WA Secretary of State Blogs
From Our Corner

From the Archives: 1889 Great Seattle Fire

by Brian Zylstra | June 6th, 2014

Great Seattle Fire 1889 (1)

(Photos courtesy of Washington State Digital Archives)

1889 turned out to be a great year for Washington, as it was the year it gained statehood. But it also was a year marked by a tragic event in Seattle.

June 6 marks the 125th anniversary of what is known as the Great Seattle Fire. The blaze started at 2:30 p.m. in a paint and woodwork shop at the corner of Front Street and Madison Avenue. Due to a combination of a dry spring, windy afternoon and inadequate water supply, the fire eventually swept across 120 acres of Seattle’s business district and waterfront. Within a year of the fire, the damaged area had been nearly rebuilt.

The summer of 1889 saw other notable fires in Washington. In June of that year, much of Vancouver’s business district was wiped out when it was struck by a series of fires that were thought to be arson. On July 4, Ellensburg’s business district was destroyed by fire. And on August 4, a blaze burned down 30 blocks of downtown Spokane, destroyed the Howard Street Bridge over the Spokane River and set log-booms on the river alight.

Our Digital Archives has several photos of the Great Seattle Fire, including these two shots. The top photo shows the southwest corner of First Avenue and Madison Street during the blaze. The bottom photo captures the fire’s aftermath, showing the west side of First Avenue between Yesler Way and Columbia Street. The photos are found in the State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990.



Comments are closed.

About this Blog

The Washington Office of the Secretary of State’s blog provides from-the-source information about important state news and public services. This space acts as a bridge between the public and Secretary Kim Wyman and her staff, and we invite you to contribute often to the conversation here.

On the Web

Comments Disclaimer

The comments and opinions expressed by users of this blog are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Secretary of State’s Office or its employees. The agency screens all comments in accordance with the Secretary of State’s blog use policy, and only those that comply with that policy will be approved and posted. Outside comments will not be edited by the agency.

Your Corner of Washington

Older Posts


Blog Contributors

Recent Topics