Monday, January 14, 2013


MOHAI, Seattle WA

Have you ever heard of MOHAI?  It is not a rum drink with lime juice and mint.  Nor is it a type of goat's wool used to make sweaters.  It is, in fact, Seattle's thoroughly revamped Museum Of History And Industry...MOHAI (

This institution, located on the shores of Lake Union, presents a history of Seattle and the Northwest from the arrival of the Native Americans to the present day.  This is a well-funded institution with all the latest interactive bells and whistles and solid corporate support.  It has slickly produced films on the history of Seattle.  It has a large film and television section that shows how Seattle has been presented to the world on celluloid in films ranging from Sleepless in Seattle ( to Elvis' It Happened at the World's Fair (  You will also find a long record of radical unions (the IWW "wobblies" started in Washington state) and leftist KING county politics in this very blue state.

On the economic front, Seattle evolved from a logging town in the 19th century to an aircraft manufacturer during World War II (see earlier post, Freedom's Forge, 8/10/12).  More recently Seattle has been noted for being the home of Starbucks coffee (MOHAI has their first sign), Microsoft and Amazon.

Exploring MOHAI you will find a model of the USS Decatur -- a US Navy sloop-of-war that was launched in 1839 and served in the suppression of the slave trade off the coast of Africa and in the Mexican American war.  She also participated in the Battle of Seattle -- a skirmish between settlers and native Americans that took place on January 26, 1856  (  She carried 16 guns and had a crew of about 150.

USS Decatur, MOHAI
You will find artefacts and a brief show on Seattle's Great Fire of 1889 which destroyed the entire business district.  Seattle in the 19th century had a reputation as a wild partying kind of town which featured saloons, casinos and bordellos for the loggers, miners, farmers and pioneers.  This aspect of Seattle parallels late 19th century Manhattan as described in Richard Zacks' recent book Island of Vice (see earlier post, Island of Vice, 6/21/12).

Seattle Vice, MOHAI
The museum shows how Seattle did its part in the First World War.  American soldiers from that war were called "Doughboys" because they were bigger and better-fed than their French and English comrades...
Doughboys Marching through Seattle, MOHAI

Boeing's production of thousands of planes during the Second World War transformed Seattle from a sleepy backwater into a major metropolis.  Made in Seattle, you can now find Sally B. in the UK.

B-17 "Flying Fortress," Made in Seattle, now at IWM Duxford, UK
Washington state played a major role in developing plutonium at Hanford for use in the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan (See earlier post, Truman's Decision to Use Atomic bombs on Japan, 9/23/12).  At MOHAI you will find reminders of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during the Second World War (see earlier post, Executive Order 9066: the Internment, 2/25/12)...

Mr. Kiwasaki of Auburn had to pack his belongings in this trunk
MOHAI, Seattle
The Commercial Messenger Company which later became UPS was founded in Seattle in 1907.  Today the company's motto is "What can Brown do for you?"  MOHAI does not dwell on the fact that UPS built its business in those early days by delivering pornography in "plain brown wrappers."

UPS Truck, MOHAI, Seattle
Those who are nostalgic for Seattle's Kingdome will find a reminder of it at MOHAI...

Kingdome, "That 70's Venue", MOHAI

Seattle loves its summer celebration of Seafair with Hydro racing on Lake Washington...

Rooster Tails on Lake Washington, MOHAI

You will find a wall of Seattle sports memorabilia including items from the now departed Seattle Supersonics -- the only professional sports team to bring a world championship to Seattle (1979)...
Seattle Sports Teams, MOHAI
Commander Kelly says, "If you are anywhere near Seattle and have an interest in history be sure to check out MOHAI!  Become a member today  (!"

Here is MOHAI's Grand Opening ad...

Seattle and Prohibition

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