Free Pop!

There’s a lot more going on here on this August 1st Saturday in 1925 than a bunch of kids getting frosty sodas for free. Behind them are one of the oldest and certainly the newest building in the down town; the 1889 Bostwick Building that was built in territorial days and the glamorous new Winthop Hotel that had just opened in May. The bottled pop being promoted, Orange Kist Soda, was the newest product by the Columbia Brewing Company which like many beer makers was keeping afloat by bottling soft drinks and quietly selling some harder beverages through an arrangement with City Hall. The little girls in the back are hanging on a sign advertising a new movie at the Rialto and just down the alley from the theater were a number of signless, unadvertised businesses where Columbia Brewery products of a more familiar nature could be enjoyed. Columbia would survive prohibition and rebuild itself into Tacoma’s largest brewery using the Heidelberg label from the 1930’s into the 1980’s. But in 1925 there was no better cover for breaking the rules of prohibition than giving away 500 cases of ice cold pop at 9th and Broadway during the hottest week of the summer. Cool!
Kids in the theatre district
Tacoma Public Library Boland-813057 Unique 37358

Image and story from the Recaptured City project with 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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