Thursday, August 19, 2004

Tacoma in the 1890s

Teddy Hopkins and family moved to Tacoma, Washington in about 1891. In about 1901, Richard Lewis and family moved down from the mining town of Carbonado to settle in Tacoma as well.

Due to several factors, including the arrival of the railroad from the east in 1887, Tacoma went through a massive population boom at the end of the 19th century: in 1885 the population was 7,000. By 1890 it was 36,000; and in 1900 had reached 53,000.

As a young reporter, Rudyard Kipling visited Tacoma in 1889 and described the mad grab for land:
So we took a train and killed a cow—she wouldn’t get out of the way, and the locomotive ‘chanced’ her and slew—and crossing into Washington Territory won the town of Tacoma, which stands at the head of Puget Sound upon the road to Alaska and Vancouver.

. . . Tacoma was literally staggering under a boom of the boomiest. . . . . The rude boarded pavements of the main streets rumbled under the heels of hundreds of furious men all actively engaged in hunting drinks and eligible corner-lots. They sought the drinks first. The street itself alternated five-story business blocks of the later and more abominable forms of architecture with board shanties. Overhead the drunken telegraph, telephone, and electric-light wires tangled on the tottering posts whose butts were half-whittled through by the knife of the loafer. Down the muddy, grimy, unmetalled thoroughfare ran a horse-car line—the metals three inches above road level. Beyond this street rose many hills, and the town was thrown like a broken set of dominoes over all. A steam tramway—it left the track the only time I used it—was nosing about the hills, but the most prominent features of the landscape were the foundations in brick and stone of a gigantic opera house and the blackened stumps of the pines. . . . We passed down ungraded streets that ended abruptly in a fifteen-foot drop and a nest of brambles’; along pavements that beginning in pine-plank ended in the living tree; by hotels with Turkish mosque trinketry on their shameless tops, and the pine-stumps at their very doors; by a female seminary, tall, gaunt and red, which a native of the town bade us marvel at, and we marvelled; by houses built in imitation of the ones on Nob Hill, San Francisco,—after the Dutch fashion; by other houses plenteously befouled with jig-saw work, and others flaring with the castlemented, battlemented bosh of the wooden Gothic school.

. . . The real-estate agents were selling house-lots on unmade streets miles away for thousands of dollars. On the streets—the rude, crude streets, where the unshaded electric light was fighting with the gentle northern twilight—men were babbling of money, town lots, and again money—how Alf or Ed had done such and such a thing that had brought him so much money; and round the corner in a creaking boarded hall the red jerseyed Salvationists were calling upon mankind to renounce all and follow their noisy God. The men dropped in by twos and threes, listened silently for a while, and as silently went their way, the cymbals clashing after them in vain.

["From Sea to Sea" , Volume 2 No. XXVII by Rudyard Kipling, published 1899]

In 1900 the Hopkins family lived at 2701 Water St. (now Waterview St.). According to the 1900 census, the home was owned free of mortgage.

In 1903, Teddy Hopkins built a home at 2923 No. 30th St. (at Junett). Photo of house. Map. His daughter Anna and son in law Justin "Jess" Lewis lived in the house next door at 3009 Junett. (enter 3009 Junett into the search fields).

Richard Lewis and family had a house at 621 So. 19th St. Map.

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