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John Leary (politician) facts for kids

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John J. Leary
John Leary 01f.jpg
Born (1837-11-01)November 1, 1837
Died February 8, 1905(1905-02-08) (aged 67)
Burial place Lake View Cemetery
Occupation
  • Mayor of Seattle
  • President of Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
  • President of West Coast Improvement Company
  • President of Seattle Land & Improvement Company
  • President of Seattle Warehouse & Elevator Company
  • President of the Rainier Club
Years active 1869–1893
Known for Pioneer and civic leader of Seattle, one of Seattle's early mayors, a successful entrepreneur
Net worth $2 million (1905) ($53,000,000 in 2020 dollars)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)
  • Mary B. (died 1890)
  • Eliza P. Ferry (married 1892)
Mayor of Seattle
In office
August 3, 1884 – August 3, 1885
Preceded by Henry G. Struve
Succeeded by Henry Yesler
Signature
John Leary 01s.jpg

John Leary (November 1, 1837 – February 8, 1905) was an American businessman and politician who was a key civic leader in Seattle, Washington. He made contributions to virtually all civic and business activities during the city's early years.

Leary started as a lumber merchant in New Brunswick, Canada, at 17. A successful entrepreneur, he accumulated "a modest fortune" and traveled to Seattle in 1869 in search of greater opportunities. Leary died one of the richest person in Seattle, with a net worth of $2 million, most of which was acquired through real estate deals in Seattle and vicinity. He participated in many other Seattle projects, including railroads, mining, banking, water and gas works, steamship operations, law, and others. Many of his activities were unprofitable, but served an important public purpose. He was also known for his extensive charitable contributions.

Leary served multiple terms as Seattle councilman and one as Seattle mayor, in 1885. He co-founded the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Rainier Club, and First National Bank of Seattle, Seattle's first bank. From 1878 to 1890, Leary played one of the most prominent roles in Seattle's battle with the Northern Pacific Railroad for an independent railroad connection—a key element of Seattle's subsequent commercial success and leadership in Washington State.

Leary financed the construction of the steamwheeler Bailey Gatzert, the finest ship in Puget Sound at the time. His mining operation led to the founding of Ravensdale, Washington (initially named for him). Leary's home, the most expensive residence in the city of the time, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Two Seattle streets, Leary Way and Leary Avenue, bear his name.

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