Seattle lies on a narrow strip of land between the salt waters of Puget Sound and the fresh waters of Lake Washington. Beyond the waters lie two rugged mountain ranges, the Olympics to the west and the Cascades to the east. It is a city built on hills and around water, in a mild marine climate that encourages prolific vegetation and abundant natural resources.
White settlers came to the Seattle area in 1851, establishing a townsite they first called New York, and then, adding a word from the Chinook jargon meaning “by-and-by,” New York-Alki. They soon moved a short distance across Elliott Bay to what is now the historic Pioneer Square district, where a protected deep-water harbor was available. This village was soon named Seattle, honoring a Duwamish Indian leader named Sealth who had befriended the settlers.
The new town’s principal economic support was Henry Yesler’s lumber mill at the foot of Mill Street (now Yesler Way), built in 1853. Much of the mill’s production went to the booming city of San Francisco, but the mill also supplied the fledgling towns throughout the Puget Sound region. A brief Indian “war” in the winter of 1856 interrupted the town’s development, but when the Territorial legislature incorporated Seattle in 1869, there were more than 2,000 residents.
The 1870s were fairly quiet, despite the discovery of coal near Lake Washington, and the consequent growth of another extractive industry whose product also found its way to San Francisco. In the early 1870s the Northern Pacific Railway Company announced that its transcontinental railroad western terminus would be at Tacoma, some forty miles south of Seattle. Despite local leaders’ disappointment, Seattle managed to force a connection with Northern Pacific shortly after its completion in 1883, and the town’s population soared in the late 1880s. Lumber and coal were the primary industries, but the growth of fishing, wholesale trade, shipbuilding, and shipping also contributed to the town’s economic expansion and population growth. One estimate is that in the first half of 1889, Seattle was gaining 1,000 new residents per month; in March alone, there were 500 buildings under construction, most of them built of wood. The explosive growth was slowed but not stopped by a devastating fire on June 6, 1889, which leveled the buildings on 116 acres in the heart of the city’s business district. No one died in the fire, but the property damage ran into millions of dollars.
Enthusiasm for Seattle was little dampened by the fire. In fact, it provided the opportunity for extensive municipal improvements, including widened and regraded streets, a professional fire department, reconstructed wharves, and municipal water works. New construction in the burned district was required to be of brick or steel, and it was by choice on a grander and more imposing scale.
The 1890s were not so prosperous, despite the arrival of another transcontinental railroad, the Great Northern, in 1893. A nationwide business depression did not spare Seattle, but the 1897 discovery of gold along and near the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory and in Alaska once again made Seattle an instant boom town. The city exploited its nearness to the Klondike and its already established shipping lines to become the premier outfitting point for prospectors. The link became so strong that Alaska was long considered to be the personal property of Seattle and Seattleites.
During the early 1900s, Seattle, now having discovered the rewards of advertising, continued to experience strong growth. Two more transcontinental railroads, the Union Pacific and Milwaukee Road systems, reached Seattle and reinforced the city’s position as a trade and shipping center, particularly with Asia and the North Pacific.
The city’s population became increasingly diversified. Scandinavians came to work in fishing and lumbering, African Americans to work as railroad porters and waiters, and Japanese to operate truck gardens and hotels. There were significant communities of Italians, Chinese, Jews, and Filipinos. The International District, home to several Asian ethnic groups, was largely developed during this period.
With its population now approaching 240,000, Seattle announced its achievements by sponsoring an international fair in 1909. The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition celebrated the economic and cultural links Seattle had forged along what is now known as the North Pacific Rim. The forty-two story L.C. Smith building was completed in 1914. For more than four decades it was the tallest building in the American west and a symbol of Seattle’s booster spirit and metropolitan aspirations.
World War I transformed the city’s shipbuilding industry, which turned out 20 percent of the nation’s wartime ship tonnage. The war also brought Seattle national attention when, early in 1919, workers struck the shipyards to maintain their high wartime wages. This event soon led to the Seattle general strike of February 6-10, the longest such strike in American history. The strike lacked a cogent objective, but its success fueled postwar American fears about radicals and socialists. Along with the city’s early ventures into municipal transit service and public electrical power, the general strike helped establish Seattle’s reputation as a hotbed of political radicalism.
