This Week Then: Looking Back on Seattle's General Strike

Plus: The Seattle Public Library celebrates 116 years of being open
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  • Seattle's General Strike 1919

In the first days of the strike, workers organized special committees to maintain essential municipal services and feed the populace, but the initial ebullience of labor solidarity quickly soured. Mayor Ole Hanson and Alden Blethen, publisher of The Seattle Times, called on citizens to turn back what they feared was a home-grown Bolshevik revolution. The strike sputtered out by week's end, and conservative union leaders and government exploited it as a pretext to purge and prosecute radicals across America. The labor movement's left wing would not recover until the onset of the Great Depression.

Ocean Prosperity

On February 4, 1851, the Oregon Territorial Legislature created Pacific County in the southwest corner of what is now Washington. Located on the mouth of the Columbia River, the new county was already steeped in history as the entry point into the region for fur trader Robert Gray -- the first non-Indian navigator on the river -- and as the destination of explorers Lewis and Clark.

The word "pacific" is defined as peaceful or calm, but the mouth of the Columbia can be anything but. Over the years, the county's lighthouses have helped many sailors steer toward safety, while the Fort Canby Life Saving Station and National Motor Lifeboat School have rescued some who did not.

But Pacific County’s main claim to fame is its oyster business, which aided in the creation of the Ports of Ilwaco, Peninsula, and Willapa Harbor.  Forestry and fishing have also boosted the county’s economy, as has tourism in communities like Raymond, South Bend, and especially Long Beach, which has been a resort community for more than a century.

NEWS THEN, HISTORY NOW

Roslyn Proceeds

On February 4, 1889, the town of Roslyn incorporated in Kittitas County, only to lose that status later in the year when Washington achieved statehood and territorial incorporation laws were declared unconstitutional. The bustling mining town reincorporated in 1890.

Where Everyone Reads

February 2, 1903, The Seattle Public Library opened its first branch, in converted apartments in Fremont. The branch moved from these humble beginnings to its current location in 1921. This week also marks anniversaries for three King County libraries. The Federal Way Regional Library was dedicated on February 1, 1992, Woodinville opened its first modern library exactly one year later, and on January 31, 2009, a new Carnation Library was dedicated on the site of its previous building.

Island's Needs

At the beginning of the twentieth century, residents of the small but growing San Juan Island community of Friday Harbor were in need of a safe and dependable water source. Some suggested that incorporation would help solve their problems, but not everyone agreed. An election was held on February 2, 1909, to decide the issue, and the incorporation measure passed, 70 to 55.

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