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Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Seattle, Washington, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1851;
Incorporated: 1869
Location: Washington State, on the eastern shore of Puget Sound
Motto: Alki ("By and by," state motto)
Flower: Western rhododendron (state flower)
Time Zone: 4 am Pacific Standard Time (PST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White, 75.3%; Black, 10.1%; Native American, 1.4%; Asian 11.2%
Elevation: sea level to 137 m (450 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 47°60'N, 122°33'W
Climate: Mild winters and cool summers, with a pronounced rainy season
Annual Mean Temperature: 10.7°C (51.3°F); January 3.9°C (39.1°F); August 33.6°C (65.6°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 38 cm (15 in)
Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 91.8 cm (36.2 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 206
Postal Codes: 98060; 9810109; 9811199

1. Introduction

Located on the eastern shore of Puget Sound, Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington. Formerly a staid, conservative town built on the lumber, shipping, and aircraft industries and little known outside its immediate region, today Seattle has become one of the hottest locations in the country, a mecca for the computer software industry and a cultural trendsetter that originated the grunge rock of the early 1990s and the coffee craze that has swept across the United States. Its newfound business and cultural attractions, combined with a picturesque setting and mild climate, have created a population boom and made Seattle the commercial and cultural hub of the Pacific Northwest, as well as one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States.

2. Getting There

Seattle is a city surrounded by both water and mountains. It is situated on a narrow but hilly isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. To the west lie the Olympic Mountains; Mount Rainier rises in the south; and the Cascade mountain range is found to the east. In addition to the water that surrounds it, Lake Union and the Lake Washington Ship Canal run through the city.


I-5, leading north to Portland and south toward Mexico, is the major north-south route that passes through Seattle; I-405 also runs north-south, but passes just east of Seattle, through Bellevue. From the east, I-90 is the major route offering access to the city. State Route 520 also reaches Seattle from the east.

Bus and Railroad Service

Amtrak provides passenger service between Seattle and major destinations in the United States, and a variety of buslines connect Seattle with major cities in the United States and Canada.


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, located 21 kilometers (13 miles) from downtown Seattle's business center, is the closest airport to Asia in the continental United States. In 1997, 24.7 million passengers passed through Seattle-Tacoma (also known as Sea-Tac), which is served by 41 airlines.


Seattle boasts the fifth-largest container port in the United States. Encompassing over 182 hectares (450 acres) of handling space, it is served by 27 steamship lines and annually serves as a conduit for goods worth $37 billion. Fishmen's Terminal is the home port for the U.S. North Pacific fishing fleet.

Transcontinental rail service is provided by the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern railroads, which operate three inter-modal shipyards in Seattle.

Seattle Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 536,000
Area: 217 sq km (84 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 75.3% white; 10.1% black; 1.4% Native American; 11.2% Asian
Nicknames: The Emerald City

Metropolitan Area

Population: 2,084,000
Description: Seattle-Bellevue-Everett
Area: 11,461 sq km (4,425 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 150
Percentage of national population 2: 0.8%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.5%
Ethnic composition: 85.7% white; 4.6% black; 8.5% Asian/Pacific Islander

  1. The Seattle metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the United States' total population living in the Seattle metropolitan area.

3. Getting Around

The streets of the downtown areawhich extends roughly north-south from Denny Way to Yesler Way, and east-west from Broadway to Elliott Bayare arranged in a grid pattern. Running parallel to the shoreline (beyond the first two streets, Alaskan Way and Western Avenue) are numbered avenues; named streets run perpendicular to the avenues.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

A county-wide bus system serves the Seattle area, providing free service downtown. A transit plan, when implemented, will integrate public transportation in the metropolitan area using light rail and commuter rail service.


Bus tours of Seattle are offered by Gray Line tours. A variety of boat tours are available, including an all-day cruise of Puget Sound, as well as walking tours and a rail tour.

4. People

In 1990, the population of Seattle was 516,259, of which 75.3 percent were white, 11.2 percent Asian, 10.1 percent black, and 1.4 percent Native American. Hispanics (both white and black) accounted for 3.6 percent of the population. The population estimate for 1997 was 536,600, and the estimate for 2010 was 580,591.

The population of the Seattle Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area was reported as 2,033,128 in 1990 and estimated at 2,268,126 for 1997. The region's racial composition was listed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1996 as 85.7 percent white; 8.5 percent Asian/Pacific Islander; and 4.6 percent black. The percentage of residents of Hispanic origin (an ethnic rather than a racial designation) was 3.7 percent.

Seattle has the second-highest percentage of baby boomers of any major U.S. city31.5 percent (surpassed only by Denver, which has 32.8 percent).

5. Neighborhoods

Seattle's main downtown retail area, situated atop a series of steep hills, runs roughly north-south from Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square and east-west from Seventh to First avenues. It combines historic buildings with steep skyscrapers and boasts a sophisticated array of retail establishments. At the southern edge of the downtown area is Pioneer Square, the historic heart of the city, where restored nineteenth-century buildings house a colorful array of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Immediately to the southeast, the International District is home to the majority of the city's substantial Asian population.

In addition to a market brimming with fresh local produce and fish, the Pike Place Market area northwest of the main business district is also home to a variety of arts and crafts stores and restaurants, and a favorite haunt of street performers. Further north is Belltown, a "gentrified" former warehouse neighborhood whose lively assortment of restaurants and clubs makes it one of the prime centers of nightlife in the city.

Still further from downtown, and just north of the Seattle Center, is the prestigious Queen Anne neighborhood. Yet further north, beyond the Lake Washington Ship Canal, lie Fremont, an interesting district known for its artists' studios, ethnic restaurants, and offbeat shops, and Ballard, a former Scandinavian enclave that today is a popular entertainment venue. East of Fremont, the University District surrounding the University of Washington (or the U District, as it is known to locals) has the typical features of a college neighborhood. Nearby is Wallingford, an increasingly fashionable area known for its shops and restaurants.

The Capitol Hill district northeast of downtown is a bastion of the area's youth culture and also the center of its gay community.

The upscale Madison Park neighborhood, located on the western shore of Lake Washington, is home to the University of Washington Arboretum.

6. History

Exploration of the Seattle region began in 1792, with the British captain George Vancouver (whose name today graces cities in both Washington state and British Columbia). However, the first permanent European settlers didn't arrive until 1851, when a party of farmers from Illinois formed a community at the present-day site of Alki Point, west of the city. By the following year, they moved to the current site of downtown Seattle, east of Elliott Bay and gave it its present name in honor of Chief Sealth of the Suquamish Indians who were indigenous to the region.

City Fact Comparison
Indicator Seattle Cairo Rome Beijing
(United States) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 2,084,000 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded 1851 AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $104 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $44 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $2 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs $150 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 3 13 20 11
Largest newspaper The Seattle Times Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 227,715 1,159,339 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1896 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

Although the first settlers were farmers, it soon became apparent that the region's primary natural resource was lumber. Sawmills were built, and the city's fledging timber industry found a ready market for its logs in San Francisco, which was enjoying a building boom following the 1849 gold rush. Seattle was incorporated in 1869. By 1889, it had a population of over 25,000 and was one of the major cities of the northwestern United States. However, that year disaster struck when the city's entire business districta total of 25 city blocksburned down in a fire. The rebuilding of the city proved to be not only a reconstruction effort but also a major improvement, as a large-scale regrading of the city's hills was done to resolve drainage and waste disposal problems, and the new streets were built on higher land. One of Seattle's original seven hillsDenny Hillwas leveled altogether; today its name graces the neighborhood where it once stood.

An important chapter in Seattle's history opened with the discovery of gold in Alaska's Yukon Valley (1898). The resulting Klondike gold rush brought new prosperity to Seattle, as prospectors stopped in the city to stock up on their way north and returned to spend much of their newfound wealth on their way back home. Seattle's population grew to 80,600 by 1900 and tripled within the next decade. Seattle's aerospace industry, which dominated the city's economy for much of the century, had its beginnings in 1916, with the launch of the first airplane produced by William Boeing, an event that laid the foundation for the eventual establishment of the Boeing Company, which is still Seattle's single-largest employer.

