First Street Bridge Looking East, 1913

Our story that could be titled, “The Bridges of Snohomish City” continues this month, featuring a stunning photograph of the First Street Bridge under construction 100 years ago in 1913.

[singlepic id=250 w=175 h=100 float=left]The action packed scene captured by an unknown photographer, and unlabeled, is easy to date nevertheless for two reasons. First, the Eagles Hall pictured on the right shows the Snohomish Dry Goods Company occupying the easternmost storefront. Sometime during 1913, Raymond Harmon opened his Speciality Shop in this location.

[singlepic id=251 w=102 h=150 float=right]Second, and even better evidence, is a front page story in the September 12, 1913, issue of the Snohomish County Tribune, with the headline: “Snohomish Spends Almost $100,000 for Improvements.” A subhead reads: “Completion of First Street Bridge and New Pipe Line means much to Snohomish and Vicinity.”

Not counting the new bridge, grading the entire length of First Street was estimated to cost $27,141.42 by the city engineer. Work on Third Street and Avenue I came in at $13,341.72. Smaller improvements were made to Avenues A, B, C, and E; plus, Cedar, Wood, Willow and Rainier Streets. All in all, the Tribune boasted: “Over Nine Miles of Graded Streets and Cement Walks Now in Use in This City.”

Another measure of our city’s progress reported in the story was the fact that it was almost impossible to find a vacant house. “A year ago, according to the statement made by one of the businessmen this week, there were at least 150 houses in this city,“ stated the paper, with the word “vacant” implied.

The front page story wraps up with the first mention I’ve come across in a newspaper of the disparity between the population counted within the city limits, (3,244 in 1910), and the estimated 4,000 people “residing near this city and who consider themselves as part of the city.” The story concludes: “This makes a population of practically 7,000.”

Today, that number is around 40,000 people who reside in the Snohomish School District, but barely 9,000 people live within the city limits. In 1998, state courts ruled that the larger number could be considered as the “library taxing district” — leading to the passing of a bond, that after a few twists and turns, led to the building of our new library.

Repeat Photographs by Warner BlakeGosh, speaking of the new library — an exhibition of “Repeat Photographs” taken for this blog, and Tribune column since 2007 will be on display at the Snohomish Library during the month of August. A preview of the artworks, along with purchase information, is available here.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, July 17, 2013

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