A Historic Resource Study for the Seattle Unit of the
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

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Selling Seattle

Competition Among Cities

Although it is difficult to evaluate Brainerd's precise impact on the Klondike Gold Rush or on the growth of Seattle, it is certain that the objective of his advertising campaign was reached: Seattle indeed became the gateway to the Klondike. As noted, of the approximately 100,000 prospectors who set out for the Far North, 70,000 selected this city as the place for outfitting and transportation. To some extent, this development was dictated by location. San Francisco and Portland did not enjoy the relative proximity to the gold fields that cities on Puget Sound offered. Meanwhile, smaller cities such as Everett, Bellingham, and Port Townsend did not sustain a population base sufficient to support large-scale businesses that could easily outfit tens of thousands of miners.

Still, the question of why Tacoma did not benefit more from the Klondike trade remains an interesting one, as does the question of why an American city should profit more than Victoria and Vancouver from a gold strike located on Canadian soil. The efforts of Erastus Brainerd help explain how Seattle emerged the victor in the battle for gold-rush business. No other city mounted an advertising campaign that could rival his. Part booster and part huckster, Brainerd was "an optimist and an enthusiast" who had the vision necessary to sell Seattle to the public. [37]

At the outset of the Klondike Gold Rush, it was not clear that Seattle would emerge as the point of departure. Like Seattle, other cities also advertised their merits. It was a measure of Brainerd's success that as the competition for the Yukon trade progressed, other towns agreed on only one thing -- that Seattle was not the place for outfitting and transportation. [38]

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Erastus Brainerd and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce
The Advertising Campaign | Competition Among Cities

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Last Updated: 07-Jul-1999