Friday the 13th has long been one of history’s spookier superstitions — and long-running memes — but we all know it’s just another day (knock on wood). In Washington, while we’ve seen our fair share of unlucky events on this date, including fatal fires and influenza outbreaks, our state also has celebrated some memorable milestones.
Here are 13 happier memories and interesting tidbits, many documented by the state’s online encyclopedia HistoryLink.org, that Washington has seen on Friday the 13ths.
January 13, 1893: Preston Post Office opens. Preston, which sits 21 miles east of Seattle near the Raging River, celebrated the opening of its post office with its first postmaster John F. Hudson. Mail was distributed from his house at the time.
March 13, 1942: Medical advances to save battlefield wounded are described at Harborview Hospital. Dr. Louis Gambee, professor of clinical surgery at University of Oregon Medical School, spoke to the Surgical Society at Harborview County Hospital in Seattle (now Harborview Medical Center). He described “improved surgical techniques on the battlefield that are saving wounded men,” as well as new sulfa drugs that reduce bacteria and infections, the administration of plasma and better ways of treating shock and better anesthesia.
March 13, 1953: The University of Washington and Seattle University men’s basketball teams play for the first time. The contest became a high-stakes one, as it was in the West Coast regional tournament with a possible trip to the national championships at stake. The Huskies won 92-70.
September 13, 1957: Pasco’s Edgar Brown Stadium hosts its first game. The Pasco High School Bull Dogs played their first football game on their new field, which had once been a gravel pit. Pasco ended up winning against the Walla Walla Blue Devils.
October 13, 1967: The Seattle SuperSonics play their first regular season game. Seattle’s fledgling NBA franchise played its first regular season game against the San Francisco Warriors in San Francisco (though the Sonics ended up losing 144-116). The team played its first regular season home game the following week.
August 13, 1971: Bumbershoot debuts. The arts festival, initially named the Mayor’s Arts Festival ’71, welcomed the public during opening ceremonies at the Plaza of the States on the Seattle Center campus. The first Bumbershoot was organized by Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman’s new mayor’s festival committee and featured a wide array of arts and music.
May 13, 1977: Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center opens its doors in Discovery Park. The center opened to provide cultural, educational and social services to local Native American communities. It was was overseen by the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation and founded by Native American leader Bernie Whitebear.
May 13, 1977: “Metamorfosis: The Journal of Northwest Chicano Art and Culture” appears for the first time. The journal is produced by the Center for Chicano Studies at the University of Washington, later becoming a “essential cultural component” of the Chicano movement in the state, according to HistoryLink.org.
February 13, 1981: Jeannette Hayner becomes the first woman majority leader of the Washington State Senate. Hayner, an Oregon native, took the position after state Sen. Peter von Reichbauer changed his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican in the middle of the legislative session, giving Republicans control of the Senate for the first time since 1955.
September 13, 1991: Nirvana holds a “Nevermind” album-release party at downtown Seattle dance club Re-bar. Nirvana celebrated its second album, which ended up selling more than 10 million copies in the United States. This night, HistoryLink.org notes, made “minor rock ‘n’ roll history” when Nirvana members were asked to leave their own party after engaging in a drunken food fight.
April 13, 2001: A group of Northwest School sophomores who help with NASA space launches is featured in The Seattle Times. Eight students at the Capitol Hill high school won a competition in the NASA Student Involvement Program and secured the opportunity to send two experiments into space. One experiment looked at the efficiency of electric motors in zero gravity, while the other analyzed how copper ions in a solution would react in space.
December 13, 2002: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport celebrates news that a permit has been filed for filling wetlands in connection with its third runway. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the permit to the Port of Seattle. The Port had initially halted processing an earlier application after determining that more wetlands were potentially impacted by the project than originally estimated.
September 13, 2019: Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement shared the glorious news that District H opened in South Lake Union. The opening was great news for the droves of Amazon employees working in the neighborhood, as well as for those in The Seattle Times’ newsroom, which is also located in South Lake Union. While the pandemic has left fewer employees enjoying the quick, varied lunch options available at District H, the store is still open daily, and our tastebuds are so, so thankful for that.