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The Great Seattle Fire of 1889

burned building

The Great Fire of June 6, 1889 was a significant turning point in Seattle's history and changed both the physical and political landscapes of the City. The fire started at 2:30 p.m. in a paint and woodwork shop at Front and Madison and over the course of the next 18 hours swept a southward across 100 acres of Seattle's business district and waterfront. The fire left little standing in its wake, consuming buildings, docks, wooden sidewalks, and anything else combustible. Losses from the conflagration were estimated at $20 million.

Pledges of aid came in from Tacoma, Olympia, Portland, San Francisco, Victoria, and large and small cities throughout the United States. Immediately following the fire, businesses reopened in makeshift tents, building reconstruction began, redesigning the physical features of the City was given a high priority, and the face of City government was radically changed. Within the year following the Fire, Seattle had been nearly rebuilt and its population increased by almost 33 percent.