Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Automobile Age Comes to Spokane!

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com:

Between 1898 and 1899, Spokane residents saw their first automobiles.  According to the February 11. 1926 issue of The Spokane Woman magazine, the earliest photograph of an auto appearing in Spokane was dated 1898.  The open car belonged to F. O. Berg.  [Berg was hired by a Portland man in 1898 to travel to New York and buy a car for him.  Berg chose a Locomobile Steamer, but when he returned with the car, the businessman was not able to figure out how it worked, so he sold it to Berg.]  In 1899 the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported the arrival of two gas-powered vehicles.  The Tull & Gibbs Company bought a large delivery truck.  Roy Boulter, owner of the other vehicle, apparently did not have much luck with his – the few times it was seen, it was being towed by a horse.  He soon replaced the gas engine with a steam motor, and later converted it into a steam saw

Berg’s recollection of his arrival in Spokane with his new car was quoted in the magazine, as follows:  “I started from the old O.W.R. & N.  [Oregon-Washington Railway & Navigation] depot on Cataldo Street, and before I got uptown I had succeeded in starting five runaways.  They didn’t have any arrest laws in those days, but I got plenty of abuse.”  On May 26, 1902, the absence of automobile traffic laws became an immediate problem.  Chief of Police William W. Witherspoon issued a citation to one of Spokane’s leading citizens for speeding down Riverside Avenue.  The Chief was on the streetcar at the time and caught up to the offender as he reached his destination.  Estimating the driver to be going at least 12 to 15 miles per hour, the Chief issued him a citation. [There was a 6 Miles Per Hour speed limit for horses in Spokane Municipal Code of 1892, but no speed limit for cars.]   However, the charge was later dropped because there was no law to support it.  Chief Witherspoon was on hand at the next city corporate council meeting to initiate Spokane’s first automobile traffic code.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The story of The Founding of Manito Park Continues…

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com:

In 1907, during a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Counsel James M. Geraghty made a statement summing up the spirit of donating land for parks.  This statement appeared in the January 10th issue of the Spokane Daily Chronicle, “Let me tell you that no man has ever given the city a site for anything unless it lay near land that he owned and which he knew would be enhanced in value immensely by the expenditure of the city’s money on the donated land.  A.B. Campbell, who gave the site for the city library is, I believe, the one exception.”  This statement appears to sum up the origin of many parks, not only in Spokane, but throughout the nation.

Donating the land for Manito Park was clearly a successful financial move for all parties involved, and marked the beginning of the real estate boom in that area.  At the turn of the century, the most popular areas to live in Spokane were serviced by streetcars.  Many of the rail lines were built by real estate developers to promote the sale of their property.  In 1903, the year after purchasing Cook’s old line, Graves reorganized it as the Spokane Traction Company.  Between the Traction Company and his real estate ventures, Graves would turn Cook’s former holdings into an enterprise worth millions.  Because of its rail access and the city’s promise of new streets, Manito Park was at the hub of this rapidly growing neighborhood.

Rapid expansion of the streetcar lines continued as the city grew and competition was fierce; Washington Water Power began absorbing some of the smaller lines, but Graves’s line held its ground.  However, another competitor seen entered the scene and gradually began taking its toll on all the streetcar operations.

Hear about that streetcar threat next week.  Stay tuned….

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

More on The Founding of Manito Park – The Next Chapter….

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com:

By 1903 most of Cook’s properties on Cook’s Hill had been acquired by a number of land speculators.  Several of them, including Jay and his brother Will Graves, formed the Spokane-Washington Improvement Company to develop and promote their new Manito Addition, bounded by 14th Avenue on the north, 33rd avenue on the south, Hatch to the east, and Division to the west.  Intent on providing reliable public transportation to the Manito area, Graves had acquired the Spokane & Montrose street railway late in 1902.  He immediately began converting it from narrow to standard gauge track and improving the cars.

