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Diablo Dam incline railway climbing Sourdough Mountain, 1930. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 2306.
Children waving to ferry, 1950. Courtesy Museum of History and Industry.
Loggers in the Northwest woods. Courtesy Washington State Digital Archives.

This Week Then


News Then, History Now

Cities Begin

On December 2, 1869, Seattle finally became a city after an earlier misstep. Washington communities that got their start this time of year also include Union Gap (originally named Yakima City) on December 1, 1883, Ilwaco on December 2, 1890, and Lacey, which turns 50 on December 5.

Riding on In

On December 3, 1887, the first Northern Pacific trains crossed the Columbia River between Pasco and Kennewick, making possible a direct run to Tacoma via Stampede Pass. Later the Burlington Northern bought the line through the pass, but closed it down in 1983. The railroad reopened the line 20 years ago this week, on December 5, 1996.

Opening Night

After the Washington Hotel was torn down in 1906 and the Lincoln Hotel went up in flames in 1920, Seattle set its sights on a new world-class accommodation. Fundraising began during the city's celebration of the silver anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush, and on December 6, 1924, the Olympic Hotel opened in grand style on the site of the old Territorial University.

Tippler's Delight

December 5, 1933, marked the end of Prohibition, which had banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. Enacted by Washington voters in 1914, the experiment in social engineering took effect as 1916 began and soon led to new instances of crime and corruption.

Heads or Tails

On December 1, 1975, the small city of Clyde Hill received national attention when its mayoral election was decided by chance. A few weeks earlier, the vote ended in a 576-576 tie, and pursuant to Washington law and custom, the winner was decided by the flip of a coin. In the end, Miles Nelson defeated LiberinoTufarolo when the coin came up heads.

Art Travails

Twenty-five years ago this week, on December 5, 1991, the Seattle Art Museum moved to its present downtown location after spending nearly 60 years at its Art Deco home in Volunteer Park, later rededicated as the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Hammering Man wasn't able to attend the opening, having suffered a stumble a few months earlier.

Today in
Washington History

New Essays This Week

Image of the Week

Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum was established on December 6, 1934.

Quote of the Week

Yet we must recognize that the internment of Japanese Americans was just that: a mistake.

--Ronald Reagan, upon signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

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