The world wars brought new bursts of economic activity to Seattle. The city's lumber resources were in demand during World War I (191418); during World War II (193945) Boeing won defense contracts for the B-17 and B-29 bombers and other weapons. Seattle's population grew rapidly as new residents arrived from other parts of the country, attracted by jobs in the aerospace and shipbuilding industries. By the end of World War II the city's population had reached almost half a million. In the post-war years, the growth of commercial aviationBoeing once again at the forefront with the 707provided an additional boost to Seattle's economy. A landmark in Seattle's twentieth-century history was the 1962 World's Fair, which drew almost ten million visitors and left the city with its dominant landmark, the Space Needle (as well as the Monorail).

The drawbacks of heavy dependence on a single economic sector were brought home in the 1970s, when reduced defense spending resulted in employment cutbacks at Boeing, leaving some 60,000 Seattle workers jobless and depressing the local economy for years. An increase in defense contracts and a booming Asian market for aircraft triggered a rebound in the 1980s. By then a new high-tech fieldcomputershad also entered the picture. In the last decades of the twentieth century, Microsoft, located in nearby Redmond, and a multitude of other software and computer-related firms that sprang up in the area added a major new feature to Seattle's image and economy. As a new century dawned, Seattle found itself in the midst of a period of prosperity, growth, and development, as new technology helped it fulfill the futuristic promise plotted out years earlier.

7. Government

Seattle is governed by a mayor and a nine-member city council, all elected for four-year terms in nonpartisan elections held every odd-numbered year. Both the city's revenues and its appropriations for fiscal year 1998 totaled $1.9 billion.

8. Public Safety

The Seattle Police Department is divided into north, south, east, and west precincts. The rapid population growth of the 1990s has brought with it a rising crime rate. In 1995, Seattle's incidence of reported violent crimes per 100,000 population was 926, including eight murders, 49 rapes, and 418 robberies. The incidence of property crimes was 9,556 and included 1,452 burglaries, 6,793 cases of larceny/theft, and 1,311 motor vehicle thefts.

9. Economy

The Greater Seattle area is a leader in high-technology fields including computer software, electronics, environmental engineering, and biotechnology. Among its advantages as a business center are a well-educated and skilled work force, high-quality transportation and infrastructure resources, and strong manufacturing capabilities. The 469,802 full-time equivalent positions recorded for Seattle in the 1990 census are expected to grow to 521,878 by 2000 and 597,836 by 2010. Seattle has a strong service-sector economy. Services account for 29 percent of Seattle's jobs, wholesale and retail trade for 24 percent, and government for 16 percent, the same percentage as manufacturing. Top industrial fields are wood products, transportation equipment, food products, fish processing, and apparel design.

Seattle is home to Microsoft, the world's largest personal computer software company, and the region is also home to over 2,000 other software development companies. Also headquartered in Seattle is Boeing, the world's biggest aircraft manufacturer. Other major companies located in Seattle include Costco, Weyerhaeuser, Paccar, Safeco, Nordstrom, Airborne Freight, and Starbucks. Seattle's biotechnology enterprises generate revenue of over $2 billion a year, a figure that is expected to more than double by 2005.

The median family income for metropolitan Seattle in 1998 was $59,000.

10. Environment

Environmental issues have a strong impact on Seattle, which was built on resource-based industries such as lumber and fishing. Even with the current dominance of the aerospace and high-tech fields, these older industries continue to play an important role in the region's economy. In recent years, logging practicesmost notably clear-cuttinghave come under fire from environmentalists, who have also raised the ire of those involved in the timber industry with their campaign to protect the forest habitat of the spotted owl. To save the old-growth forestland that serves as the birds' habitat, logging on federal lands in the region has been restricted since the late 1980s.

Salmon fishing has also raised environmental issues, including the debate over what to do about sea lions that feed on fish slowly making their way through the fish ladders built to facilitate their progress through the locks of area canals. When conservative efforts to discourage the sea lions failed, heated controversy arose over plans to have them killed.

More than 90 percent of Seattle's residents participate in the city's model curbside recycling program, which has reduced the volume of household-generated landfill waste by 40 percent.

11. Shopping

With its mix of major department stores and smaller retailers, Seattle provides abundant shopping opportunities. Seattle's premier shopping attraction is the Pike Place Market, which features dozens of stalls selling every kind of locally available produce and food item, as well as a wing devoted mostly to crafts by local artisans and a lower-level area featuring an eclectic variety of small specialty shops. The market neighborhood is also a center for household furnishings and furniture retailers.

Seattle is the home of the nationwide Nordstrom chain, and Nordstrom's flagship store at Pine Street and Fifth Avenue is one of two department stores that anchor the downtown shopping areathe other is Bon Marche. There is also a Nordstrom outlet for close-outs and returned merchandise called Nordstrom Rack. Also found in the downtown area is the main store of another Seattle-based retailer that has gone nationalEddie Bauer.

Pioneer Square is home to a variety of small art galleries and independent shops, including antique stores, Oriental rug dealers, and the region's premier bookstore, Elliott Bay Book Company.

12. Education

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Seattle ranks well above the national average in terms of the educational level of its population. Of persons age 25 or over, 86.4 percent have graduated from high school, and 37.9 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher (compared with national averages of 82 percent and 23 percent, respectively).

As of fall 1997, Seattle had a total enrollment of 47,457 in its public schools, with a racial and ethnic composition that was 40.6 percent white, 24.8 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 23 percent black, 8.5 percent Hispanic, and 3.1 percent Native American. The public school district operated 116 schools and employed 2,450 classroom teachers and 4,636 support staff. There are over 300 private and parochial schools in the city.

Seattle's major universities (with their fall 1997 enrollments) are the University of Washington (34,368), Seattle University (5,091), and Seattle Pacific University (3,293). Community college enrollment on the three Seattle campuses totaled 25,545.

Major research centers in the Seattle area include the Battelle Memorial Institute and the Washington Technology Center.

13. Health Care

With 26 acute-care hospitals and four specialized facilities, the Seattle metropolitan area is the leading health care center for the Pacific Northwest region. Altogether, the city has 4,500 hospital beds and some 3,000 physicians in clinical practice. The premier teaching hospital is the University of Washington Hospital. In 1997 the hospital, with 348 staffed beds, admitted 15,117 patients and logged 314,580 outpatient visits. Other well-known health care institutions are Children's Hospital and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Seattle is also the home to a large number of free clinics and the Bailey-Boushay House, which has pioneered an inexpensive treatment setting for patients with AIDS.

14. Media

Seattle's major daily newspapers (with 1998 circulation figures) are the Seattle Times (weekdays, 227,715; Sunday, 504,259) and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (weekdays, 196,2271; Sunday, 504,259). The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, published Monday through Saturday covers the business community (1998 circulation 5,047). The Seattle Weekly and The Stranger are both alternative weekly newspapers with entertainment listing and local features. Papers serving Seattle's ethnic communities include La Voz (15,000), the Korea Times (10,000), the Seattle Chinese Post (10,000), the Northwest Asian Weekly (10,000), and the Korea Central Daily (7,000).

All major television networks have affiliates in Seattle, which has a total of eight commercial television stations, as well as cable channels offered by Viacom and TCI. Broadcasts by about 40 am and FM radio stations provide news, music, and local features to the Seattle area. KUOW radio broadcasts programming by National Public Radio (NPR) and the BBC World Service.

15. Sports

Seattle fields teams in all major-league sports. The American League's Seattle Mariners played in the Kingdome from 1990 to 1998, when they moved to the new Safeco Field. The Kingdome, which was imploded on March 26, 2000, was also the home of the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks. A new stadium for footbal and soccer is scheduled to open in 2002. The Seattle Super Sonics of the National Basketball Association compete in the Seattle Center Auditorium. Seattle also has a women's basketball team, the Reign. The Seattle Thunderbirds Hockey Club also plays at the Seattle Center.

Also popular with Seattle sports fans are the University of Washington Huskies football team, which plays at Husky Stadium, and the university's women's basketball team.

