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Sahalee (pronounced: Saha-li) is the largest city in the US state of Pacifica and is one of the four cities generally associated with the Quad Cities metropolitan area in southwestern Pacifica. The city is a major trade hub as part of the greater metropolitan area, spanning both the northern and southern banks of the Fraser River. Since 1989, Sahalee has been an independent city-county, the only one of its kind in Pacifica, after it seceded from both Fraser and Miller counties to simplify city government.The city is part of the I-5 corridor, being located just south of the freeway's terminus in Burrard, and also sits upon I-98, which has its terminus nearby in Fraser. Local freeway SR-34 runs east of downtown and is carried across the Pattullo Bridge, while Interstate 98 is carried across the General James Nansett War Memorial Bridge. Sahalee is bordered to the south and east by the suburbs of Century, Sumner and Portsmouth, to the west by the city of Wamash and unincorporated Miller County, to the north by the cities of Fraser and Kirktown, and to the northeast by the suburb of Coquitlam.
The city proper has, as of estimates for 2010, a population of about 411,000, and is part of a greater metropolitan area with roughly 2 million inhabitants. Sahalee was high on the affluence indexes for many major cities of its size, although within its own state, it is low compared to affluent suburbs such as Sumner, Coquitlam, and Burrard.
History of Sahalee
Early Settlement and Alaskan War
The region around Sahalee was inhabited by Salish Indians prior to European exploration. In the early 1820's, John Hunt built a cabin where downtown Sahalee today stands, and for almost twenty years Hunt and his family were the only real European-American presence so far north.
With the construction of Fort Bellingham in 1839, however, and the influx of settlers along the Oregon trail, the Fraser River delta became a potential location for a protected seaport. The growth of Alaska to the north began to become a concern for American leaders and so the first American soldiers were stationed at Fort Syracuse in 1850. The 1850's experienced small growth in the region as it was still far north from lands desired by American settlers.
The Bellingham Boom of the 1860's brought hundreds north to the Fraser Delta, however, and the town of Burrard became the hub of the region. The settlement at Huntsville became the main lumber mill for the area and the town of Sahalee to the south was incorporated in 1878 with a population of about 2,000. The bustling frontier around the fertile Fraser Delta soon brought thousands more north, leading to the growth of Wamash by the coast, Kirk's Town, Meridian City and Huntsville.
The region was home to about 20,000 in 1884 when the Alaskans launched a massive offensive southwards. The Alaskan population in the region was always substantial and had previously been benign. The northern banks of the Burrard Inlet and the peninsula as a whole was the site of the Battle of Burrard, and Huntsville township was burnt to the ground during the fighting. Sahalee, on the south bank of the Fraser, became the headquarters for Boris Anasenko's and his command during the ensuing two years of the war.
Fraser Gold Rush and Early 20th Century Trade
With the town back in control after the war with Alaska, there were hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the South stranded in the Pacific Northwest, and this led to the first boom in the region. With the discovery of gold in the upper Fraser Valley in the 1890's, hundreds of thousands of additional men and women flocked north to Sahalee and its region. The city grew from a war-scarred frontier town of 1,000 to a swarming, squalid metropolis of 125,000 within six months in 1892, one of the biggest population explosions in American history. Tent cities known as "squatter camps" spread for miles in each direction from the population centers at Kirk, Sahalee and Wamash, and there was on average about three deaths per week in one of the most violent, lawless and impoverished regions of the country. There was a great deal of conflict between the "left-behinds" - soldiers, usually Southerners, who had been stuck in the Fraser Territory due to an inability to afford a train ticket home - and the prospectors, known as "snatchers," who tended to be from the industrial Midwest or East Coast. Historian Robert Hines described Sahalee in the 1890's as, "Manifest Destiny gone wrong." In fact, a region which previously had been home to about 20,000 prior to the war was now home to nearly 350,000, as many were stuck waiting to travel up the river.
After statehood was achieved in 1899, the argument for the new leaders of Pacifica was where to place the new capital. Many favored the northern bank of the Fraser River, but remembered the war with Alaska and the ease with which that position was overrun, placing the capital firmly in Whiskey Bay. In 1905, Sahalee annexed the town of Huntsville and in 1910 annexed the shantytowns of Wires and Ash Hill, expanding the city to its present-day geographic size. With the growth of Wamash as a port town, the region experienced an economic change in the 1910's and 20's, and Sahalee hosted a World's Fair in 1922 to showcase the beauty of the region. The evolution from frontier disaster to burgeoning major city was complete by the end of the 1920's, when the region's importance in producing Navy ships to fight in the Pacific War had finally provided low-skill, easy jobs for the region's poor and destitute, giving a proud blue-collar identity to thousands that still exists today.