His next step was to organize the owners of the adjacent properties to offer a large tract of acreage to the city for a park.  Along with the Spokane-Washington Improvement Company and Spokane & Montrose Motor Railroad Co., the Washington Water Power Company, Northwestern and Pacific Hypotheekbank, and Frank Hogan collectively contributed nearly 95 acres to the city.  In exchange for this park acreage, the city agreed to pay the costs to improve the area, specifically to build a road system around the new park and bring in the main waterline.   Although legal title was not transferred until the following year, Montrose Park took on new ownership, a new name and a definite sense of direction.  A July 31, 1903 article in the Spokane Daily Chronicle announced the proposed boundaries for the park.

This article also proclaimed the new name for the park “…Manita [sic] Park, referring to its elevation, which affords a fine view of the city.”  The developers of the Manito Addition understood “Manito” to be an Indian word for “hilltop”, as indicated in a brochure they published to promote their Manito properties.  More specifically, it is an Algonquin (a North American tribe originally from the area of Quebec, Canada) word meaning “spirit” or “a supernatural force that pervades nature,” still a fitting description for the area.

The story will continue next week with more details about the founding of this marvelous park.  Please click over to www.ManitoPark.org again then.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Founding of Manito Park – The Story Continues….

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com:

Grave’s ancestral line is traced to Captain Thomas Graves, who came to Jamestown, Virginia, (the first permanent English settlement in America) in 1608.  Captain Graves made passage on the William and Mary, the second ship to make this voyage.  The family tree reveals a long line of significant accomplishments on a national level.  Following graduation in 1880 from Carthage College in Carthage, Illinois, Jay Graves engaged in the hardware business in Plymouth, Illinois.  By 1887 Spokane Falls was gaining a reputation as a city of great opportunity.  This information, and the lure of the West, drew Graves to Spokane in late 1887.  His initial ventures in Spokane were in Real Estate investment.  Many of Graves’s early business dealings were somewhat complicated, being cloaked in various partnerships and names.  However, his entrepreneurial interests were broad, centering around mining, railroads and urban development.

Graves was particularly fortunate during the Panic.  By 1894 many of Spokane’s founders and early promoters had suffered financially.  Among them were Francis Cook, James Glover and Anthony Cannon.  John Fahey, in his book Shaping Spokane, states:

The panic did not destroy everyone, did not maul uniformly.  While hundreds lost fortunes and property, a man with money could select among unique bargains in real estate.  For example, John A. Finch, miner-turned-real-estate speculator, foreclosed Muzzy’s Addition; the Hypotheekbank took Cannon’s and Cook’s additions, and the Provident Trust, Cook’s street railway.  Sales of abandoned, foreclosed, and tax-delinquent property in and near Spokane would go on for years… thus, distress for many meant opportunity for a few.  While jobless men occupied the old city haymarket, intending to march with Coxey, by contrast 73 borrowers repaid the Hypotheekbank.  A newspaper estimated that there were 650 homeless persons in Spokane, sleeping in saloons or a tabernacle.  On the other hand, contractors built a flour mill and 400 new houses (average cost $1,000) in the city during 1894.  The state underwrote an insane asylum at nearby Medical Lake and a normal school at Cheney and Spokane County built a French Renaissance courthouse as relief projects.  But when the City of Spokane called on individual citizens and business to be sureties for a new waterworks, 155 pledged from $500 to $40,000.  Neither Graves nor Clough [Clough was one of Jay Graves’s partners in development], incidentally signed as surety.

By 1901 the depression was over and the economy was booming again.  For those, such as Graves, who had anticipated the future, now was the time to take action.  On November 21, 1901, the first hint of something greater for Cook’s Montrose Park appeared in the paper.  The Spokane Daily Chronicle published a headline that read, “WILL GIVE A FINE PARK … Companies Owing Large Tracts of Land on the Southern Hill to Present a Big Tract to the City of Spokane … CITY MAY SECURE EIGHTY ACRES.”
Tune in next week for the next chapter in the story of the birth of Manito Park.