Here is where most visitors to the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition got their first inkling of what awaited them in the way of edifying instruction or cheap thrills.

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Here is where most visitors to the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition got their first inkling of what awaited them in the way of edifying instruction or cheap thrills. And expo-goers may have enjoyed both of these after crossing under a gateway that could have been erected for Caesar’s return.

The photograph looks west across Puget Plaza and over the shoulders of sculptor Loredo Taft’s bronze statue of the American Caesar, George Washington, left-of-center. (Washington was later moved one block north and now looks west on Campus Parkway.) To the sides of the gate and through its three arches you can glimpse a confusion of commercial signs and small shops on 15th Avenue. Included are the A-Y-P Laundry, a Kodak store, and a big billboard (far right) promoting Charles Cowen’s University Park Addition. Cowen was a booster for beautifying the University District in preparation for the exposition.

The bandstand on the far left is busy with musicians. The date may be Sept. 18, for a banner stretched above 15th Avenue on the far side of the gate has that date printed large at both ends. Sept. 18 was Exhibitors Day, with lots of prizes promised.

Early hysterical rumors that the fair was too expensive for families were answered with a Seattle Times editorial, which claimed that for $2 a working man could take a family of four under this gateway and still have 50 cents left “for ice cream, soda water, peanuts or whatever they may desire.” For comparison, The Times also noted, “There are many men in Seattle and every other city who live on 20 cents a day — 10 cents for trolley-car fare and 10 cents for lunch.”

“Washington Then and Now,” by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through www.washingtonthenandnow.com ($45) or through Tartu Publications at P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.