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Meet the woman behind Seattle's iconic Elephant Car Wash sign from the 1950s

The pink Elephant Super Car Wash sign over Denny Way will be donated to the Museum of History and Industry. It was designed by Beatrice Haverfield in 1956.

SEATTLE — The pink elephant that has greeted drivers on Denny Way for 64 years will be removed now that the famous Elephant Super Car Wash is closing permanently.

Citing increasing crime, drug activity, homelessness, and the increasing cost to do business in Seattle, the car wash officially announced it would close following reports that demolition permits for the site were filed. 

The company said in a statement released Thursday that "we have determined that it is impossible for a small, minimum wage-based business such as ours to successfully operate within Seattle, even one that [has] been established since 1956."

"We thank the people of Seattle for embracing the Elephant Super Car Wash - it has truly been an honor being a part of Seattle’s history for over 60 years," the statement continues.

The pink Elephant Car Wash sign was designed by Seattle's Beatrice Haverfield in 1956, and from there she gave birth to imagery that has become part of Seattle's history.

She also designed the neon Ivar's sign on the waterfront, the original Cinerama sign, the now demolished Chubby & Tubby, as well ask Dick's Burgers. 

"She was kind of a unicorn in the sense that there weren't a lot of women doing what she did," said Historian Brad Holden. "Not only was she one of the only women making these signs in that era but her signs have become so iconic and such a big part of our metropolitan identity."

With so many icons now disappearing, Holden said he hopes Seattle will develop the "memory of an elephant" and never forget this beloved car wash.

"These are the signs that define who we are," said Holden. "These are the visual cues of what represents Seattle. So to see them falling by the wayside it's sad and I think it's eroding our identity."

Luckily, the pink Elephant Car Wash sign isn't going away. Instead, it is being donated to the Museum of History and Industry.

The first Elephant Car Wash on Fourth and Lander in SODO and the Bellevue location will continue to operate. 

In January, the Edmonds Historical Museum is scheduled to have an exhibit of Beatrice Haverfield's sketches as well as other vintage local signs.

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