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Seattle, Washington
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Seattle, Washington

and the Downtown Seattle skyline]]
]] [[image:SeattleMap.jpg|right|151px|thumb|Map of Seattle (See also: Interactive topo map)]]

Seattle is the largest city in the U.S state of Washington, and in the Pacific Northwest, with a total estimated population of 569,101 as of 2003. It is situated between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, about 108 miles (180 km) south of the Canadian border, in King County, of which it is the county seat.

Seattle residents and people who come from Seattle are known as Seattleitess.

The Space Needle (pictured) is possibly Seattle's most famous landmark, featured in the logo of the television show Frasier, and dating from the 1962 Century 21 Exposition, a World's Fair. The Seattle monorail constructed for the Exposition still runs today between Seattle Center and Downtown.

Other famous landmarks include the Smith Tower, Pike Place Market (pictured), the Fremont Troll, the Experience Music Project, the new Seattle Central Library, and the Bank of America Tower, which is the fourth tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River and the twelfth tallest in the nation. (On June 16, 2004, the 9/11 Commission reported that the original plan for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks included the Bank of America Tower as one of ten targeted buildings.)

Seattle is sometimes referred to as the "rainy city", even though it gets less rain than many other U.S. cities (see "Climate" section). It is also known as Jet City, due to the heavy influence of Boeing. Its official nickname is the Emerald City.

Seattle is also known as the home of grunge music, has a reputation for heavy coffee consumption, and was the site of the 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization shut down by anti-globalist demonstrators.

Other major events in Seattle's history include the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, which destroyed the central business district (but took no lives); the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909, which is largely responsible for the current layout of the University of Washington campus; the Seattle General Strike of 1919, the first general strike in the country; and the 1990 Goodwill Games.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Seattle institutions
3 Government
4 Business in Seattle
5 Geography
6 Climate
7 Demographics
8 Official nickname, flower, slogan, and song
9 Transportation
10 See also
11 External links


See main article History of Seattle


Most of the Denny Party, the most prominent of the area's early white settlers, arrived at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. They relocated their settlement to Elliott Bay in April, 1852. The first plats for the Town of Seattle were filed on May 23, 1853. The city was incorporated in 1869, after having existed as an incorporated town from 1865 to 1867.

Seattle was named after Noah Sealth, chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes, better known as Chief Seattle. David Swinson ("Doc") Maynard, one of the city founders, was the primary advocate for naming the city after Chief Seattle. Previously, the city had been known as Duwamps (or Duwumps)--a variation of that name is preserved in the name of Seattle's Duwamish River.

Seattle institutions

Cultural events

Seattle's annual cultural events include the
Seattle International Film Festival, Northwest Folklife, Seafair, the Bite of Seattle, and Bumbershoot.

Museums, aquariums, zoos, and cultural centers

There are a number of museums in Seattle, including the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Center for Wooden Boats, the Experience Music Project, the Museum of Flight, the Museum of History and Industry, the Pacific Science Center, and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. Seattle is also home to five major art museums and galleries: Consolidated Works, the Frye Art Museum, the Henry Art Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

The Seattle Aquarium is located on the Elliott Bay waterfront, and the Woodland Park Zoo on Phinney Ridge in north Seattle.

United Indians of All Tribes operates the Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Discovery Park.

Educational institutions

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 47.2% of Seattleites over the age of 25 have a bachelor's degree or higher, the highest rate in the nation, and 93% have a high school diploma or equivalent.

The University of Washington is located in Seattle; with over 36,000 students, it is the largest university in the northwestern United States. There are also two major private universities in the city: Seattle University, a Jesuit institution; and Seattle Pacific University, a Christian school founded by the Free Methodists. Smaller schools include Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle Bible College, The Art Institute of Seattle, Antioch University Seattle, the School of Visual Concepts, and Argosy University/Seattle.

Seattle is also served by North Seattle, Seattle Central, and South Seattle Community Colleges, and its suburbs are home to Bastyr University (Kenmore), Northwest University (Kirkland), and City University (Bellevue).

