LONDON GHOST SHOW

First appeared in Pacific, July 6, 1986

 

This rare circus scene was copied from an old family album compiled early in the century by a Capitol Hill couple, Delia and Lewis Whittelsey. Though the couple had no children, they left plenty of photographs. This scene was pasted into the album without a caption, but its location and approximate time are easy to track. The circus was set up on what was called the “old Yesler site,” a full city block between Third and Fourth avenues and Jefferson and James streets, often used for such occasions after 1901 when the Yesler Mansion was destroyed by fire.

 

The camera was aimed to the northeast across the block where Sara and Henry Yesler began to build their 40-room mansion in 1883.  The block is now completely filled with the bulk of the King County Courthouse. The landmark that gives the site away is the old First Baptist Church on Fourth Avenue, a short distance south of Cherry Street. Here its steep roof rises above the big top. Between the destruction by fire of Yes!er’s mansion and the 1906 construction of the Coliseum Theater in its place, the old Yesler site was used for mass meetings or amusements like the London Ghost Show.  In the second subject above the vortex ramp has nearly been surmounted by the climbing ball man.

 


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