By Louise Jones-Brown
Tukwila Historical Society
Tukwila will celebrate two major anniversaries in 2018. It will have been 110 years since the city’s incorporation and the 50th anniversary for opening one of the largest malls built with all stores being covered from the weather.
On July 4, 1908, Tukwila celebrated its founding with a grand party and a patriotic speech from the first Tukwila mayor, Joel Shomaker.
Allied Stores opened the newest of its shopping centers, Southcenter (now Westfield Southcenter) on July 31, 1968, with 116 stores enclosed in a 30-acre covered area.
Incorporation of Tukwila took more than 50 years after the arrival of the first pioneer settlers. The Maple, Collins and Van Asselt pioneers arrived in 1851 and were followed in 1853 by Joseph and Stephen Foster. Shomaker arrived in 1902 and worked as farm editor for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Shomaker generated interest in incorporating. The key motivation occurred in March 1908 when the Garden Station Post Office was closed and moved to Georgetown. The Garden Station Post Office reopened May 28, 1908, and the town of Tukwila’s incorporation became official on June 23, 1908.
The Port of Seattle’s plan for heavy industrial development in the valley was revealed as early as 1938. The plan was to straighten the lower Duwamish River as far south as the Tukwila crossroads. The 1946 Master Plan intended to create nearly 1,000 acres of industrial sites on the undeveloped valley land, which was considered not suitable for residential purposes. Many property and business owners in Tukwila and the Duwamish Valley joined together, and with the leadership of Mayor Charles Baker created a plan opposing the port development plan.
Other major events included the 1948 annexation of Herman Anderson’s Golden Arrow Dairy and the Allied Stores purchase of 250 acres just south of Tukwila, which were then annexed into the city. A case was filed on Oct. 22, 1957, in Superior Court by 17 valley residents, stating opposition to the increase in property taxes that would be used for private purposes, which was in violation of the state Constitution. In 1959, the Washington State Supreme Court concluded that the port did not have legal authority to condemn and purchase land. This decision allowed the plans to move forward for the shopping mall development.
The Tukwila Historical Society invites the community to participate in Southcenter 50 in 2018. Plans are being made to commemorate this milestone, which will include an event hosted by the society at the Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center. The event will be open to the public. We will share more information when the date and time have been set.
In conjunction with the Southcenter anniversary, we ask Tukwila residents, past and present, to search their photo collections and attics for pictures that show the Duwamish Valley prior to the construction of the mall as well as those that include memories of events at the new mall. I have been advised that some have photos with the mall Santa and even birthday celebrations at the many restaurants located there.
Contact the Tukwila Historical Society at 206-244-4478 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louise Jones-Brown is president of the Tukwila Historical Society.