The public school system, Seattle Public Schools, is supplemented by a number of private primary and secondary schools, including Bishop Blanchet High School, Bush School, Hazel Wolf High School, Holy Names Academy, Lakeside School, Northwest School, O'Dea High School, Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, Seattle Lutheran High School, Seattle Preparatory School, and University Preparatory Academy.


Broadcast television

Broadcast television stations in Seattle include KOMO 4 (ABC), KING 5 (NBC), KIRO 7 (CBS), KCTS 9 (PBS), KSTW 11 (UPN), KCPQ 13 (Fox), KONG 16 (independent), KTWB 22 (WB), and KWPX 33 (PAX).


As of 2004, three daily newspapers are published in Seattle: The Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. There is also The Daily of the University of Washington, the University of Washington's school paper, published when school is in session.

Seattle is also home to several alternative newspapers, including the African American papers The Facts and the Seattle Medium; the Asian American papers the Northwest Asian Weekly, Seattle Chinese Post, and the International Examiner; the Seattle Weekly and The Stranger, both published weekly; the Seattle Gay News; Real Change, the biweekly paper sold by the city's homeless; and numerous neighborhood newspapers. Among the latter are the Seattle Sun, the Seattle Star, the West Seattle Herald, the Ballard News-Tribune, and the papers of the Pacific Publishing Company, which include the Queen Anne News, Magnolia News, North Seattle Herald-Outlook, Capitol Hill Times, Beacon Hill News & South District Journal, and the Madison Park Times.


As of April 2004, some of Seattle's most popular commercial radio stations according to Arbitron ratings include KIRO-AM 710 (news, talk), KOMO-AM 1000 (news, sports), KUBE-FM 93.3 (contemporary hits), KMPS-FM 94.1 (country music), KBSG-FM 97.3 (oldies), KING-FM 98.1 (classical music), KWJZ-FM 98.9 (smooth jazz), KISW-FM 99.9 (rock), KZOK-FM 102.5 (classic rock), KBKS-FM 106.1 (contemporary pop), and KRWM-FM 106.9 (soft rock).

There are also two National Public Radio member stations in the Seattle market: KUOW-FM 94.9, licensed by the University of Washington and run by Puget Sound Public Radio, and KPLU-FM 88.5, licensed by Tacoma's Pacific Lutheran University but run out of downtown Seattle.

Other public radio stations in the area include KEXP-FM 90.3--licensed by the University of Washington and supported by the Experience Music Project, it plays a variety of contemporary alternative and genre music; and KNHC-FM 89.5, owned by the Seattle Public Schools and operated by students at Nathan Hale High School.

Medical centers and hospitals

Seattle is also well served medically. Hospitals in the community include: in Ballard, Swedish Medical Center/Ballard; on Beacon Hill, the VA Puget Sound Health Care System's Seattle Division; in Cascade, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; on Capitol Hill, Group Health Central Hospital and Family Health Center; in Haller Lake, Northwest Hospital and Medical Center; in Laurelhurst, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center; in the University District, the University of Washington Medical Center; and on First Hill, Swedish Medical Center/First Hill, Swedish Medical Center/Providence, Virginia Mason Medical Center, and Harborview Medical Center. Harborview, the county hospital, is the only Level I trauma hospital serving Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

First Hill is also known as "Pill Hill" because, in addition to being the current home of Harborview, Swedish, and Virginia Mason, it was also once the location of the Providence, Maynard, Seattle General, and Doctors Hospitals (all of which merged into Swedish) and Cabrini Hospital. On June 14, 2004, it was announced that Swedish Medical Center and Northwest Hospital and Medical Center planned to merge. This would leave Swedish and Virginia Mason as the only operators of private, adult, full-service (i.e., ER and inpatient surgery) hospitals in the city.

In addition, Seattle was a pioneer in the development of modern paramedic services with the establishment of Medic One in 1970. A 60 Minutes story on the success of Medic One that aired in 1974 called Seattle "the best place in the world to have a heart attack." Some accounts report that Puyallup, a city south of Seattle, was the first place west of the Mississippi River to have 911 emergency telephone service.


In professional sports, Seattle is home to Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners, the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks, the National Basketball Association's Seattle SuperSonics, the Women's National Basketball Association's Seattle Storm, the Western Hockey League's Seattle Thunderbirds, and the Seattle Sounders of A-League (men's) and W-League (women's) Soccer.

In addition, the University of Washington, Seattle University, and Seattle Pacific University field teams in a variety of sports, most notably football and basketball.


As of the November 2003 elections, the mayor of Seattle is Greg Nickels, and the members of the Seattle City Council are Jean Godden, Richard Conlin, Peter Steinbrueck, Jan Drago, Tom Rasmussen, Nick Licata, David Della, Richard McIver, and Jim Compton.

Bertha Knight Landes was mayor from 1926 to 1928. She was the first woman mayor of a major American city, and the only female mayor of Seattle so far.

Bailey Gatzert was mayor from 1875 to 1876. He was the first Jewish mayor of Seattle, narrowly missed being the first Jewish mayor of a major American city (Moses Bloom became mayor of Iowa City, Iowa in 1873), and has been the only Jewish mayor of Seattle so far.

Newspaper publisher Paul Jacob Alexander was a City Councilman from 1956 to 1969.

See List of mayors of Seattle for a list of Seattle's mayors going back to 1869.

Business in Seattle

Economic history

Seattle has a history of boom and bust, or at least boom and quiescence. Seattle has almost been sent into permanent decline by the aftermaths of its worst periods as a company town, but has typically used those periods to successfully rebuild infrastructure.

The first such boom was the lumber-industry boom, followed by the construction of an Olmsted-designed park system. Arguably the Klondike Gold Rush constituted a separate, shorter boom.

Next came the shipbuilding boom, followed by the unused city development plan of Virgil Bogue.

The Boeing boom, followed by general infrastructure building. Seattle was home to Boeing until 2001, when the company announced a desire to separate its headquarters from its major production facilities. Following a bidding war in which several cities offered huge tax breaks, Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago, Illinois. The Seattle area is still home to Boeing's commercial airplanes division, several Boeing plants, and the Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU).

Most recently, the boom centered around Microsoft and other software, Internet, and telecommunications companies, such as Amazon.com, RealNetworks, and AT&T Wireless;. Although some of these companies remain relatively strong, the boom definitely ended in 2000.

Mayor Greg Nickels has announced a desire to start a new economic boom driven by the biotechnology industry. Major redevelopment of the South Lake Union neighborhood is underway in an effort to attract new and established biotech companies to the region, joining current biotech companies such as Corixa, Immunex (now part of Amgen), and ZymoGenetics. The effort has public support and some financial backing from Paul Allen.


See List of companies based in Seattle for a more detailed compilation.

Five companies on the 2003 Fortune 500 list of the United States' largest companies, based on total revenue, are currently headquartered in Seattle: financial services company Washington Mutual (#103), insurance company Safeco Corporation (#267), clothing merchant Nordstrom (#286), Internet retailer Amazon.com (#342) and coffee chain Starbucks (#425).

Many Seattle residents work for companies based outside of Seattle proper. Airplane manufacturer Boeing (#21) was the largest company based in Seattle before its 2001 move to Chicago. Because several production facilities remain in the region, Boeing is still a major Seattle employer.

Other Fortune 500 companies popularly associated with Seattle are based in nearby Puget Sound cities. Warehouse club chain Costco Wholesale Corp (#29), the largest company in Washington state, is based in Issaquah. Microsoft (#46) and AT&T Wireless; (#120) are based in Redmond. Weyerhaeuser, the forest products company (#95), is based in Federal Way. And Bellevue is home to truck manufacturer PACCAR (#250).


Seattle is located between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. West beyond the Sound, Seattle faces the Olympic Mountains; across Lake Washington beyond the Eastside suburbs are the Issaquah Alps and the Cascade Range.

The city itself is hilly, though not uniformly so. Some of the hilliest areas are quite near the center, and Downtown rises rather dramatically away from the water. The geography of Downtown and its immediate environs has been significantly altered by regrading projects, a seawall, and the construction of a man-made island, Harbor Island, at the mouth of the city's industrial Duwamish Waterway.

