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tv   Northern Pacific Railroad  CSPAN  August 6, 2017 11:49pm-12:00am EDT

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where they won a prize of $1500 for their documentary on the wage gap. in northampton, massachusetts, students one anonymous mention prize of $150 for their documentary on immigration reform. theyn massachusetts, received an honorable mention prize of $202 for their documentary on the opioid epidemic. thank you to all the students who took part in her 2017 documentary program. studentcam 2018 starts with the theme, the constitution and you. are asking students to create a video illustrating why a provision is important. >> american history tv is visiting to call my.
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tacoma.siting >> in the years before the arrival of the transcontinental railroad tacoma was not dissimilar from most of the other small communities around puget sound. the population presence was predominantly native american. by the end of the19th century, coming over the oregon trail and then some by sea, small little villages of americans and europeans arrived mostly along . the shoreline. that was because the primary purpose here for people that were settling was cutting timber and milling timber. that was then sent down to san
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francisco. so that prompted a lot of entrepreneurs and small investors and adventurers to come up and begin to build cities. seattle, bellingham, port townsend, olympia, all were small or smallish communities of 50 to a few hundredpeople prior to the arrival of the transcontinental. at the conclusion of the civil war and the announcement that the railroad was coming, every community hoped that they would be the terminal city, that they would be chosen for the railroad. it came down to really being between seattle, tacoma, and olympia.
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by 1873, early 1873, the transcontinental was being built in two directions. it was not just one railhead. congress in the charter for the railroad had dictated this section from the columbia river to puget sound needed to be completed and the railroad company needed to bring steam engines to salt water by december 1873. in july of that year, thetracks had been laid from the columbia about half way to where it is today on i-5. in july of that year, the robert -- the railroad had then entertaining offers in the various communities. cash, land, port facilities,
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whatever a community or city could put together to lure the railroad there. in july of 1873, july 14, the final decision between seattle and tacoma was made. tacoma was selected. the terminal city, the choice for the conclusion ofthe line that 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 medications that communications. -- communications. the course was a big deal for the far west. the reason tacoma was picked -- there are a multitude of reasons
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but first of all it's an absolutely perfect harbor. especially for sailing vessels. even today it is an ideal harbor. deepwater harbor, tiedde flats and lots of areas for worse. nearby solid bedrock ground that would carry the weight of freight and railroads. you can bring the railroad right up to the dock and be able to live goods off and on the ships. that was part of it. another reason was that the railroad was built on land grants. the federal government basically divided the whole route into square-mile blocks and surveyed it. the railroad got a checkerboard, every other parcel as payment for building a railroad. in seattle, most of seattle had already been state claimed and was owned by the residents of seattle.
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in tacoma, a much more smaller population. the railroad could literally on the city and indeed they did when they arrived. that is a part of tacoma's first half of its life. the railroad came in, set up the tacoma land company, and then they began to profit off the sale of land. it went from forest land that was practically valueless was the trees were cut the suddenly urban real estate that they could profit off of. they brought wealth with them and that able to turn around and profit from it. we see element of that today because not only to the railroad own the land and the terms by which they would sell the land to somebody who wanted to build a building or whatever, house,
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but in the days before building codes and zoning they were able to enforce their own ideas about how they wanted the city to look. you very much sensethat today 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 cash terms tobuy the land from the railroad in the first place, but the railroad been dictated the design, the construction method of the buildings themselves. all these warehouses and sturdy, fireproof warehouses are all pretty much the idea to force the building standard the railroad had. by the 1930's and then into the 1940's, the neighborhood began to kind of receipt of little bit as the automobile took over and
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the the port modernized a lot of the big grocery warehouses and hardware, all the goods they came and went, moved out into the industrial port area. the prairie line became almost forgotten in a way. it was still a utility, it was still used, but itwas unappreciated or understood. really after the second world war and even -- passenger service largely stopped in the prairie line. in 1955 thereabouts, the last passenger service stopped traveling on the prairie line. by the 1990's, the city itself began to go through a real revival. because of the sturdy, well-built infrastructure, the
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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 people began to realize, wait a minute, the origin of the city is still intact. it is still here and still functioning. in the 1990's and into the current century after 2000, the campus decided -- the university of washington launched a campus here. they had been downtown. they moved to the warehouse district andbegan buying up all the old empty warehouses and building a modern-day campus. a few years ago now, about 2010, with the expansion of the library, for the first time people began to talk about actually intruding on the 80 foot right-of-way of the prairie
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line. there was conversation in building up the campus and meeting its needs that there was certainly encroached. and then somebody remembered that the 80 foot right-of-way is where everything started. the adversity made a courageous decision to keep the 80 foot right-of-way as open space, to keep the loading docks as covered pedestrian ways, can keep as much as they could of the railroad still intact. today the prairie line as you see it, although it has been hard scape and modernized for a campus use, for pedestrian use because railcars don't use it anymore, it is now a linear central open space of the campus. for people coming here, they don't just enjoy modern campus. they get a very authentic look
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at the narrative of not just tacoma, but a big chapter in american history. >> rcv's tour staff recently traveled to tacoma, washington to learn about its rich history. learn more about the, and other sites on our tour at our website. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. cases, produced in cooperation with the national constitution


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