The A-Y-P's 'Battle of Gettysburg'

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AYP collector-interpreter Dan Kerlee holds an AYP flannel pennant on the University of Washington location where 97 years earlier a crowd awaits the unveiling of the James Hill statue in front of the Battle of Gettysburg attraction. On Stevens Way part of the Chemistry Library – once the Communications Building – shows on the far left of the “now” scene.

[What follows appeared first in Pacific Magazine on March 26, 2006.]

As noted a few weeks past in these pages we are entering a time of exploration into a lavish event that happened now 97 years ago – the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition or AYP for short.

In the contemporary photo Dan Kerlee holds a typical memento pennant from the 1909 exposition: “Seattle’s First Worlds Fair.”   These were sold at least by the hundreds along what was then called the Pay Streak.  It was the carnival strip of amusements and concessions that ran along what is now Stevens Way and beyond it to Portage Bay.

Consulting an AYP map that Kerlee has superimposed with a contemporary map of the UW campus he stands beside Stevens Way and within a few feet of where in the historical photograph the man in the “boater” straw hat looks south towards the Pay Streak.   With its own caption the historical photo by Otto Frasch reveals what this impressive crowd awaits — the unveiling of the James Hill monument. (Hill, the Empire Builder behind the Great Northern Railroad, also visited the AYP in the flesh.).

Much more than the draped Hill bust the Frasch photo shows the Battle of Gettysburg, a cyclorama where inside one could watch the “reenactment” of the turning point in the Civil War – for a fee.  As it’s exterior sign promises, “War War War Replete With the Rush, Roar and Rumble of Battle.”

For more AYP insights from Dan Kerlee, readers are advised to visit his AYPE.COM where this Frasch “wonder” and many more photographs and examples of expo ephemera and artifacts can be found pithily described by Dan.   Generally, as he puts it, “The complexity of the AYP is stunning, and we get just glimpses of it.”  And now as we approach the fair’s centennial he and other Expo enthusiasts will be revealing old glimpses and certainly finding many new ones.

Meanwhile the James Hill bust is still on campus, although it has been moved.  The reader is also invited to go look for it.

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