Here is Albert Bierstadt’s map of Tacoma from his visit in 1890.

Bierstadt
Albert Bierstadt

The results of the trip, along with previous visits, were several landscapes and other exaggerations about the adventure and surroundings. I can’t figure out if the hallucinations were going on in his mind or just on his canvases. No wonder the railroads were paying any price to publish his paintings. Who wouldn’t buy a ticket to see Bierstadt’s fantastic world, full of operatic storm clouds, preposterous lighting effects and haunting mountains and rock formations. All he was missing was the Valkyries.

The map is from the new Metropolitan Museum digital image library opened for free public use.

Abby Williams Hill covered some of the same ground

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Hillcrest Apartments, 423 S G Street

while working for the railroads, painting landscapes for publication in lure brochures and Victorian era tourism posters. Hill lived and worked in Tacoma and left a magical legacy of her work to the University of Puget Sound. By 1909, her studio and residence were perched above Wright Park atop the very urban Hillcrest Apartment Building at 5th and South G Street.  While she worked in the generation after Bierstadt, Hill rendered the

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Hill with family at Yellowstone

 

natural world with a similar sense of wonder tempered by the fact that she lived long enough to begin worrying that the tourists her paintings attracted might ruin the landscape she captured in her work. Bierstadt died in 1902 barely past the 19th Century and Hill in 1943 while the Second World War was at its ugliest.

 

 

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Abby Williams Hill

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Written by tacomahistory

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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