Seattle is located the Pacific Northwest region of the United States in King County, Washington. Seattle is a major port city and the largest city in the State of Washington. The encompassing Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan statistical area is the 15th largest in the United States, and the largest in the northwestern United States. The major economic, cultural and educational center in the region, Seattle is the county seat of King County. As of 1 April 2009, the city had an estimated municipal population of 602,000.
In the fall of 1851, two intrepid brothers, Arthur and David Denny, (and a handful of others who had migrated west during the Gold Rush), landed at Alki Point on the western edge of Elliot Bay. After spending a miserable winter they migrated to the eastern shores where they established the small settlement that would become Seattle—a name derived from the joint Chief of the two native tribes that inhabited the region.
The first major industry to grace the emerald shores of Elliot Bay was logging. From the time of the first colonial activities in 1851, the timber trade proved to be the primary source of growth in this small northwestern town. The combination of the safe bay and the proximity of lush and dense millennia-old coniferous forests made Seattle the perfect location and in 1852 Henry Yesler began construction on the first steam-powered mill in the Pacific Northwest.
Seattle quickly boomed, driven by the timber demands of an emerging shipbuilding industry in the area and massive San Francisco building projects kept money flowing into the town. Traditionally it was believed that the strip of land that Yesler was given by the settlers (and which is now occupied by Yesler Way) was the first "Skid Row" in America, named for the logs that were dragged down the hill to Yesler's mill. The abundance of alcohol, gambling and prostitution located around this center of the logging industry gave "Skid Row" its modern connotation. True or not, the tale as been part of Seattle myth for nearly a century.
The abundance of timber, however, would prove disastrous for the fledgling town. On June 6th, 1889 a Seattle fire broke out. Since nearly every building was constructed of affordable, but flammable timber, the fire quickly spread, engulfing nearly the entire downtown including most of the wharves and crippling the port.
While the fire was catastrophic, Seattle weathered the disaster and emerged stronger than before. The city was rebuilt in brick and stone and the massive rebuilding effort stimulated the economy providing thousands of new jobs and ensuring that the economic downturn which had affected much of the country in the last decade of the 19th century would not be felt as strongly in the Emerald City.
In August of 1896, gold was discovered in the Klondike region of Canada and the following year the steamship Portland docked in Seattle's reconstructed harbor with a famed "ton of gold" in its cargo hold. Seattle's temperate climate and location made it the obvious transportation and supply center for those heading to the frozen north in search of fortune.
While the cold climate and harsh conditions of the Klondike and Alaska ensured migrations were not nearly as extensive as they were to Oregon and California during its 1849 counterpart, the Klondike Gold Rush brought thousands of people to Seattle and flooded Seattle with reconstruction money.
Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, and the biggest exporter in the United States, had its humble beginnings on the emerald shores of Elliot Bay. William Boeing, the company's founder, had his start in the timber industry that had previously dominated this new capital of the great Northwest. Boeing's knowledge of wood allowed him to begin designing planes and he founded his own airline manufacturing company in 1916.
By 1938, the fledgling company had become a world leader in aircraft design and manufacturing. During World War II Boeing was responsible for the design of the B-17 and the B-29, the Allies' most important bombers. Seattle's biggest employer, Boeing churned out nearly 350 planes each month at the height of the war. All this activity brought tremendous amounts of capital and labor to Seattle.
The end of World War II, however, was disastrous for the adolescent city as nearly 70,000 people lost their jobs overnight when the government cancelled all its pending contracts. While the end of the war proved temporarily catastrophic, the technology developed during the global conflict, namely the jet engine, ensured Boeing's and consequently Seattle's healthy survival, as would the escalation of military spending during the Cold War.
