It is my honor to be a guest at the Sorrento Hotel for my participation in the annual 24 Hour Comics Day this weekend, October 20 -21, sponsored by Comics Dungeon. Here are some facts about what was going on when the Sorrento Hotel first opened, courtesy of the University of Washington. The biggest event in Seattle in 1909 was its first World’s Fair, the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition.

Seattle and The World in 1909


  • Seattle’s population in 1910: 237,194.
  • Life expectancy is 48 for men and 52 for women.
  • By 1910 many Seattle homes and factories have electricity. However, electric home appliances won’t become available until 1911.
  • In 1909 women can’t vote. Washington women got the vote in 1883 but lost it in a State Supreme Court decision in 1890. In 1910 they were again given the vote, 10 years before the US Constitution was amended.
  • In 1906, there were 763 cars in Seattle. Speeds are limited to 4 mph downhill and 8 mph uphill. Vehicles are first licensed in 1909 although license plates won’t appear until 1915. Shell will bring the first gas station to Seattle in 1912.
  • The Sorrento Hotel, on Madison in Seattle, opens in 1909 – the first guest was President William Howard Taft.
  • L.C. Smith, who amassed his fortune from his Smith typewriters, starts plans in 1909 to build the 21-story Smith Tower to hold 600 offices on Second and Yesler in downtown Seattle.
Average US annual salary: $750Hourly wages: 29-45¢Milk: 32¢ gal. Eggs: 29¢ doz.Sugar: 6¢ lb.

Whiskey: $3.50 gal.

Average U.S. House: $2,650

The Nation & the World

  • Ernest Shackleton’s expedition finds the magnetic South Pole
  • Robert Perry and Matthew Henson reach the North Pole
  • National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded
  • First Federal legislation prohibiting narcotics (opium) passes
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is established
  • 16th Amendment passes to introduce Federal income tax
  • Karl Landsteiner isolates the poliomyleitis virus
  • John D. Rockefeller gives $530 million for worldwide medical research
  • Nobel Prize for Physics is awarded to Guglielmo Marconi and Carl Ferdinand Braun for the wireless telegraphy (radio)
  • Henry Ford introduces his “universal” car, the Model T in 1909, priced at $850 and “available in any color as long as it was black”
  • Wall Street Dow Jones Industrial Average closes Dec. 31: 99.05
  • Shine On, Harvest Moon by Ada Jones and Billy Murray hits #1 in US
  • Ty Cobb steals home in World Series game
  • Wright Brothers test and deliver the first military plane to US Army, it seats 2, max speed 40 mph
  • Panama Canal’s first concrete is poured
  • Japanese forces begin a 36 year occupation of Korea
  • Construction of Navy base at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor begins
  • Serbia mobilizes against Austria-Hungary
  • Italian school teacher/physician Maria Montessori, 39, publishes Motodo della pedagogia scientifica

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