Seattle fire.jpeg

Aftermath of the Great Fire at 1st Avenue between Columbia Street and Yesler Way, Seattle, June 6, 1889.

It is not unusual to find early Western towns that burned; it is rare to find one that did not. It could have been a curling iron heating on top of a kerosene lamp, an overturned glue pot, or holiday fireworks that caused the “great fires" of Seattle, Spokane, and Ellensburg in 1889.

Seattle, 100 miles south of the Canadian border, is located on an isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Early pioneers settled in the area and named it New York. In 1853, it was renamed "New York Alki" from a Chinook word meaning "by and by," or “someday.”

Becky McCreary is a member of Southern Arizona Genealogy Society and teaches “Storytellers: Writing family stories.” Genealogy Today articles are archived at The column may not be reprinted without the written consent of the author. Reach the author at:

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