By Dawn Kinzer
Many are aware that the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, was built for Century 21 Exposition held in 1962. But did you know that the city also held the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909?
Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition - Rainier Vista
Publica Domain, Wikipedia Commons
The Pay Streak
In keeping with the fair’s Klondike theme, the midway was called The Pay Streak. Fairgoers enjoyed a variety of games and thrills, including a Ferris wheel, an “amusement” dubbed the Temple of Mirth, and a ride called the Haunted Swing.
Postcard used to promote the exposition.
While visiting the Pay Streak, some were shocked by the recreated Igorrote Village, populated by natives from the Philippine island of Luzon. Reputed to be headhunters and dog-eaters, the Igorrotes engaged in dances, spear-throwing contests, and cloth weaving. When the loincloths worn by men and boys became a moral issue, a reverend and a respected judge were assigned to investigate. They determined the loincloths were native dress and not intended to titillate.
There were opportunities to purchase a variety of souvenirs and refreshments. But alcohol was not an option because a state law forbade the sale of liquor on any university campus. If anyone wanted a drink, they had to take a streetcar into downtown Seattle. That law possibly contributed to the low numbers of crime and disturbances reported on the fair grounds.
Some Interesting Sights at the Expo
The California Building was designed in the style of a Spanish mission. It contained a life-size elephant created out of walnuts, an almond cow, and a bear made from raisins. Hawaii showcased a thirty-foot-high pyramid of coconuts and pineapples. The forestry building was built out of wood and actual tree trunks. Alaska’s exhibit awed visitors with a heavily guarded display of gold dust, nuggets, and bricks said to be worth a million dollars. The case descended into an underground vault at night.
Attendees could watch risqué exhibitions at the Streets of Cairo and the Klondike Dance Hall. These two venues were known to be frequently shut down by the morality enforcers at the expo.
|Baby in an incubator, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific expo, Seattle, WA 1909; |
Public Domain, Wikipedia Commons
But not everyone was convinced that all were premature or orphans as claimed. Although babies were reported to have been adopted during the fair, some of the infants appeared too large to be premature, and a childcare facility was placed next to the exhibit where parents could drop off their children to be cared for by nurses while the adults enjoyed touring the fair.
A Fascinating Event
I first became aware of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo while watching a PBS special, and I was immediately intrigued. My historical romance, With a Trusting Heart, is the result of traveling back to 1909 through research and imagination. More about this fascinating event is revealed in my story, but I won’t share any spoilers here!
Have you ever attended a world’s fair? If so, what did you find most interesting? If not, what would entice you to go—new technology, amusements and food, the exhibits from around the world, or the entertainment?
https://www.dawnkinzer.com/ to learn more.
With a Trusting Heart
This story is inspired by events that took place at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo—Seattle’s first world’s fair. The book will be available on February 16 in both ebook and paperback. To pre-order the ebook now, go to:https://www.amazon.com/Trusting-Heart-Dawn-Kinzer-ebook/dp/B09PJTH1HV/