Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition grounds pre-exposition photograph collection, 1908  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition grounds pre-exposition photograph collection
1908 (inclusive)
5 photographic prints ; 3.5 x 5.5 in
Collection Number
Photographs showing areas of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition grounds before the Exposition opened
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Entire collection can be viewed on the Libraries’ Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials Curator required to view originals. Contact Special Collections for more information.

Additional Reference Guides


Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

The 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (AYPE) held in Seattle, Washington, was the spectacular result of nearly 10 million dollars and four years of effort. The Klondike Gold Rush made Seattle the dominant city in the Pacific Northwest, as the major supplier to Alaska. The goal of the 1909 AYPE was to show off the growth and development of the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle, and to display the value of commercial trade with the Pacific Rim. When Japan agreed to participate, the AYPE became a truly international, multi-cultural event, which planners of the AYPE hoped would demonstrate cooperation between people from around the world. On a less philosophical level, city officials also hoped that the exposition would encourage people to relocate to the growing metropolis of Seattle.

Officials soon decided on the largely wooded grounds of the University of Washington, situated on Lake Washington, with Mount Rainier visible in the distance. The first $650,000 for the AYPE was raised by proud Seattlites, who bought "shares" of the exposition. Much of the rest was funded by the sale of public lands and by the Washington State legislature, with the understanding that the buildings built for the exposition would become part of the University of Washington at the end of the AYPE. John and Frederick Olmsted, son and stepson of Frederick Law Olmsted, prominent landscape architects in their own right, designed much of the AYPE grounds.

Thanks to two years of planning and the huge sums of money raised, the AYPE grounds and exposition were everything the planners had hoped for. It was a fascinating mix of ethnic diversity and crass commercialism, but it clearly appealed to the people of the United States. Over 80,000 people attended the AYPE on opening day in June 1909, and by closing day (October 16, 1909) 3.7 million people had paid to see attractions such as the Igorrote Village, and the Indian and Eskimo exhibits.

Although the Exposition boasted its own official photographer, amateur photographers could purchase a paper permit, allowing access for one day. With the day pass, an amateur photographer with a camera smaller than 6 x 8 inches was allowed to take unlimited photographs of the buildings, exhibits and other features. In February 1909, newspaper articles encouraged Seattle residents to take take photographs of the construction and send them "back home" to people outside the city as incentive to attend the upcoming Exposition.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection includes photographs taken by an anonymous amateur photographer, showing areas of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition grounds before the Exposition opened.

The photographs appear to have been originally kept in an album, but were cut out and original order was lost.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View the digital version of the collection.

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder item
1/3 1  Entrance to the White City amusement park in Madison Park with a young girl walking under a large archway toward the admission booth
The White City amusement park opened in about 1908 and then closed in 1912. The admission price was 10 cents. It is likely that the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition overshadowed it which lead to its brief life. The park had a roller coaster and a ferris wheel some side shows and performers. The most popular ride was the miniature railway called The Lake Shore Railway. When the AYPE came some of the attractions were moved over to be part of the exposition.
1/3 2  Exposition grounds, showing construction of Manufactures and Oriental Buildings, with several onlookers visible 1908
1/3 3  Lake Union from road, showing sidewalk and bank adjacent to the water 1908
1/3 4  Lake Washington framed by trees with two men in passing in foreground 1908
1/3 5  Panorama of empty Exposition grounds with several residences nearby 1908

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Exhibition buildings--Washington (State)--Seattle--Design and construction--Photographs
  • Lakes--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Corporate Names :
  • Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909 : Seattle, Wash.)--Buildings--Photographs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Seattle (Wash.)--Exhibitions--Design and construction--Photographs
  • Union, Lake (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Washington, Lake (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Amateur works
  • Photographic prints

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)