“Twelve Stories of Solid Comfort”

Advertising brochure for Hotel Savoy, Seattle, Washington (circa 1908)

I’m not much of a fan of puns, but I do enjoy some forms of wordplay.  Recently I was trying to supply a date for yet another lovely piece of ephemera I had to catalog.  The item in question (back cover panel pictured above) was an advertising brochure for Seattle’s Hotel Savoy, which boasted of that lodging as being the perfect place to stay while taking in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (remember that?).  Clearly, the brochure must have been distributed some time around 1909, although the language of the announcement, which still made the AYPE seem a future prospect, made a slightly earlier date of “publication” a possibility.  I decided to double check quickly to see if the Hotel Savoy predated the fair.  I soon came across a handy publication entitled, The Heritage of Seattle Hotels, which included the following information:

Nothing approached the Rainier-Grand’s bon vivant popularity until THE SAVOY HOTEL opened in 1906.  Not pretentious by any means, advertised as “12 stories of solid comfort,” there happened to be elaborate French-period accommodations on the top floor…jokingly dubbed, by men-about-town, as “the vice-Presidential Suite.

For some reason, that passage immediately made me think of the television series, Mad Men.  Were those bon vivants who patronized the Savoy the “mad men” of their day?  Then I realized that one of the running jokes from the show’s season premiere had been the numerous references to “floors” made throughout the episode, culminating in Don Draper’s proposed slogan for a swimsuit ad campaign: “So well built, we can’t show you the second floor.”  Scary coincidence?  Even more strange was that the fictional client in the show was real life Northwest company, Jantzen (currently celebrating a centenary).

Floors?  Stories?  Get it?

The date I decided to use for the brochure in the catalog record was 1908 — as good as truth or fiction.  I’ll leave you all to decode the deeper meanings of Mad Men for yourselves.

Image credit: Washington State Historical Society Digital Collections Accession ID No. 2004.24.1


Final AYPE Exhibit Tour Tonight

Former AYPE Forestry building being demolished, 1930.
Former AYPE Forestry building being demolished, 1930.

This evening marks your last chance for a free tour of The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: When the World Came to Campus, led by exhibit curator, Carla Rickerson.  No RSVP or pre-registration is necessary for this one-hour event.  Just show up at 6:00 pm in the Suzzallo Library Exhibition Room 102 (just inside the main entrance to the building).

Image credit: Post AYPE Building Collection. PH Coll 778.  University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections Order no. UWCO159

Seattle’s Forgotten World’s Fair?

Front cover of final edition of the AYP Official Daily Program (Oct. 16, 1909)
Front cover of final edition of the AYP Official Daily Program (Oct. 16, 1909)

Not around here, I think.

Amidst a final flurry of activity accompanying the winding down of Seattle’s celebrations of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition centennial, an announcement for a documentary to be shown on KCTS 9 definitely caught our eye:

In collaboration with local historical gems such as the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), The Burke Museum, Chinese in NW American Research Committee, the University of Washington and combined with thousands of historical images, rare archival footage, contemporary interviews and narration by Tom Skerritt, Seattle’s Forgotten World’s Fair, will take the viewer on an hour-long magical journey into a nearly forgotten chapter of the burgeoning city’s history.

The perfect nightcap to Home Movie Day 2009? But more about that later. If you can’t watch it on October 17th, check the KCTS schedule for other showings of this documentary.

Image credit: University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections ID# PAM0192.

Book Signing Tonight

Picturing the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition dust jacket cover
Picturing the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition dust jacket cover

If you are looking for something to do this evening, why not head over to the University Bookstore?  At 7:00 pm, the Special Collections Division’s own Nicolette Bromberg will be on hand to discuss and sign copies of her new book, Picturing the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.  This lavish volume features the Visual Materials Curator’s own selection of documentary photographs by AYPE official photographer, Frank Nowell, as well as recent photographs from a project led by John Stamets in which University of Washington students rephotographed various sites of the 1909 exposition on the current UW campus.

You also can see some of Nowell’s images for yourselves at the previously mentioned installations in the University of Washington Libraries and in glorious large-scale format at Picturing the Fair, the exhibition at the Museum of History and Industry.