Seattle also had a reputation for a boom-and-bust economy, and the twenties brought depressed conditions in shipbuilding and the lumber trade. The Depression of the 1930s hit Seattle particularly hard, and a “Hooverville” of shacks and lean-tos housing nearly 1,000 unemployed men grew up at an abandoned shipbuilding yard south of Pioneer Square. World War II sparked an economic rebound as shipyards flourished again. The Boeing Company, a modestly successful airplane manufacturer founded in 1916, increased its workforce more than 1,200 percent and its sales from $10 million to $600 million annually during the war years. The war’s end, however, brought an economic slump to the area that persisted until the middle 1950s.
When Boeing successfully introduced the 707 commercial jet airliner in the late 1950s, it heralded another burst of municipal optimism. In 1962 Seattle sponsored a full-fledged world’s fair, the futuristic Century 21 Exposition. The fair left the city a permanent legacy in the Seattle Center and its complex of performance, sports, and entertainment halls, as well as the Pacific Science Center, the Monorail, and the Space Needle.
Since Century 21, the city population has remained fairly stable around the half-million mark, while suburban areas have grown explosively. The Boeing Company suffered a slump in the early 1970s that severely depressed the local economy. The region’s economy has subsequently been steadied and diversified. Weyerhaeuser and Boeing have been a part of that development, along with such high-technology firms as Microsoft. The political strength of Washington Senators Warren G. Magnuson and Henry Jackson in the postwar decades greatly contributed to growth at such research institutions as the University of Washington, and in defense related activities. Seattle has also enjoyed an expanded air and sea trade with Asia, Alaska, and the North Pacific.
Seattle has always exhibited a spirit of optimism, enterprise, and self-promotion. At one time this was institutionalized as “the Seattle Spirit,” a movement that enabled the city literally to move mountains by washing down high hills to improve building sites, to connect Lake Washington and Puget Sound with locks and a canal, and to build the world’s largest man-made island at the mouth of the Duwamish River. More recently, this spirit can be credited with accomplishments like the Forward Thrust program of the 1970s, which built the Kingdome arena and numerous parks throughout the city, including Freeway Park that spans the I-5 freeway with waterfalls and hanging gardens.
Seattle is proud of its arts and cultural institutions, the many live theaters, and the downtown art museum. It is proud of its parks, of its professional and collegiate sports, of Pioneer Square and the Pike Place Market, and, above all, of the beauty of its surroundings. Seattle is also a city of parades, not always respectful of its own brief heritage, not as radical as its legend would have it; a city of homes that has many who are homeless, a city that wants great growth but demands that somehow the setting remain untouched.
- Seattle’s first rep theater drew crowds (seattletimes.com)
- Seattle’s little freighter that could, ca. 1901 (seattletimes.com)
- Road Trip! – Seattle (thatgirlwhit.wordpress.com)
- Seattle takes first step toward hosting 2024 Summer Olympics (seattlepi.com)
- Car2Go West Seattle expansion: The map, and the 1st vote (westseattleblog.com)
Tombstone Ariona is one of those places that intrigues me, for some unknown reason or another. While I was researching the history of the town, I came across some difficulties finding verifiable information. There was little or no census info., and the info. in the Tombstone local library wasn’t the same as the historical information found online. It was very frustrating, but it seemed that the stories of good old Tombstone being told by the tourist wranglers, tour guides, and local venues were really the ones that the city was standing by. I could find no death records for the prominent years that the city was in operation as a mining town. An explaination for this is that there were so many travelers in and out of the city, that it was impossible to keep track of all that died, most before even 24 hours of residency. Another good excuse was that people didn’t carry identification at that time.
