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Seattle, WA

Seattle is located in the western part of the state of Washington between Puget Sound, the Pacific Ocean, and Lake Washington, and is about 96 miles south of the Canadian border. It is also part of the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area, serves as the county seat of King County, and is the most populous city in the state of Washington, with approximately 560,000 residents. Seattle is one of the cloudiest cities in the United States, averaging only about 58 cloudless days out of each calendar year, and these usually occur between June and September. Though Seattle has a reputation as being one of the rainiest cities in the United States, it actually receives less rainfall than New York City.

Seattle was settled by five families in 1851 and was incorporated as a city in 1865. The city has a history of both boom and bust cycles; notable high points in the city's economic history include the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896 and the technology boom of the late-20th century. At the same time, Seattle has a history of emerging bigger and better after catastrophic events, as can be seen in how the city recovered after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. A distinctive spirit of creativity and achievement is still evident in its residents today.

LOCAL CULTURE AND CUISINE

Seattle's downtown area is a bustling center of art, music, poetry slams, and jazz clubs. The city's restaurants feature cuisine from famous local chefs. Neighborhood street fairs are quite popular during the summer months.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

Seattle's residents are for the most part, white-collar workers who work as professionals, office workers and managers. The area is also a city of artists with more designers, artists and people working in media than 90 percent of other communities in the United States.

Seattle's largest employer is the University of Washington, which has approximately 28,000 employees. Seattle's cluster of hospitals, health-care products and services accounts for about 96,000 jobs and contributes around $10 billion to the local economy. Seattle is famously home to three major coffee companies, each of which was founded there: Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee, and Tully's.

The city is also the home of many technology companies, including Amazon.com, RealNetworks, and VoiceStream (now part of T-Mobile USA). Other successful companies that call Seattle home are Microsoft, Eddie Bauer, Nintendo, and REI.

The Boeing aircraft company was one of Seattle's great success stories. After a series of mergers, the company is now based in Chicago, but its plant at Everett, north of Seattle, still produces the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner planes.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

Seattle has a wide variety of neighborhoods, including:

  • Ballard, a neighborhood that's famous for salmon fishing, was the center of Seattle's ethnically Scandinavian seafaring community.
  • Lake City is another neighborhood that hosts many businesses and public art displays.
  • Magnolia is the second largest neighborhood of Seattle and is home to many specialty stores and professional services.
  • Queen Anne is a neighborhood distinguished by its hilly region.
  • Columbia City is a Seattle neighborhood known for art galleries.
  • Hillman City is famous for its fine historic buildings.
  • Beacon Hill is also known as Boeing Hill for the number of its residents that used to work in the nearby airplane factory. This neighborhood has a diversified population of Asians, Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipinos.
  • Delridge is mostly residential and is comprised of neighborhoods near the Delridge valley.

Other neighborhoods of Seattle include Northgate, Northwestern, Cascade, Dunlap, Mount Baker, Seward Park and Rainier View.

FOR VISITORS

Some of Seattle's most popular attractions include:

  • Space Needle is recognized worldwide as Seattle's most distinctive landmark. 605 feet tall, it was built for the 1962 Century 21 Exposition in 1962.
  • Argosy Cruises has been offering sightseeing, dining, and theme cruises around the Puget Sound area for more than 60 years.
  • Seattle Aquarium has been open since 1977 and has welcomed approximately 19 million visitors to see exhibits of fish, marine mammals, and birds.
  • Pike Place Market is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. This vast public market offers a wide array of seafood, produce, and specialty items, while also housing various restaurants, antique dealers, kitchen supply stores, and other retailers.

BEST BETS

  • Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture chronicles the history of the Pacific Northwest. It opened its doors in 1899.
  • Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has three different venues, including SAM Downtown, Seattle Asian Art Museum, and Olympic Sculpture Park. The Seattle Art Museum was founded in 1933.
  • Experience Music Project, founded in 2000 and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame,founded in 2004, showcase cutting edge technology in the celebration of creativity.
  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has been open since 1996 and features guided tours and historical buildings that bring the time of the Klondike Gold Rush alive for visitors.

