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July 28, 2016 – August 3, 2016

Seafair is Terrific

This week Seattle kicks off the final week of Seafair celebrations with the torchlight parade on Saturday, July 30, and festivities end a week later with Seafair Weekend. This longstanding summertime festival, which began in 1950, can trace its roots to the city's short-lived Golden Potlatch celebration, which got off to a good start in 1911 but descended into chaos two years later. The onset of World War I brought an end to Potlatch, and although it was revived in the 1930s another war soon doused its flames.

After World War II ended, civic leaders gathered to create a new summertime festival, which became Seafair. Early on, the festival created traditions that last to this day, including the torchlight parade, the coronation of Seafair royalty, fleet week, the wacky antics of Seafair Clowns and Pirates, and, most notably, hydroplane racing. For more than 65 years, racing enthusiasts have seen quite a few exciting events, not only on water but also in the air.

There is one part of Seafairs past that lives on only in memories -- the Aqua Theater on Green Lake, home to the aquatic spectacle known as the Aqua Follies. The Follies, which featured a "swimusical review" performed by the Aquadears and comical trick-high-dive acts by the Aquadivers, lasted until 1964, after which the theater went into disrepair. In 1969 Led Zeppelin rocked the venue a little too hard and it was demolished soon after.

Algona and Pacific

This week marks the birthdays of two neighboring towns in south King County that incorporated nearly half a century apart. On August 2, 1909, the City of Pacific, which straddles the King-Pierce county line, incorporated, a few years after the Seattle-Tacoma Interurban Railway brought growth and development to the White River Valley area.

Algona, located north of Pacific, was also platted in the early 1900s, but took a bit longer to achieve city status. Its residents waited until 1955 to incorporate, and Algona celebrates its anniversary on August 1, the day before Pacific marks its own beginning. And besides sharing a border -- and almost a birthday -- the two communities also share an interest in reading. In 1994, the Algona-Pacific Library opened, combining the Algona and Pacific libraries into one library in the King County Library System.

News Then, History Now

Hospital Sites: On August 2, 1878, the Sisters of Providence opened Seattle's first hospital on the present site of the William Kenzo Nakamura Federal Courthouse. One year later, on August 3, 1879, the cornerstone was laid for St. Mary's Hospital in Walla Walla, adjacent to St. Vincent's Academy, established by the Sisters of Providence in 1864.

Dizzying Heights: On July 28, 1896, Olof Bull carried his violin to the summit of Mount Rainier and played several solo songs -- including "Nearer, My God, to Thee." Bull had attempted his one-man concert three years earlier, but was thwarted by a series of misfortunes. Thirteen years later, on July 30, 1909, the summit had other visitors of note, when a group of suffragists joined the Mountaineers Club to plant a "Votes for Women" banner atop the mountain.

Over the Wire: On July 31, 1899, hydroelectric generators began producing energy within the bowels of Snoqualmie Falls. They are still in operation today. This week also marks the August 3, 1934, anniversary of FDR's first visit to Grand Coulee Dam. Three years later, Roosevelt signed the measure that created the Bonneville Power Administration, which continues to deliver power from Grand Coulee and 30 other dams.

Trials by Fire: On August 2, 1909, a fire destroyed the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett. A new courthouse rose from the ashes, and was rededicated 100 years later. On July 30, 1914, flash fire destroyed Seattle's Grand Trunk Pacific dock. And on July 30, 1968, the Lake Hills Roller Rink, a beloved teen mecca in Bellevue, was badly damaged by fire, but survived long enough to become an incubator for local heavy-metal bands in the 1970s and 1980s.

Longacres: On August 3, 1933, Longacres racetrack opened in Renton. The sports venue "reined" supreme for almost 60 years, most notably under the direction of the late Morris Alhadeff. In 1977 the oval was visited by Seattle Slew, fresh off his Triple Crown win. The three-year-old colt didn't race there, but starred in two separate "Golden Gallop" laps around the track. Longacres closed 15 years later, but is still fondly remembered by racing fans throughout the region.

Strike Breakers: On July 31, 1934, the long and bitter West Coast Waterfront Strike of 1934 ended, and the arbitrated settlement that followed was a major victory for International Longshoremen's Association leader Harry Bridges against Seattle-based Teamster boss Dave Beck. Beck rebounded and in 1937 created the Western Conference of Teamsters, which he controlled for 20 years until his tax troubles shook up union leadership.

Quote of the Week

I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days -- three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.

                                    --John Keats

Image of the Week

The Deception Pass Bridge was dedicated on July 31, 1935.

Today in Washington History      RSS Feed

Tacoma's Olof Bull plays his fiddle on the summit of Mount Rainier on July 28, 1896.

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle celebrates Elks Day, Port Townsend Day, W.C.T.U. Day, and Baker City Day on July 28, 1909.

Alfred J. Anderson shoots and kills Whatcom County Sheriff's Deputy James F. Chatfield near Blaine on July 28, 1921.

Boeing Flying Fortress B-17 prototype takes her maiden flight on July 28, 1935.

Freeholders propose new Home Rule charter for King County on July 28, 1952.

Century 21 Exposition debuts Saturday night dances on July 28, 1962.

Boeing reveals on July 28, 1969, that in 1969 the firm has reduced its workforce by 12,000 employees.

Seattle is reported highest per capita nationwide in bombings on July 28, 1970.

Norm Rice unexpectedly enters race for Seattle Mayor on last day of filing, July 28, 1989.

Two hydroplane racing fans discover the skull of Kennewick Man on the bank of the Columbia River on July 28, 1996.

New Essays This Week       RSS Feed

Liberty Orchards Company of Cashmere begins marketing Aplets around February 23, 1921.

Camp Lewis Library (Liberty Library) opens on November 28, 1917.

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