Seattle History in Landscape and Story

One aspect of Seattle history is its built environment and landscape.  How have the forces of nature, people and historic events interacted to create Seattle?  On Saturday, March 7, the conference program of the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild will be held at the downtown Seattle Public Library on the theme of The Urban Northwest in Landscape and Story.  All events are free and open to the public.  The library is at Fourth & Spring Streets and has a parking garage.

Gas Works Park in Seattle

Gas Works Park in Seattle

9 AM – Plenary Session – “Thick Stories of Seattle’s Urban Landscape: Gas Works Park by Richard Haag” By Dr. Thaisa Way, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington College of Built Environments.

10:15 to 11:45 – diverse sessions on the urban history of the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle Street Smart Naturalist12 noon – Keynote Speaker – “History Underfoot: Seattle’s Storied Landscape”  By David B. Williams, a freelance writer whose work focuses on the intersection of people and the natural world. His books include Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology, The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist: Field Notes from the City and his latest, Cairns: Messengers in Stone. Williams works at the Burke Museum and leads walking tours looking at the nature and history of Seattle.

1:30 to 5 PM –  diverse sessions on the urban history of the Pacific Northwest.

All events free and open to the public, but the organizers are requesting attendees to register for planning purposes.  Click here to register for the Pacific Northwest History Conference!


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Marshall Blinn: Logging and Land Speculation in Washington Territory

Before Washington became a state in 1889, territorial land claims recorded many names which are not now well-known.  Who were these early-arriving settlers? The map of what is now the Wedgwood and Meadowbrook neighborhoods of northeast Seattle is dotted with land claims in the name of Marshall Blinn.  Who was he?

Marshall Blinn 1827-1885

Marshall Blinn 1827-1885

Students of Seattle history recognize names of major figures such as Arthur Denny, leader of the Denny Party of white settlers who arrived in 1851 and who are considered the founders of the city.  But there were many other contributors to early Seattle whose names have been forgotten.  On the basis of the number of land claims of Marshall Blinn, he would seem to have been an important figure, but we will find that though his influence touched Seattle, he never actually lived in Seattle.

In this article I will tell about logging and land-grabbing in Washington Territory before statehood, and I will speculate on how northeast Seattle might have developed differently if Marshall Blinn, an early adventurer, had come to live on his land claims.

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The Big Green House: Thanks for the Memories

In one hour the hundred-year-old Big Green House was reduced to rubble.

In one hour the hundred-year-old Big Green House was reduced to rubble.

On February 17, 2015, the hundred-year-old Big Green House at 7321 35th Ave NE came to the end of its lifespan and to me, it felt like the death of a friend.

The Big Green House was like an eccentric, misunderstood person, perceived by some as spooky because of the way the house loomed up over the surrounding business district.  In getting to know it, I found the Big Green House to be more like an elderly person with long-held memories of bygone days.  The Big Green House was clothed in the architectural preferences of long ago, and will now be replaced by the newest design trend in commercial districts in Seattle:  a storefront building with apartments in the upstairs units.

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Seattle Spring Season Plant Tours

Arthur Lee Jacobson, Seattle tree expert

Arthur Lee Jacobson, Seattle tree expert

Arthur Lee Jacobson is a Seattle resident with a life-long passion for plants.  He writes, teaches, and does hands-on gardening work for individuals and businesses.  As the season turns to spring, Mr. Jacobson leads walking tours of Seattle’s trees and plants.

Mr. Jacobson shares his enthusiasm and expertise through his walking tours in which people can benefit from personal interaction.  He says that “exploring Seattle plant occurrence, noting flowering and fruiting times, tasting edibles, and conversing, is a joy.”

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The Great Backyard Bird Count 2015

You can learn more about birds and help scientific efforts at the same time by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count of 2015.

Count us, please, for the GBBC!

Count us, please, for the GBBC!

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as fifteen minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event, Friday through Monday, February 13 to 16, 2015, and report their sightings online.

Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts.  Bird-identification and other helps are available on the GBBC page.  Don’t want to go out in the cold and rain?  No problem, you can participate from your kitchen window by simply counting the birds you see out in your yard.

If you are new to the count, first register online.  In 2014 there were GBBC participants in 135 countries, compiling data on the distribution and abundance of birds.  During this year’s count you will be able to see the photos and lists pouring in from all over the globe.

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Faith and Courage in Seattle

Russell Wilson at Seattle Childrens Hospital on February 3 2015Even for those of us who are not really football fans, there is a lot we can learn from the heart, teamwork, faith and courage of the Seattle Seahawks.  Life can be a lot like a football game with the struggle to advance, and the strategy and strength that is needed to achieve a goal.  We would like to go from one success to another, but the truth is that we often encounter adversity and do better the next time.  After the devastating loss in the Superbowl game on February 1st, Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson said, “Thank you God for the opportunity…we’ll be back…every setback has a major comeback.”

Less than 48 hours after the Superbowl, Russell Wilson went back to work at his “other job,” visiting patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  What’s really the most important?  We can appreciate and learn from Wilson’s example of showing faith and courage in all endeavors, and going forward to “what’s next” without regrets or recriminations.

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Always a 12

Go Seahawks! Never give up!

Go Seahawks! Never give up!

The Mayor of Seattle has issued a proclamation with a petition which can be signed electronically, to thank the Seattle Seahawks football team for their heart and determination.

We commend the teamwork, discipline, dedication, practice and never-give-up spirit of the Seattle Seahawks.  We the “12s” have learned from their example and we will cheer them on — for next time!  Never give up!

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