Revisiting Recaptured City

Here’s a post from May 2013 introducing a project we ended up calling Recaptured City. You can visit the entire project at Recaptured or just keep watching for Andy’s amazing images and my usual stories.
I had a student last quarter who did his research paper around a series of image melds that blended current images with historic photos. Here is an amazing merge of the fire at the Davis Smith & Co. (GWP) building at Pacific Avenue & 19th on February 24, 1908 and today’s centerpiece of the UWT Campus. With a huge crowd gathered below Lt. George Hill, Engine Co. No. 4, was killed falling from a ladder from the fifth floor. This was a major event in Tacoma firefighting history. In addition, five other firefighters were injured and six employees suffered burns. Engine Co. No. 5’s hose wagon overturned on the way to the fire seriously injuring firefighters who nevertheless righted the wagon and continued to the fire to render assistance. I love the way this image evokes the ghosts of what once was and enriches the sense of place UWT imparts to our city. Leaving class late at night there have been times when I could swear I sensed the faint smell of smoke walking through the GWP building.
Photo credit to Mr. Andy Cox

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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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