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August 28, 2014 - September 3, 2014

The Davenport Hotel

One hundred years ago this week, on September 1, 1914, the Davenport Hotel opened in Spokane, providing the city with a grand hotel worthy of royalty. Thousands attended the gala opening-night festivities, including members of Montana's Blackfeet tribe -- guests of the hotel who stayed in tepees pitched on the roof.

The new hotel was an adjunct of Davenport's Restaurant, Spokane's lavish dining establishment, which had been in operation since 1890. Both the restaurant and hotel were designed by Kirtland Cutter, the city's most notable architect. Cutter's fame extended throughout the state, and he designed such notable landmarks as Lakewood's Thornewood Castle, the Camp Lewis Liberty Arch, and Seattle's Stimson-Green Mansion and Rainier Club.

Over the years, the Davenport has welcomed as guests presidents and movie stars, along with such other notable visitors as Charles Lindbergh and Queen Marie of Romania. By century's end, the hotel had closed and was under threat of demolition, but new owners in 2000 launched a $36 million restoration project that returned it to its former elegance. After 100 years of service, the Davenport still reigns as one of Washington's premier hotels.

Raise Your Hands and Yell

On August 31, 1951, Seattle jazz lovers enjoyed a concert by the Lionel Hampton Orchestra at Seattle's Trianon Ballroom -- more so because a local trumpeter by the name of Quincy Jones was playing with the band. Six years later, on September 1, 1957, a new generation danced to a different beat when Elvis Presley swiveled into town for a concert at Sicks' Stadium, causing many a teenage girl to get all shook up.

A decade later, on August 30, 1968, hordes of hippies descended on Sultan, Washington, near the Skykomish River for the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair. With music by Santana, the Grateful Dead, and scores of other entertainers, the outdoor rock concert was so much fun that another one was held a year later in Tenino, near Olympia. Festival director John Chambless would later play an integral part in the early success of Bumbershoot, which continues to draw crowds to Seattle Center each Labor Day weekend.

News Then, History Now

Special Delivery: On August 28, 1907, two teenage messengers, Jim Casey and Claude Ryan, established their own downtown delivery service. United Parcel Service grew from a dispatch office in the basement of a Seattle saloon, now marked by Waterfall Park in Pioneer Square.

Theatric Activity: On September 3, 1931, more than 20,000 people showed up for the opening of Spokane's Fox Theater. In recent years, the Art Deco structure underwent a massive restoration and reopened in 2007 as the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. It is now the home of the Spokane Symphony.

Until You Drop: On August 28, 1935, a dance marathon/walkathon lasting 1,176 hours (55 days) ended just north of the city limits of Seattle, which had banned the events in 1928 after an attempted suicide by a losing participant. One year later, on August 26, 1936, a dance marathon/walkathon held in Fife ended after 1,600 hours -- almost two months of stumbling, shuffling, and staggering. By this time, several states had banned the contests completely, and in 1937 Washington followed suit.

Final Stop: On August 31, 1936, Spokane's last electric trolley car, bedecked in funeral crepe, rolled through city streets. At the end of its last run it was lit on fire. This week also marks the last Lake Washington run of the ferry Leschi on August 31, 1950. The boat was later towed to Alaska for use as a salmon cannery and was last seen collapsed in the muck near Valdez.

Perils of Radiation: The Hanford Engineer Works brought fresh jobs to the old frontier, but new technology is often accompanied by new problems. Such was the case for Harold McCluskey, who suffered a strange accident on August 30, 1976, and became Hanford's "Atomic Man."

Dates of Incorporation: Washington cities celebrating birthdays this week include Pasco, which incorporated on September 3, 1891, and South Cle Elum, which did the same on August 28, 1911. And four King County cities celebrate anniversaries on August 31. Shoreline became a city on that day in 1995 and Covington followed suit two years later. Kenmore incorporated on August 31, 1998, and Sammamish became a city a year after that.

Quote of the Week

I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wake-up letter.

                                --Steven Wright

Image of the Week

Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct was completed on September 3, 1959.

Today in Washington History      RSS Feed

U.S. Army defeats Native Americans at Battle of Four Lakes on September 1, 1858.

U.S. Army Brigadier General Isaac Stevens, first governor of Washington Territory, is killed at Battle of Chantilly on September 1, 1862.

Steamboat inspection office opens in Seattle on September 1, 1871.

North Yakima YMCA opens on September 1, 1908.

Lake Washington Ship Canal construction starts on September 1, 1911.

Davenport Hotel opens in Spokane on September 1, 1914.

Montlake Station, The Seattle Public Library, opens on September 1, 1944.

Snohomish County PUD begins sale of electricity on September 1, 1949.

Elvis shakes up Seattle on September 1, 1957.

First commercial electricity from Boundary Dam reaches Seattle on September 1, 1967.

Group Health Cooperative begins to deal with its major appointment-availability problem on September 1, 1976.

U.S. Senator Henry M. Jackson dies on September 1, 1983.

John Stanford becomes superintendent of Seattle Public Schools on September 1, 1995.

Washington State Senate bill to regulate "Mail-Order Bride" industry becomes law on September 1, 2002.

New Essays This Week       RSS Feed

Ann Hamilton receives $1 million commission, for creation of Seattle waterfront art installation, on March 26, 2014.

Vashon Island's "Bike in the Tree"

Enumclaw, Washington, 1909

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