To combat the decline of downtown Seattle in the wake of the postwar economic downturn and the nationwide flight to the suburbs, the city hosted the Century 21 Exposition and the World's Fair in 1962. The futuristic theme of the fair provided Seattle with many of its signature structures including the iconic Space Needle, the Monorail and the rest of the Seattle Center. While the project proved to be a success, revitalizing Seattle's civic center, it had the unforeseen effect of creating a Seattle transportation nightmare as people began to return to the city—a problem that exists to this day.In the 1970s with the onset of the Oil Crisis and the economic downturn that followed, Boeing took a significant hit and had to lay off a large portion of its workforce. Seattle, due to its heavy reliance on Boeing as one of its primary employers thus suffered a tremendous economic setback and had the worst post-depression employment of any US city to date. Unlike its Midwestern counterparts, Seattle quickly rebounded due primarily to its highly educated workforce and active port. Boeing eventually recovered from the effects of the energy crises, but Seattle had begun to diversify as fledgling technology companies took up residence in Seattle's undervalued real estate.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the co-founders of Microsoft, were both raised in the Seattle metropolitan area. While not originally founded in Washington state, Microsoft quickly relocated to its founders' home following its initial successes in the computer industry. By 1995, Microsoft had become the world's most profitable company bringing in billions of dollars in revenue and creating new millionaires in the Seattle area almost overnight. The result was the creation of over 40,00 new jobs and thousands of new investors who often created their own companies.
Within a few years, Seattle had gone from being Boeing's burg to a thriving center of information technology and research, rivaling California's Silicon Valley and diversifying Seattle's economy, ensuring that the economic setbacks of the 1970s would not be repeated.
While the technology sector percolated beneath the Washington redwoods, another Seattle industry emerged producing companies that would also become the worldwide leaders in their sector. Perhaps it was the cool and damp climate, or the relatively large concentration of young technology workers, but regardless of the cause, Seattle in the closing decades of the 20th century became the caffeine capital of the world producing three of the country's largest coffee chains and spawning the anti-corporate globalization movement's greatest nightmare—Starbucks.
Founded in 1971, the company made a fortune selling warm specialty coffee drinks to its weary, cold and parched patrons in an inviting café atmosphere. The result was a worldwide phenomenon as the small café branched out from its humble home in Pike Place Market, opening its doors to similar customers around the world and spawning dozens of imitators. The grand Starbucks Center is now Seattle's largest building by volume, an indication of its economic and social prominence within the city.
Seattle is located between the Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) to the west, and Lake Washington to the east. The city's chief harbor, Elliott Bay, is an inlet of the Puget Sound. To the west, beyond the Puget Sound, are the Kitsap Peninsula and Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula; to the east, beyond Lake Washington and the eastside suburbs, are Lake Sammamish and the Cascade Range. Lake Washington's waters flow to the Puget Sound through the Lake Washington Ship canal (a series of two man-made canals), Lake Union, and the Hiram C. Chittenden Locks at Salmon Bay, ending in Shilshole Bay. The sea, rivers, forests, lakes, and fields surrounding Seattle were once rich enough to support one of the world's few sedentary hunter-gatherer societies. The surrounding area lends itself well to sailing, skiing, bicycling, camping, and hiking year-round.
Seattle's mild, rainy climate is usually classified as Oceanic, that according to the Köppen climate classification Cfb. However, its wet-winter and dry-summer pattern shows some characteristics of a cool Mediterranean climate, and it is sometimes classified this way. Temperature extremes are moderated by adjacent Puget Sound, the greater Pacific Ocean, and Lake Washington. The region is partially protected from Pacific storms by the Olympic Mountains and from arctic air by the Cascade Range. Despite being on the margin of the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, the city has a reputation for frequent rain. This reputation derives from this frequency of precipitation as well as the fact that it is cloudy an average of 226 days per year.
Seattle was also not listed in a study that revealed the 10 rainiest cities in the continental United States. Most of the precipitation falls as drizzle or light rain. Thunderstorms occur only occasionally. Seattle reports thunder on just seven days per annum (according to 'Cities Ranked and Rated' - Bert Sperling and Peter Sander.2007). For comparison Fort Myers, Florida reports thunder on 93 days per year. Kansas City reports 52 'thunder days' and New York City reports 25. There are occasional downpours. One of these downpours occurred in December 2007 when widespread rainfall hit the greater Puget Sound area. It became the second wettest event in Seattle history when a little over 5 inches of rain fell on Seattle in a 24 hour period. The rain also caused five deaths and widespread flooding and damage.
