Sunday, September 12, 2010
Remembering the Vale Theatre (and the floods) in Kent, Washington
We went there most weekends. I remember that a ticket was thirty-five cents. It was not a first run theatre, but I remember seeing I Saw What You Did And I Know Who You Are, House of Wax, lots of bad comedy, The Thing, Gorgo, tons of Godzilla, Frankenstein, Three Stooges, The Birds, Night of the Living Dead, and many more.
When I was young, the Kent Valley flooded almost every winter...until the Howard Hanson dam was build far upstream on the Green River. The dam was completed in about 1942. Its completion led to the transformation of Kent from a fertile farming area to industrial use, and it eventually became one of the largest concentrations of warehouses in the world. Historylink.org writes "the dam has changed South King County from flooded farmlands to a sea of warehouses, industrial plants, condominiums, and shopping centers."
The White River and the Green River flowed down from the mountains in the east into the valley and formed a confluence near downtown Auburn. From there, the river traveled north and was met by the Black River (an outflow from Lake Washington that no longer exists) near Tukwila, where the combined rivers become the Duwamish River which flow into Elliott Bay in southwest Seattle.