16. Parks and Recreation

Seattle's public park system extends over more than 2,024 hectares (5,000 acres). Landscape architects John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Olmsted Jr. (sons of famed planner Frederick Law Olmsted, 18221903) designed many of the city's parks, which today number around 400. Among the most popular parks are Waterfall Gardens (which boasts a seven-meter/22-foot waterfall in the heart of downtown); Volunteer Park (a graceful park that includes lily ponds and a conservatory); Green Lake (whose paved five-kilometer/3.2-mile path is popular with joggers and in-line skaters); Discovery Park (a 208-hectare/ 513-acre wilderness park that encompasses broad meadows, dense forests, and steep sea cliffs); and Gas Works Park (created on the former property of a gas-processing plant). Alki Beach on the shore of Puget Sound is a popular summertime site for swimming, picknicking, and volleyball.

Seattle also abounds in outstanding garden centers, including Bloedel Reserve, the Herbfarm, Kubota Gardens, Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, the University of Washington Medicinal Herb Garden, Woodland Park Rose Garden, and the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Gardens. The Seattle Tilth Demonstration Gardens offer instruction to gardeners at all levels.

Popular outdoor pursuits in the Seattle area include bicycling, golf (with more than a dozen public courses), and hiking in the surrounding region, which includes three national parks. The city's maritime location makes an excellent location for such water sports as fishing, kayaking and canoeing, sail-boarding, and sailing.

17. Performing Arts

Seattle has a lively theater scene, with flourishing mainstream and experimental troupes. The city's best-known theater company is the Intiman Theatre, which staged the area premiere of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Angels in America. A Contemporary Theatre, housed in Queen Anne Hall, an elegant historic facility with three contrasting performance spaces, displays the talents of local actors and, occasionally, big-name guest stars. Seattle Repertory Theatre, the city's oldest, is known for its lavish, high-quality productions. Alternative theater groups include the Empty Space Theatre, Printer's Devil Theatre, and A Theatre Under the Influence. Seattle is also known for its annual three-week Seattle Fringe Theatre Festival. Improvisation can be seen regularly at Theatre-Sports, and the Comedy Underground is the city's major comedy club.

The Seattle Symphony, which performs at Benaroya Concert Hall, has distinguished itself under the direction of Gerard Schwartz, who has been its musical director since 1984. Seattle also supports the only chamber orchestra in the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Orchestra, which performs works for small ensembles written between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. The Seattle Opera stages full-scale productions of five operas every year, including a summertime performance of the Ring cycle by Richard Wagner. The Pacific Northwest Ballet, which performs at Seattle's Opera House, is the region's premier ballet troupe. Seattle is also home to the Allegro Dance Festival, a dance ensemble that focuses on ethnic dance and new works by area choreographers.

The home of the "grunge rock" of the early 1990s, Seattle has a lively popular music scene that encompasses jazz, rock, and "world beat" as well as Latin, Celtic, and other types of ethnic music, reflecting the growing diversity and cultural sophistication of its population. Popular music is performed at numerous venues throughout Seattle, including the area's many cafes and pubs.

In addition to the standard complement of modern multiplex movie theaters, Seattle has a good selection of art houses that show foreign films and revivals, and the Seattle International Film Festival entertains movie buffs annually for three weeks in late May and June.

18. Libraries and Museums

Founded in 1891, the Seattle Public Library operates a central library downtown and 23 neighborhood branches. With a total of 865,732 book titles and 1,776,672 volumes, the library serves a population of more than half a million and employs a staff of 421. Its special collections cover subject areas including aviation history, genealogy, and Seattle history. Annual circulation totals nearly five million items.

Located in the center of downtown, the Seattle Art Museum is housed in a striking building designed by architect Robert Venturi (b. 1925) and completed in 1991. The museum is known especially for its Asian, African, and modern art collections. The facility includes a large gallery for locally mounted special exhibitions and traveling exhibits, a 300-seat auditorium, and a Japanese gallery with an authentic teahouse. (Currently, the museum's outstanding Asian collection is actually housed in its original building, which has been renamed the Seattle Asian Art Museum.)

The Charles and Emma Frye Art Museum, remodeled and expanded in 1997, houses the nineteenth-century painting collection of its founders, as well as a variety of other nineteenth- and twentieth-century paintings and presents an eclectic schedule of musical performances, poetry readings, and other activities, as well as temporary exhibits. The Bellevue Art Museum specializes in works by regional artists, and the newly expanded Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington features an excellent permanent photography collection, as well as exhibits highlighting a variety of new media, including video.

The Museum of Flight (often referred to as the Boeing Museum of Flight) honors Seattle's history as a capital of aviation. The museum's exhibits retell the history of flight and include replicas of the early glider flown by the Wright brothers, the Apollo and Mercury space capsules, and Air Force One. The Seattle Center is home to the Pacific Science Center and the Children's Museum, both of which feature hands-on exhibits for children and adults.

19. Tourism

Seattle's relatively recent transformation into a trend-setting, high-profile city has brought an increase in tourism and tourist facilities. In addition to the city's mild climate and picturesque location amid water, forestland, and mountains, visitors are drawn by its bustling cultural and commercial life, the recreational opportunities that are available, and Seattle's growing reputation as a mecca for contemporary youth culture. Today the metropolitan area boasts 17,500 hotel and motel rooms. The Seattle Center, the city's main conference and convention facility, offers 3,995 square meters (43,000 square feet) of exhibition space, eight large conference rooms, and banquet seating for 1,500 people.

Seattle is also the site of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, conveniently located on I-5, the major artery that passes through the city. The Battelle Conference Center on the University of Washington campus is often used to host meetings, and the Kingdome sports stadium is a popular venue for trade shows.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Seattle International Boat Show

Festival Sundiata
Northwest Flower & Garden Show

Seattle Fringe Festival

Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival
Imagination Celebration

Cinco de Mayo Celebration
Northwest Folklife Festival
University District Street Fair

Seattle International Film Festival

AT&T Summer Nights at the Pier

Seafair Summer Festival

Bite of Seattle
Family Fourth at Lake Union
Indian Pow Wow
Fourth of Jul-Ivars at the Waterfront
Pioneer Square Fire Festival

Bubble Festival
Eatonville Arts Festival

Bumbershoot Festival

Fiesta Patrias

Salmon Days Festival

Hmong New Year's Celebration
Seattle Marathon

Holiday Parade of Boats Cruise

21. Famous Citizens

Novelist and essayist Mary McCarthy (191289).

Rock star Kurt Cobain (196794).

Microsoft founder Bill Gates (b. 1955).

Founder of Boeing Aircraft, William Boeing (18811956).

Singer/songwriter Judy Collins (b. 1939).

Guitarist Jimi Hendrix (194270).

Novelist and satirist Tom Robbins (b. 1936).

Entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee (191470).

22. For Further Study


Greater Seattle InfoGuide [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Seattle City Net. [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Seattle Home Page. [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Government Offices

Seattle City Hall
600 4th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 386-1234

Mayor's Office
600 4th Ave., 12th Fl.
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 684-4000

King County
516 3rd Ave., Rm. 400
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 296-4040

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Seattle-King County Convention &
Visitors Bureau
520 Pike St., Suite 1300
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 461-5840

Washington State Convention & Trade Center
800 Convention P.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 447-5000


Puget Sound Business Journal
720 3rd Ave. Suite 800
Seattle, WA 98104

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
101 Elliott Ave. W
Seattle, WA 98119

Seattle Times
P.O. Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111


Beebe, Morton. Cascadia: A Tale of Two Cities, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Photographs by Morton Beebe; essays by J. Kingston Pierce. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.

Crowley, Walt. Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1995.

Egan, Timothy. The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest. New York: Knopf, 1990.

Morgan, Murray. Skid Road. New York: Viking Press, 1960.

Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1994.

Reed, Wilson Edward. The Politics of Community Policing: The Case of Seattle. New York: Garland, 1999.

Roe, Jo Ann. Seattle Uncovered. Plano, Texas: Seaside Press, 1995.

Smith, Giselle. Seattle Best Places. Seattle, Washington: Sasquatch Books, 1999.

