In Eccentric Seattle, readers explore the Emerald City’s troubled, tragic, and bawdy past rather than the more familiar, rosy portrayals. A visitor in 1897, at the height of the raucous Klondike gold rush, called the Pacific Northwest’s most ambitious city “more wicked than Sodom.” Just over a decade later, President William Howard Taft–speaking with greater generosity, or perhaps less skepticism–declared the town to be “one of the most magnificent combinations of modern city and medieval forest … that has ever delighted the eye of men in this or any other country.”
The truth, as J. Kingston Pierce shows in this irreverent account of Seattle’s past, has always been somewhere in the middle. It was there, after all, where burghers once plotted to import “pure young ladies” from the East to marry local loggers…where big-dreaming bankers embezzled funds to raise a hotel in their own honor…where a bogus religious prophet was “shot down like a dog,” while the press cheered…where a canny woman’s political coup helped land her the mayor’s post…where irate shipyard workers brought about America’s first general strike…and where the Happy Face, that ubiquitous “symbol of abject naïvete,” was born. Whether about famous or ordinary citizens, Pierce’s selection of colorful anecdotes provides captivating reading.
Illustrations / photographs / bibliography / 320 pages (2003)