One reason to like McGinn for mayor

In the age of Facebook, he's got a throw-back face, which is a good thing.
Crosscut archive image.

Seattle Mayor Thomas J. Humes, a Republican elected in 1897

In the age of Facebook, he's got a throw-back face, which is a good thing.

One thing a mossback can like about mayoral candidate Mike McGinn: he's got a full beard. If elected in that state, that fact would make him unique for a Seattle mayor in this century, or the last. In fact, facial hair on our mayors has been out of fashion for over a century. If elected, McGinn would be the first Seattle mayor since 1894 with a beard.

Judging by their portraits on the city's website, all Seattle mayors in the 19th century had facial hair. The "James Garfield," "Rutherford B. Hayes" and "Abe Lincoln" looks seem to have been popular. Just check out mayors Henry Struve, Gideon Weed and Beriah Brown (great names too) for some of the looks. There were no mayors without facial hair during the 19th century, though toward the latter part, some sported only mustaches.

Mustaches held on pretty much through the turn of the century, but then died out after World War I. Could that have anything to do with women getting the right to vote?

The last Seattle mayor with a mustache was Wes Uhlman, who grew one in the 1970s (that look isn't shown on the city website, I'm going from memory, so correct me if I'm wrong). Judging by the mayoral portrait gallery, before Uhlman, the last mustachioed Mayor was C.B. Fitzgerald in 1919. My favorite mayoral mustache look has to be Thomas J. Humes (elected 1897) who is a dead-ringer for Mark Twain.

The last mayor with a beard appears to be Byron Phelps (elected 1894) who went with the Col. Sanders of Kentucky-Fried-Chicken-fame look. If McGinn is elected, maybe the fashion pendulum will swing back toward moss again. Shortly after, maybe flannel will come back too.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.