Taylor, Quintard. The Forging of a Black Community. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.

Tisdale, Sallie. Stepping Westward: The Long Search for Home in the Pacific Northwest. New York: Henry Holt, 1991.


Alki, Birthplace of Seattle. Produced, directed and written by B.J. Bullert; a presentation of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and KCTS Television. Seattle, Washington: Distributed by Wehman Video, 1997. 1 video-cassette (28 min.): sd., col.; 1/2 in.

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Seattle: Recreation

Seattle: Recreation


Seattle is consistently ranked among the top U.S. tourist destinations. Many attractions are located in the pedestrian-scale downtown area or within easy access by bus and monorail. Tourists can choose from several diversions, including historical sites, internationally acclaimed cultural events, and outdoor activities in the spectacular mountains, forests, and waters surrounding the city.

A popular Seattle landmark is the Space Needle, focal point of the Seattle Center, the 74-acre park and building complex constructed for the 1962 World's Fair. The 605-foot Space Needle features an observation deck for viewing the city, Puget Sound, and adjacent Cascade and Olympic mountains. At its base is the $100 million Experience Music Project, a nonprofit interactive museum tracing the history of American music, which was funded entirely by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The Seattle Center, linked to the central business district by free bus service and the high-speed Monorail, contains an amusement park and sponsors outdoor concerts as well as other events.

Pioneer Square, near the waterfront downtown, is the city's historic district. This area offers a trip back to late-1800s Seattle via cobblestone streets, the original Skid Road (an expression that later evolved into Skid Row), and restored brick and sandstone buildings, many of them housing shops and restaurants. A unique point of interest beneath Pioneer Square is the "underground city," five blocks of sidewalks and storefronts that were left standing after the 1889 fire, when the street levels were raised.

Seattle offers an abundance of attractions related to the maritime industry. Harbor traffic on Elliott Bay can be observed from Waterfront Park, located in the pier area just off Alaskan Way. South of the park at Pier 53, the Seattle Fire Department boats, Alki and Chief Seattle, are berthed; a favorite local event is practice day, when the fireboats shoot high water arcs into the bay. At Fishermen's Terminal, a working commercial fishing port, residents and visitors enjoy watching fishermen mend nets and tend their boats. Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, among the busiest locks in the world, furnish diversion for navigation enthusiasts as scores of large and small vessels are transferred daily between salt and fresh water. The Seattle Aquarium on the downtown waterfront links the waterfront to First Avenue, which lies just above. For those wanting to go out onto the water, ferries provide rides along the coast and across the sound; tour boats offer longer cruises and excursions to points of interest in the area.

Seattle is known for the Woodland Park Zoo, which contains about 1,000 animals in their natural habitats with minimal fencing and barriers; special features are 50 endangered species and the world's largest group of liontail macaques. Washington Park on the University of Washington campus is the setting for the Arboretum, 200 acres of public gardens, including a Japanese tea garden, with especially striking displays of blossoms and foliage during spring and fall.

Arts and Culture

Seattle is the cultural and entertainment hub of the Pacific Northwest as well as one of the nation's leading cities for theater and opera. Rivaled only by New York in the number of equity theaters based in the area and considered one of the leading U.S. cities for opera performances, Seattle is the only place in the Western Hemisphere where Richard Wagner's Ring cycle is performed annually. Attaining wide recognition has in fact become a Seattle tradition, yet cultural events also emphasize regional artists and performers.

The arts scene includes the Seattle Symphony, located in the world-class Benaroya Hall; Seattle Opera; the Pacific Northwest Ballet; numerous art galleries; the Seattle Art Museum; the Seattle Asian Art Museum; and the Experience Music Project rock and roll museum. The 20032004 season marked the Seattle Symphony's Centennial Season.

The city is rich in theater arts with 80 companies, 13 of which are professional. The Seattle Opera, recognized internationally for its compelling and accomplished performances, moved into its new state-of-the-art home, Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, in August 2003. The Seattle Repertory Theatre Company, the city's principal and nationally-acclaimed professional theater company, stages its annual productions at the Bagley Wright Theater at Seattle Center. Downtown's Paramount Theatre houses both the Fifth Avenue Theatre and visiting Broadway shows. Live theater is presented by area companies, including a Contemporary Theater (ACT), now housed at the renovated Eagle's Auditorium; Empty Space; and Intiman. Several small theaters are also active in the Seattle metropolitan area. Dramatic and musical performances are regularly scheduled at the University of Washington. Seattle hosts large-scale musical concerts and has gained international attention as the place of origin of many trend-setting rock and pop groups.

Seattle supports a number of museums and galleries specializing in a wide range of areas. The Seattle Art Museum displays a large collection of Oriental, Asian, African, and modern art; of special interest is a collection of paintings by the Northwest Mystics school. The Charles and Emma Frye Art Museum downtown features exhibits of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century and contemporary paintings. The Belle-vue Art Museum in Bellevue Square specializes in works by regional artists. The Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington is one of the oldest art museums in the state. Commercial galleries, most of them clustered around Pioneer Square, regularly schedule shows.

The Museum of Flight traces the history of flight from Leonardo da Vinci to the present with such exhibits as "Apollo," which chronicles manned space exploration, and more than forty aircraft. The Suquamish Museum is devoted to the preservation of Puget Sound native culture; artifacts, photographs, and oral histories are featured. Daybreak Star Arts and Cultural Center in Discovery Park pays homage to Northwest Coast tribes through indoor and outdoor displays of paintings and carvings. The Burke Museum displays artifacts and geological materials relating to Northwest Coast native and Pacific Rim cultures; dinosaur exhibits are a highlight. The Museum of History and Industry concentrates on the heritage of Seattle, King County, and the Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Science Center, located at Seattle Center, presents exhibits pertaining to science; laser shows and films are shown at the Eames/IMAX Theater; the Science Center also is home to the Boeing 3D IMAX Theatre. The Seattle Children's Museum, also at Seattle Center, offers such hands-on activities as a child-size neighborhood for both adults and children.

Festivals and Holidays

Seattle and its environs, a major attraction for the television and film industry, support an annual, world-famous international film festival. Other festival celebrations include the International Children's Theater Festival and the Bite of Seattle food festival. The Northwest Folklife Festival is held at Seattle Center on Memorial Day weekend in May; this annual event features traditional folk music, folk dances, and the culture of the people of the Pacific Northwest. Held annually for 23 days in mid-July to early August, the Seattle SEAFAIR includes boat races and exhibitions, parades, a queen coronation and pageant, fishing derbies, food, and entertainment. Also in July and August is the famous Pacific Northwest Wagner Festival, presenting performances of the composer's complete Ring cycle, staged at Seattle Center Opera House. Seattle Center is the site on Labor Day weekend of the Seattle Arts Festival, popularly known as "Bumbershoot;" rated as one of the five top festivals in the nation, it is a celebration of the city's arts community with more than 400 performances ranging from grunge bands to Russian tightrope walkers. The year closes with the Harvest Festival in November and the Christmas Cruise in December.

Sports for the Spectator

Seattle is the only city in the Northwest to support professional teams in all three major sports. The Seattle Seahawks of the American Football Conference play at Qwest Field, a 72,000-seat, open-air stadium built in 2002. The Seattle Mariners play American League baseball at Safeco Field, which has a retractable roof. The SuperSonics, a National Basketball Association team, hold their games in the Key Arena in the Seattle Center, which is also the scene of hockey action from the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League. Soccer fans enjoy matches featuring the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field. WNBA women's basketball is played by the Seattle Storm. Area colleges and universities field teams in all primary sports. There is also horse racing at Emerald Downs, minor league baseball with the Everett Aquasox and Tacoma Rainiers, PRCA Rodeo, and numerous other spectator and participatory sports.

