Shaper of Seattle

Un libro in lingua di Wilson William H. edito da Washington State Univ Pr, 2009

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Young, ambitious, and college-educated, Reginald Heber Thomson wanted to make a big impression when leaving California in 1881. Seattle brimmed with opportunity, but when his steamer docked at Yesler's wharf, the sight proved dismal. Nondescript wood-framed buildings and plank sidewalks sprawled along muddy streets. Thomson may have smelled the Puget Sound metropolis before seeing it. Utilities were crude to nonexistent. Pipes dumped untreated contents of tin bathtubs and chamber pots straight into Elliott Bay and rats scurried around piers. Recalling that earlier time, he wrote, "Looking at local surrounds, I felt that Seattle was in a pit, that to get anywhere we would be compelled to climb out of it if we could."
Thomson began surveying for his cousin's firm, quickly rising to partner, while mingling with Seattle's energetic elite. In 1884 he became city surveyor, and in 1892, city engineer. By then the city's booming population was in dire need of a clean reliable water supply and a workable sewage system. Thomson delivered both and more, aided by a keen ability to select capable subordinates. He installed drain pipes and sewers where others failed,and his Cedar River gravity system replaced water pumped from turbid Lake Washington. To assist horsedrawn vehicles in transporting goods, he spectacularly leveled steep hills while filling hollows and tideflats. His municipal power plant lit homes, businesses, and streets, and he installed miles of pavement, tunnels, and bridging.
As a civic leader, he later served with the Port of Seattle and on the city council. For decades,Thomson labored diligently on behalf of urban dwellers and remains responsible for much of the Emerald City's infrastructure today. Thomson succeeded despite a tenure filled with intense financial pressures and political and public controversies. In Shaper of Seattle, William H. Wilson has produced a comprehensive, critical examination, exploring key events and forces that shaped R. H. Thomson in his youth, career, personal life, and waning years.

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