Population growth in the Pacific Northwest tripled from 1900 to 1910
due to the arrival of immigrants and U.S. home seekers to the newly
developed western states. Nationally these were prosperous years and
people felt optimistic.
Like most Pacific Northwest cities, Everett welcomed growth
initiated by the new monetary leadership in town, the Everett
Improvement Company, a development company backed by Great Northern
Railway executive James J. Hill. Besides encouraging industry, the
Improvement Company built a theater and several neighborhood parks.
This rapid growth brought problems as well, particularly on the
industrial front, and workers built a solid union base in order to
fight for better working conditions and hours in the cities mills.
Washington women’s suffrage was passed in November 1910.
Journalists and photographers recorded this burst of enthusiastic
growth in writing and with their cameras. Many families took candid
snapshots which they converted to postcards and sent to relatives
living in the places they left behind. Film speeds were slow at that
time, making low-light environments difficult to record. And while
amateur photographers often tried snapping pictures inside their
homes using flash powder, this was done with varying degrees of
success and safety. Even professional photographers at the beginning
of the twentieth century still preferred working in outdoor or
well-lighted studio settings.
The interior views presented here are unusual for the time period
and show us what was behind the street facade in Everett and
Snohomish offices, saloons and stores in 1907. They were scanned
from prints made from original 8 x 10 glass plate negatives which
are presently owned by Everett Community College. EVCC received them
in the 1950s.
Their photographer is unknown. Everett Public Library was given a
set of contact prints by the college to add to the library’s
Northwest Room photo collection. Format size and image quality
clearly suggest these were taken by a professional photographer and
since they show numerous Everett and Snohomish businesses, it is
likely they were taken for a particular contracted purpose. We just
don’t know. What is known about the photos has come entirely from
information given at the time of the donation, evidence revealed in
the images themselves, identifications made by old timers and
research done in local newspapers and the Polk’s city directories.
Calendars, circus posters and other paper notices appear on the
walls in enough of the views to reasonably date the series as having
been taken in the summer of 1907.
Bert Brush, Clara and Alice Rigby and Jesse Myers were the major
commercial photographers working in Everett in 1907, but no definite
connection has been made to any particular studio. It is equally
possible that they were taken by an itinerant photographer. Please
contact the Everett Public Library’s Northwest Room if you have
further information about the collection or an individual photo.