4th of July, 1924

In the years after the First World War Tacoma’s population passed 90,000 and the 4th of July pageants at Stadium Bowl drew more than a third of them. In 1924, 35,000 people spent the afternoon in the stands watching the horsemen and horses of F Troop (before they were TV stars) from the 11th Calvary along with the Camp Lewis military band, sailors from a battleship on Commencement Bay and tiny armies of school children from all over the city. People stayed in their seats as the sun set and when the fireworks began they were fired from both the lip of the bowl and barges floating in the bay. The streetcars ran past midnight carrying the throngs home and even the open top buses that ran to the Mountain and National Park were drawn into local service. Rain or shine, on the 4th of July, Stadium Bowl was the place to be.


1937 publicity shot for the Stadium Bowl event with Mayor John Siegle lighting the fuse. TPL

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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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