Peace on the Breeze

The end of the war to end all wars was not a small thing in Tacoma. In the same way the citizens of Tacoma voted two to one to purchase and donate 70,000 acres for the construction of Camp Lewis before the First World War, they flooded the News Tribune with cash for a building sized flag to celebrate its end on November 11, 1918. The Perkins building housed two of the city’s daily newspapers and faced the Federal Building at the corner of 11th and A Streets perhaps the city’s most eventful address.. For all the festivities and relief over the cession of warfare in Europe, Tacoma, like the rest of the country, was in the grip of a pandemic flu epidemic when this photograph was taken. For every American killed in the first world war 10 died at home from the flu and Tacoma, due to railroad traffic and troop movement from the nearby military post, suffered far worse than most cities. But none of that mattered on the first Armistice Day when the only world war the world had ever seen had come to an end and peace seemed to float on every gentle breeze.



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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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