December 5, 2013 - December 11, 2013
Shore to Shore
One hundred years ago this week, on December 6, 1913, the ferry Leschi was launched at Rainier Beach for service on Lake Washington. Originally used to transport passengers and vehicles between Seattle and Bellevue, the Leschi was Western Washington's first auto ferry.
For centuries, Native Americans traversed Lake Washington by canoe. After a flood of settlers arrived in the late 1800s, larger vessels were needed to ferry those who moved to the Eastside. In 1884, the steam scow Squak became the first power vessel to provide regular ferry service over the lake, as well as up Squak Slough to Lake Sammamish. Sleeker passenger ferries soon followed.
By the end of the century, Kirkland was the prime destination for most lake ferries, and in 1900 the town's residents requested a dock and a public ferry run to serve their needs. A decade later, Bellevue farmers requested a route to their community, but with a vessel that could transport cars and trucks. When the Leschi was launched in 1913, the automotive age merged with Pacific Northwest maritime history.
The Leschi and other ferries plied the waves of Lake Washington for decades, until the 1940 opening of the Lake Washington Floating Bridge led to their demise. The Leschi was the last one to hang on, and ended service on the lake in 1950. The vessel continued its career on Puget Sound until 1968, when it was sold and towed to Alaska for use as a salmon cannery. A century after its launch, the remains of this historic vessel can still be seen on Google Maps at Shotgun Cove, not far from Anchorage.
World at War
On December 7, 1941, at 1:28 a.m., a secret United States Navy radio station on Bainbridge Island intercepted a message from Tokyo to the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C. The message instructed the Japanese ambassador to break off ongoing peace negotiations with the United States, but its true purpose was to inform the ambassador that Japanese forces were about to attack Pearl Harbor. By the time the intercepted message was delivered to the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., the battle had begun. The U.S. declared war on Japan the next day.
Tensions ran high. That evening, during a blackout in Seattle, rioters smashed the windows and lights of downtown stores that failed to comply. Meanwhile, Japanese American citizens expressed concern that their loyalty to America would come under question due to their ancestry. Some neighbors and community leaders warned against unjust retribution, but federal authorities failed to heed their words. They launched a mass internment in early 1942, incarcerating 12,892 persons of Japanese ancestry from Washington state. Many began their long journey from home at the Puyallup Assembly Center.
Throughout the state, the home-front effort went into full gear with bond rallies, as well as anti-aircraft defensive measures that sometimes went awry, adding to wartime jitters. Men and women worked round the clock building bombers and naval vessels. Others also did their darnedest to help in the war effort. In Eastern Washington, thousands worked on a top-secret project that eventually brought about the war's end. When all was said and done, more than 6,500 state residents lost their lives in combat during the twentieth century's greatest war.
News Then, History Now
Day to Remember: December 8 is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception and marks several historic anniversaries in local Roman Catholic history. The Sisters of Providence arrived at Fort Vancouver on that date in 1856, and the Seattle School of the Immaculate Conception dedicated its first new building on December 8, 1894, evolving from there into today's Seattle University. One hundred and five years later, the university co-hosted the historic visit of South African leaders Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel, on December 8, 1999.
Chelan in December: On December 7, 1899, Governor John Rogers formally established Chelan County, with Wenatchee as the county seat. Known for its fruit orchards, Chelan County is also a popular tourist destination, with such picturesque locales as Cashmere, Leavenworth, and the City of Chelan.
First Class: After the Washington Hotel was torn down in 1906 and the Lincoln Hotel went up in flames in 1916, Seattle set its sights on a new world-class accommodation. Fundraising began during the city's 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.
First Glass: Eighty years ago this week, December 5, 1933, marked the end of Prohibition, which 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.
Prize Winning: On December 10, 1956, Walter Brattain received the Nobel Prize for Physics as co-inventor of the transistor. On the same day in 2001, Dr. Leland H. Hartwell was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology, for his work on cell growth. Exactly three years later, Seattle-born Linda Buck was presented the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology for her work on unraveling many of the mysteries of the sense of smell.
New Beginning: 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. In 2007, SAM celebrated the opening of the Olympic Sculpture Park, located one mile northwest of the downtown museum.
Quote of the Week
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
--William Butler Yeats
Image of the Week
Seattle's Denny Regrade was completed on December 10, 1930.