The Grid: Broadway grew into its name

  • Fri Jun 29th, 2012 11:00pm
  • Life

By Andy Rathbun Herald Writer

Broadway has been a street of firsts since Everett’s birth in 1892.

The city’s first hospital? On Broadway. The first City Hall? Broadway. First school? Broadway.

So there’s a light irony in the name of the street, which is nothing but an imitation.

Everett’s founders — moneymen like Charles Colby and Henry Hewitt — already had used their own names for other downtown blocks, so they borrowed Broadway’s from New York City, a place where they had financial roots.

“Just an emulation,” Everett historian David Dilgard said.

The founders ended up being prescient, as Broadway grew into its grandiose namesake, laying claim to the city’s original municipal center.

Eventually, though, all of its famous firsts moved to other blocks. It took years before Broadway was able to regain its identity. Today, the street is home to Snohomish County’s largest concert venue, Comcast Arena, along with many other spots.

“People can expect to see almost anything on Broadway,” city of Everett spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.

Granted, not all of its destinations rise to the level of the arena. Many are the meat-and-potato offerings of any city block: gas stations and offices, fast food and social services.

Those buildings alone don’t define Broadway, however. As much as any downtown block, it is about pure kinetic movement. Twenty-nine thousand drivers use it daily, every one of them going somewhere: to work, eat, meet friends, shop or simply head home.

Broadway is one of Everett’s busiest thoroughfares, an artery joined to the heart of the city. For many, it is where downtown begins.

And in that respect, it hasn’t changed at all since 1892.

Trivia on Broadway

• Established in 1892 as the eastern border of downtown Everett.

• Home to Everett’s original hospital, school and City Hall.

• Currently home to the county’s largest concert venue, Comcast Arena.

• Twenty-nine thousand* drivers use it daily.

• Past site of Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches.

• Upcoming projects include the replacement of the Broadway bridge in 2013.

Every Monday, we’ll profile a downtown Everett street, as we challenge readers to come up with a mnemonic device to remember their order: Broadway, Lombard, Oakes, Rockefeller, Wetmore, Colby, Hoyt, Rucker and Grand. Herald reader Ann Washburn has one idea: “Bring lattes, or Rachel will cry her rage greatly.” Send ideas to: Andy Rathbun at or call him at 425-339-3466 or 3479. Top ideas will win a prize.

*Correction, July 3, 2012: This story originally gave two different figures for the number of drivers that use Broadway each day. The correct figure is 29,000.