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November 20, 2014 - November 26, 2014

Crossing Over

On November 23, 1911, the third Monroe Street Bridge opened in Spokane. 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 families across the nation. The bridge's beauty was also enhanced with ornamentation provided by the architectural firm of Kirtland Cutter and Karl Malmgren. The firm 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 it 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 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But by the 1990s the structure had deteriorated so severely 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 bridge's beauty was enhanced with ornamentation provided by the architectural firm of Kirtland Cutter and Karl Malmgren, which also designed the power station used to harness energy from the waterfalls below.

Tuning In

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, shown 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 stores to view the televised game through the front windows. Crowds of people huddled out in the rain to watch, well, crowds of people huddled out in the rain.

Before the dawn of this new "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, Seattle's first, which opened on November 24, 1879; the Seeley Theatre in Pomeroy on November 24, 1913; and Port Angeles's Mack Theatre, later called the Olympian, on November 24, 1922.

It is not surprising that another of the programs shown in the pioneering 1948 KRSC broadcast was a film of a Broadway play performance. A new medium was supplanting an old, and one person who recognized this was Dorothy Stimson Bullitt, who had purchased a small Seattle radio station in 1947. Two years later she bought KRSC-TV for $300,000, the first sale of a television station in the United States. She renamed it and we know it today as KING-TV.

News Then, History Now

Travel Deferred: After finishing their cross-country trek in the fall of 1805, the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition had to decide whether to head back home or wait until spring. On November 24, 1805, they opted to spend their winter on the south side of the Columbia River. All in the party were allowed to vote on the decision, including a Native American woman and an African slave. It was the first known election by Americans in the West and the first to include more than just white male voters.

Spreading the Word: On November 24, 1838, Father Francois (or Francis) N. Blanchet and Rev. Modeste Demers arrived at Fort Vancouver to spread their Catholic faith, mostly among Hudson's Bay Company employees and Natives living in the region. Nine years later, Blanchet's younger brother, Augustin, helped to establish St. Anne's Mission on the Umatilla River.

There and Gone: On November 25, 1879, George Richardson received a land patent for property at the south end of Lopez Island. The town of Richardson no longer exists, but it was one of the island's earliest economic hubs.

Moving On: In 1901, former Seattle Police Chief William Meredith -- who had just lost his job because of accusations of corruption made by theater owner John Considine -- attempted to kill Considine in Pioneer Square, but was himself gunned down inside the G. O. Guy drugstore there. Although the press portrayed Considine as the assailant, he was found not guilty of murder on November 21, 1901, and went on to become a noted and respected member of Seattle society.

Out of Sight: On November 24, 1969, Sasquatch tracks were sighted at a local dump in Stevens County by Joe Rhodes. Exactly two years later, "Dan Cooper" (better known as D. B.) hijacked a 727 jetliner and parachuted into the great unknown.

Enjoy Your Flight: In 1992 the Port of Seattle authorized planning for a new runway at Sea-Tac following an endorsement from the Puget Sound Air Transportation Committee. Nearby communities like Burien were not happy, and although a search for alternative sites was undertaken, Sea-Tac remained the planners' preferred location. The airport's third runway opened six years ago this week, on November 20, 2008.

Quote of the Week

Oh will you excuse me
I'm just trying to find the bridge... Has anybody seen the bridge?

                          --Robert Plant

Image of the Week

Seattle waitresses unionized on November 23, 1900.

Today in Washington History      RSS Feed

In first election by Americans in the West, the Corps of Discovery votes to winter on the south side of the Columbia River on November 24, 1805.

Father Francois (or Francis) N. Blanchet and Rev. Modeste Demers arrive at Fort Vancouver on November 24, 1838.

Squire's Opera House, Seattle's first theater, opens on November 24, 1879.

Washington Territorial Legislature establishes Kittitas County on November 24, 1883.

Newsboys in Seattle form union on November 24, 1892.

Armed men hold up a Northern Pacific train in Washington's first train robbery on November 24, 1892.

Fire burns Seattle's Grand Opera House on November 24, 1906.

Birth of Redmond's 300th resident, Ernest Alexander Adams III, on November 24, 1912, makes possible incorporation of City of Redmond.

The new Seeley Theatre in Pomeroy opens on November 24, 1913.

Mack Theatre in Port Angeles opens on November 24, 1922.

Marcelino Julian kills six men and wounds 13 people during a rampage through Seattle's Chinatown on November 24, 1932.

Seattle morticians John F. Hennessy and Earl J. Cassedy mysteriously disappear on November 24, 1944.

Election Board of Mason County on November 24, 1952, certifies election creating Port of Hoodsport.

Green River flood devastates valley around Kent beginning on November 24, 1959.

Sasquatch tracks are sighted in Bossburg in Stevens County on November 24, 1969.

Dan Cooper parachutes from skyjacked jetliner on November 24, 1971.

New Essays This Week       RSS Feed

Ross F. George and William Hugh Gordon submit a patent application for their new ink "Lettering Pen" on October 22, 1914.

President Ronald Reagan delivers a hotly debated statement about Hanford while campaigning for Senator Slade Gorton in Spokane on October 31, 1986.

Seattle Housing Authority: Interview with Kristin O'Donnell

Grunge-rock luminaries Nirvana perform scorching homecoming concert for MTV at Seattle's historic Pier 48 along Elliott Bay on December 13, 1993.

Lady Willie Forbus is admitted to the Washington bar on May 24, 1919.

Forbus, Lady Willie (1892-1993)

Point of No Return: The Will Rogers-Wiley Post Memorial Seaplane Base (Renton)

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