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February 11, 2016 – February 17, 2016

Presidents in Residence

This week celebrates Presidents Day with a look at the three U.S. presidents who briefly called Washington their home before making their way to the White House. We begin with Ulysses S. Grant, who in 1852 arrived at Columbia Barracks on the Columbia River in what is now Clark County. He served 15 months there as camp quartermaster and it was here in the Northwest that the future president grew out his beard, which would characterize his appearance for the remainder of his life.

In 1940, Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower reported for duty at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma. His wife Mamie preceded him to establish their home, in a building that still stands and is marked with a plaque. Their son John attended Stadium High School and the Eisenhowers had a very active social life. While stationed at Fort Lewis, Ike was promoted to colonel before he and his family left for Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in 1941. Following that, Eisenhower went to war where he rose to the rank of five-star general. In 1952, he was elected president and returned to Washington several times in that capacity.

President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a teenager when she moved to Seattle with her family in 1955, living in Columbia City, then Wedgwood, and finally on Mercer Island. After graduating from high school, Dunham enrolled in the University of Hawaii, where she met and married Barack Obama. Their son, Barack Hussein Obama, was born on August 4, 1961.

Shortly after his birth, baby Barack and his mother moved back to Seattle, where Stanley enrolled at the University of Washington. Mother and son lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood for less than a year, returning to Hawaii before the autumn of 1962. Although Obama's stay in Seattle was brief, it was the beginning of a journey from this Washington's Capitol Hill to the other one.

Residents of Precedence

On February 15, 1852, not long after landing at Alki Point, Seattle pioneers Arthur Denny, Carson Boren, and William Bell staked their first claims across Elliott Bay. This marked the beginning of development in downtown Seattle.

Exactly 100 years later, the Museum of History and Industry opened in commemoration of this event. In 2012, after spending six decades in Seattle's Montlake neighborhood, MOHAI moved into the former Naval Reserve Building at South Lake Union.

News Then, History Now

In the Flow: On February 12, 1914, a ceremony in Port Angeles celebrated the arrival of electricity from the Elwha River hydroelectric project. But progress came with a price: the loss of massive, multiple runs of salmon and steelhead. In 2011, after other energy sources powered the peninsula, another ceremony celebrated the start of demolition of the dam and within a few years hundreds of thousands of salmon were once again able to run free, from mountains to sea.

Wartime Woe: During the waning days of World War II, Japan attacked the Pacific Northwest with incendiary balloons. The first ones to reach Washington were found and neutralized on February 12, 1945, but in Oregon one such device later killed a Sunday School teacher and five of her students.

Yes and No: On February 13, 1968, King County voters approved Proposition 6, a Forward Thrust Parks and Recreation bond, which provided much needed funding for King County Parks. Voters also approved bonds for a new stadium and an aquarium, but opted against funding a regional rapid transit system, much to the dismay of present-day commuters.

Student Fights: On February 17, 1970, "The Day After" the rulings in the Chicago Seven trial, protesters led by the Seattle Liberation Front clashed with police in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle. This led to indictments of the organizers, who became known as the Seattle Seven.

Fishing Rights: Under a series of flawed treaties negotiated by Washington Territory Governor Isaac Stevens, local Native Americans were supposed to retain their accustomed fishing rights, particularly to the sacred salmon. Native American fishing rights were repeatedly violated and federal policy sought to erase Indian culture after passage of the Dawes Severalty Act in 1887. It took nearly a century for fishing rights to be reaffirmed by the Boldt Decision of February 12, 1974.

Going Down: On February 13, 1979, a massive storm blasted the Hood Canal Bridge with 80-to-120-mile-an-hour winds and pounded the span with high waves until the western section broke off and sank. The Hood Canal Bridge took three years to repair, during which time an old ferry run was resurrected on Puget Sound to alleviate traffic congestion to and from the Olympic Peninsula.

Rising Up: On February 13, 1981, state Senator Peter von Reichbauer changed his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican in the middle of the legislative session. His dramatic switch gave the Republicans control of the state Senate for the first time since 1955, and elevated Senate Republican leader Jeannette Hayner to the post of Majority Leader, the first woman to hold the position.

Quote of the Week

Accomplishment will prove to be a journey, not a destination.

                        --Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Image of the Week

On February 15, 1913, the Eleventh Street Bridge -- later renamed in honor of historian Murray Morgan -- opened in Tacoma.

Today in Washington History      RSS Feed

Seattle Mayor Devin inaugurates Civic Unity Committee on February 14, 1944.

Earthquake hits Puget Sound on February 14, 1946.

Ferry Kalakala begins using world's first commercial marine radar set on February 14, 1946.

Construction at Sea-Tac Airport unearths an extinct giant sloth on February 14, 1961.

Central Association of Seattle announces plans on February 14, 1963, to tear down Pike Place Market.

Seattle, King County, and State of Washington suspend lawsuit against baseball's American League on February 14, 1976, clearing way for Mariners.

Fat Tuesday celebration in Pioneer Square begins officially on February 14, 1977.

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