Spring, late fall, and winter are filled with days when it does not rain but looks as if it might because of cloudy, overcast skies. Winters are cool and wet with average lows around 35–40 °F (2–4 °C) on winter nights. Colder weather can occur, but seldom lasts more than a few days. Summers are dry and warm, with average daytime highs around 73–80 °F (22.2–26.7 °C). Hotter weather usually occurs only during a few summer days. Seattle's hottest official recorded temperature was 103 °F (39.4 °C) on July 29, 2009; the coldest recorded temperature was 0 °F (–18 °C) on January 31, 1950.
The Puget Sound Convergence Zone is an important feature of Seattle's weather. In the convergence zone, air arriving from the north meets air flowing in from the south. Both streams of air originate over the Pacific Ocean; airflow is split by the Olympic Mountains to Seattle's west, then reunited by the Cascade Mountains to the east. When the air currents meet, they are forced upward, resulting in convection. Thunderstorms caused by this activity can occur north and south of town, but Seattle itself rarely receives worse weather than occasional thunder and ice-pellet showers.
To the northwest of Seattle is Bainbridge Island. To the north is Shoreline and to the northeast is Lake Forest Park. To the direct west is the Puget Sound, while to the east is Lake Washington and Bellevue. Vashon Island is to the southwest while Tukwila is to the south. Renton is to the southeast.
Districts and their Neighborhoods
South End and West Seattle
Seattle has many major landmarks including Seattle Center, which is home to the most iconic landmark, the Seattle Space Needle. The Seattle Center Monorail is a popular attraction as well as Westlake Center. The Smith Tower was the tallest building on the West Coast from its completion in 1914 until the Space Needle overtook it in 1962. The late 1980s saw the construction of Seattle's two tallest skyscrapers: the 76 story Columbia Center (completed 1985) is the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest and the fourth tallest building west of the Mississippi River; the Washington Mutual Tower (completed 1988) is Seattle's second tallest building. Other notable Seattle landmarks include Pike Place Market, the Fremont Troll, the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (at Seattle Center), and the Seattle Central Library.
Starbucks has been at Pike Place Market since the coffee company was founded there in 1971. The first store is still operating a block south of its original location.
The National Register of Historic Places has over 150 Seattle listings. The city also designates its own landmarks.
KCPQ (Q13 Fox News)
KING-TV (King 5 News)
KIRO-TV (Kiro 7 News)
KOMO-TV (Komo 4 News)
The Seattle Times
The Daily of the University of Washington
North American Post
Northwest Asian Weekly
Puget Sounds Business Journal
Seattle Chinese Post
Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce
Seattle Post Intelligencer
West Seattle Herald
Baseball: MLB: Seattle Mariners
Basketball: WNBA: Seattle Storm
Football: NFL: Seattle Seahawks
Hockey: WHL: Seattle Thunderbirds
Soccer: MLS: Seatte Sounders FC
Seattle has many major hospitals. Some of the major hospitals are Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, Kindred Hospital - Seattle, Northwest Hospital, Schick-Shadel Hospital, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Swedish Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center / Providence, University of Washington Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center, and West Seattle Psychiatric Hospital.
King County Metro provides frequent stop bus service within the city and surrounding county,as well as a streetcar line between the South Lake Union neighborhood and Westlake Center in downtown. Seattle is one of the few cities in North America whose bus fleet includes electric trolleybuses. Sound Transit currently provides an express bus service within the metropolitan area, two Sounder commuter rail lines between the suburbs and downtown, and its Central Link light rail line between downtown and Sea-Tac Airport, giving the city its first rapid transit line that has intermediate stops within the city limits. Washington State Ferries, which manages the largest network of ferries in the United States and third largest in the world, connects Seattle to Bainbridge Island and Vashon Island in Puget Sound and to Bremerton and Southworth on the Kitsap Peninsula.
According to the 2007 American Community Survey, 18.6 percent of Seattle residents used one of the three public transit systems that serve the city, giving it the highest transit ridership of all major cities without heavy or light rail prior to the completion of Sound Transit's Central Link line.