Sports for the Participant

Considered one of the best recreational cities in the United States, Seattle offers a variety of outdoor activities. Especially popular are water sports such as fresh- and salt-water fishing, boating, swimming, scuba diving, and whitewater rafting on lakes and waterways within an hour of downtown. Hiking and horseback riding can be enjoyed on miles of forest trails maintained in area parks and mountains; skiing and mountain climbing, including guided climbs to the top of Mount Rainier, can be pursued at several locations in the mountains surrounding Seattle. Five golf courses, 151 tennis courts, 12 beaches, 10 swimming pools, and 33 play fields can be found in the area's 397 parks and open spaces.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping can be a unique experience in Seattle, where high-fashion merchandise and recreational gear coexist on shop counters. Major department stores and designer boutiques are located downtown within walking distance of hotels and in suburban shopping centers throughout the area. Seattle is the nation's primary manufacturing and retail center for recreational and outdoor equipment. Northwest Native American handicrafts and art items are available at local artisan centers, specialty shops, and galleries and museums; goods imported from the Orient are featured at shops in Seattle's International District, where Chinatown is located. Historic Pike Place Market near Pioneer Square is one of the few remaining authentic farmer's markets in the nation. A terraced walkway leads from the market to Alaskan Way, a colorful waterfront streetcar route lined with piers, marine equipment shops, and seafood restaurants.

Seafood is a Seattle specialty, and seafood stands and restaurants featuring dishes prepared from daily catches abound. The city has also gained a national reputation as the center for "Northwest cuisine:" Olympia oysters, geoduck clams, wild mushrooms, fresh produce, whole-grain breads, and local cheeses and wines. Many restaurants feature scenic locations that enhance dining pleasure, and opportunities for alfresco dining are plentiful. Asian food is found on many local menus, and citizens have gone wild for coffeecoffee shops and espresso carts can be found in the usual locations and even in gas stations and hardware stores.

Visitor Information: Seattle/King County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 701 Pike Street, Suite 800, Seattle, WA 98101; telephone (206)461-5800; fax (206)461-5855; email

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Seattle: Economy

Seattle: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

While Seattle has in the past been largely dependent on the aerospace industry (it is the headquarters of the Boeing Company, the world's largest aerospace firm), the city's diverse economy is also based on the manufacture of transportation equipment and forest products as well as food processing and advanced technology in computer software, biotechnology, electronics, medical equipment, and environmental engineering. In 2003 Corbis, one of the world's leading providers of digital images, moved its headquarters to downtown Seattle. Nonmanufacturing activities, however, comprise more than 85 percent of the Seattle economy; international trade, for instance, is a leading industry, accounting for a large portion of jobs statewide.

The Port of Seattle, the second largest handler of container cargo in the country, provides a direct connection to the Orient and serves as a major link in trade with markets in Alaska, on the Gulf of Mexico, and on the Atlantic Coast. With its multifaceted transportation network of freeways, railroads, an airport, a ferry system, and port facilities, Seattle is the principal trade, distribution, financial, and services center for the Northwest. Tourism continues to be a vital part of the city's economy.

Items and goods produced: food products, textiles, aluminum, iron and steel products, lumber, flour, clothing, airplanes, canned fish and fruit

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Among the incentives available to businesses in Seattle/King County are customized employee training, low interest loans, and tax deferrals. In addition to federal government assistance, state and local governments in the area have offered a package of incentives to meet the unique needs of business and industry.

Development Projects

With Seattle mired in a recession in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Mayor Greg Nickels created the Economic Opportunity Task Force to revitalize distressed neighborhood business districts and work on policies that benefit the University of Washington. Also at the top of the mayor's economic development agenda were transportation issues, including replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the expansion of the Seattle mono-rail, and the improvement of Sound Transit's light rail line.

Perhaps one of the area's most ambitious projects, the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel, has been announced. Because the adjacent seawall is deteriorating and the viaduct itself was severely damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, both structures need to be rebuilt in order to remove a threat to public safety and the economy. The viaduct is one of the state's most important transportation corridors, carrying 110,000 vehicles a day. Since 2001, millions of dollars have been spent to secure it. The next steps for the project will be to complete a Final Environmental Impact Statement in 2006 and pursue funding for the project. Construction to replace the viaduct and seawall will begin in 2009, pending available funding.

Numerous apartment, condominium, hotels, retail, and other spaces are under construction or renovation in the downtown area. The new 362,987-square-foot Downtown Central Library opened in May 2004. The first phase of construction to transform eight acres of waterfront property adjoining Myrtle Edwards Park into an open space began in June 2004. The park will have a two-story pavilion, parking for 54 vehicles, and pedestrian walkways as well as a pedestrian overpass.

In addition to a massive, $300 million expansion of Terminal 18, the Port of Seattle has been carrying out other projects as a part of the Seattle Seaport Terminal Project. The plan consists of numerous smaller projects that are expected to improve the port's terminals for businesses, tourists, and passengers. In past decades, the Port has invested $2.1 billion in facilities improvements and plans to invest an additional $2.9 billion over the next decade. Dredging the east waterway of the Duwamish River is expected to cost $7.5 million and will help make several more of the Port's container berths deep enough to accommodate the next generation of container ships. This will also create jobs both on the waterfront and throughout the region. The first phase of a $12.7 million cruise terminal began in 2000; Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International will use the port for new cruise services.

Economic Development Information: City of Seattle Office of Economic Development, telephone (206)684-8090; fax (206)684-0379. State of Washington, Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, telephone (206)464-6282. Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, telephone (206)389-7301

Commercial Shipping

Seattle's economy benefits from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is served by 16 cargo carriers. The city's most important commercial asset is Elliott Bay, one of the finest deep-water ports in the world. The Port of Seattle is the fifth largest container port in the United States and the twentieth largest in the world. It can accommodate ships up to 1,400 feet in length and provides generous warehouse space. Two transcontinental railroads and more than 170 motor freight carriers transport goods to and from Seattle.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Seattle offers an educated, skilled, productive, and stable work force, who are attracted to the area by the quality of life. Although experts proclaim that the post-September 11, 2001, recession has ended, it will not be until beyond 2005 that the area will surpass employment levels seen at the peak of the economic boom in December 2000.

In spite of recent setbacks, local analysts expect continued growth in the Seattle area, especially in manufacturing industries (mainly aircraft and biotechnology) and services.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 1,335,500

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 1,300

construction: 76,400

manufacturing: 145,300

trade, transportation, and utilities: 260,100

information: 72,200

financial activities: 89,700

professional and business services: 181,800

educational and health services: 138,700

leisure and hospitality: 122,600

other services: 49,100

government: 198,400

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $18.27 (2004 annual statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 4.7% (January 2005)

Largest county employers Number of employees
The Boeing Company 64,000
Port of Seattle 11,225
Alaska Air Group Inc. 11,150
Microsoft Corporation 11,000
University of Washington 10,000

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Seattle is not inexpensive, given the relatively high price of housing. The average monthly rental cost for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, unfurnished apartment is $913. The estimated purchase price for a new home (three bedrooms and two full baths) with approximately 1,800 square feet of living space in the Seattle area is $313,983.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Seattle area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $354,843

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 122.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None

State sales tax rate: 6.5% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.0%

Property tax rate: $10.21-12.18 per $1,000 assessed value (2004)

Economic Information: The Greater Seattle Datasheet, City of Seattle, Office of Intergovernmental Relations, telephone (206)684-8055; fax (206)684-8267

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Seattle (1788-1866) is regarded as the last great leader of the native bands that lived in the Pacific Northwest.

Generally regarded as the last great leader of the native bands that lived in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle was responsible for continued good relations between Native Americans and the new white settlers. He was born around 1788 to Schweabe, his Suquamish father, and Scholitza, his Duwamish mother, in the area of central Puget Sound, Oregon Region (now Washington State). As a member of a patrilineal society, Seattle learned and spoke the Suquamish dialect of his father.

When Seattle was four years old, whites arrived in the Puget Sound area, and the process of cultural assimilation began. By the 1830s, when he was in his mid-forties, Seattle had converted to the Catholicism of the French missionaries and was baptized as "Noah." With his new-found faith, he instituted morning and evening church services among Native Americans that were continued even after his death.

The City

The California Gold Rush of 1849 deluged the Pacific Northwest with white settlers intent on exploring the natural wealth of the area. Seattle, then principal chief of the united Suquamish and Duwamish nations—both Coast Salishan bands—counseled friendship, open trade, and accommodation of white settlers.