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Though Seattle is perhaps best known as the birthplace of grunge, it also features numerous venues that showcase a wide range of music, concerts, and performing arts.

  • The Seattle Symphony Orchestra performs at Benaroya Hall, with approximately 300,000 people attending the performances each year. The orchestra was founded in 1903.
  • The Seattle Opera at McCaw Hall features shows from August to May of each year.
  • The Pacific Northwest Ballet gives approximately 100 performances each year at McCaw Hall and also has a ballet school that enrolls about 950 students a year.
  • The 5th Avenue Theatre features Broadway shows and musicals and has been open since 1926.

SPORTS TEAMS

Seattle is home to several professional teams.

  • Seattle Seahawks (National Football League)
  • Seattle Mariners (Major League Baseball)
  • Seattle Storm (Women's National Basketball Association)
  • Seattle Sounders (Major League Soccer)
  • Seattle Thunderbirds (Western Hockey League)

EVENTS

Some of the many festivals and events held annually in Seattle are:

  • Seattle to Portland Bicycle Ride (July)
  • Penny Arcade Expo (September)
  • Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (October)

EDUCATION

Seattle is home to three major universities, all founded in the 19th century:

  • University of Washington (1861) is situated on the shores of Union and Portage bays, with views of the Cascade Range to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west. It is the largest university in the western United States.
  • Seattle University (1891) is a Jesuit Catholic university on 48 acres of Seattle's Capitol Hill.
  • Seattle Pacific University (1891) is located just minutes from downtown Seattle.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Seattle is a derivative of the Indian name "Sealth." Sealth was a chief of the Suquamish tribe at the time the first white settlers arrived in 1851.
  • Archaeologists have determined that Seattle was inhabited at least 4,000 years ago by Native American tribes.
  • Seattle is considered one of the two most literate cities in the nation.
  • The state of Washington is the only state to be named after a U.S. president.
  • Seattle is one of the cloudiest cities in the United States, averaging only about 58 cloudless days each year, usually occurring between June and September.
  • Seattle is famously home to three major coffee companies: Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee and Tully's.
  • The Space Needle is recognized worldwide as Seattle's most distinctive landmark. It was built for the 1962 World's Fair and stands 605 feet tall.
  • When white settlers came to the Seattle area in 1851, they established a town site called New York, then added a word from the Chinook jargon meaning "by-and-by" to become New York-Alki.
  • An 1889 fire leveled 116 acres of buildings in the heart of Seattle's business district. No one died in the fire, but the property damage was millions of dollars.
  • Before it got the name Seattle in 1852, the city was known as Duwamps.
  • According to a 1984 Seattle law, you may not spit on a bus.
  • A 1908 law prohibits anyone from walking around in public with a cold.
  • Destroying a beer cask or bottle of another is illegal, according to an 1897 Oregon law.
  • X-rays may not be used to fit shoes in Oregon, unless you are a licensed physician, surgeon, podiatrist or a professional in the healing arts.
  • In 1889, glue being heated by a gasoline fire boiled over, caught fire and spread to the floor, which was covered with wood chips and turpentine. This started the Great Seattle Fire.
  • A month after the Great Seattle Fire, more than 100 businesses were operating out of tents. In a year's time, 465 buildings were built in downtown Seattle.
  • A 1908 entrance exam to the University of Washington asks: "Name the great drainage systems of the United States."
  • The budget for the University of Washington in 1880 - 1881 was $4,060, so UW President Alexander J. Anderson enlisted himself, his wife and sons as instructors to stay within budget.
  • Tuition at the University of Washington in 1880 was a whopping $9 - $13 per term. From 1960 - 1970, tuition was $100 to $144 per quarter.
  • Inspired by Germany's Stuttgart Tower, artist Edward E. Carlson sketched his vision of the Space Needle on a placemat in a coffeehouse in 1959.