Rising, 1887

This cyanotype takes the viewer deep into the City of Tacoma’s origins. Before the NP Railroad completed the entire transcontinental route to Commencement Bay, Tacoma was a frontier town with high hope. Once people in Chicago could buy a ticket to Tacoma on the Pacific coast it became a city. Here’s a moody image of the Northern Pacific Railway headquarters building with the brick walls up and the builders silhouetted like pickets around its parapet. It was the first piece of the city to come in 1887. The wooden frontier town in the distance would soon disappear. Like winter solstice, this indigo observation captures the changing of season for Tacoma from mud and tree stumps and wood fire smoke to brick and mortar and steam. Note the posture of a city rising.


cyanotype NP bld

Note August 2017:

It was the construction of this new headquarters for the Northern Pacific Railway that rendered the NP Land Office at 9th and C (Broadway) redundant. The story of its short life, the move and the monumental replacement is told in this post  THE FIRST

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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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