Shipping and Tech Booms
Sahalee's population is about 68% Caucasian, 20% Asian-American, 8% African-American, and 2% Native American/Pacific Islander. Of the Caucasian population, about 64% is Non-Hispanic/Latino. The most commonly spoken language according to the 2010 census is English, at about 94%. About 3% of Sahalee residents spoke Russian as their first language.
The average personal income in Sahalee is roughly $50,340 per year, and the average family income is $70,450. Due to the city's financial sector and the presence of several universities, the income average is somewhat inflated, as many neighborhoods, especially Wires in South Sahalee, have very low income averages. Sahalee has the second-highest income of the four major cities in the Fraser Delta, behind only Kirktown with its $55,000 single-person average.
Sahalee, like its neighboring cities of Fraser and Wamash, has a large, blue-collar, Russian-speaking minority, a large presence of about 12% in the entire metropolitan area, especially in South Sahalee's Wires neighborhood.
Sahalee has a variety of neighborhoods of varying ethnic and demographic makeups. For example, most of South Sahalee, in particular the southernmost neighborhood of Wires, is a blue-collar Russian community that has resisted the gentrification that affected traditionally Asian neighborhoods such as Chinatown or Felton. There are numerous affluent and middle class neighborhoods as well, such as Ash Hill, Fairview Heights, and Stewart Hill in North Sahalee, as well as Bull Hill on the south bank.
Sahalee has seen a growing rise in income city-wide over the past two decades as the process of gentrification has set in, fostered by the immigration of previously suburban families into semiurban neighborhoods along the city limits and the migration of lower income families and workers into Wamash or Fraser. The previously low-income neighborhood of Bull Hill, for example, has blossomed since the mid-1990's into a middle class neighborhood with a low crime rate, while the traditionally middle-class Japanese-majority neighborhood of Felton just beyond the downtown area has since been displaced by wealthy upper-class families seeking real estate near the city center. Much of this is attributed to changing demographics in the state of Pacifica as a whole and the 1990's city restoration, which sought to modernize and clean up the city core to drive up property values. As a whole, Sahalee's gentrification has significantly outpaced similar trends in neighborin cities such as Fraser, Century and Wamash, transforming it from its mid-1980's reputation as "the Pittsburgh of the Northwest" to an affluent, white-collar financial center.
Sahalee Public School District
The Sahalee Public School District serves the city of Sahalee proper as well as a handful of neighborhoods on the borders of Kirktown and Fraser. The city maintains 46 elementary schools, 3 K-8 schools, 11 middle schools and eight high schools, as well as two "alternative" 6-12 campuses. The district serves about 34,500 students.
Glenmore High School of the Portsmouth School District also serves a few neighborhoods of South Sahalee, and Oakland High School of the Meridian-Century School District is located just within Sahalee city limits, but serves primarily students directly around the school and from Century.
Colleges and Universities
Sahalee is home to four institutions of higher education: the University of Pacifica's main campus in western Sahalee near the city limits with Fraser, the three campuses of Sahalee Community College (North, East and South), as well as the private Jesuit school of Sahalee University, located north of Downtown, and the small liberal arts college, Fraser River College, located in the Bohemian neighborhood of Duccala.
Culture and Arts
Being as that Sahalee is the center of the Quad-Cities Metro Area, it is also home to two of the region's four major sports teams. In 1978, the WFA added an expansion football franchise, the Sahalee Storm, that initially played at Royal Way Stadium but moved to the Stormdome in Downtown in 1985. The city also built Index Arena, a multipurpose center in South Sahalee, in 1982, ushering in the NBA expansion franchise Pacifica Grizzlies and the NHL relocated the financially failing Winnipeg Blue Bombers to the Index Arena as the Sahalee Sockeyes. In 1999, the Sockeyes built their own arena in downtown Kirktown, but kept the name due to the franchise remaining in the same region and the negative response to the change to Pacifica Sockeyes. The Pacifica Beavers, the Quad-Cities baseball team, has always played at Wamash Metropolitan Stadium on Sea Island since their inception in 1974.