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 city's mills.
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; 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 in 1907. They were scanned from prints made from original 8 x 10 glass plate negatives which are presently owned by Everett Community College. Their photographer is unknown.
Format size and image quality clearly suggest these were taken by a professional photographer. Because the images show numerous Everett and Snohomish businesses, it is likely they were taken for a particular contracted purpose. 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.