history

Benjamin Morris / NPR

Seattle is known for its love of coffee but as Pacific Northwesterners know, it's a passion not unique to the West Side. So how did coffee become such a Northwest staple?

Starbucks may be the first entity people think of as an answer to this question. And although Starbucks did play a significant role in the eventual coffee craze, the Northwest’s history with the beverage goes deeper than that.

Patty Colmer from Citrus Heights, United States / WikiCommons

Nothing says love like silk ties, long-distance correspondence, divorce and murder-suicide. OK, maybe a hug and kiss would do, but for your Valentine’s Day entertainment here are some historical Northwest stories that have something to do with love.      

University of Washington

This is what the Tacoma Narrows Bridge looked like as it collapsed on November 7, 1940. High winds caused the bridge to twist, shake, and then fall apart.

The suspension bridge had always been known for being shaky. Builders nicknamed it “Galloping Gertie,” and it became a popular joyriding location, moving like a wave beneath drivers. Nobody expected it to collapse.

Leavenworth / http://www.leavenworth.org/

The town of Leavenworth is known for its Bavarian-themed Oktoberfest, alpine skiing, and spectacular holiday light displays. Leavenworth has often been named the ultimate holiday town which gives the North Pole a run for its money!

But Leavenworth didn’t start out that way. The town’s roots lie in three Native American tribes. The Yakama, Chinook, and Wenatchi tribes all shared the land between Wenatchi Lake and Icicle Creek as hunting grounds.

Frances has it bad, and that's not good. Normally she's an intelligent, reliable, resourceful young woman, a companion to her widowed mother, keeper of the large house on Champion Hill in which the two of them rattle about, now that the men of the family have died. But then Frances falls in love, and the carefully wrought edifice of her life collapses in a heap of passion and catastrophe.

There are a lot of reasons not to read James Ellroy's newest novel, Perfidia — the opening shot in his proposed second L.A. Quartet. It's a long and sprawling book with about a million pages and 10,000 characters, so if that kind of thing scares you, go back to your Hunger Games and leave the grown-ups alone.

It's a brutal book. More than one person crawls home with a handful of his own teeth. A quick gunshot to the head? That's a merciful way to go in Ellroy's Los Angeles, and not many characters get that kindness.

Architect of the Capitol

Each state is represented by two statues in the United States Capitol Building. Some Oregon lawmakers have tried repeatedly to replace one of their state's specimens. Now, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is pulling together a commission to try to settle this statue squabble once and for all. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Not long after we're introduced to John, the protagonist of Katy Simpson Smith's The Story of Land and Sea, he's reflecting on the loss of his wife, who died in childbirth several years ago. John is a former sailor on pirate ships who gave up the privateer's life to take care of his daughter, Tabitha. "The grief, besides, has waned to washes of melancholy," Smith writes, "impressions connected to no specific hurt but to the awareness of a constant. He is in no pain but the pain of the living."

British army troops once kicked a soccer ball around as they went into battle. True story! In fact, it's one of the first and best anecdotes in Paul Fussell's classic study of World War I, The Great War and Modern Memory. That astonishing image illustrates just how naive the recruits were about modern war's potential for unprecedented destruction — and it sets the stage for their devastating shock and disillusionment.

Tasmanian-born novelist Richard Flanagan named his latest book after a spiritually intense travel journal by the 17th century Japanese poet Basho, but this extraordinary new novel presents us with a story much more tumultuous than the great haiku writer's account of his wanderings. Flanagan has written a sort of Australian War and Peace, centered on the extraordinary Dorrigo Evans (also Tasmanian-born), a heroic yet philandering doctor.

Every literate nation should have the epics it deserves. The Indian subcontinent already has Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (among a few others), and now we can add to that illuminating company Kamila Shamsie's new novel, A God in Every Stone. Stretching from the ancient Persian Empire to the waning days of the British Empire, the novel has an enormous wingspan that catches a wonderful storyteller's wind.

News becomes history in a second. That's one of the reasons history stays alive — people will always discuss the past as long as there's something to disagree about, and there's always something to disagree about. "A fog of crosscutting motives and narratives," writes Rick Perlstein, "a complexity that defies storybook simplicity: that is usually the way history happens." Beyond the names and dates, history never offers any easy answers. It doesn't even offer easy questions.

Amy Bloom's new novel Lucky Us takes readers across America in the 1940s, that special decade of wartime dislocation and post-war disruption — with side-trips to England and Germany — in the company of a pair of half-sisters as endearing and comically annoying as any you'll find in contemporary fiction.

In September 1777, Samuel Johnson declared to his friend James Boswell, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."

Johnson actually was referring to his hectic social calendar, but he did have a point. The city he was discussing was on course to become the largest metropolis the world had ever seen. In 1800, London was home to 1 million residents. By 1911 that number had grown to a staggering 7 million: a population far greater than Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg and Moscow combined at that time.

I remember taking an intermediate Italian class in college, and to gauge our linguistic level of proficiency, the professor assigned us a short essay to write. Using the Italian I had picked up from my grandparents, I proudly wrote about my familial ancestry in Calabria. The essay came back with every other word circled in red and labeled "dialetto."

"In this class," the professor said as he picked up the paper from my desk, "we will learn the proper Italian language of Dante." At that moment, I felt at once robbed of my Italian heritage, and ashamed of my Calabrian ancestry.

