When the World Came to Campus, 1909

Seattle and The World in 1909


  • Seattle's population in 1910: 237,194.
  • Life expectancy is 48 for men and 52 for women.
  • By 1910 many Seattle homes and factories have electricity. However, electric home appliances won't become available until 1911.
  • In 1909 women can't vote. Washington women got the vote in 1883 but lost it in a State Supreme Court decision in 1890. In 1910 they were again given the vote, 10 years before the US Constitution was amended.
  • In 1906, there were 763 cars in Seattle. Speeds are limited to 4 mph downhill and 8 mph uphill. Vehicles are first licensed in 1909 although license plates won't appear until 1915. Shell will bring the first gas station to Seattle in 1912.
  • The Sorrento Hotel, on Madison in Seattle, opens in 1909 – the first guest was President William Howard Taft.
  • L.C. Smith, who amassed his fortune from his Smith typewriters, starts plans in 1909 to build the 21-story Smith Tower to hold 600 offices on Second and Yesler in downtown Seattle.

Average US annual salary: $750

Hourly wages: 29-45¢

Milk: 32¢ gal. Eggs: 29¢ doz.

Sugar: 6¢ lb.

Whiskey: $3.50 gal.

Average U.S. House: $2,650

The Nation & the World

  • Ernest Shackleton's expedition finds the magnetic South Pole
  • Robert Perry and Matthew Henson reach the North Pole
  • National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded
  • First Federal legislation prohibiting narcotics (opium) passes
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is established
  • 16th Amendment passes to introduce Federal income tax
  • Karl Landsteiner isolates the poliomyleitis virus
  • John D. Rockefeller gives $530 million for worldwide medical research
  • Nobel Prize for Physics is awarded to Guglielmo Marconi and Carl Ferdinand Braun for the wireless telegraphy (radio)
  • Henry Ford introduces his “universal” car, the Model T in 1909, priced at $850 and “available in any color as long as it was black”
  • Wall Street Dow Jones Industrial Average closes Dec. 31: 99.05
  • Shine On, Harvest Moon by Ada Jones and Billy Murray hits #1 in US
  • Ty Cobb steals home in World Series game
  • Wright Brothers test and deliver the first military plane to US Army, it seats 2, max speed 40 mph
  • Panama Canal's first concrete is poured
  • Japanese forces begin a 36 year occupation of Korea
  • Construction of Navy base at Hawaii's Pearl Harbor begins
  • Serbia mobilizes against Austria-Hungary
  • Italian school teacher/physician Maria Montessori, 39, publishes Motodo della pedagogia scientifica
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