Tag Archives: Walking Washington’s History

October 2016 News, Reviews, and Events


The Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library announces the finalists in eight categories for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards for outstanding books published by Washington authors in 2015. Congratulations to our finalists Ana Maria Spagna (Reclaimers; Biography/Memoir) and Ruth Kirk (Ozette; History/General Nonfiction). The winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 8, 2016. Emcee for the evening is Frances McCue, twice a UW Press finalist for a WSBA (in 2011 for The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs and in 2015 for Mary Randlett Portraits). The awards celebration is free and open to the public.

University of Washington Press shares in the remembrance of Sarah Reichard, who died suddenly in her sleep on August 29, 2016. Dr. Reichard directed the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, was coeditor of Invasive Species of the Pacific Northwest, and advised UW Press on other projects. Read obituaries and details on the October 13th memorial celebration in the Seattle Times and Offshoots (blog of the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences).

Reviews and Interviews

Michael Upchurch reviews Looking for Betty MacDonald by Paula Becker in the Seattle Times: “The Egg and I, The Plague and I and Anybody Can Do Anything practically cavort off the page. How did [Betty MacDonald] do it? Seattle author Paula Becker has some answers in her compact, finely crafted biography.”

Lory Widmer Hess reviews the biography on her Emerald City Book Review blog: “I was delighted to explore MacDonald’s life and work through Paula Becker’s thoughtful, painstakingly researched biography, and even more thrilled to see that University of Washington Press is going to be reprinting three hard-to-find later works by the bestselling author of The Egg and I: Anybody Can Do Anything, The Plague and I, and Onions in the Stew. . . . If you’re not a MacDonald enthusiast, you will be soon. . . . We can be grateful that Becker has preserved it for us in words, and has given us valuable insights into her world, her books, her family, and the writer herself.”

Barbara McMichael reviews in the Kitsap Sun: “The pages zing with unexpected detail and nuggets of lacerating wit. . . If you’re Looking for Betty MacDonald, you need look no further.” Paula’s other book (The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition) and the MacDonald reissues (The Plague and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, and Onions in the Stew) also get mentions.

Steve Donoghue reviews the books at Open Letters Monthly: “A smart and immensely readable portrait, taking readers through MacDonald’s life. . . . Becker has combed every interview and profile, and her book veritably glows with MacDonald’s recaptured wit. . . . Thanks to Paula Becker’s exhaustive research and the compassionate, standard-setting book she’s shaped out of it, 21st century readers can meet a much fuller and more fascinating version of that complex, challenging, laughing woman. Readers of her books will still want to thank her, but thanks to Looking for Betty MacDonald, they’ll know her much better.” The Plague and I (“improbably funny. . . equally remarkable”) and Anybody Can Do Anything (“again improbably funny”) also get mentions.

Bainbridge Community Broadcasting’s “What’s Up Bainbridge” host Wendy Wallace speaks with Paula Becker about the biography and reissues.
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September 2016 News, Reviews, and Events


Congratulations to Sylvanna M. Falcón, winner of the National Women’s Studies Association 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize for Power Interrupted, selected “for its clear writing, as well as its adept integration of intersectional and transnational analyses to assess the grassroots feminist work that employs international frameworks when addressing gender and racial issues through the global stage that the UN provides.”

Reviews and Interviews

David Takami reviews Judy Bentley’s Walking Washington’s History in the Seattle Times: “Coming soon to a city near you: clusters of visitors gazing intently at a handheld object as a way to engage with their surroundings. . . . The commendable new book by Judy Bentley. . . . is an immensely appealing approach to writing history. . . . Bentley demonstrates that history is not abstruse and remote from our current experience; it is ever present—and just around the next corner.“

Christian Martin reviews the book on the Chattermarks blog from North Cascades Institute: “Bentley provides brief but engaging historical overviews. . . . There are stories in the ground beneath our feet, dashed dreams lingering in the air, as well as legacies of benevolent forethought from a not-so-distant past all around us.”

