On June 18, 1909, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer prints an article announcing what a person wishing to visit the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and experience every single paid attraction could expect to pay: $15.20. The A-Y-P Exposition took place on the University of Washington campus in Seattle between June 1 and October 16, 1909, drawing more than three million people. Visitors came from around the state, the nation, and the world to view hundreds of educational exhibits, stroll the lushly manicured grounds, and be entertained on the Pay Streak midway, while Seattle promoted itself as a gateway to the rich resources of Alaska, the Yukon, and Asia.
Peanuts and Popcorn
Entry to the many exposition buildings was included with fair admission, but the $15.20 did not allow for the purchase of peanuts, popcorn, hot roast beef sandwiches, Japanese rice cakes, lemonade, or any of the hundreds of other tempting delicacies for sale at the fair. The frugal visitor could probably have staved off hunger by taking advantage of the many free food samples available in the product booths in the Manufacturers Building, or circled past receptions featuring Yakima apples, Hawaiian pineapples, Idaho cherries, or any of the other fruits and vegetables distributed proudly by their producers.
Neither did the amount allow for the purchase of souvenirs, but these too could be collected at no charge by seeking out groups celebrating an A-Y-P Exposition Special Day -- many of these groups happily passed out silk ribbons or badges imprinted with their town slogan or organizational motto.
Following is the entire text of the article, including the price breakdown of each Pay Streak attraction. Attractions on the Pay Streak came and went over the course of the fair, so a visitor in August or October might have needed extra nickels or perhaps ended up with a penny to spare. The 50 cent admission was the adult price.
Costs to See Whole Show
"Costs $15.20 To See Whole Show -- Total Includes Charges Made for Every Attraction at Exposition.
"What does it cost to see everything there is to see at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific exposition from the main gate to the south entrance? That question has been asked many times by visitors to the fair who have not taken the time to compute the prices charged at the numerous attractions.
"To see everything, to visit every attraction on the Pay Streak; to ride in the captive balloon, which will be here on Saturday; to ride in the jinrickshaws, roller chairs, rowboats, canoes, steamers on the lake, motor boats, to hear the special lectures and to attend the exercises in the amphitheater, will cost $15.20. The $15.20 includes only one admission at the main gate, and if several days or weeks are spent at the fair, 50 cents should be added to the total for each day's attendance.
"There are four attractions on the Pay Streak that charge 50 cents admission. There are twenty where the price is 25 cents and more than a dozen where the charge is 5, 10, or 15 cents. The total of $15.20 is liberal for the reason that it includes everything for which a possible charge can be made. At the Lewis and Clark exposition the list of Pay Streak attractions was not so long. Jamestown did not have so long a list, but St. Louis and Chicago had more.
The list follows:
John Cort's Arena, 50 cents; Arena theater, 25 cents; Battle of Gettysburg, 50 cents; captive balloon, $1; Chinese theater, 25 cents; educated horse, 25 cents; Eskimo village, 25 cents; Destruction of San Francisco, 10 cents; Ferris wheel (to be installed Saturday), 25 cents; fairy gorge and tickler, 10 cents; Dixieland, 50 cents; gondolas, 25 cents; launches, 25 cents; rowboats, 50 cents an hour; motor boats, 50 cents; giant piano, 25 cents; house upside down, 10 cents; human laundry, 10 cents; haunted swing, 10 cents; baby incubator, 25 cents; Indian stone work, 10 cents; Igorrote village, 25 cents; King county coal mine, 10 cents; Land of the Midnight Sun, 25 cents; mountain slide, 5 cents; Monitor and the Merrimac, 50 cents; Ezra Meeker's pioneer life, 10 cents; Oriental village, main entrance, 15 cents; camel ride, 15 cents; donkey ride, 10 cents; Turkish theater, 25 cents; Scenic Alaska, 10 cents; electric marvels, 25 cents; Scenic railway, 15 cents; Spanish theater, 25 cents; Swedish building miracle painting, 15 cents; moving pictures, 25 cents; exhibit, 10 cents; foolish house, 10 cents; vacuum tube, 15 cents; airship, 10 cents; merry-go-round (to be installed Saturday), 5 cents; shingle mill, 10 cents; Alaska gold camp, 25 cents; theater, 25 cents; dog team ride, 10 cents; deep-sea diving, 10 cents; Japanese theater, 25 cents; excursion on Lake Washington, 25 cents; Lake Washington rowboats, 50 cents an hour; roller chairs, 75 cents an hour; jinrickshaws, 75 cents an hour; stadium (average) 50 cents; special programs in auditorium, 35 cents; special programs in amphitheater, 35 cents; special lectures in Fine Arts building; 25 cents; main gate, 50 cents" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 18, 1909).