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Concentrations on history

sunny 78 °F

(Tuesday) My cousin Tom offered to show me around the city of Seattle, which was great. It allowed us to visit while exploring for it has been 25 years since we have been together. Seattle is an interesting city and to a visitor, confusing. There are many hills, much like San Francisco, and streets are not laid out in grids. Greater Seattle has a population exceeding 1M so its busy with freeways 'stacked' in many places. I wanted to get a feel of the beginnings of the town so we visited the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park in downtown. It told the story of how Seattle changed overnight from a small, remote timbering and fishing town of a few hundred residents to thousands practically overnight upon hearing the news of the gold strike in Klondike Canada. The news of the strike spread like wildfire when 68 miners arrived in Seattle by ship on July 14, 1897 with over 2 1/2 tons of gold on board. In all, between 1896 and 1900 more than $50M ($1.1B today) in gold was mined at the Klondike. It was the largest single gold discovery on record. Over 100,000 men & women got caught up in the "Fever" and endured horrible hardships seeking their fortune in the land of ice & snow. Only 1% of the gold seekers got rich. Many died of exposure, disease, and malnutrition. Quite a story. Seattle's store keepers and merchants made fortunes on outfitting the miners. John Nordstrom, for example, went north seeking gold. He returned a year later with profits of $14,000. and invested it with a partner in a shoe store. That was the beginning of what is now Nordstrom Department Stores.
From there, Tom & I did an Underground City tour. The docent explained how Seattle's terrain of hills and flats created muddy streets with no sanitary sewers or water treatment in the gold rush days. The city expansion was so rapid that it created huge problems with disease. There were no building codes so buildings were built of wood and flooded in high tide. Huge pot holes developed in the streets which were filled with saw dust from the saw mills, creating even more problems. As a result, a tragic fire burned downtown Seattle to the ground or should I say, mud! Replacement buildings had to be built on pilings, with 50 & 60' tree spars driven through the silt to bedrock to support the new buildings. It took over 6 years to complete with many scandals along the way. Bars and brothels were abundant, of course. One 'Madam' employed 2,500 ladies and contributed heavily to local politics to keep her doors open! Enough said!
Pike Place Market was our next stop. What a place! A giant flea market (in my eyes) several blocks long and 3 levels deep. Of course, we watched the fish being thrown behind the counter, a famous attraction. There is a Starbucks (a Seattle original) on every practically corner in Seattle with crowds in every one.
What I have described took the entire day. Upon returning to my room I took a 'power nap' to recover and to look forward to my visit to Boeing for a plant tour. Until then................

Posted by dixter 08:05 Archived in USA Tagged tour seattle

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