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Seattle's Museum of History and Industry


If the picture above seems a bit cluttered with tantalizing things, it's no accident. The whole of Seattle's Museum of History and Industry is full of fascinating objects, ideas and connections that could keep you all day, or give you a couple of hours of enjoyment. And a laugh or two: note the 'toe truck.'


The Museum itself is a piece of Seattle's history, It's located on the shores of Lake Union, which looks like a recreation area, with marinas, parklands and water features, and fleets of houseboats. You may remember those from the movie Sleepless in Seattle.


But for most of Seattle's history, Lake Union was an area of heavy industry, surrounded by mills, boatyards and gas works, clogged with cut lumber and dumped waste. As well, it's part of the canal system that links Lake Washington to Puget Sound and the sea.


What a transformation: And yet, the big clean-up of the 1970s has had to be repeated in some parts of the lake as recently as the past few years, with dredging followed by dumping layers of clean sand. Some still say, swim with caution.


The Museum itself is in a remnant of the past; the large and handsome building was put up as an armory for training Naval Reserve personnel, and was a key training center during World War II.


Lake Union's shores were also where yacht-builder and enthusiast William Boeing turned his attention to another form of transportation, building a float-plane as the first dedicated mail carrier, seen above. Boeing continued on the lake for many years before moving to areas with more room.


The lake also saw development of some of the famous hydroplane speedboats of Gold Cup racing, which took place on nearby Lake Washington.

1030384Seattle's other industries have had a hand in shaping MOHAI. Jeff Bezos of Amazon has funded a large exhibit on innovation, which includes videos of numbers of innovators who have worked in the area, including Dale Chihuly, the glass sculptor, above.

10303851030402Lumber has obviously been a big part of Seattle's history, along with technology and retailing. Especially lately retailing, with Amazon headquartered in the area—but did you know that Seattle is where UPS got its start?


But it's not only the industry that gets the museum's attention: there are exhibits on the natural environment and its influence as well.


And in Seattle, you can never forget food, and the museum has a major exhibit on food, including the history of local marketing and products.


But this last has to speak for itself. That's the sign, and that's the history of how it almost wasn't what we know it as!


Well worth a visit. And if the weather is good, it's a pleasant place to walk, sit or picnic. And next door is the home of the Center for Wooden Boats, with exhibits on boats and their history, and enthusiasts who are restoring them.

Photo of MOHAI Building: Dilu/Wikimedia


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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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