The rivers, forests, lakes, and fields were once rich enough to support one of the world's few sedentary hunter-gatherer societies. Today, a ship canal passes through the city, incorporating Lake Union near the heart of the city and several other natural bodies of water, and connecting Puget Sound to Lake Washington. Opportunities for sailing, skiing, bicycling, camping, and hiking are close by and accessible almost all of the year.

An active geological fault, the Seattle Fault, runs under the city. It has not been the source of an earthquake during Seattle's existence; however, the city has been hit by four major earthquakes since its founding: December 14, 1872 (magnitude 7.3); April 13, 1949 (7.1); April 29, 1965 (6.5); and February 28, 2001 (6.8). See also Nisqually Earthquake.

Seattle is located at 47°37'35" North, 122°19'59" West (47.626353, -122.333144)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 369.2 km² (142.5 mi²). 217.2 km² (83.9 mi²) of it is land and 152.0 km² (58.7 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 41.16% water.

Bodies of water

Seattle is located between Puget Sound on the west and Lake Washington on the east. It was founded on the harbor of Elliott Bay, home to the Port of Seattle--in 2002, the 9th busiest port in the United States by TEUs of container traffic[1] and the 46th busiest in the world.[1]

Seattle is divided in half by the Lake Washington Ship Canal, which connects Lake Washington to Puget Sound. From east to west, it incorporates Union Bay, the Montlake Cut, Portage Bay, Lake Union, the Fremont Cut, Salmon Bay, and Shilshole Bay. The southern half of Seattle is itself divided by the Duwamish River, which empties into the south end of Elliott Bay as the industrialized Duwamish Waterway.

In addition, Seattle contains three other lakes, all north of the Ship Canal: Bitter Lake, Haller Lake, and Green Lake.

Seattle is also home to a number of creeks. Those emptying into Puget Sound include Broadview Creek, Fauntleroy Creek, Longfellow Creek, and Piper's Creek; emptying into Lake Washington are Arboretum Creek, Ravenna Creek (via University Slough), and Thornton Creek.

The main inlets of Puget Sound are Elliott Bay, Smith Cove, and Shilshole Bay; the main inlet of Lake Washington is Union Bay.


Seattle's climate is mild, with the temperature moderated by the sea and protected from winds and storms by the mountains. As previously noted, it is sometimes referred to as the "rainy city", but the rain the city is famous for is actually unremarkable; at 35-38 inches of precipitation a year, it's less than most major Eastern Seaboard cities and many other US cities. (For comparison, New York City averages 47.3 inches.)

What makes Seattle seem so wet is the cloudiness that predominates from about late October well into spring, sometimes clear into July, and that most precipitation falls as light rain, not snow or heavy storms. Seattle has more cloudy days (294 days per year on average vs. 259 in New York City) and rainy days, with few heavy downpours.


As of the census of 2000, there are 563,374 people, 258,499 households, and 113,481 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,593.5/km² (6,717.0/mi²). There are 270,524 housing units at an average density of 1,245.4/km² (3,225.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 70.09% Caucasian, 8.44% African American, 1.00% Native American, 13.12% Asian, 0.50% Pacific Islander, 2.38% from other races, and 4.46% from two or more races. 5.28% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 258,499 households out of which 17.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.7% are married couples living together, 8.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 56.1% are non-families. 40.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.08 and the average family size is 2.87.

In the city the population is spread out with 15.6% under the age of 18, 11.9% from 18 to 24, 38.6% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 99.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 98.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $45,736, and the median income for a family is $62,195. Males have a median income of $40,929 versus $35,134 for females. The per capita income for the city is $30,306. 11.8% of the population and 6.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 13.8% are under the age of 18 and 10.2% are 65 or older.

Housing and homeless issues

Like most modern urban centers, at any given time, some Seattle residents are homeless. Seattle's relatively mild winters may even lure homeless people from cities with colder winters. It is notoriously difficult to get exact numbers of homeless people, but estimates of Seattle's homeless population put the number somewhere around 6,000 to 8,000 people; up to 1,000 are children and young adults.

