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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