- Signature of Ed Schieffelin, a prospector who discovered silver in Cochise County, Arizona Territory in 1877, which led to the founding of Tombstone, Arizona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
|A BRIEF HISTORY OF TOMBSTONE|
|ombstone was founded in 1877 by a prospector named Ed Schieffelin. Ed was staying at what was then called Camp Huachuca (wa-chu-ka) as part of a scouting expedition against the Chiricahua (chir-i-cow-uh) Apaches. During his time there he would venture out into the wilderness “looking for rocks”, all the while ignoring the warnings he received from the soldiers at the camp. They would tell him, “Ed, the only stone you will find out there will be your tombstone”. Well, Ed did find his stone. And it was Silver. So, remembering the words of warning from the soldiers, he named his first mine The Tombstone.Click here to learn more about Ed Schieffelin
It wasn’t long before word spread about Ed’s silver strike. Soon prospectors, cowboys, homesteaders, lawyers, speculators, gunmen and business people flocked to the area in droves. In 1879 a town site was laid out on the nearest level spot to the mines, known at that time as Goose Flats, and was appropriately named “Tombstone” after Ed Schieffelin’s first mining claim.
By the mid 1880’s Tombstone’s population had increased to around 7,500. This figure counted only the white male registered voters that were over 21 years of age. If you take into account the women, children, Chinese, Mexicans and the many “ladies of the evening” the estimates are that the population was between 15,000 and 20,000 people. At its peak, it is said to have been the fastest growing city between St. Louis and San Francisco. There were over one hundred saloons, numerous restaurants, a large red-light district, an even larger Chinese population, schools, churches, newspapers, and one of the first public swimming pools in Arizona (which is still used today).
There were a few theaters in town, the most famous of them being Schieffelin Hall and the Bird Cage Theatre. Schieffelin Hall was where the “respectable” people in town went for entertainment. It opened in June of 1881 and was built for the people of Tombstone by Ed Schieffelin’s Brother Al. It is the largest standing adobe structure in the southwest United States and was built to be used as a theater, recital hall and a meeting place for Tombstone Citizens. Wyatt and Morgan Earp attended a performance there the evening that Morgan was killed by an assassin’s bullet. It is still in use today by city government and civic groups.CLICK HERE to buy a vintage image of
historic Schieffelin Hall.
The Bird Cage Theatre is another story. It was a saloon, theater, gambling hall and brothel. Legend has it that no self-respecting woman in town would even walk on the same side of the street as the Bird Cage Theatre. It opened its doors on Christmas Day 1881 and ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year until closing its doors in 1889. In 1882, The New York Times reported, “the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.” Evidence of this can still be seen in the 140 supposed bullet holes that have been found in the walls and ceiling. The Bird Cage was named for the cage style crib compartments suspended from the ceiling. It was in these “Bird Cages” that the “ladies of the evening” entertained their customers. The story goes that they were the inspiration for the song, “She’s only a bird in a gilded cage”, which was quite popular during the early 1900’s.
Two major fires swept through Tombstone during the 1880’s. Legend has it that in June of 1881 a cigar ignited a barrel of whiskey at the Arcade Saloon. The subsequent fire destroyed over 60 businesses in the downtown area. But the town rebuilt itself and kept on growing. In May of 1882 another fire ripped through downtown Tombstone destroying a large portion of the business district. Again, the town rebuilt.
Tombstone is also the home of Boothill Graveyard. Boothill began in 1879 and was used until 1884 when the New Tombstone City Cemetery was opened on west Allen Street. After the opening of the new cemetery, Boothill became known as “The Old Cemetery”. The City cemetery is still in use today. Legend has it that Boothill was named for the fact that many residents there died violent or unexpected deaths and were buried with their boots on. However, it was actually named Boothill after Dodge City’s pioneer cemetery in the hopes of attracting tourists in the late 1920’s. Many famous Tombstone folks lie there including the victims of the 1881 Shootout on Fremont Street between the Earps and the Cowboys. For many years, it was neglected. The desert overtook parts of it and vandals removed grave markers. Then, in the 1920’s concerned citizens began the process of cleaning up the Old Cemetery and researching the placement of the graves to preserve it for future generations (and to make a little money on tourism).
