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.
Episode 3 Is Coming Soon!
HistoryLink has created a podcast – Square One, a companion piece to the self-guided walking tour of Pioneer Square's historic LGBTQ+ community on HistoryLink.Tours. New episodes drop on Fridays.
Join host Rosette Royale as he explores the LGBTQ+ history of Pioneer Square, and hear from people who lived this history firsthand and those who want to preserve it.
Find the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your favorite podcast service. A video version is available on HistoryLink's Vimeo channel.
Our thanks to Historic South Downtown for their generous support of the tour and podcast.
This Week Then
Spokane celebrates two notable anniversaries this week, the first of which is its incorporation on November 29, 1881, as Spokane Falls. Ten years later, as the city was rebuilding after the disastrous Spokane fire, a new charter was adopted that shortened the name to Spokane. But the falls are an important part of this week’s second anniversary.
On November 23, 1911, the third Monroe Street Bridge opened over the cascade. The massive concrete structure with its graceful arches soon became one of the city's most cherished landmarks. Visitors to Spokane often sent postcards of the span – such as the one above – to friends and family across the nation. The bridge’s beauty was further enhanced by ornamentation provided by the firm of Kirtland Cutter and Carl Malmgren, which also designed the power station used to harness energy from the waterfalls below.
The concrete span lasted much longer than its two predecessors. The first Monroe Street Bridge – a wooden structure – was built in 1889 but burned down the following year. Its replacement – built of steel – opened in 1892. Although this new bridge was much sturdier, it vibrated badly. The National Good Roads Association declared it unsafe in 1905, and even Ringling Brothers Circus elephants were said to have balked at crossing it.
The newer concrete bridge served the public for decades, and in 1976 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But by the 1990s, the structure had deteriorated so badly that it was beyond repair. Rather than build a bridge of a new design, Spokane citizens opted instead to replace the old structure with an almost exact replica. Beginning in 2003, local residents watched in fascination as the old bridge was dismantled and a duplicate rose in its place. The reconstructed Monroe Street Bridge opened in 2005 and is expected to last for a long time to come.
Before sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner on November 25, 1948, hundreds of people around Puget Sound watched the region's first wide-audience television broadcast – a high school football match between West Seattle and Wenatchee on KRSC-TV. The image was grainy and flickered in and out, but it was quite the marvel to sit and enjoy a football game in the comfort of one's own home. Those who had yet to buy a TV set drove down to their local appliance store to view the televised game through the front window. Crowds of people huddled out in the rain to watch, well, crowds of other people huddled out in the rain.
Before the dawn of the "television age," many people spent their Thanksgiving holiday taking in a stage show or a movie. This might explain why some theaters chose this time of year for their grand openings, including Squire's Opera House in Seattle on November 24, 1879, the Seeley Theatre in Pomeroy on November 24, 1913, and Port Angeles's Mack Theatre on November 24, 1922.
It is not surprising that one of the other programs shown in the pioneering 1948 broadcast was a film of a Broadway play. A new medium was supplanting an old. One person to recognize this was Dorothy Stimson Bullitt, who had purchased a radio station in 1947. Two years later, she purchased KRSC-TV for $300,000 (the first sale of a television station in the United States) and renamed it. We know it today as KING-TV.