Welcome to the

Emerald City

Seattle is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 744,955 residents it ranks as the 15th largest in the United States.

Story by John Doe

Seattle (/siˈætəl/) is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 744,955 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area's population stands at 3.94 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.

Photo by Ben Dutton on Unsplash
Seattle downtown

The city is situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canada–United States border. A major gateway for trade with Asia, Seattle is the fourth-largest port in North America in terms of container handling as of 2015.

Seattle has a noteworthy musical history. From 1918 to 1951, nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs existed along Jackson Street

The Seattle area was inhabited by Native Americans for at least 4,000 years before the first permanent European settlers. Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, arrived from Illinois via Portland, Oregon, on the schooner Exact at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. The settlement was moved to the eastern shore of Elliott Bay and named "Seattle" in 1852, in honor of Chief Si'ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Today, Seattle has high populations of Native, Scandinavian, African, and Asian Americans, as well as a thriving LGBT community that ranks 6th in the United States for the population.

Photo by Erin Hervey on Unsplash
Photo by Ben Dutton on Unsplash
Photo by Taylor Vick on Unsplash

Logging was Seattle's first major industry, but by the late 19th century, the city had become a commercial and shipbuilding center as a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. Growth after World War II was partially due to the local Boeing company, which established Seattle as a center for aircraft manufacturing. The Seattle area developed into a technology center from the 1980s onwards with companies like Microsoft becoming established in the region; Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a Seattleite by birth.

Seattle has a noteworthy musical history. From 1918 to 1951, nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs existed along Jackson Street, from the current Chinatown/International District to the Central District. The jazz scene nurtured the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson, and others. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock musician Jimi Hendrix, as well as the origin of the bands Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains or Foo Fighters.


History

Archaeological excavations suggest that Native Americans have inhabited the Seattle area for at least 4,000 years. By the time the first European settlers arrived, the people (subsequently called the Duwamish tribe) occupied at least seventeen villages in the areas around Elliott Bay.

History Chapters
  • Duwamps
  • Incorpporations
  • Timber Town
  • Gold Rush
  • Post-war years

Archaeological excavations suggest that Native Americans have inhabited the Seattle area for at least 4,000 years. By the time the first European settlers arrived, the people (subsequently called the Duwamish tribe) occupied at least seventeen villages in the areas around Elliott Bay.

The first European to visit the Seattle area was George Vancouver, in May 1792 during his 1791–95 expedition for the British Navy to chart the Pacific Northwest. In 1851, a large party led by Luther Collins made a location on land at the mouth of the Duwamish River; they formally claimed it on September 14, 1851. Thirteen days later, members of the Collins Party on the way to their claim passed three scouts of the Denny Party. Members of the Denny Party claimed land on Alki Point on September 28, 1851.The rest of the Denny Party set sail from Portland, Oregon, and landed on Alki point during a rainstorm on November 13, 1851.

Duwamps 1852-1853

After a difficult winter, most of the Denny Party relocated across Elliott Bay and claimed land a second time at the site of present-day Pioneer Square, naming this new settlement Duwamps.

Incorporations

The name "Seattle" appears on official Washington Territory papers dated May 23, 1853, when the first plats for the village were filed. In 1855, nominal land settlements were established. On January 14, 1865, the Legislature of Territorial Washington incorporated the Town of Seattle with a board of trustees managing the city. The Town of Seattle was disincorporated on January 18, 1867, and remained a mere precinct of King County until late 1869, when a new petition was filed and the city was re-incorporated December 2, 1869, with a mayor–council government. The corporate seal of the City of Seattle carries the date "1869" and a likeness of Chief Si'ahl in left profile.

Timber Town

Seattle has a history of boom-and-bust cycles, like many other cities near areas of extensive natural and mineral resources. Seattle has risen several times economically, then gone into precipitous decline, but it has typically used those periods to rebuild solid infrastructure.

Seattle's first streetcar, at the corner of Occidental and Yesler, 1884. All of the buildings visible in this picture were destroyed by fire five years later.

The first such boom, covering the early years of the city, rode on the lumber industry. (During this period the road now known as Yesler Way won the nickname "Skid Road," supposedly after the timber skidding down the hill to Henry Yesler's sawmill. The later dereliction of the area may be a possible origin for the term which later entered the wider American lexicon as Skid Row.) 

Seattle had achieved sufficient economic success that when the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 destroyed the central business district, a far grander city-center rapidly emerged in its place.Finance company Washington Mutual, for example, was founded in the immediate wake of the fire. However, the Panic of 1893 hit Seattle hard.

Gold Rush

The second and most dramatic boom resulted from the Klondike Gold Rush, which ended the depression that had begun with the Panic of 1893. In a short time, Seattle became a major transportation center. On July 14, 1897, the S.S. Portland docked with its famed "ton of gold," and Seattle became the main transport and supply point for the miners in Alaska and the Yukon. Few of those working men found lasting wealth. However, it was Seattle's business of clothing the miners and feeding them salmon that panned out in the long run. Along with Seattle, other cities like Everett, Tacoma, Port Townsend, Bremerton, and Olympia, all in the Puget Sound region, became competitors for exchange, rather than mother lodes for extraction, of precious metals. The boom lasted well into the early part of the 20th century, and funded many new Seattle companies and products. In 1907, 19-year-old James E. Casey borrowed $100 from a friend and founded the American Messenger Company (later UPS). Other Seattle companies founded during this period include Nordstrom and Eddie Bauer. Seattle brought in the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm to design a system of parks and boulevards.

Bird's-eye view of Seattle and King County from 1891[42]

The Gold Rush era culminated in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909, which is largely responsible for the layout of today's University of Washington campus.

Post-war years

War work again brought local prosperity during World War II, this time centered on Boeing aircraft. The war dispersed the city's numerous Japanese-American businessmen due to the Japanese American internment. After the war, the local economy dipped. It rose again with Boeing's growing dominance in the commercial airliner market. Seattle celebrated its restored prosperity and made a bid for world recognition with the Century 21 Exposition, the 1962 World's Fair, for which the iconic Space Needle was built. Another major local economic downturn was in the late 1960s and early 1970s, at a time when Boeing was heavily affected by the oil crises, loss of Government contracts, and costs and delays associated with the Boeing 747. Many people left the area to look for work elsewhere, and two local real estate agents put up a billboard reading "Will the last person leaving Seattle – Turn out the lights."

Building the Seattle Center Monorail, 1961. Looking north up Fifth Avenue from Virginia Street.

Seattle remained the corporate headquarters of Boeing until 2001, when the company separated its headquarters from its major production facilities; the headquarters were moved to Chicago. The Seattle area is still home to Boeing's Renton narrow-body plant (where the 707, 720, 727, and 757 were assembled, and the 737 is assembled today) and Everett wide-body plant (assembly plant for the 747, 767, 777, and 787). The company's credit union for employees, BECU, remains based in the Seattle area, though it is now open to all residents of Washington

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.

North of the city center, Lake Washington Ship Canal connects Puget Sound to Lake Washington. It incorporates four natural bodies of water: Lake Union, Salmon Bay, Portage Bay, and Union Bay.