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NORTHWEST HISTORY ROOM
 
Everett History
 

A Brief History of Everett, Washington

The lush and verdant peninsula at a site named Port Gardner Bay was for centuries home to Native Americans of the Snohomish tribe. Following the Indian Wars in the 1850s, the Snohomish and other local tribes restructured as the confederation known as Tulalip and were moved to a reservation established at Tulalip Bay.  

Settlers came to the peninsula in response to government granted homesteads and in hopes of extracting the area's natural resources of timber and ore. Nearby mills such as ones at Port Gamble and Utsalady found this location provided easy access for cutting and transporting timber, and for two decades the area was logged.

More change came in the fall of 1891 when work crews began clearing land to build an industrial boomtown that would be supported, planned and built by wealthy east coast and regional investors. The investors hoped this spot would be where the Great Northern Railroad would first touch western tidewater. Named after the son of investor Charles Colby, Everett was planned with a diverse economic base that, in the beginning, included a paper mill, a nail factory, a bargeworks and a smelter to refine ores expected to come from the town of Monte Cristo, located in the Cascade mountains. Lumber and shingle mills also began business near the waterfront.

Everett was incorporated in the spring of 1893. Development was scarcely underway when the country plunged into serious depression. Everett's boom was curtailed by the Panic of 1893. During the next five years, many community services such as hospitals, schools and libraries grew and solidified in response to need.

A new economic boom in 1900 solidified Everett's form as an industrial city. By design, Everett set aside most of its waterfront for industry that now included lumber and shingle mills, wood products manufacturers, iron works, shipbuilders, fisheries, and canneries. There was even a brewery and a shoe factory. New expansion coincided with the arrival of immigrants, and the city's population tripled over the next decade, growing from around 8,000 in 1900 to 24,000 in 1910. Though Canadian and German newcomers accounted for the greatest number, the Scandinavian community seemed most cohesive, creating a network of support, often arranging housing and jobs for arriving relatives and friends.

By World War I, Everett was dominated by the lumber-shingle trade, and by the 1920s, the city's importance as a regional and international waterfront port was well established. But problems of extractive industry proved major in an ecological sense, and cities cast in industrial modes found the next decades difficult. Tied to Everett's economic base, Snohomish County was one of the hardest hit counties in the state during the years of the Great Depression. Lumber-shingle predominance eventually gave way to the papermaking era of Weyerhaeuser, Scott and the Lowell Paper Mill. As the timber economy began to wane regionally, the city welcomed a shift to the arrival of Boeing and aerospace in the 1960s. Though Boeing was not able to provide the recession proof industry it hoped at its outset, it has remained an important, dominant and stable presence in Everett. The arrival of electronics corporations such as John Fluke Mfg. and Intermec spurred economic growth in the ‘80s but downsizing and layoffs took their toll in the ‘90s.

Everett's past is present today in many buildings and residences that still stand. Restoration and rehabilitation has given new life to older neighborhoods and Everett’s central business district. Structures such as the Monte Cristo Hotel, the Culmback and Krieger buildings, various structures along Hewitt Avenue, several residential areas and the city’s public library and City Hall are examples of successful adaptation of city landmarks. New construction has added a Center for the Performing Arts which takes its place alongside the historic Everett Civic Auditorium and the original Everett Theater.

Today, Everett supports a healthy economy, utilizing the pluses of aerospace, telecommunications, computer technology, electronics, health care, tourism, education and government business, the paper products industry of Kimberly-Clark Corporation and numerous small businesses. In the 1990s, government plans for a Navy homeport came to fruition. Though scaled back in size from original plans, the Everett homeport is modern in size and design and commands a prominent place on the city’s waterfront.

 

 

David Dilgard
History Specialist
2702 Hoyt Ave.
Everett, WA 98201
T: 425-257-8005
F: 425-257-8016
E:

 

Lisa Labovitch
History Specialist
2702 Hoyt Ave.
Everett, WA 98201
T: 425-257-8005
F: 425-257-8016
E: