The Grid: Grand Avenue slow to earn its name

  • By Andy Rathbun Herald Writer
  • Sunday, August 26, 2012 9:11pm
  • LifeEverett

Grand Avenue wasn’t so grand at the outset.

Of all the downtown blocks conceived by Everett’s founders, arguably it was the street that missed the envisioned mark by the most.

The city founders — people like Charles Colby, who named Everett after his son — likely gave the street its name because they wanted it to provide a “grand” showcase for all the city had to offer.

They were literal-minded folks, those founders.

In theory, locals would ride along the street in a carriage, seeing panoramic mountain views, the flat gray water and the growing industry of their new, bustling metropolis.

“The grandness of the whole prospect was initially seriously grand,” said David Dilgard, historian with the Everett Public Library.

The plan stumbled, though, as the city fell on hard times a year after its founding due to an international silver panic. The roots of Everett had taken hold, but the plan for Grand Avenue was still mostly just that, a plan.

In time, that changed. Houses bloomed north of downtown — some of the finest in the city, with some of the city’s best views. American Legion Memorial Park grew out of patches of blackberry bushes farther north. And commercial businesses took hold in the downtown core.

Those businesses included the Model Garage and Stables, started in 1910 by James Elijah Bell at the corner of Grand Avenue and California Street.

Then, the building housed horses for carriages and was a storage site for an increasingly popular contraption, the automobile.

“People kept them in storage during crummy weather and would bring them out when the roads dried up,” Dilgard said.

In time, that business, like the street itself, went through some changes. During World War II, the business was a sub-assembly station for bombers.

Today, it houses a slew of places, each with a decidedly granola feel: the Sno-Isle Food Co-op, the Sound Holistic Health Clinic and The Sisters Restaurant.

The rest of the street offers a smattering of commercial businesses — including the home base of the Daily Herald — and some residences, like the Nautica condominiums.

It may be a stretch to call all of that grand, but it will certainly do.

Andy Rathbun: arathbun@heraldnet.com, 425-339-3479

Fun with mnemonics!

Every Monday this summer, we’ve profiled a downtown Everett street and challenged readers to come up with a mnemonic device to remember their order: Broadway, Lombard, Oakes, Rockefeller, Wetmore, Colby, Hoyt, Rucker and Grand. Reader Ben Keller suggests: “By logging, our rain weary comrades helped rear generations.” Send your ideas no later than 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, to Andy Rathbun at arathbun@heraldnet.com or call him at 425-339-3479. Top ideas will win a prize.

Next Monday we’ll share some of the great old photos we didn’t have room to run, and on Sept. 10 we’ll wrap up the series and print some of creative mnemonics we received and announce the winner.

Read past entries in this series at www.heraldnet.com/thegrid.

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