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First Street Bridge Looking East
Snohomish Then & Now: July 2013
Our story which 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.
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.
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.
Gosh, 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.
About the THEN photograph: A rare glimpse of early road construction using four-house power equipment. That’s the Eagles Buioldingh (1904) on the right with its original storefront businesses. The records are unclear whether this is the second or third bridge spanning the famous Snohomish Gulch. Courtesy UW Special Collections.)
About the NOW photograph: Sometime in the 1950s the gulch was filled in at First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth streets and the Bridges of Snohomish City were no more.
Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, July 17, 2013