When the World Came to Campus, 1909

Legacy of the Fair

The Exposition opened on time, and closed on time. The last day of the AYP was October 16th. A ball was held the night before, and ceremonies held on the grounds the last night included fireworks at 9pm, and a final parade and speeches at 11:30pm. As the Exposition neared its close, it clearly was successful in many ways. During the 138 days of the Fair, there were 3,740,551 paid admissions for a total of $1,096,475. Unlike earlier expositions, the AYP finished with a profit of $62,676, which the corporation stockholders donated to the Anti-Tuberculosis League and the Seamen's Institute. The planners of the AYP successfully met their goals of opening a fair that was ready and finishing out of debt.

Did the AYP have the effect its promoters desired?  Although there is no real consensus, historians generally argue that the Fair did not. In the years following the Exposition there was no significant increase in trade with Asia and Alaska did not show the boom in growth for which everyone had hoped. Seattle, already a boom town in 1909, did not immediately experience a substantial growth in population and cultural events remained limited.

On June 26, 1911, the Executive Committee of the AYP Exposition Committee held a formal dissolution dinner at which they decided what to do with the remaining funds left over after stockholders were paid their dividends. A main feature of the dinner was a huge model of the Court of Honor sculpted in sugar that measured 10 by 14 feet and rose three feet in the air.

Without a doubt, the greatest benefactor from the AYP was the University of Washington. The 1910 yearbook, the Tyee, shows some of the Exposition buildings already transformed for use by the University and the Regents papers from that time show the buildings accepted by the University. Many buildings lasted longer than expected but today only a few remain:  the Fine Arts building, now Architecture Hall, the Washington State Women's Building, now Cunningham Hall, and part of the foundry and Michigan Club buildings which are now used by the Physical Plant. The Auditorium became Meany Hall, used for the performing arts, but it was demolished after being damaged by the 1964 earthquake.

Even though most of the buildings of the Exposition did not last, the beautiful grounds designed by the Olmsted brothers are still evident. From the spine of Rainier Vista, the Olmsted design of two other vistas, Union Vista and Washington Vista still exist, at least partially, on the campus today.

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