In respect for their friend and ally, the whites at Puget Sound took Seattle's name for their own settlement in 1852. Among the Salishan Indians of the Pacific Northwest, however, it was believed that the frequent mention of a dead person's name would disturb that person's eternal rest. In order to use his name—Seattle—as the name of their city, white settlers agreed to prepay the chief for the trouble that his spirit would later experience when his name was mentioned; Seattle was compensated with moneys from a small tax imposed on the settlers prior to his death.

The Land

As white settlers continued to pour into the area, the U.S. Government pressed the issue of land purchase from the Indians. In December of 1854, Seattle met with Washington territorial governor Isaac Stevens to discuss the sale of native lands in exchange for smaller reservations and government annuities. His speech at this meeting was translated into English and transcribed by Henry A. Smith, a poet. Seattle agreed to accommodate the whites and the U.S. Government by moving the Puget Sound bands to a reservation. In 1855, at the age of 67, Seattle became the first signer of the Port Elliott Treaty between the Puget Sound Indians and the United States. But soon after the treaty was made, the terms were broken by whites, leading to a series of Native American uprisings from 1855 to 1858, including the Yakima War of 1855-1856 east of the Cascade Mountains, and the unsuccessful 1856 attack on Seattle's village by Nisqually warriors from west of the Cascade Mountains.

In accordance with the treaty stipulations, Seattle and his people moved to the Port Madison reservation, located west-northwest across the Puget Sound from the current city of Seattle, on the east shore of Bainbridge Island. There he lived in the Old Man House—a large community building.

The Speech

Seattle's 1854 address to the Washington territorial governor regarding the status of his people and their future was said to be eloquent and moving, but today there are at least four variations of the text, which raises the question of cultural authenticity. Seattle spoke in either Suquamish or Duwamish, which was then translated immediately into Chinook, and then into English for the U.S. Government representatives. The only surviving transcript of Seattle's oration was derived from the notes in English that were purportedly taken by Dr. Smith as Seattle spoke. On October 29, 1887, the Seattle Sunday Star published what Dr. Smith claimed was a representative transcription of Chief Seattle's spoken words, although he noted his text "contained none of the grace and elegance of the original." The text begins: "Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today it is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never set. Whatever Seattle says, the great chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons."

Two years later, in 1889, Washington became a state. A year after that, the city of Seattle erected a monument to its ancestral namesake, chief of the Suquamish and Duwamish peoples. Both of these Native American tribal bands are now extinct, but Seattle's speech has continued to fascinate scholars throughout the twentieth century. In the 1960s poet William Arrowsmith revised the speech into modern-day English. Arrowsmith's version begins: "Brothers: That sky above us has pitied our fathers for many hundreds of years. To us it looks unchanging, but it may change. Today it is fair. Tomorrow it may be covered with clouds." Perry's letter, featured in an ecology movie titled Home, is based loosely on Dr. Smith's transcription of Seattle's 1854 oration: "The Great Chief in Washington sends word that [he] wishes to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in return. But we will consider your offer. For we know that if we do not sell, the white man may come with guns and take our land. How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us."

Seattle was married twice and had six children, four of whom died in childhood. He passed away on June 7, 1866, at the age of 78, on a Washington reservation. His famous speech and its current interpretations and use continue to challenge academics, but according to Native American history expert Herman Viola, as quoted in Newsweek, Seattle's discourse—whether accurate or embellished— undoubtedly "conveys the feeling a lot of Indians had."

Further Reading

Kaiser, Rudolf, "Chief Seattle's Speech (es): American Origins and European Reception," in Recovering the Word: Essays on Native American Literature, University of California Press, 1987.

Leitch, Barbara A., A Concise Dictionary of Indian Tribes of North America, Algonac, Michigan, Reference Publications, 1979.

Native North American Almanac, edited by Duane Champagne, Detroit, Gale Research, 1994; 1157.

Waldman, Carl, Who Was Who in Native American History, New York, Facts On File, 1990; 318.

Watt, Roberta Frye, Four Wagons West, Portland, Binsford &Mort, 1934.

Buerge, David, "Seattle's King Arthur: How Chief Seattle Continues to Inspire His Many Admirers to Put Words in His Mouth," Seattle Weekly, July 17, 1991.

"Chief Seattle's Treaty Oration—1854," Seattle Sunday Star, October 29, 1887.

Jones, Malcolm, Jr., and Ray Sawhill, "Just Too Good to Be True:Another Reason to Beware of False Eco-prophets," Newsweek, May 4, 1992; 68.

Information from Nancy Zussy, State Librarian, Washington State Library, Olympia, Washington. □

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Seattle: History

Seattle: History

Illinois Farmers Build Sawmills in Seattle

The original inhabitants of the region surrounding the site of present-day Seattle were the Suquamish tribe. Their chief, Sealth, befriended a group of Illinois farmers who settled in the area in 1851. These settlers, the first people of European descent to arrive north of the Columbia River, had established a town at Alki Point on Elliott Bay then moved to the location of present-day Pioneer Square. They named their new town Seattle in gratitude to Chief Sealth.

Finding an abundant lumber resource in the rich forests, the settlers set up sawmills for the preparation of logs for export to San Francisco, where the 1849 gold rush had generated a building boom. By 1853 the lumber industry was thriving in the area, and for several years it provided the sole economic base of Seattle, which was incorporated in 1869.

City Rebuilds After Fire; Becomes Commercial Center

In 1889 a great fire, ignited by a flaming glue pot in a print shop, destroyed the entire business district, consuming sixty blocks. Damaged wood-frame buildings were replaced by masonry structures on a higher elevation than the original storefronts, resulting in the creation of an underground city that is a popular tourist attraction in modern Seattle. The city recovered fairly quickly from the setback caused by the fire.

During the last decade of the nineteenth century Seattle became a rail and maritime commercial center when the Great Northern Railroad reached town and the city was selected by a major shipping line as the port of entry for trade with the Orient. The Alaska gold rush brought further growth and development, and Seattle, dubbed the "gateway to the Klondike," increased in population from 56,842 people in 1897 to 80,600 people in 1900. Prosperity continued and within the next decade the population grew to 240,000 residents.

Rise of Aerospace Industry; World's Fair Brings Tourists

Seattle's aerospace industry began when a small local firm that became the Boeing Companynow the world's foremost manufacturer of jet aircraft and spacecraftstarted making two-seater biplanes in 1916. The shipping and aircraft industries continued to play an important role in the city's economy during both world wars and into the 1960s.

The Seattle World's Fair in 1962 brought new economic dimensions to the region, establishing Seattle as a tourist and entertainment center. As a result of the reduction of federal support for aerospace projects in the 1970s, the city's reliance on the aircraft industry shifted to development of its position as a transportation hub in the international market. Since 1975 Seattle has undergone renewed economic expansion to become the financial, industrial, and trade center for the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle made international headlines in 1999 when the city played host to the World Trade Organization meeting. Forty thousand demonstrators gathered to protest globalization; city leaders had hoped that the summit would showcase Seattle as a world-class friend to free trade. The event highlighted the tension between those who liked the new high-tech, high-wealth Seattle and those who believed that Seattle is losing its small-town charm.

Today, Seattle is a hotbed of activity in the Pacific Northwest. Located just two hours south of Vancouver, Canada, the city of Seattle is an international port that boasts several professional sports teams, hundreds of restaurants, a myriad of cultural venues, and a lifestyle that is unique to the Pacific Northwest.

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SEATTLE, Washington (pop. 563,374; metropolitan area 3,275,847), the largest city and most prominent commercial center in the Pacific Northwest, lies on a narrow strip of land between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, framed by the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. Euro-Americans settled in the area in 1851 and encountered the Duwamish leader, Chief Sealth, for whom the city is named. Early business leaders exploited natural resources, including lumber and coal, and developed a successful shipping industry on Puget Sound and along the west coast. Seattle weathered an Indian war (1856), losing the transcontinental railroad to Tacoma (1873), anti-Chinese riots (1886), and a fire that destroyed the commercial district (1889). The arrival of the Great Northern Railroad terminus and the discovery of gold in the Klondike in the 1890s occasioned exceptional growth through the first decade of the twentieth century, as Seattle became the supply center for the Alaskan gold rush.