UW AYPE Exhibit Tours

A reminder that the first of three free public tours of the  exhibit, “The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition:  When the World Came to the Campus,” led by Carla Rickerson, Head of Public Services,  will take place this Wednesday evening, July 8, from 6:00-7:00 pm in Suzzallo 102.

Additional tours are scheduled for August 12 and October 14 — same time, same location.

No RSVP or pre-registration is required.  For more information about the exhibit, go to http://uwnews.org/uweek/article.aspx?visitsource=uwkmail&id=50023

Alonzo at the Fair

Portrait of Alonzo Wardall
Portrait of Alonzo Wardall

Looking for information on one topic frequently yields some unexpected discoveries.  I was recently trying to finish up the catalog record for a manuscript collection, Alonzo and Elizabeth Wardall diaries, account books and other materials (Manuscript collection 118).  A Civil War veteran and an activist in the cooperative movement, Wardall led a long and peripatetic existence, turning up in a number of different places before spending the last fifteen years or so of his life in Seattle.

I enlisted Edna’s assistance in trying to sort out a few biographical details.  We also spent one morning in the reading room having a look at some of the actual diaries in order to confirm whether or not those volumes truly contained substantial entries (or if they were more along the lines of appointment books).  They were indeed diaries!  Alonzo Wardall proved to be a highly disciplined diarist, if not much of a literary stylist (sadly, far fewer of Elizabeth’s diaries survive).  As we excitedly examined a sampling of journals from various years, I think it suddenly occurred to us almost simultaneously to check out the one for 1909 just to see…

And there it was — proof that everyone in Seattle (even utopianists with beards) went to the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition — an entry recording Alonzo and Elizabeth Wardall’s trip to the opening day of the fair!  Here is a transcription from that diary:

Tuesday June 1, 1909
At A.Y.P. Fair

Fine — cool — cloudy.  Rain again.  The great A.Y.P. Fair opened today & wife & I spent the day there — seeing the sights.  It is certainly a grand affair & most creditable in every way & in almost complete condition.  A great crowd out — said to be 82,219 [annotated above the line “official”].  The day was perfect & the grounds very beautiful.  We spent most of our time strolling about, admiring the buildings and the beautiful floral arrangements & looking at the people.  The Pay Streak was swarming with fun loving crowds.  Hard rain at dark & all night spoiling the plows forever.  Ray & Josephine were caught out in it.

Opening day crowd at the Pay Streak, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition
Opening day crowd at the Pay Streak, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition

Could Alonzo be out there as part of this opening day crowd (from an image in the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition Postcard Collection, PH Coll 777, Digital Collection Order Number AYP641)?  Alonzo and Elizabeth Wardall not only participated in the opening day festivities, but returned frequently to the fair (both together and separately) throughout the summer and fall months.  Alonzo attended Swedish Day, Norwegian Day, Children’s Day, and Prince Edward Island Day, and also dined at the Roast Beef Pavilion on occasion.  Stay tuned for some possible further adventures!

AYPE centennial exhibits throughout Suzzallo/Allen libraries

In celebration of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held on the UW campus in 1909, there are three stunning exhibitions in Suzzallo and Allen Libraries.

Admission tickets for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1909. Photograph by Frank H. Nowell.
Admission tickets for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1909. Photograph by Frank H. Nowell.

The biggest display is The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: When the World Came to Campus, in the Suzzallo Exhibit Room, 102. This exhibit was curated by Carla Rickerson, Head of Public Services in Special Collections. The unique photographs, ephemera, and documents, as well as the blow-ups of AYPE buildings mounted on the walls give viewers a sense of the beauty and bombast of the 1909 event.

Another exhibition, Women’s Work at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, is located in the lobby outside Special Collections in the south Allen basement. Michelle Dent, a visiting curator from New York University, examines  the role of women at the exposition, and features items from the Burke Museum which were originally on display at the AYPE.

Finally, the third exhibition,  Capturing the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: Frank H. Nowell, Exposition Photographer,  is located on the balcony above Allen North lobby. Nicolette Bromberg, visual materials curator in Special Collections, co-curated the exhibit with Rickerson.

Additional photographs of the AYPE by Nowell are mounted in Special Collections on the wall behind the reception desk. Also, soon to be on display in Special Collections is  a newly restored print of the AYPE bird’s-eye-view.

Come by and see the exhibitions! Feel welcome to ask Special Collections curators and staff about the AYPE. Challenge us!