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December 1, 2023

The World’s Tallest Christmas Tree

In 1950, Northgate Mall was brand new, as it was the first mall of its kind in the United States. In order to celebrate its newness, the mall wanted to hoist its own tree and make it bigger and better than ever before. As Christmas approached that year, the mall put up and lit a 212-foot-tall tree which as of 2023, still holds the record as the world’s tallest cut Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree night and day postcard, Northgate Mall, Seattle, December 1950.

In an interview by HistoryLink, Jim Douglas, the president of the Northgate Company in 1950 recalled: “The suggestion was made that Northgate should put an end to this contest for the world’s tallest Christmas tree. We were to put up a Christmas tree so tall that no one would ever again attempt to beat the record that would be established by Northgate.”

That goal was achieved by inspecting 1,000 trees before a 212-foot-tall Douglas fir tree was selected. The tree was located on Weyerhaeuser holdings which is about 30 miles east of Enumclaw. Get this, the evergreen was estimated “to weigh approximately 50,000 pounds and was calculated to be either 286 or 287 years old.”

As you would imagine, the tree’s 70-mile journey to Northgate had some difficulties due to the length of the tree. What’s more, “to make it easier to transport, it had been shorn of all its branches (save a small tuft at its top) before being brought to Seattle, making it look rather like a giant toothpick.”

Of course, the branches were reassembled and reattached to the tree with its lighting ceremony taking place on November 24, 1950. The tree remained lit each night until New Year’s Day 1951.

Christmas tree, Northgate Mall, Seattle, December 1950.

“World’s Tallest Christmas Tree” postcard, Northgate Mall, Seattle, December 1950.

Northgate Christmas tree, Northgate Mall, Seattle, December 19, 1950.

Hauling Northgate’s Christmas tree through Seattle via Union Street, 1950.

Hauling Northgate’s Christmas tree from Renton area, 1950.


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