The most famous event in Tombstone’s history was the famed Gunfight at the OK Corral, which didn’t actually happen at the corral, but in a vacant lot on Fremont Street. On October 26, 1881, members of the “Cowboys” had a run-in with Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp with help from Wyatt’s friend Doc Holliday. 24 seconds and 30 shots later, Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury were mortally wounded. In many peoples opinion, it was this one event that has kept Tombstone alive for all these years.
In 1882 the Cochise County Courthouse was built at a cost of around $45,000. It provided offices for the county sheriff, recorder, treasurer, board of supervisors, and included a well-built jail. The courthouse was a comfortable symbol of law and stability in these turbulent times. The county seat remained in Tombstone until voters in 1929 chose to move it to Bisbee, a bustling copper mining town 29 miles away. The last county office left the courthouse in 1931. Budget cuts in 2010 by Gov. Jan Brewer almost forced the Museums closure. Luckily the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce stepped in and met the demands from the state to take over operation of the museum.
As the silver mining continued the mineshafts were dug deeper and deeper to get the precious ore. Once they hit the 520 foot level, the water table was reached which flooded the mines. Attempts to pump out the water marginally worked for a few years but soon became too costly to continue. As the mining slowed down, the people of Tombstone started leaving, but not before $37,000,000 worth of ore had been taken from the many mines in the area. It is estimated that by the early 1930’s Tombstone’s population dwindled to around 150 people.
Today, Tombstone is home to around 1500 year round residents who enjoy the wonderful climate that Cochise County’s high desert has to offer and believe in preserving the history and heritage of the Wildest Town in the West!
ROADS: 2WD paved
LEGAL INFO: T20S, R22E
CLIMATE: Mild winter, hot summer
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Anytime
|COMMENTS: Many ghost towns in the area that are worth seeing. Video available, see below.
REMAINS: Many original buildings and cemetery.
|Tombstone’s post office was established December 2, 1878 and has yet to be discontinued. Tombstone is the most famous of Arizona mining camps with its colorful history. Discovered by Ed Schieffelin in 1878, the mine went on to produce millions. Tombstone had over 15,000 residents at one time. Fires nearly caused the death of Tombstone twice but the town was resilient. Famous for the O.K. Corral shootout with the Earps and Boot Hill cemetery, Tombstone is well worth the visit! – GTombstone Ariona is one of those places that intrigues me, for some unknown reason or another. While I was researching the history of the town, I came across some difficulties finding verifiable information. There was little or no census info., and the info. in the Tombstone local library wasn’t the same as the historical information found online. It was very frustrating, but it seemed that the stories of good old Tombstone being told by the tourist wranglers, tour guides, and local venues were really the ones that the city was standing by. I could find no death records for the prominent years that the city was in operation as a mining town. An explaination for this is that there were so many travelers in and out of the city, that it was impossible to keep track of all that died, most before even 24 hours of residency. Another good excuse was that people didn’t carry identification at that time.
Posted by Thornie
Signature of Ed Schieffelin, a prospector who discovered silver in Cochise County, Arizona Territory in 1877, which led to the founding of Tombstone, Arizona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Ed Schieffelin during a visit to the Yukon River in Alaska in 1882. Cropped version of original image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Bird Cage Theater as it appears today. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ed Schieffelin discovered the Tombstone district in 1877 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: was built by Albert Schieffelin, brother of Tombstone, Arizona founder Ed Schieffelin, and William Harwood as a first class opera house, theater, recital hall, and a meeting place for Tombstone citizens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tombstone (Photo credit: bugmonkey)
Tombstone in 1881
Courtesy Arizona Historical Society
John Heath Lynching Feb. 22, 1884
Courtesy Arizona Historical Society
Custom made Cherrywood Bar
Courtesy Dolores Steele
Card table in the Bird Cage
Courtesy Dolores Steele
Bird Cage Theater
Courtesy Dolores Steele
Courtesy Dolores Steele
Courtesy Dolores Steele
Courtesy Theresa and Cian Corcoran
Courtesy Theresa and Cian Corcoran
- Sinkhole at house greets family moving to Tombstone, Arizona (sott.net)
- March 19: Today in Arizona history (azstarnet.com)