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Walking Bellingham

Inspired by Judy Bentley’s Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities, our staff is going on a series of history walks of featured Washington State cities (see a similar series at Northwest Public Radio). In this guest post, 2016-2017 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow Niccole Leilanionapae’aina Coggins explores Bellingham.

Learn more about Washington’s urban history and celebrate the publication of Walking Washington’s History at these author events:

Thursday, August 4 at 6:30 p.m., REI Olympia, Olympia, WA

Tuesday, August 23 at 7 p.m., REI Seattle

Thursday, August 25 at 7 p.m., KCLS-Renton Library, Renton, WA

Wednesday, September 7 at 7 p.m., Leschi Community Council, Central Area Senior Center

Thursday, September 8 at 6:30 p.m., REI Issaquah, Issaquah, WA

In keeping with the summer plan to try out the various walks featured in Judy Bentley’s book, I volunteered for the next outing. Since I’m new to Washington State and have a car, my colleagues suggested Bellingham. Bentley wrote that Bellingham is a combination of four villages, Whatcom-Sehome-Bellingham-Fairhaven, that “grew along the waterfront of Bellingham Bay and rode every boom and bust that swept the Pacific Northwest in the late 1800s and early 1900s.” The villages eventually merged together and took the name of the bay as their own. The cornerstone markers along the route, like the one between Whatcom and Fairhaven, highlight the historical boundaries of where one town ended and the other began.

The Bellingham Loop is seven miles roundtrip (may be done in parts) and the Extended Walk: South Hill and Western Washington University is three miles one-way, with elevation gain. As luck would have it, this walk is the longest one in the book. Along with two family friends, I opted for the middle part of the loop.

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Welcome to Seattle…

…the best literary, outdoorsy, artsy, techy, coffee-loving, dog-friendly, mountain-viewing, whale watching, ferry-riding, Sasquatch-sighting, beer-drinking, farmers market-strolling, rainy/misting/drizzling (but wow the summers and the green!), reading city in the world!

My favorite thing to do when I arrive in a new city is to find the closest local bookstore. Not only are they great spaces for relaxing or meeting people, but they often lead to the discovery of local authors and events and provide a sense of the histories, nuances, and people of the city.

Whether you’re new to Seattle, just passing through, or a local looking for new adventures, the University of Washington Press has an expansive array of books to help you discover our city. They cover everything from Seattle’s intertwined urban and Native histories, the evolution of Seattle’s gay communities, growing up Japanese American during World War II, local activism and civil rights, the plight and reclamation of our river, the history of music in Seattle, of animalstopography, food, art and architecture, and weather! We hope you’ll consider stopping by your indie bookstore and checking for our W logo in the stacks of books.


And once you’re ready, here are some fun places to read while exploring your new city!

Read: The Deepest Roots

Where: On the ferry heading over for a day trip to Bainbridge Island.

Read: Too High and Too Steep

Where: What used to be Denny Hill in South Lake Union.

Read: Classical Seattle

Where: At Benaroya or McCaw Hall during intermission.

Read: Once and Future River

Where: Before or after a kayak trip on the Duwamish.

Read: The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag

Where: Beneath the shadow of the industrial landmark at Gas Works Park.

Read: Shaping Seattle Architecture

Where: On a bench in historic Pioneer Square.

Read: Walking Washington’s History

Where: On the water taxi on route to an Alki walk.

Read: Birds of the Pacific Northwest

Where: Discovery Park, the largest city park in Seattle.

Read: Northwest Coast Indian Art

Where: wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House on the University of Washington campus.

Walking Tacoma

Inspired by Judy Bentley’s Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities, our staff is going on a series of history walks of featured Washington State cities. In this guest post, catalog and metadata manager Kathleen Pike Jones explores her hometown of Tacoma.

Learn more about Washington’s urban history and celebrate the publication of Walking Washington’s History at these author events:

Washington State Historical Society State Capital Museum and Olympia Historic Preservation (Olympia walk/talk starting at the Olympia Center, Room 100), Olympia, WA, July 9 at 1 p.m.

History Café (cosponsored by Seattle Public Library, MOHAI, and HistoryLink), MOHAI, July 21 at 6:30 p.m.

