The 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition

The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (AYPE), held in Seattle from June 1 to October 16, 1909, followed on the heels of the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon. Initial inspiration for the fair came from a group of Alaska's gold rush pioneers in 1905. In 1906, Seattle businessmen altered the original plan, postponed the 1907 date (so as not to conflict with the Jamestown, Virginia tricentennial celebration) until 1909, and sought financial support for an enlarged scope. The AYPE followed a tradition established in 1876 when Philadelphia held a Centennial Exposition. It was an opportunity for Seattleites to display pride in their heritage and their patriotism.

Although funding was provided at the state level, much of the financial burden for the Exposition fell to the City of Seattle. Many city departments worked tirelessly before the AYPE to secure funding or put personnel in place to ensure the fair's success. These departments expressed their concerns, ideas, and requests to City Council and the Mayor through various communications and reports. The Police, Fire, Parks, and other departments all contributed to a smooth-running and safe Exposition.

For years after the close of AYPE, the Seattle Parks Department leased the Exposition property from the University and maintained the grounds. The Regents of the University of Washington assumed maintenance of the grounds in April 1915 and the City's involvement with the AYPE properties ended.

Although the anticipated influx of people and the anticipated stimulus to economic growth did not materialize as a result of the Exposition, the City and promoters counted AYPE as a success. Traffic was handled well, the boulevard system was completed in time for visitors to enjoy the scenery, and the police ably protected "the lives and property of the citizens and visitors during the Exposition." The University benefited by the expansion of its campus. Permanent benefits for the city included many additional miles of streetcar tracks, additional fire alarm boxes, a boulevard system, and a statue of William Seward.


  • Petition of T.S. Fancher regarding refund of amusement license fee (November 23, 1907)
  • Recommendation and correspondence regarding water infrastructure (April 6, 1908)
  • Petition of Seattle Federation of Women's Clubs for additional comfort stations (June 29, 1908)
  • Endorsement by Board of Public Works of comfort station request (July 6, 1908)
  • Agreement regarding water service to the fair (July 13, 1908)
  • Letter from Mayor Miller regarding police force (April 5, 1909)
  • Recommendations regarding police protection at the Exposition (April 19, 1909)
  • Recommendation regarding construction of welcome arch (May 3, 1909)
  • Agreement for construction of welcome arch (June 9, 1909)
  • Proposal for installation of American flags on downtown streets (June 2, 1909)
  • Petition from booth operators (June 14, 1909)
  • Request that Cedar River water be supplied to the fair (June 28, 1909)
  • Petition from vendors (June 28, 1909)
  • Letter from mayor of Appleton, Wisconsin, acknowledging invitation to AYPE (July 29, 1909)
  • Letters regarding designation of Cactus Dahlia as the fair's official flower (August 12, 1909)
  • Request for retention of additional policemen (September 27, 1909)
  • Resolution regarding Parks Department's lease of AYPE grounds (October 11, 1909)
  • Petition supporting maintenance of fair grounds as a park (October 16, 1909)
  • Request for City's purchase of fire alarm boxes (October 25, 1909)
  • Letter and statement of expenditures regarding police protection (December 2, 1909)
  • Letter regarding City's interest in retaining U.S. Government Buildings (December 6, 1909)


AYPE logo, 1909
Clerk File 37233, Seattle Municipal Archives
Construction on Grounds
AYPE building and grounds
construction, October 1908
Courtesy University of Washington Libraries,
Special Collections, AYP503
Map of Grounds
Map of AYPE grounds, 1909
Clerk File 33542, Seattle Municipal Archives
AYPE welcome arch
AYPE welcome arch on Second Avenue, 1909
Courtesy University of Washington Libraries,
Special Collections, SEA2233
Main entrance to AYPE
Main entrance to AYPE, 1909
Image 111185, Seattle Municipal Archives
Mt. Rainier as seen from AYPE
Mt. Rainier as seen from AYPE grounds, 1909
Courtesy Jeff Ware
AYPE Fire Department station
AYPE Fire Department station, 1909
Courtesy University of Washington Libraries
Special Collections, AYP092
Arctic Circle at AYPE
Arctic Circle at AYPE, 1909
Courtesy Jeff Ware
Aerial view of AYPE grounds
Aerial view of AYPE grounds, 1909
Image 111187, Seattle Municipal Archives
U.S. Government Building
U.S. Government Building at AYPE, 1909
Courtesy Jeff Ware
Police guard for the Philippine Building at AYPE
Police guard for the Philippine Building at AYPE, 1909
Courtesy University of Washington Libraries
Special Collections, AYP400
AYPE at night
AYPE at night, 1909
Image 111186, Seattle Municipal Archives

