history

Tribute: The Man Who Led The War To Kill Smallpox

Aug 25, 2016

"Anxious, pleading, pock-deformed faces; the ugly, penetrating odor of decaying flesh; the hands, covered with pustules, reaching out, as people begged for help .... And there was no drug, no treatment that we could give them."

Lesley Holdcroft, elevator operator at Seattle's historic Smith Tower.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Smith Tower re-opens Thursday in Pioneer Square. It marks an important turnaround for the 1914 landmark Seattle building. 

It was once the tallest building West of the Mississippi. But it left that title behind long ago. You could say the Smith Tower hit rock bottom after the recession when plans to turn it into condos didn’t pan out and banks foreclosed on the famous wedding cake of a building.

KUOW’s Joshua McNichols took a tour of Smith Tower to learn some of its history.

Growing up in Seattle I spent summer evenings like this picking blackberries.

These days I spend more time trying to fend off blackberry vines in my garden.

If you’ve tried to do that, you’ve probably found that following one long blackberry vine to the source leads to another heading a different direction.

The Voynich Manuscript is a singular mystery. But thanks to a small publishing house in Spain, the one-of-a-kind text will soon be more like one-in-900.

The 15th-century document is written in an unknown, apparently encrypted language that has defied every code breaker's efforts. It's illustrated with unknown or imaginary plants and never-seen constellations. The only copy is locked away at Yale University to protect the book; scans online are the closest most mortals can get to viewing its pages.

Shiyogi Kawabata, 88, worked on a wooden chain (below) while interned at Minidoka, a Japanese internment camp in Idaho.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

At 88, Shiyogi Kawabata remembers the harsh conditions he and his family endured in the Minidoka Relocation Center during World War II.

Ticks. Coyotes. Scorpions. Black widow spiders.

Eighty years ago this month, the United States competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games in Nazi Germany, and 18 African-American athletes were part of the U.S. squad.

Track star Jesse Owens, one of the greatest Olympians of all time, won four gold medals. What the 17 other African-American Olympians did in Berlin, though, has largely been forgotten — and so too has their rough return home to racial segregation.

Bust of Chief Si'ahl in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
Flickr Photo/Brian Glanz (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/DwkeT

The first thing to know about Chief Seattle is how he pronounced his name.

Skagit elder Vi Hilbert pronounced it for HistoryLink (18 seconds):

Chief Seattle, our city’s namesake, is a bit of an enigma.

He was born in 1786, after native populations were decimated by small pox and other diseases brought in by white settlers.

Wendy Boglioli won bronze in the Women's 100 metres Butterfly and gold in the Women's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Bill Radke speaks with swimmer Wendy Boglioli about facing off against the East German women's swimming team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

The massively powerful East German swimmers, who were later found to have been systematically doped by their government, took gold after gold in event after event. The Americans were entirely shut out -- until the last race. 

A Portland testing lab and a research team led by the University of Victoria have reset assumptions about the durability of biological evidence.

How durable? Wrap your head around 250,000 years.

David Bromberg is best known as a guitar virtuoso, who has collaborated with Bob Dylan and George Harrison and fronted his own band. But he's also a collector of American violins, and his collection is such that the Library of Congress has announced its intention to acquire it.

Workers ready Slo-mo-shun IV for public viewing.
Courtesy Paul Dorpat

Jon Osterberg remembers the first time he saw a hydroplane, more than 50 years ago.


Courtesy of MOHAI, Milkie Studio Collection

Bill Radke talks to writer Heather Wells Peterson about the history of revolving restaurants. She wrote an article about it for Lucky Peach. The restaurant on top of the Space Needle, SkyCity Restaurant, is the world's oldest operating revolving restaurant, but they date back all the way to the Roman Empire when the emperor Nero had one. 

Revolving restaurants enjoyed their heyday in the U.S. during the Cold War, but have largely fallen out of fashion since then. But, Peterson explains, they are gaining traction in some Asian countries and in the Middle East.

The 1936 Olympic team crewed the wooden Husky Clipper, which now hangs in a place of honor above the the crew dining hall.
KUOW Photo/Matt Mills McKnight

Marcie Sillman speaks with Judy Willman, daughter of Joe Rantz, about how finding "swing" with the 1936 University of Washington rowing team changed her father's life. The nine boys on that legendary team beat staggering odds to win gold in the Berlin Olympics.

The University of Texas dedicated a memorial to victims of a sniper-style attack there 50 years ago on the same day concealed-carry of handguns became legal at Texas public universities.

In an early afternoon ceremony, Gregory Fenves, the university's president, dedicated a granite monument containing the names of 17 people killed by Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old student and former Marine, who opened fire from the school's clocktower on Aug. 1, 1966. He killed people both on campus and elsewhere that day.

John Hinckley Jr., 35-years after he tried to kill a president, has won his freedom.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has granted a request for Hinckley to leave the mental hospital where he's resided for decades, to go live full-time with his elderly mother in Williamsburg, Va.

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