Up Harris
and other Streets of Fairhaven

  
"Up Harris" courtesy Ben Man 
 
For Harris and History
 
Don't crowd Dan Harris off the map
for the sake of your A B and C
 
That's a kind of reformation
that doesn't appeal to me
 
Don't crowd Dan Harris off the map
He's crowded off this earth
 
But he really planned that storied street
and gave the town it's birth
 
Don't push poor Harris out of our town
your scheme is out of joint
 
If it doesn't include the historic nod
and a bow to dead man's point
 
Aye, give us the new names (if you must)
but leave us a page or two
 
Of the rugged past that is welded fast
to none who agree with you.
 
Frank C. Teck
Bellingham Herald
January 14, 1904
  
When Fairhaven and Whatcom consolidated into a new city of Bellingham at the beginning of 1904, new street names were one of the many items the City Council had to address. 
 
The "Street Committee" seemed to take this job a little too seriously and decided the South-side streets should be in alphabetical order.  That would mean that streets such as..Knox, Columbia, Mill and Harris....would become  Nelson, Owen, Parker and Quincy.  
 
 Bellingham Herald January 13, 1904
  
 
 
 Bellingham Herald January 14, 1904
 
Frank Teck, an editor of the Fairhaven Herald and frequent poet summed up the feelings of former Fairhavenites in his poem "For Harris and History".
 
To complete the naming scheme, McKenzie would become Randolph and the streets honoring  important businessmen from the Fairhaven Land Company would vanish.....Larrabee, Donovan, Cowgill and Wilson would be replaced with  Spencer Thurman  Upton and Vincent.   
Perhaps it was the same members of the committee who decided to get rid of Harris et al, who dreamed up the idea to name the downtown alleys Nobble, Robble, Tobble, Vobble and Zobble.  It was a mess, played out in the opinion pages of the Bellingham Herald.  Fortunately the "obbles" never appeared on a Bellingham map, nor did Quincy. 

 
1897 Sanborn Map

Harris Avenue has always been the main street of Fairhaven.   The intersections of Harris at 11th and 12th Street became the most sought after corners for businesses.
 
Ladies, it is said, never ventured west of 11th Street.
 
 
In 1889, Daniel J. Harris sold his property to the Fairhaven Land Company and moved to Los Angeles. 
 
JJ. Donovan, engineer for the Land Company was charged with platting this new property.  He named the new streets after important members of the Land Company (including himself).  ...Larrabee, Donovan, Cowgill and Wilson.  You can learn more about these folks in Cast of Characters.    
 
The December 1890 Fairhaven Herald described the clear-cutting of Fairhaven at the time as if a giant's scythe cut everything in sight.  The 1889 painting on this website's home page give a clear idea of how all of the trees were removed for lots and streets.   
 
 
 1890 Photo looking east on Harris.
Terminal Building in Background
 
The dirt streets and Fairhaven rain made for a muddy mess.  An early photo of Harris Avenue shows how muddy the roads would get before they were planked.   
The streets and sidewalks were soon made of wood planking. 
Planking Donovan Avenue in 1890
  
 1891 Photo looking East on Harris Avenue
 Whatcom Museum Photo Archives
 

 
A lot of work was happening in 1890 and 1891 to build the "Imperial City" of Fairhaven.  Sewers were dug, and roads were planked and sidewalks added.
 
The large pit, far left, is the foundation that had been recently excavated for the greatly anticipated Fairhaven Opera House.  Soon after, the economy faltered and the Opera was never built.  The location is now a parking lot.
 
Wardner's Castle can be seen at the top of the hill.




 
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