Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle celebrates Tacoma Day, Washington Press Association Day, Teachers Day, and Washington Pharmaceutical Association Day on July 16, 1909.

  • By Jennifer Ott
  • Posted 6/21/2008
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8664

On July 16, 1909, Tacomans, the Washington Press Association, teachers, and the Washington Pharmaceutical Association all hold their Special Days at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (A-Y-P) Exposition. The exposition took place on the University of Washington campus in Seattle between June 1 and October 16, 1909. More than three million visitors came from around the state, the nation, and the world to view hundreds of exhibits, stroll the lushly manicured grounds, and be entertained on the midway, while Seattle promoted itself as a gateway to the rich resources of Alaska, the Yukon, and Asia. Each day (except Sundays) of the A-Y-P was designated as a Special Day for one or more groups. Special Days drew people involved in the featured organizations, and the resulting programs, lectures, ceremonies, parades, and athletic competitions gave local people a reason to visit again and again. Tacomans dominated this Special Day, sending, according to one estimate, 15,000 residents. Organizers coordinated transportation so that the boats and trains from Tacoma arrived in Seattle at 9:15 a.m. The crowd formed a parade that snaked through downtown for 20 blocks, its beginning meeting its end as it returned to Pioneer Square. For their own Special Days, teachers, editors, and pharmacists held their annual meetings in fair buildings, making sure to take time to enjoy the fair as soon as they completed their official business.

You'll Like Tacoma

For the parade through downtown, the crowd carried signs boosting Tacoma's accomplishments and attractions, including population growth, economic statistics, and factory production. The back of each sign announced "You'll Like Tacoma." The Bon Marché, at 3rd Avenue and Pine Street, unfurled a banner that read "We Like Tacoma."

Once the Tacoma contingent arrived at the A-Y-P grounds, it assembled into another parade, led by the Clan Frazers, Scottish bagpipers; Tacoma Mayor John Linck; and other Pierce County dignitaries. Exposition president J. E. Chilberg (1867-1954) welcomed the crowd to the grounds, followed by remarks by the presidents of the Tacoma Boosters Club and the Tacoma Commercial Club.

The Seattle organizers of the A-Y-P Exposition had conscientiously sought Tacoma's support of the fair, aware that its very location gave Seattle an advantage in reaping the benefits. An editorial in The Seattle Times reveals the extent to which Seattleites did not want Tacoma to feel slighted. The editor wrote, perhaps a bit obsequiously, "Is it Mount Rainier? No, it is Mount Tacoma. That is what they call the snow-capped eminence over in the City of Destiny, and, as a large part of the town moved over to Seattle this morning, out of deference to the visitors, Tacoma should be the nomenclature as long as they hold forth at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition" ("Tacoma Here in Body to See Fair").

So many Tacomans left their City of Destiny for Seattle to attend the A-Y-P for the day that the Chief of Police doubled the number of police on duty. The Tacoma Daily News, reported, "According to the police there is a gang of 'porch-climbers' and house-breakers operating out of Seattle, who visit various cities about the Sound on days when residents are likely to be absent. It is believed that several men of this class visited Tacoma today" ("Guarding Homes"). Possibly this was an early urban legend since no news of a crime wave followed Tacoma Day at the Fair.

Teachers and Editors

Teachers gathered in the Good Roads Building for an educational congress featuring lectures and discussions on various topics. One such lecture, by Iowa State Teachers' College president Homer H. Seerly, bemoaned the lack of interest in high school and college education and exhorted teachers to teach parents and the community the value of what they taught in the classroom. He also worried that schools did not teach public speaking skills because "teachers feel that the students, even in the universities, can't say much because they don't know much, not having learned much" ("Publicity Crying Need of High Schools").

The Washington State Press Association held its annual meeting in the Fine Arts Building (now Architecture Hall), but the 300 members could hardly keep themselves at their business. One report of the proceedings said that F. A. Hazeltine of the South Bend Journal, tried to "talk shop" until "several impious members of the association yawned and stretched. Mr. Hazeltine took the hint before the snoring began" ("Editors Listen to Columns of Puff").

Snoring and yawning did not accompany the editors' exposition activities. They saw the sights of the fair, took a boating excursion around Lake Washington on The Urania, enjoyed a reenactment of the Battle of Manila, complete with "mimic battleships" and torpedoes, on Portage Bay, paraded around the Pay Streak behind the Highland Pipers Band, and listened to a number of welcoming speeches by exposition officials.

A-Y-P officials had good reason to welcome the editors. Through their papers, the editors had provided free publicity for the fair. The gratitude may have bordered on excessive, however. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer editor wrote that when R. W. Raymond, from the Division of Exploitation, "got through with his eulogy, some of which was deserved, most of them [the editors] had been doped into a state of hypnotic ecstasy" ("Editors Listen to Columns of Puff").

Druggists Day

Also at the exposition on this day, but decidedly more businesslike, were 250 members of the Washington Pharmaceutical Association. The druggists, as the newspapers referred to them, held their business meeting to elect new officers and chose five nominees for an open spot on the state Board of Pharmacy. They also discussed putting forward a test case to challenge a recent state Supreme Court ruling that druggists needed to have a doctor's prescription to sell liquor. This court based its decision on a territorial law, which the druggists felt was unconstitutional.

With their work completed the druggists and their wives enjoyed a dinner on the A-Y-P grounds, a boating excursion, and then an evening on the Pay Streak.


Sources:  "Druggists Wish to Traffic in Liquors," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 1, 1909, p. 7; "Editors of State Spend Day at Fair," The Seattle Times, July 15, 1909, p. 7; "Editors Listen to Columns of Puff," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 17, 1909, Sec. 2, p. 4; "Great Spectacle Planned for Editors," The Seattle Times, July 17, 1909, pp. 1-2; "Guarding Homes," The Tacoma Daily News, July 16, 1909, p. 13; "Publicity Crying Need of High Schools," The Seattle Times, July 17, 1909, p. 3; "State's Editors at A.-Y.-P.E. Today," The Seattle Times, July 16, 1909, p. 3; "Success of Fair Due to Co-operation of Newspapers," Lincoln County Times, July 30, 1909, n.p.; "'Tacoma Day' Takes 8,000 or More," The Tacoma Daily News, July 16, 1909, p. 1; "Tacoma Here in Body to See Fair," The Seattle Times, July 16, 1909, p. 1-2; "Time to Buy that A.-Y.-P. Ticket," The Tacoma Daily News, July 15, 1909, p. 1, 3.

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