The following documents are available in full text in our legislative database:

  • Ordinance 20285, authorizing employment of special detectives (March 1, 1909)
  • Ordinance 20511, appropriating $750 for panoramic views of the city (March 22, 1909)
  • Ordinance 20541, authorizing funds for fire alarm system (March 22, 1909)
  • Ordinance 20587, appropriating funds for official printed invitations (March 29, 1909)
  • Ordinance 20742, authorizing the appointment of additional fire fighters (April 19, 1909)
  • Ordinance 20839, directing the Board of Public Works to construct a detention and comfort station (May 3, 1909)
  • Ordinance 20856, authorizing a temporary streetcar station on Brooklyn Avenue (May 3, 1909)
  • Ordinance 21037, authorizing construction of a welcome arch on Second Avenue (June 2, 1909)
  • Ordinance 21039, funding postage for city's official invitations (June 2, 1909)
  • Ordinance 21076, authorizing the appointment of an assistant fire chief for the AYPE station (June 2, 1909)
  • Ordinance 21077, authorizing the hiring of additional fire fighters for the AYPE station (June 2, 1909)
  • Ordinance 21399, authorizing $16 to pay H.J. Hunt for sending invitations (July 6, 1909)
  • Ordinance 21410, directing the Water Department to sell water to the exposition (July 12, 1909)
  • Ordinance 21487, authorizing the stringing of an incandescent light banner (July 19, 1909)
  • Resolution 206, inviting the Grand Army of the Republic to hold its National Encampment in Seattle during the fair (August 6, 1906)
  • Resolution 1482, authorizing the Board of Public Works to enter into an agreement to supply water to the fair (June 22, 1908)
  • Resolution 1921, requesting that the Liberty Bell be loaned to Seattle for the fair (January 4, 1909)
  • Resolution 2549, thanking the Police Department and Chief of Police for services rendered during the fair (December 6, 1909)

Other Resources at the Seattle Municipal Archives

  • Seattle Parks Department Annual Reports, 1908 and 1909 (Record Series 1802-H6)
  • Seattle Board of Park Commissioners Minutes, 1908-1915 (Record Series 5800-01)
  • Seattle Department of Public Utilities Annual Reports, 1908 and 1909 (Record Series 1802-H9)
  • Seattle Public Library Annual Reports, 1908 and 1909 (Record Series 1802-I5)
  • Seattle Fire Department Annual Reports, 1908 and 1909 (Record Series 1802-G4)
  • Seattle Police Department Annual Reports, 1908 and 1909 (Record Series 1802-H8)
  • Seattle Fire Chief's Correspondence, Volume 5 (Record Series 2801-01): Outgoing correspondence relating to personnel and safety issues at the AYPE.

Resources at the Seattle Public Library

Chilberg, John Edward. The organization and management of the business of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909. Laguna Beach, Calif.: J. E. Chilberg?, 1953. Call No. R917.972 C435o.


Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Digital Collection
Seattle Public Library's collection of images and ephemera.

UW's AYPE photographs
The University of Washington's collection of fair-related photos.

Asian-American participation in AYPE
Resource page created by the Chinese in Northwest Research Committee.

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition images
Images from the fair.

Municipal Archives, City Clerk

Anne Frantilla, City Archivist
Address: 600 Fourth Avenue, Third Floor, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94728, Seattle, WA, 98124-4728
Phone: (206) 684-8353

The Office of the City Clerk maintains the City's official records, provides support for the City Council, and manages the City's historical records through the Seattle Municipal Archives. The Clerk's Office provides information services to the public and to City staff.