plaza; the word “memorial” took on an added poignancy, for one of the plaza’s tiles bears the name of Jennie Plenkovich:

That’s the maiden name of Jennie Jaramillo, laid to rest earlier this week at age 75. As noted in her published obituary, she was a founding member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, which overflowed with mourners for her memorial Mass just yesterday. Her uncle Frank Zuvela was a driving force behind the Riverside plaza project, and he was keynote speaker Saturday:

You can visit the Riverside Memorial Plaza at 17th SW/W. Marginal Place (map). Read more about it, and Riverside history, here, here, and see photos from Riverside days gone by, here.

8 Comments

  1. what a nice way to remind us that immigrants have always played a key role in the history of our community and our country, often starting at the bottom and doing jobs no one else wanted. As they become successful and move up the economic ladder, they make room for new immigrants from other countries. Glad there was such a good turnout.

    Comment by metrognome — 2:03 am January 29, 2012 #

  2. This was a wonderful event! Having grown up in this neighborhood, it was an opportunity to see people that I haven’t seen for 40 years! Anyone who has an opportunity should go take a look. The metal work for the memorial is beautiful, there is a bench to sit on and reflect. Most of the Riverside and West Marginal community were immigrants or second or third generation. I remember there were a group of Greek fishermen who lived on houseboats by Seaboard Lumber. Another neighbor had fled the Russian Revolution via China.

    We actually talked about another get together, like a picnic, possibly where the park is on West Marginal. All in all, a wonderful day of memories for me!

    Comment by Margie — 6:35 am January 29, 2012 #

  3. I was surprised to hear that the majority were Croatians that lived in this small community.. I always thought it was an odd little neighborhood right there under the bridge and wondered of it’s history and now I know. Very interesting. Thanks! And thanks to all the hard working imigrants who struggled and made it a better place for all of us!

    Comment by backatya — 7:35 am January 29, 2012 #

  4. Well said, metrognome.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 10:16 am January 29, 2012 #

  5. Like backatya I’ve ridden my bike past here and wondered about the little collection of homes and businesses. It is interesting that our port also had a Croatian neighborhood…like San Pedro in L.A. Thanks to WSB for letting us know.

    Comment by JayDee — 12:24 pm January 29, 2012 #

  6. Looks like first class craftsmanship went into this project. Well done!

    Comment by jiggers — 1:01 pm January 29, 2012 #

  7. Riverside reunion…. many showed up, people I haven’t seen in over 35 years. Many have passed away that lived in the area that I remember growing up in the 60′s and 70′s… but I could still see their faces in their kids and grandkids!! It was a great time reliving old memories and remembering and era that was a very important time in our lives. I am a 4th generation family member still living in the neighborhood…was not a Slavolian… but of German/Italian descendants. My Great grandfather bought 2 houses on the hillside in the 1900′s… many changes over the past 50 years!

    Comment by Cheryl — 2:46 pm January 30, 2012 #

  8. I want to thank all the people who were able to make it to the Riverside Memorial dedication. While constructing the plaza with my brother I did not realize the effect it would have on so many past inhabitants of the area and also of thier children and grandchildren. It was a work of love building it with my brother, including all the memories that flooded back while we were working and talking. I hope it continues to be a place where relatives can come visit for many years to come. A special thanks to Charlie (TUNA) Fleming who built the bench and the art work of the fishing boats.

    Ron Vandenberg

    Comment by ron vandenberg — 9:41 am February 1, 2012 #

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