The Queen City Burns


Information Design

As an introduction to my time in Seattle (and for my first project as a graduate student at the University of Washington), I investigated a key moment in the city’s history: June 6, 1889, or “the day Seattle burned.”

Research and Design

The project involved three stages:

  1. Primary and secondary research. Documents from the Seattle Municipal Archives and the University of Washington libraries, as well as interviews with experts on history and architecture, revealed much about the circumstances of the fire — and about the limitations of what can still be discovered about the event.
  2. Building a narrative. As a visualization of the fire’s path did not exist, I decided to create one by comparing witness accounts with pre-fire maps and directories. I also decided to discuss the constant threat of fire in 19th-century America, and the ways in which Seattle rebuilt itself into a modern city after the fire.
  3. Design and development. Having selected a website as the medium, I designed and developed it in the browser.

Launch the web project

Project screenshot 1Project screenshot 2Project screenshot 4Project screenshot 3

Print rendition

I was later given the opportunity to adapt the visualization for ARCADE Magazine, a Seattle-based architecture and design magazine, for their May 2016 issue, “Visiting the Past, Designing the Future: Reflections on Influence.” I did so with guidance from Prof. Karen Cheng at the University of Washington.

Visualizing the Great Seattle Fire magazine spread

Seattle Fire Arcade Magazine Spread Intro

Seattle Fire Arcade Magazine Spread

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