Max Bartlett

When you first walk in to the annual Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show in Tacoma, you’re greeted by a wall of sound. It’s the loud rocket-engine hum of hundreds of people, pinball machines and arcade cabinets.

Get up close and you’ll pick up some familiar sounds – Ken’s cries of “Shoryuken!” in Street Fighter, Shao Khan’s laughter in Mortal Kombat, Mario’s famous jump and even the “wakka wakka wakka” of Pac-Man devouring pellets. And of course the sounds of flippers flipping, spinners spinning, and silver balls hitting bells.

The nation’s newest Holocaust museum is about to be unveiled in downtown Seattle. The Holocaust Center for Humanity will host artifacts and testimony from local survivors, and provide resources for students and teachers. Executive Director Dee Simon says it will also draw connections between the Holocaust and other dark chapters of history a little closer to home.

Mary Randlett

It started with the discovery of long-forgotten gravestones in a thicket of bramble and alder. That set one author on the faint trail of a feisty Native American woman and oyster farmer who lived in 19th century western Washington. The biographer is using the resulting book to inspire other Northwesterners - particularly tribal members. She wants to bring out the stories of people who, in her words, have been "left out of our histories." Correspondent Tom Banse reports from Oyster Bay in Mason County, Washington.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Cleanup efforts are underway at the Washington State Archives in Olympia after a newly installed kitchen sink line caused a flood overnight. 

Among the historic records that got wet: marriage and birth records from the late 1800s. But the damage could have been much worse. 

The Oregon Trail passed through Idaho for hundreds of miles a century and a half ago. In some places you can still see the ruts from the wagons that brought people west. Now vandals have damaged a section of the trail in Idaho.

notpsion

Senator Patty Murray is pressing legislation in the U.S. Senate that would make some historic sites at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington part of the national parks system. The Democrat toured the historic site of Hanford High School Thursday. The building was part of the town that was forcibly vacated to make way for the secretive Manhattan Project during World War II. Now, the remains of the building sit amid the brush near the Columbia River. Murray says she wants these sites preserved and available for public visits along with the more famous “B” Reactor.

Historic Site, Rock Art Cave Delay Transmission Line

Aug 2, 2013
Mike Taylor / CultureWatch Northwest

Northwest history is colliding with the need to upgrade the region’s electric transmission grid. It’s happening on a windblown patch of riverfront property at the east end of the Columbia River Gorge.

The Bonneville Power Administration is trying to build a new transmission line across that land. But conflicts over historical preservation have increased the cost of the project to $185 million and stalled progress for more than a year. Colin Fogarty begins our story in Wishram, Washington.

Idaho's 'Museum Of Clean' Built As Monument To Way Of Life

Jul 10, 2013
Jessica Robinson

There's a museum tucked away in a corner of the Northwest dedicated solely to the idea of “clean.” In fact, it's called the Museum of Clean, housed in an old brick warehouse in Pocatello, Idaho. Our correspondent Jessica Robinson discovered it's a monument to one man's lifelong campaign to improve the world – one scrub brush at a time.

Photo courtesy George Behe's collection

This past year has marked some big milestones. The 150th anniversary of the University of Washington, the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair. Charles Dickens would have been 200. 2012 also marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. A majority of the people who boarded the luxury ocean liner didn’t survive the trip. For some, the only thing separating survival and drowning was a split-second decision. Now, a century after the tragedy, a Seattle woman wonders what she would do if she had been in her relative’s shoes on the night of the sinking. Sarah Waller has the story.

The tragedy in Connecticut has brought back memories of May 21st 1998, the day of Oregon’s deadliest school shooting. KLCC’s Angela Kellner reports.

Souvenirs Of Seattle's World's Fair

Oct 19, 2012
Photo courtesy/Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Regional Branch

Fifty years ago Sunday, the Seattle World’s Fair came to an end. For six months nearly 10 million people visited the Century 21 Exposition. The Space-Age themed fair left behind many memories and a lot of memorabilia. In the final part of our series on the Seattle World’s fair, produced with Jack Straw Productions, Harriet Baskas looks at some of the stories behind the souvenirs.

Photo by Brittney Tatchell / Northwest News Network

For nearly a decade, scientists and Northwest tribes fought bitterly over whether to bury or study the 9,500 year old bones known as Kennewick Man. Now, after years of careful examination, scientists are releasing some of their findings to tribes at meetings this week in Central Washington. As correspondent Anna King reports, Kennewick Man grew up on the coast.

Photo by Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

A 130-year-old mental institution might seem like an odd place for a museum. But historians and mental health advocates have fought to preserve and tell the Oregon State Hospital's long and sordid history.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The "world's most comprehensive collection" of opium smoking paraphernalia has a new home; it's at the University of Idaho. A writer and collector, originally from San Diego, donated the exquisite antiques. Correspondent Tom Banse has the intriguing back story of how these so-called "instruments of self-destruction" came to a small Northwest town.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Wednesday will mark the 67th anniversary of the Japanese surrender to end World War Two. With each passing anniversary, there are fewer and fewer living witnesses to the event. Correspondent Tom Banse reports time is also running low for an aging U.S. Marine veteran who wants to return a captured Japanese war flag.

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