Welcome to the Rainier Valley Historical Society
The Rainier Valley Historical Society records and provides access to the rich history of Seattle's Rainier Valley!
Explore the unique history of the Rainier Valley, Seattle's most diverse community!
In 1890 J. K. Edmiston built an electric railway through the heavily wooded and sparsely populated Rainier Valley, hoping to attract buyers for the lots he had platted in the town he called Columbia. Over decades that followed, unique communities grew up around the streetcar stations: the Italian neighborhood of "Garlic Gulch" at Atlantic Street, intentionally tony Mount Baker, Columbia City with its world-famous fireworks factory, Hillman City's Irish community, and so on, all the way to Taylor's Mill south of Rainier Beach.
Today some of these communities have faded from memory, but others retain their distinct identities, and new communities have taken shape.
African Americans, Latinos, and immigrants from Southeast Asia, East Africa, and elsewhere followed in the footsteps of the Italians, Germans and Irish, making new homes in this uniquely diverse community. They have formed social clubs, faith communities, and community centers.
Our mission is to document the story of the Valley and all its inhabitants through the collection, preservation, and interpretation of documents, photographs, and artifacts. Join us!
We are part of the way through our end of year membership drive/fundraising campaign. If you have not already done so, please consider becoming a member of RVHS. If you are already a member, please send in your renewal right away. We ask that you also consider an additional gift to help support our work preserving and telling the story of Rainier Valley.
Whether you have family ties to Rainier Valley back to the late nineteenth century, or you have just recently moved into the area, you are the heritage of Rainier Valley. Future generations will look back to YOUR story as a way of seeing what the valley was like in our time. History is so much more than facts and artifacts. It is the personal stories of the people who have lived here and who live here now!
Download the most recent issue of our newsletter, Rainier Valley Heritage News: Fall 2013
This web site made possible in part by a grant from 4Culture.