Events from the 1880s

The Chamber of Commerce of the City of Seattle

This is what Seattle looked like in 1882, when 26 businessmen met to discuss a vexing problem: how could their struggling town of 3,500 beat a San Francisco steamship company to win a $12,000 annual mail route to Alaska?

Their April 17 meeting was the first for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. It ended with a stern resolution to the Postmaster General of the United States and the formation of a committee on mail services.
Read meeting minutes

The day after the meeting, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported: "For the past year, the businessmen of Seattle have been contemplating some organization for the better protection of their general interests, but the matter never assumed a tangible shape until last evening when about 25 leading citizens and businessmen met at the office of McClure & Taylor and proceeded to organize the Chamber of Commerce of the City of Seattle."

Connecting our region

The Chamber's first decade was dominated by the fight to obtain a railroad for Seattle. Chamber founders Thomas Burke, Orange Jacobs and John Leary led Seattle's bid for adequate rail facilities. Their campaign finally ended on January 6, 1893, when workers drove the last spike into the Great Northern Railway track and opened transcontinental travel to Seattle.

Building a world-class city

In June 1889, 63 acres of Seattle's business district was leveled by fire. The Chamber played a major role in rebuilding Seattle. Efforts ranged from encouraging businesses to reopen as quickly as possible to campaigning for wider, raised streets.

Photo credit: Pemco Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History and Industry

Sources: Seattle Business Special Edition: Seattle Chamber Celebrates 100 Years; Highlights: 1882-1957; Seattle Business: April 1932;