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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!

Founders Dinner 2018

Buy tickets online for the 6th Annual Founder's Dinner!

Saturday, October 20th, 2018, 6pm

Our Lady of Mount Virgin Parish Hall

After October 10th: $55 per person


Order our book, Rainier Valley, an Arcadia Publishing Images of America publication. Click here for an order form and here for PayPal.

Download the most recent issue of our newsletter, Rainier Valley Heritage News: Spring 2017.

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This web site made possible in part by a grant from 4Culture.

Join us!

We welcome your membership in the historical society. Find our membership form here. You may also pay for a membership or donate to us via PayPal using this link.