On a really hot summer day under the tropical sun at Broadway and 9th in 1897 Tacoma what could be more normal than a couple elephants sauntering along past the Bostwick Building. Someone with a poor sense of Washington state geography might note the two handlers walking with the animals under the blazing heat and think this is wallah wal…never mind lame joke. Anyway circus parades were really quite common in Tacoma after the big top shows like Barnum and Baily and Ringling Brothers began traveling by train. The NP shops in south Tacoma did contract maintenance for the circus cars that were brightly adorned with wild animals, clowns and advertising murals. While the railroad equipment was in the shop the circus set up on the east side or the southern outskirts of Tacoma. While the wranglers set up the tents and rigged the trapeezes, the performers and big animals paraded through the heart of downtown advertising the big show and handing out free tickets to lucky young onlookers. A free ticket handed to a 10 year old watching the parade with parents and a batch of older siblings was a sure way to fill seats with paying customers. As imposing as the towered Broadway Theatre in this photo was, the people standing in front of the ticket booth seem to be much more interested in the Imax sized 3D spectacle walking down Broadway.
What an amazing early photo! Makes one want to learn the story about every person in that scene.