Guided hike with Pacific Northwest Historians Guild, Yakima Pass, WA, July 30 at 10 a.m. (For more information, see the PNWHG events page; please RSVP by July 15.)

After reading the Seattle Times article “$99 Road Trip to Zoo, Fort, Beaches, and Forest of Tacoma’s Point Defiance,” I decided to do a little Tacoma sightseeing as well. (Full disclosure: I grew up in Seattle, but moved to the suburbs of Tacoma a number of years ago.)

Point Defiance should definitely be compared to Shangri-La. It’s beautiful. Where else can you go from the zoo to the beach in less than five minutes? I suggest that you go to the Antique Sandwich Co. first and take your food down to Owen Beach. There are plenty of picnic tables at the beach, and the views of the water and Mount Rainier are spectacular. And it’s always a few degrees cooler by the water. . .

Since I go to Point Defiance on a regular basis, I decided to increase my knowledge of Tacoma by taking the Pioneer Walk: Old Town featured in Judy Bentley’s Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities. (Bentley features a much longer walk through downtown Tacoma as well.)

Beginning at the Old Town dock, Bentley’s short walk (one mile round trip) is a great place to start learning more about the history of Tacoma, and Old Town is an easy stopping point on the way to or from Point Defiance.

Here are some highlights of the walk:


I’d driven by the Chinese Reconciliation Park many times and always promised myself I would stop, but never actually had. I’m so glad I finally did. The park serves as an “act of reconciliation and inclusivity toward appreciation of the people of diverse legacies and interests,” says the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation (CRPF). It’s a reminder of the Chinese workers who were forced out of Tacoma by municipal leaders in the late 19th century. The beautiful pavilion is a gift from Fuzhou, Tacoma’s sister city in China. Continue reading

April 2016 News, Reviews, and Events


Author David Williams with his mom and fellow author, Jacqueline B. Williams (Photo via AKCHO)

Author David B. Williams with his mom and fellow author, Jacqueline B. Williams (Photo via AKCHO)

Congratulations to David B. Williams, winner of the 2016 Association of King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO) Virginia Marie Folkins Award for Too High and Too Steep. The awards event will be held on Tuesday, June 7, 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the Northwest African American Museum. Read more at the AKCHO site.

Reviews and Interviews

The PBS series 10 Parks That Changed America, featuring Gas Works Park and interviews with Richard Haag and The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag author Thaisa Way, will air on Tuesday, April 12. Watch the preview and select clips now.
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Photo Essay: ‘Walking Washington’s History’ through Main Street Moments

In Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities, a follow-up to her bestselling Hiking Washington’s History, Judy Bentley uses engaging guided urban walks to trace the state’s history and show each city’s importance in the unfolding story of Washington state. By walking each city, Bentley suggests, you gain a deeper understanding of how history connects with the visible markers overhead and underfoot. Here Bentley offers a glimpse of these cities through photos of their historic main streets.

Learn more about Washington’s urban history and celebrate the publication of Walking Washington’s History at these events:

Seattle Public Library with Elliott Bay Books, Central Library, Sunday, April 24 at 2:00 p.m.

Words, Writers, and West Seattle at Barnes and Noble, Westwood Village, Friday, May 6 at 5 p.m.

Every historic city in Washington had a main street although it wasn’t always called that. Sometimes it was a trail that became the main way through town—the Nez Perce Trail in Walla Walla, the Oregon Trail in Olympia. Sometimes the main street was a river, such as the Columbia River in Vancouver or the Spokane River in Spokane; a bay could also be the central thoroughfare, as in the case of Commencement Bay in Tacoma or Port Gardner Bay in Everett. In Seattle the first main street was a skid road for logs, now known as Yesler Way. These arteries were the centers of civic life, the places where the most important moments in a city’s history occurred.


Courtesy National Park Service.


The wagon road at Fort Vancouver, established in 1825, paralleled the Columbia River, the first avenue of east-west transport in the region. The town of Vancouver grew on the river’s banks west of the fur-trading post, starting in the 1840s and 1850s. It ballooned as a city during World War II when Henry Kaiser located shipyards on the river’s northern and southern banks.

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