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Sunset as the Magazine of Western Living and The Pacific Monthly.

Sunset as The Magazine of Western Living and The Pacific Monthly As we look ahead to an era of even greater importance for the region in and around the Pacific Ocean, I'd like to share some of Sunset's long and illustrious Pacific history with you.

If you look on page 3, you'll see that one of Sunset's subtitles is "The Pacific Monthly." That goes back to 1912, predating our better-known designation, "The Magazine of Western Living," by many years. These interlinked subtitles tell a story of two very similar pioneering magazines.

In 1898, the Southern Pacific Company founded Sunset Magazine, taking its title from the railroad's luxury train, the Sunset Limited. A few months later in that same year, another magazine similar in format and purpose was started in Portland. It was titled The Pacific Monthly.

Early Sunset editor Charles K. Field and Pacific Monthly manager William Bittle Wells (along with their classmate and friend, Herbert Hoover) were products of the first graduating class of the brand-new Stanford University. Their Western education and orientation had a definite influence in shaping their publications.

Both new magazines set out to serve readers living in Western America--as well as to attract settlers and tourists from the East--by reporting on commercial and agricultural opportunities on the Pacific side of the Rockies. Both also published fiction and gave special attention to international trade, political issues, and culture from the vast Pacific Ocean area. Regular features drew the world's attention to the West's natural beauty, fine hotels, and other attractions--and, of course, extolled the speed and convenience of traveling by train.

It was an exciting time in the Pacific. The Philippines and Hawaii became U.S. territories. The Klondike gold rush was on. Japan was emerging as a powerful economic and military force only a few decades after U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry had opened its doors to the world.

As time went on, Sunset concentrated more on California and the Southwest, with frequent references to neighboring Mexico. The Pacific Monthly focused more on the Pacific Northwest, Western Canada, and Alaska, meanwhile gaining the support of the Harriman railroad interests.

Together, these magazines played an important role in helping newly established Western states define a regional identity by reporting on expanded transportation, communication, and water-development projects. Recognizing our regional differences was essential. Challenged by an arid climate and vast expanses of wilderness, the settlement and development of the West were very different from the early European colonization of the East.

The same logic that helped Western states to find more in common as a very separate and distinct region from the rest of the United States also prevailed with the editors and owners of the two publications. In 1911, Southern Pacific bought The Pacific Monthly, and the January 1912 issue of Sunset announced the merger: "Since . . . the beginning they have grown side by side on the margin of . . . the twentieth-century ocean. Now there will be one voice, augmented by the favorable conditions . . . of progress of the wonderland beyond the Rockies."

Over the following years, Sunset's front covers usually carried the subtitle of "The Pacific Monthly," although the magazine's editorial format became more of a literary magazine. By this time, the Southern Pacific Company had sold Sunset to editor Field and several other employees. The Pacific Ocean area continued to be reported regularly, with more attention to political and military trends than to international trade.

In 1928, when Sunset Magazine was sold to Lane Publishing Co., The Pacific Monthly title was part of the package. Over the years since then, we have continued to protect and use the registered "The Pacific Monthly" as a subtitle in small type under "Sunset" at the top of our table of contents.

Lane Publishing Co. keeps a close watch on the Pacific, not only in the pages of the magazine, but with Sunset books (19 titles on Pacific-area travel are in print) and in a number of Sunset films produced for clients with interests in the Pacific.

As Sunset's commitment to the Pacific increases, so does recognition of our history as "The Pacific Monthly." And as this region continues to change, so may our use of the title--perhaps as a regular editorial feature in Sunset Magazine reporting Pacific events and trends, perhaps as a subscription newsletter, perhaps as a new magazine version of the original publication. But for now, "The Pacific Monthly" subtitle recognizes the importance of the proximity and close economic, cultural, political, and environmental relationships between Western America and the Pacific community of nations. The special Pacific Travel Discovery section that precedes this message is significant testimony to our commitment.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1990
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