Exploring Seattle’s First Boom (and the Party Thrown in its Aftermath) - Atlas Obscura
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Seattle, Washington

Exploring Seattle’s First Boom (and the Party Thrown in its Aftermath)

Join field agent Eric Magnuson for this hands-on exploration of Seattle’s origin stories. Learn about the roots of modern Seattle, and how 19th and 20th century events still influence the way the world sees Seattle today.

Seattle always swung way above its weight class, even when this isolated port city became the preferred port of departure for those looking to strike a “paystreak” during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. The world took notice, a City took off, and a decade later Seattle invited the world back to celebrate during its Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (a “World’s Fair” before the term was coined by savvy marketers). What was left behind planted the seeds of Seattle’s self-image, and provided the platform to build out the University of Washington.

This will be an urban walking (and rail) tour, not meant for the faint of heart. Starting at the Seattle Central Library, we’ll then walk to and through Pioneer Square. A visit to the Klondike Gold Rush National Park and Museum will be followed by a Link Light Rail ride (all of 11 minutes long) to the University of Washington campus. “U-Dub’s” current campus was home to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909, originally planned to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush. During our visit to the University of Washington’s Special Collections Library, participants will have the opportunity for a unique hands-on experience with specially curated materials related to Seattle’s history. From the Special Collections library on campus, we will return to downtown Seattle via Link Light Rail. We’ll cover all this in just three expertly-timed, mind-expanding hours.

Historians from the City of Seattle, the National Park Service, the University of Washington and the private sector will fill your minds with detail of how Seattle grew from the ashes to become the burgeoning Emerald City of today. There will be curated materials for event participants to self-explore and connections made that even serious Seattle history buffs may never have considered before. Prepare to be blown away when you see Seattle this way for the very first time.

$5 of your registration fee will be donated to the University of Washington’s Special Collections, who will be giving attendees a special commemorative “AYP” pin reproduced from the official original 1909 design.

Adventure Notes:
If you would like to register children, please make sure they are hardy enough to withstand a 3-plus mile walking tour.

Location: Meet at the Seattle Central Library’s “Seattle Room” (10th Floor). The Central Library is located in downtown Seattle between Spring and Madison streets and Fourth and Fifth avenues. The tour will return to that location.

Parking: The Central Library has a 143-stall underground parking garage with an entrance on Spring Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues. Parking for the duration of the tour is $7, and is not included in the registration price. The Library also has bike parking options both on the street and in the underground garage (enter on Spring Street).

Walking: This will be a moderately difficult urban hike. No real uphills, but we’ll cover a total of three-plus miles over the three hours. You’ll want to wear shoes and clothing suitable for such an activity.

Dogs/pets: Sorry, no dogs except for service animals. We will be entering multiple public places and the Link Light Rail system to get back and forth between downtown and the University of Washington campus.

Weather: This event will occur, rain or shine. Please prepare accordingly for the range of possible “Seattle in early February” conditions.

Photography: Photography is encouraged. Flash photography will not be allowed in the libraries and Klondike Gold Rush National Park Museum.

Advance ticket sales only. All sales are final. 

Questions? Email Eric at emagnuson@gmail.com.