It was pet parade day in Tacoma’s Lincoln district, late July 1947. This curly haired fellow was rocking coveralls and hanging with his best bully friend. Hogan’s grocery store at South 38th and Yakima was the district’s busiest corner in the days before supermarkets and people walked to the market partly for the social experience of walking past all the sidewalk shops. In the years after World War 2 automobiles were beginning to change neighborhood business districts in Tacoma and the rest of country but on this summer day it was o.k. to close 38th on a busy Saturday for very local a parade.
Across the street from Hogan’s, the massive brick
Model Bakery, filled the street with the smell of bread ovens every morning. It was almost lost in a major fire in March the year before but by the day of the pet parade it was completely restored and back to making 20,000 loaves of bread, 465 dozen donuts, 300 dozen rolls and 250 cakes in a week. By the late 1930’s Model Bakery had a fleet of trucks delivering their trademark Snowhite, Bread of the Stars and fresh bakery goods all over town,
Several other locally owned food production enterprises made the leap from streetcar days to cars and trucks delivering milk & dairy, bakery, butcher meats and produce to restaurants, corner stores and front porches in every corner of the city. By 1941, just
before the war, the east/west line along 38th, which connected to the busy Pacific Avenue streetcar, was torn up and auto traffic became the new pace of the Lincoln District. But the bustling “town within the city” didn’t turn 38th over entirely to sedans and panel trucks and they didn’t start tearing down buildings and businesses to create parking lots. The 38th Street Boosters used the thoroughfare for midnight sales events, baseball season parades and just before Christmas in 1939 it seemed perfectly normal to give away turkeys-some 30 live turkeys in a street derby with jockeys (some dressed like their racing bird) and business sponsors for each thorobred gobbler. Sadly history has lost the name of the victorious business sponsor but the endgame for the feathered winner can be imagined.
Before the Lincoln District was boxed in by the construction of I-5 in the mid 50’s it was
one of the commercial districts that ringed the downtown along with K Street, McKinley Hill and the Stadium District. They all grew up around Tacoma’s busy streetcar system which operated into the late 1930’s. And they all suffered along with the downtown as suburbs and shopping malls drained their foot traffic and small merchant business.
Lincoln is the district to watch right now. Its merchant mix began returning as Vietnamese business people began taking a chance on small sidewalk retail in the 1980’s and 90’s. Latino and ethnic food businesses followed and Tacoma’s most interesting grocery store is back in the Lincoln District. Today, Lincoln is Tacoma’s international district and streetscape work under way right now promises to enliven both the business district and the surrounding neighborhood. I’m thinking in the near future that a pet parade would be a bully good idea.