Similar to a World's Fair, the exposition was mandated by the legislature to display the resources, products, and advantages of Washington and the region. It included exhibits in elegant buildings, along with fountains and formal gardens in the style of Versaille, laid out with a panoramic view of Mount Rainier.
Among the exhibits was a perfect scale model of the Newcastle (Washington) coal mine, a zoo of native animals, and a replica of the New York home of William H. Seward (1801-1872), who negotiated the purchase of Alaska.
The Olmsted Brothers landscape firm laid out the fairgrounds with the idea that their plan would also guide development of the University of Washington campus after the exposition. The keystone of the original Olmsted scheme survives today as the lawn of "Rainier Vista" (originally a long, descending series of waterfalls) and Drumheller Fountain, better known as "Frosh Pond," which frame a dramatic view of Mr. Rainier when weather permits.
Before the exposition, the University of Washington had six buildings on campus. The university gained an additional 20 buildings from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. One hundred years later, four buildings remain; the old Architecture Hall; the Washington Women's Building, which has been renamed Cunningham Hall after photographer Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976); The Michgan Club Building, now the Physical Plant Office Building; and the Powerhouse.