The struggle between the forces of social and civic order and those advocating a wide-open town tolerating some forms of vice dominated Seattle politics. However, by the 1920s, a strong middle class had gained ascendancy over the city's rough and tumble elements. A generation of public works, including street grading, land reclamation, sophisticated water and sewer system creation, parks

system development, sluicing Denny Hill, and culminating in the Lake Washington Ship Canal dedication in 1917, changed the physical face of the city. Early labor organizing and agitation, especially by the International Workers of the World, climaxed in the 1919 General Strike that shut down all but emergency services for five days.

Seattle pioneered municipal ownership of utilities and was a national leader in the development of public power. During and after World War II, the Boeing Company became a powerful economic force through its commercial and military airplane manufacturing. Seattle's economy, tied closely to Boeing's fortunes in the 1970s, diversified in the 1980s and 1990s into technology, biotechnology, banking, insurance, medical services, and tourism.

Seattle is home to the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University, and a strong community college system. The city supports an array of professional sports franchises and cultural institutions including ballet, opera, symphony, and numerous theater companies. The natural beauty of the region sustains active outdoor recreation. Seattle's casual, middle-class lifestyle was rocked at the turn of the twenty-first century by the World Trade Organization and Mardi Gras riots, and the cancellation of millennium celebration in fear of a terrorist attack on the Space Needle, Seattle's most visible monument. The 2000 census revealed increased ethnic and racial diversity as minorities and foreign-born populations grew to comprise 30 percent of the city's residents.


Berner, Richard C. Seattle in the 20th Century. 3 vols. Seattle: Charles Press, 1991–1999.

Buerge, David. Seattle in the 1880s. Seattle: Historical Society of Seattle and King County, 1986.

Morgan, Murray. Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1982.

Sale, Roger. Seattle Past and Present. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1976.


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Seattle (sēăt´əl), city (1990 pop. 516,259), seat of King co., W Wash., built on seven hills, between Elliott Bay of Puget Sound and Lake Washington; inc. 1869. Seattle, the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, is the region's commercial, financial, transportation, and industrial hub and a major port of entry, important in both East Asian and Alaskan trade. A center of aircraft manufacturing and shipbuilding since World War II, the city is a major center for the Boeing Company, which employs a significant number of residents, as does the Microsoft Corp. in nearby Redmond. There are also major electronics, banking, insurance, biomedical, food-processing, and lumber industries. Steel, textiles, clothing, metal and glass products, and beer are among the products manufactured in the city, which has an international airport.

Settled in 1851–52, Seattle remained a small lumber town until the coming of the Great Northern Railway in 1893. Despite strikes, anti-Chinese riots, and a fire in 1889, growth was rapid. The city became a boomtown with the 1897 Alaska gold rush and developed into the nation's chief link with Alaska. It grew further with the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909), the opening of the Panama Canal (1914), and the completion (1917) of a canal and locks making the city both a saltwater and a freshwater port. Aiding its industrial growth was the presence of coal in the area and the development of hydroelectric power. Long a center of radical labor movements, Seattle was the scene of a major general strike (1919) led by the Industrial Workers of the World. During the 1960s, Seattle's port expanded enormously; it now has numerous major terminals, a 600-boat commercial fishing terminal, and a huge marina for private boats. In 2001 an earthquake did significant damage to the city, mainly in the historic Pioneer Square area.

Situated between the majestic Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, with Mt. Rainier to the southeast and Mt. Baker to the northeast, Seattle is not far from many national and state parks and recreation areas. The city is a cultural center with numerous museums and art galleries, including a Frank Gehry–designed rock music museum; the Museum of History & Industry ( "Mohai," 2012) located in an imaginatively revamped 1942 armory; a variety of theater and musical organizations; and an arboretum, a zoo, and the Central Library (2004, by Rem Koolhaas). Its symphony orchestra performs in Benaroya Hall (1998) and its opera and ballet in McCaw Hall (2003). The city's professional sports teams include the Mariners (American League baseball) and Seahawks (National Football League). It is the seat of the Univ. of Washington, Seattle Univ., and Seattle Pacific Univ. Seattle was the site of the 1962 world's fair. That fair's symbol—the 600-ft (183-m) Space Needle—is a skyline landmark. Also remaining from the fair are the Pacific Science Center and a cultural and recreational park; the first publicly operated U.S. monorail connects the park with the downtown.

See R. Sale, Seattle, Past to Present (1976); M. C. Morgan, Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle (rev. ed. 1982).

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Seattle: Education and Research

Seattle: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Seattle Public Schools is the largest district in the state. The system is administered by a nonpartisan, seven-member school board that appoints a superintendent.

The following is a summary of data regarding Seattle's public schools as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 46,730

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 61

middle schools: 12

senior high schools: 10

other: 16 alternative schools

Student/teacher ratio: 24.3:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $30,826

maximum: $56,217

Funding per pupil: $6,229

More than 300 private and parochial schools, preschools, and special schools also operate in the Seattle metropolitan area.

Public Schools Information: Seattle Public Schools, 815 Fourth Avenue North, PO Box 19116, Seattle, WA 98109; telephone (206)298-7000

Colleges and Universities

The University of Washington (which enrolls nearly 40,000 students), Seattle Pacific University (which enrolls 3,800), and Seattle University (which enrolls 3,900) are the major four-year accredited institutions of higher learning in Seattle. They offer baccalaureate degrees in a wide range of disciplines and graduate degrees in such fields as education, law, software engineering, and medicine. A number of community colleges, vocational schools, and adult-education centers serve Seattle residents.

Libraries and Research Centers

In addition to its main branch downtown, the Seattle Public Library system operates 23 branches throughout the city. Its collection consists of more than 2.5 million items. Special collections focus on aeronautics, African Americans, and Northwest history. In 1998 Seattle voters approved a $196.4 million bond measure to upgrade the Seattle Public Library system with new facilities, technology, and books. The new, 362,987-square-foot facility, which opened May 2004, includes a 275-seat auditorium and parking for 143 vehicles.

The University of Washington's library, said to be the largest and most comprehensive in the Northwest, holds more than 6 million volumes. Special libraries there are affiliated with universities, government agencies, hospitals, and local corporations, which concentrate on such fields as medicine, business, banking, law, and science.

The University of Washington is the heart of research study in Seattle, including the areas of microcomputer architecture, digital systems theory, speech and image processing, artificial intelligence, and metallurgical and ceramic engineering. Other major research facilities are the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Battelle Memorial Institute.

Public Library Information: Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104-1193; telephone (206)386-4636

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Seattle: Population Profile

Seattle: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents (PMSA)

1980: 1,607,000

1990: 2,033,108

2000: 2,414,616

Percent change, 19902000: 23%

U.S. rank in 1980: 18th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 1990: 14th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 1998: 13th (CMSA)

City Residents

1980: 493,846

1990: 516,259

2000: 563,374

2003 estimate: 569,101

Percent change, 19902000: 9.1%

U.S. rank in 1980: 23rd

U.S. rank in 1990: 21st (State rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 30th

Density: 6,717.0 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 394,889

Black or African American: 47,541

American Indian and Alaskan Native: 5,659

Asian: 73,910

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 2,804

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 29,719

Other: 13,423

Percent of residents born in state: 38.8% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 26,215

Population 5 to 9 years old: 24,459

Population 10 to 14 years old: 23,425

Population 15 to 19 years old: 29,648

Population 20 to 24 years old: 51,014

Population 25 to 34 years old: 122,282

Population 35 to 44 years old: 95,077

Population 45 to 54 years old: 81,453

Population 55 to 59 years old: 24,839

Population 60 to 64 years old: 17,164

Population 65 to 74 years old: 29,463

Population 75 to 84 years old: 27,273

Population 85 years and over: 11,071

Median age: 35.4 years

Births (2003)

Total number: 7,245

Deaths (2003)

Total number: 4,592

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $30,306

Median household income: $45,736

Total households: 258,635

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 5,192

$10,000 to $14,999: 3,524

$15,000 to $24,999: 8,594

$25,000 to $34,999: 10,558

$35,000 to $49,999: 16,344

$50,000 to $74,999: 25,631

$75,000 to $99,999: 17,952

$100,000 to $149,999: 15,790

$150,000 to $199,999: 5,444

$200,000 or more: 6,469

Percent of families below poverty level: 6.9% (37.9% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 46,432

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Seattle: Communications

Seattle: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Seattle's major daily newspapers are the evening The Seattle Times and the morning Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Seattle is also the headquarters for several weekly, biweekly, or monthly publications appealing to ethnic groups, such as Northwest Asian Weekly, and Korea Central Daily. Slate, an online publication developed by Microsoft, is based in Seattle.

