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tv   Northern Pacific Railroad  CSPAN  December 21, 2017 5:35pm-5:48pm EST

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so if you want to try to find everything that belongs to william clark quauntrel, be my guest, but he was really a pretty, as far as i can tell, pretty nasty person. anything else? all right. thank you. [applause] tonight on american history tv, you can watch this program and more during our special look at the american west and cowboy culture. it starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on cspan 3. american history tv is in prime time all week, every week, for the rest of the year. >> you're watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on cspan 3. follow us on twitter at cspan history for information on our schedule and to keep up with the
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latest history news. >> our cspan cities tour takes american history tv on road to feature the history of cities across america. here's a recent program. >> in the years before the arrival of the trans continental railroad, tacoma was not d dissimilar from the other communities around puget sound and the northwest. the population was predominantly native american. by the end of the 19th century coming over the oregon trail and then some by sea, small little villages really of american, of europeans, had arrived. but mostly along the shoreline and that was because the primary purpose here for people that
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were settling was cutting timber and milling timber that was then sent down to san francisco. so that prompted a lot of entrepreneurs and small investors and adventurers to come up and begin to build cities and so seattle, bellingham, townsend, olympia, all were small, smallish communities of 50 to a few hundred people, really. pride prior to the coming of t trans continental. but at the conclusion of the civil war and the announcement really that the railroad was coming, every community, you know, hope d that they would be the terminal city that they would been chosen for the railroad. >> so it came down to really
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being between seattle, tacoma and olympia. and so by 1873, by early in 1873, the transcontinental was being built in two directions. so it just didn't have one rail head. but the big decision was congress in the charter for the railroad had dictated that the section from the columbia river to puget sound needed to be completed and the railroad needed to be steam engines to salt water. in july of that year, the tracks had been laid from the columbia about halfway to where tenino is today on i-5. and then it was in july of that year, they all the time the
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railroad had been entertaining offers from the various communities. cash, land, port facilities, whatever a community, a city could put together to kind of lure the railroad there. in january, in july of 1873, july 14th, the final decision between seattle and tacoma was made and tacoma was selected an the terminal city, the choice for the conclusion of the line then was set up not only to be an arrival point for goods and travelers, but also for the arrival of the telegraph, which meant news and banking and communications. so the course of the transcontinental railroad was a big deal for the far west. the reason tacoma was pickeded
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by the np, there's a multitude of reasons. primary, first of all, it's an absolutely perfect harbor. especially for sailing vessels. but even today, it's an ideal harbor. deep water harbor. tide flaps and lots of area for wharfs. nearby solid bedrock ground, which would carry the weight of o freight and railroads so you could bring the train right up to the dock and be able to load goods out of and on the ships. so that was part of it. frank ly, another reason was tht the railroad was built on land grants. the federal government basically divided the whole route into, into square mile blocks and surveyed it and the rail rode g road got like a checkerboard got every other parcel as payment
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for bulldoggi ing building the railroad. in seattle, most of seattle had been stake estaked, claimed and owned by the residents of seattle. in tacoma, much more vacant ground. so the railroad came here because they could literally own the city. and they did. that's a part of tacoma's really first half of its life, the railroad came in, they set up the land company and then they began to profit off the sale of land. within the city. so it went from forestland that was valueless once the trees were cut to suddenly urban real estate that they could profit off of. so they brought wealth with them and they were able to turn around and profit from it. we see elements of that today, too. because not only did the railroad own the land and there by own the terms by which they
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would sell the land to somebody b wanted to build a building or whatever, house, but they in the days before building codes and zoning, they were able to enforce their own ideas about how they wanted the city to look. and you very much sensed that today here on the campus. these sturdy brick warehouses were all built under the guidelines that were imposed by the railroad. so the builders of the warehouses would meet the term, the cash terms to buy the land from the railroad in the first place, but the railroad then dictate ed the design, the construction method of the buildings themselves. so all these warehouses, these sturdy fireproof warehouses, are all pretty much the idea, the force building standards, the railroad had. by the 1930s and then into the
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'40s, the neighborhood began to kind of recreed a little bit as the automobile took over and pas passenger traffic by rail faded away. warehouses still remained in operation, but as the port modernized, a lot of the big grocery warehousers and hardware, all of the goods that came and went, moved out into the industrial port area. and the prairie line became almost forgotten in a way. it was still a utility. it was still used, but it wasn't appreciated or understood for the story that went with it. and really, after the second world war, it even passenger service largely stopped on the prairie line in 1955. there abouts, the last passenger service stopped traveling on the prairie line. by the 1990s though, the city it
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began to go through a real revival. and because of the sturdy, well built infrastructure and the built environment of tacoma, the recovery of the city largely happened around the reuse of the historic buildings that were already here. it was during that period that people began to realize hey, wait a minute, the origin of the city is still in tact. it's still here and still functioning. so in the 1990s and then into the current century after 2000, the campus, the university of washington launched the campus here. they had been downtown. they moved to the warehouse district and began buying up all the old empty warehouses and building a modern day campus. and a few years ago now, about 2010, with the expansion of the
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library, for the first time, people began to talk about actually intruding on the 80-foot right of way of the prairie line that was conversation in building out the campus that they would start to encroach. and then somebody remembered that the 80-foot right of way is where everything started and the university made a very kind of courageous decision to keep the 80-foot, the 80-foot right of way as open space, to keep the loading docks as covered pedestrian ways and to keep as much they could of the language of the railroads still in tact and today, the priory line as we see it, although it's been hard scaped and modernized for campus use for pedestrian use because rail cars don't use it anymore, it's now sort of linear central
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open space of the campus. so for people coming here, they don't just enjoy a modern campus. they get a very authentic look at the narrative of not just tacoma, but a big chapter in american history. >> you can watch this and other programs on the history of communities across the country at cities tour. this is american history tv. only on cspan 3. this weekend on american history tv on cspan 3. saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history. american university professor aaron bell talks about privacy laws and federal surveillance of civil rights leaders. >> here's the head of the operations, william sullivan, shortly after march on washington and martin luther
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king jr.'s speech, we must mark king now if we have not before, as the most dangerous negro in the future of this nation from the standpoint of communism, the negro and the national security. >> sunday at 4:30 p.m. eastern, former members of congress and vietnam war veterans reflect on lessons learned and ignored during the war. >> we learned the limits of military power during the vietnam war. we learned that as a society, as culture that you can't kill an idea with a bullet. >> american history tv. this weekend only on cspan 3. american history tv in prime time. focusing on the american west and cowboy culture. up next, how president dwight eisenhower's western upbringing influenced his personal code of behavior and his actions as a military and political leader.


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