Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909) -- A Tour of Selected Buildings

  • By Alan Stein and Paula Becker with Jennifer Ott
  • Posted 7/04/2008
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8678

This is a "Now and Then" tour of selected exhibit buildings at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held in 1909 on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. The buildings included in the tour include most of those funded by the federal government and by the four Washington counties (Chehalis, King, Spokane, and Yakima) that erected buildings at the fair.  This tour also includes the Washington Building (an important gathering place for large receptions) and the New York Building (where most of the fair's important banquets were held).  This tour was written by Alan Stein and Paula Becker with assistance from Jennifer Ott, and curated by Paula Becker. Map by Marie McCaffrey.  Preparation of this feature was made possible by the Washington Humanities Commission.

The A-Y-P Exposition took place between June 1 and October 16, 1909, drawing more than three million people. Visitors came from around the state, the nation, and the world to view hundreds of educational exhibits, stroll the lushly manicured grounds, and be entertained on the Pay Streak midway, while Seattle promoted itself as a gateway to the rich resources of Alaska, the Yukon, and Asia.

The Washington State Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Commission, appointed by Governor Albert E. Mead (1861-1909), facilitated the participation of Washington's towns and counties in the A-Y-P. Seven commissioners representing each section of the state operated under an enabling act that also directed all state bureaus, departments, and institutions to cooperate with the commission.

Many Washington communities formed committees of their own to organize their participation in the fair. They produced displays of agricultural products, amassed examples of their children's educational work, and assembled historical artifacts that told their town's story. These towns, cities, and counties were honored with designated Special Days during the Exposition, and hundreds or even thousands of community members often traveled to the fair together by chartered train or boat to celebrate, enjoy the fair, and promote the benefits of their own part of Washington.


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