In March 2004, Seattle was recognized in a report released by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development as one of the seven cities in the United States that are leading the way toward reducing chronic homelessness. (The other cities are Birmingham, Alabama; Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; and San Diego.) Many of the services cited are funding fairly traditional programs, such as homeless shelters, emergency shelters, low-income housing, and hygiene programs. Also, the Community Psychiatric Clinic in Seattle provides housing for about 5,000 homeless mentally ill clients per year. There are also private shelters, soup kitchens, and food banks. The Seattle Housing Authority also provides 5,300 low-income public housing units for over 24,000 residents. Its first development, Yesler Terrace (1942), was the first public housing development in Washington and the first integrated such development in the country.

But Seattle also has some more innovative programs run by nonprofit groups. One is Real Change, a street newspaper that is sold by homeless individuals to provide them an income without panhandling. Another is FareStart, which provides job training and placement in the food preparation industry. Most recently, FareStart won an exclusive contract to provide food service in the new Seattle Central Library. Seattle has also provided some of the locations for the series of homeless encampments known as Tent City. Tent Cities are largely self-policing, with strict regulations, such as no alcohol, no drugs, and segregated areas for families, men, and women.

For more information on this topic, see the Web site of the Seattle/King County Coalition for the Homeless.

Official nickname, flower, slogan, and song

In 1981, Seattle held a contest to come up with a new official nickname to replace "the Queen City," which it had been since 1869 and was also the nickname of Cincinnati, Toronto, and Charlotte, North Carolina. The winner, selected in 1982, was "the Emerald City." Submitted by Californian Sarah Sterling-Franklin, it referred to the lush surroundings of Seattle that were the result of frequent rain.

Seattle's official flower has been the dahlia since 1913. Its official song has been "Seattle the Peerless City" since 1909. In 1942, its official slogan was "The City of Flowers"; 48 years later, in 1990, it was "The City of Goodwill," for the Goodwill Games held that year in Seattle.


Because of the geography of the area and the concentration of jobs in Seattle, much of the movement in the Seattle metropolitan area is through Seattle itself. North-south transportation is highly dependent on Interstate 5, which connects most of the major cities on the Puget Sound with Portland, Oregon. Also heavily used is Washington State Route 99, which includes the Alaskan Way Viaduct in downtown Seattle. There has been much talk recently about replacing the viaduct or even demolishing it without a replacement.

Transportation to and from the east is via Interstate 90's Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and Washington State Route 520's Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, both over Lake Washington. Those bridges are the two longest floating bridges in the world. Washington State Route 522 connects Seattle to its northeastern suburbs.

Washington State Ferries, the largest ferry system in the United States and the third largest in the world, operates three vehicle routes and one passenger-only route to and from Seattle on Puget Sound, to the city's west.

Seattle contains most of Boeing Field, officially called King County International Airport, but most of the city's airline passengers use Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in the city of SeaTac.

Two bus systems serve Seattle. They are operated by King County's Metro Transit and the regional organization Sound Transit. Sound Transit is also associated with a controversial light rail project. The Metro Bus Tunnel runs the length of downtown. It is currently only used by buses, but is scheduled to be renovated for simultaneous use both by buses and light rail.

The Seattle monorail, constructed for the Century 21 Exposition, connects Downtown and Seattle Center. It will be torn down when the Green Line of the new mass-transit Seattle monorail is built from Ballard through Downtown to West Seattle.

Street layout

See main article Street layout of Seattle

Seattle's streets are laid out in a cardinal-direction grid pattern, except in the central business district, where the grid from Yesler Way north to Stewart Street is oriented 32 degrees west of north, and from Stewart Stewart north to Denny Way, 49 degrees west of north. Only one street, Madison Street, runs uninterrupted from the salt water of Puget Sound in the west to the fresh water of Lake Washington in the east. No street, excluding Interstate 5 and Washington State Route 99--both freeways in whole or in part--runs without interruption from the northern to the southern city limits. This is largely the result of Seattle's topography. Split by the Duwamish River and the Lake Washington Ship Canal, containing four lakes within the city limits, and boasting deep ravines and at least seven hills, there are few more-or-less straight routes where such a road could reasonably be built, even allowing for the short bridge or two.

See also

External links


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