Television and Radio

All major television networks have affiliates in Seattle, and cable service is available. More than 30 AM and FM radio stations are based in Seattle, providing music, news, and features; other stations broadcast from neighboring communities.

Media Information: The Seattle Times, 1120 John St., Seattle, WA 98109; telephone (206)264-2111; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 101 Elliott Ave. W., Seattle WA 98119; telephone (206)464-2111

Seattle Online

City of Seattle home page. Available

enterpriseSeattle. Available

Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Available

Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Available

Seattle-King County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available

Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Available

Seattle Public Library. Available

Seattle Public Schools. Available

Seattle Times. Available

Washington State Tourism home page. Available

Selected Bibliography

Dillard, Annie, The Living (New York: HarperCollins, 1992)

Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994)

Rex-Johnson, Braiden, and Paul Souders, Inside the Pike Place Market: Exploring America's Favorite Farmer's Market (Seattle, Wa.: Sasquatch Books, 1999)

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Seattle: Transportation

Seattle: Transportation

Approaching the City

Air travelers to Seattle are served by the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), the sixteenth busiest commercial airport in the United States. The airport is currently being upgraded with a new runway that will enable aircraft to land in any weather conditions. A new South Terminal and new Central Terminal and Pacific Marketplace were completed in 2004. Plans are also underway for a multi-year capital improvement project slated for completion by 2010 that will add needed capacity.

Two interstate highways serve Seattle: I-5 (north-south) and I-90 (east-west). Passenger rail service is available from Amtrak's four daily trains. Seattle is the southern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System; ferries transporting passengers and motor vehicles operate year round from points in southeast Alaska. Passenger rail service to major U.S. destinations is provided by Amtrak, and buses connect Seattle with U.S. and Canadian cities and with Tijuana, Mexico.

Traveling in the City

Avenues in Seattle run north and south and streets run east and west. The city center is perhaps best explored on foot. Seattle's bus- and trolley-based mass transit system, Metro Transit, operates routes throughout the Seattle-King County area, with service in downtown Seattle provided free of charge from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. A five-year plan to upgrade facilities, equipment, systems, and services is scheduled for completion in 2007.

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Seattle: Introduction
Seattle: Geography and Climate
Seattle: History
Seattle: Population Profile
Seattle: Municipal Government
Seattle: Economy
Seattle: Education and Research
Seattle: Health Care
Seattle: Recreation
Seattle: Convention Facilities
Seattle: Transportation
Seattle: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1851 (incorporated, 1869)

Head Official: Mayor Greg Nickels (D) (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 493,846

1990: 516,259

2000: 563,374

2003 estimate: 569,101

Percent change, 19902000: 9.1%

U.S. rank in 1980: 23rd

U.S. rank in 1990: 21st

U.S. rank in 2000: 30th

Metropolitan Area Population (PMSA)

1980: 1,607,000

1990: 2,033,128

2000: 2,414,616

Percent change, 19902000: 23%

U.S. rank in 1980: 18th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 1990: 14th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 13th (CMSA)

Area: 83.9 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 450 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 52.4° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 36.6 inches

Major Economic Sectors: Services, trade, manufacturing, government

Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (January 2005)

Per Capita Income: $30,306 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 46,432

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University

Daily Newspapers: The Seattle Times; Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Seattle: Convention Facilities

Seattle: Convention Facilities

The Washington State Convention and Trade Center is the city's major meeting and conference facility. The facility currently offers 54 meeting rooms and ballrooms totaling approximately 105,000 square feet of space, and exhibit space totaling 205,700 square feet. The Convention Center expansion, which was completed in July 2001, includes a magnificent new arch spanning Pike Street, along with an office tower at the northeast corner of 7th and Pike. The center sits on top of Interstate 5, within walking distance of more than 9,000 hotel rooms. Just north of downtown, the 831,000-square-foot Seattle Center also hosts conventions and meetings. Lynnwood Convention Center, Meydenbaur Center, and Bell Harbor International Conference Center are among other locations used for trade shows and meetings. Hotels and motels throughout the metropolitan area provide a total of nearly 25,000 rooms as well as additional convention and meeting accommodations.

Convention Information: Seattle/King County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 701 Pike Street, Suite 800, Seattle, WA 98101; telephone (206)461-5800; fax (206)461-5855; email

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Seattle: Health Care

Seattle: Health Care

With a national reputation for its diagnostic and treatment facilities, which include more free clinics than in any other West Coast city, Seattle-King County is the health care center for the Pacific Northwest. The metropolitan area offers 26 general acute-care and five special purpose centers providing thousands of beds and physicians. University of Washington Hospital is the teaching hospital for the University of Washington. Among its other leading health care institutions are Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center, and Swedish Medical Center. Bailey-Boushay House, a residence where people with HIV can be treated less expensively than at traditional centers, has provided over a decade of life-changing care. The Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center is the only cancer center in the Pacific Northwest where medical oncologists work side by side with practitioners of alternative medicine.

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Seattle: Geography and Climate

Seattle: Geography and Climate

Seattle is situated on a series of hills in a lowland area on Puget Sound's eastern shore between the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the east. Westerly air currents from the ocean and the shielding effects of the Cascade range produce a mild and moderately moist climate, with warm winters and cool summers. Extremes in temperature are rare and of short duration, and the daily fluctuation is slight. While Seattle is known for its pronounced rainy season and frequent cloudy weather, the average annual rainfall is actually less than that of many other cities in the United States, including New York and Atlanta.

Area: 83.9 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Sea level to 450 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 40.8° F; August, 66.1° F; annual average, 52.4° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 36.6 inches

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Seattle: Introduction

Seattle: Introduction

Little more than a century ago, Seattlenicknamed "The Emerald City"was a pioneer outpost and a quiet lumbering town. Transformed by the Yukon gold rush into a thriving metropolis, Seattle has become the transportation, manufacturing, commercial, and services hub for the Pacific Northwest as well as the largest urban area north of San Francisco, California. The city's arts community has gained an international reputation, annually drawing audiences from throughout the United States and abroad. Nestled between two magnificent mountain ranges, with a breathtaking view of a lake and bay, Seattle enjoys a climate one observer has likened to "an airborne ocean bath."

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Seattle City and seaport in w Washington, USA, on Elliott Bay between Lake Washington and Puget Sound. Settled in 1851, it developed rapidly after the arrival of the railway (1893). Seattle served as the gateway for the Alaska Gold Rush (1897). It has been the centre of the US aerospace industry since William Boeing opened his first factory here in 1916. Seattle's economy diversified in recent years. The computer company Microsoft has its headquarters here. Industries: shipbuilding, precision instruments, chemicals, lumber, fishing, tourism. Pop. (2000) 563,374.

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Seattle: Municipal Government

Seattle: Municipal Government

Seattle operates under a mayor-council form of government. The mayor is elected to a four-year term; the nine council members, elected at large, serve staggered four-year terms. Seattle is the seat of King County.

Head Official: Mayor Greg Nickels (D) (since 2001; current term expires December 31, 2005)

Total Number of City Employees: 3,220 (2003)

City Information: City Hall, 600 4th Avenue Floor 1, PO Box 94726, Seattle, WA 98124; telephone (206)684-2489

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