No Finer Site: The University of Washington's Early Years On Union Bay

"The new regents have already met and are formulating plans for the new University. It is a thought of no little moment that there is at least a brighter hope of new buildings. We hold the breath in silence."

-- Pacific Wave, April 1893

"Never before in the history of the University has the college year opened under such auspicious circumstances as the present. A new era has dawned upon our institution. The disadvantages pertaining to badly lit, badly ventilated and badly arranged recitation and lectures rooms are at an end..."
"All hail the completion of the new University!"

-- Pacific Wave, September 1895

"No finer site for a University can be imagined than the present campus of our Alma Mater. Bounded on the one side by far reaching Lake Washington, on the other by Lake Union, it lies like a gem in a setting of silvery waters..."

-- Pacific Wave, May 1896


This exhibition marks the centennial of the move in 1895 of the University of Washington from its original campus in downtown Seattle to the current campus. The two decades following the move were significant in the history of the University. Most of the colleges now part of the University were established, as was the basic outline of the campus plan. During much of this period the University was led by two able presidents, Franklin Pierrepont Graves and Thomas Franklin Kane. Under their presidencies, major changes were made to the curriculum, and both actively recruited new members of an expanded faculty. By the end of the period the University had developed from a small college to a true university.

The exhibition begins with old campus and the decision to move to a new site, reviews the construction of the first buildings, and some aspects of the first two decades on the new campus, including student life, the presidencies of Graves and Kane, the evolution of the new campus plan, the early years of the University District, and the transformation of the old campus into the Metropolitan Tract.

This web exhibition is based on an exhibition prepared by the University of Washington Libraries' Special Collections and Preservation Division and shown on the Allen Library Exhibition Balcony from October 1995 to January 16, 1996. It is copyrighted by the University of Washington Libraries. The Exhibition may be used online or parts of it downloaded for personal use or the URL for the exhibition included in another electronic document. For information on reproductions of the images and use guidelines e-mail the Special Collections and Preservation Division ( Comments may be sent to the exhibition's curator, Gary L. Menges (