Downtown Snohomish

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This is a tour of the historic downtown business district of Snohomish that guides the reader on a looped walk from City Hall, west down First Street and east via the Snohomish Riverfront Trail, ending at the Carnegie Library Building.

The “Village of Snohomish” — as it quantified itself when first incorporated in 1888 — was sited in the sunshine, on the south-facing bank of the river that gave it its name. Frontier entrepreneurial spirit and the rumor of government spending motivated the filing of claims on both sides of the Snohomish River in 1859 with the speculation that traffic on a new military road running south to north would pay handsomely for a ferry crossing service. It was not to be. Instead, a steady increase in steamship service brought loggers and supplies to camps up and down the river, and then family farmers following talk of the rich bottomland of the valley, and Snohomish grew to become the economic and cultural center of the county. With statehood, it was re-incorporated in 1890 as the City of Snohomish with a census count of 2,012 people.

Also the birthplace of the county (1861) and its seat for 36 years, Snohomish lost the county seat to the big spender Everett in 1897. The handsome courthouse found new life as the high school, and the structure of locally manufactured brick echoed with the unfamiliar sounds of bells and laughter.

Since 1973, the historic downtown business district, along with several residential blocks, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 2020 census counted 10,141 residents in Snohomish.

The Snohomish River continues to rise and fall with phases of the moon and drainage of the North Cascade Mountain Range 60 miles to the east, just as each new generation comes to understand the river as the gift of nature that created the City of Snohomish.

In 2019, the city was awarded a grant from the Historic Preservation Commission of Snohomish County for the production of nine interpretative signs to create a self-guided walking tour of the downtown Historic District. Six of the signs were intended to repurpose existing wayfinder kiosks on three intersections of First Street, and they were installed in 2021. The subtitle of the Heritage Trail is “Short Stories About Those Who Came Before Us.” Look for then as you walk the tour.

Learn More about Downtown Snohomish at

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