Seattle celebrates the end of World War I on November 11, 1918.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 1/01/1999
  • Essay 2054
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On November 11, 1918, Germany surrenders and World War I comes to an end. The news reaches Seattle just before midnight, and a great celebration begins immediately. Following is an account of the celebration in The Herald, a weekly newspaper for the University District of Seattle.


University district headed the whole city in its celebration of victory and peace. Shortly after the good news arrived Fourteenth Avenue N. E. [renamed University Way] was live with people, although the hour was twelve at night. The whistles, [b]ells and all sorts of other noises soon made sleep an impossibility and the celebration started.

Seattle's first parade in honor of this greatest of world events was staged on Fourteenth Avenue.

Commander Miller Freeman of the Naval Training Camp called his boys out. He headed the parade himself, followed by his band and about a thousand of the sailor lads. They paraded north to 50th Street and then returned, marching down 40th Street and across Latona bridge, where they were picked up by autos and street cars and taken down town.

Hundreds of citizens, who had hastily put on a few clothes, also paraded and it sure proved a real, live demonstration.

Along the line of march every porch and window was made use of by those who had failed to get out in time to fill in line. It was observed that nearly all these belated enthusiasts had taken time to appear in garments that had never been at a public function before.

The University district started a celebration that lasted all through the following day and most of the following night.

Such a time was never seen before and at the same time the influenza ban was successfully put aside.

It was glorious!

The following clarifies comments in the article: Commander Miller Freeman headed the U.S. Navy Training Camp located on the south end of the University of Washington grounds. For a number of weeks Seattle had an influenza epidemic that continued until May 1919 and caused 1,772 deaths in the city. Seattle responded to the national epidemic by passing ordinances to close public gathering places like churches, theaters, and schools and requiring people dealing with the public to wear gauze masks. During the Armistice Day celebration these laws were ignored. The Latona Bridge crossed Lake Union at Latona Street near where Interstate-5 freeway was built more than 40 years later.

More than 460 Washington state men and women lost their lives in the conflict. Seattle City Light Wireman Helper Harry L. Grimes (1892-1918) enlisted in the 128th Infantry Regiment in March 1918 and was assigned as a stretcher-bearer. On August 22, 1918, he was killed in action near Juvigny, France, during the Oise-Aisne offensive. His remains were returned to Seattle in January 1921 and he was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Private Grimes was the only City Light employee to be killed in the World War I.


The Herald (University District, Seattle), November 15, 1921, 1; "Soldier, Killed In Action, Is Buried," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 4, 1921, p. 4.
Note: This essay was revised on October 22, 2003.

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