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Encyclopedia > Seattle
Seattle skyline
Seattle, Washington
(Flag of Seattle) (Seal of Seattle)
City nickname Emerald City
City bird Great Blue Heron
City flower Dahlia
City mottos The City of Flowers
The City of Goodwill
City song Seattle, the Peerless City

Greg Nickels


King County


  - Total
  - Land
  - Water
  - % water

369.2 kmē
217.2 kmē
152.0 kmē
41.16 %

Population (2003) 569,101
Population density (2000) 2,593.5/kmē
Time zone Pacific (UTC−8)
Latitude 47°37'N
Longitude 122°19'W

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

Seattle residents and people who come from there are known as Seattleites.



See main article History of Seattle

Major events

On a clear day, visitors to can see the , the skyline, and (to the right).
On a clear day, visitors to Kerry Park can see the Space Needle, the Downtown Seattle skyline, and Mount Rainier (to the right).

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; the 1962 Century 21 Exposition, a World's Fair; the 1990 Goodwill Games; and the WTO Meeting of 1999, shut down by street protests.


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 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 Seattle Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is a legacy of the 1990s software and Internet boom.

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. Even locally headquartered Starbucks held investments in numerous Internet and software interests. Although some of these companies remain relatively strong, the boom definitely ended in 2000.

Seattle institutions


Howard Dean and Vanna White have both caught the "flying fish" at the Pike Place Market, one of Seattle's most popular tourist destinations.

The Space Needle is Seattle's most recognizable 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 line constructed for the Exposition still exists today between Seattle Center and Downtown. A fire on one of the trains on Memorial Day 2004 shut the line down for several months, but they have recently resumed operation.

Other famous landmarks include the Smith Tower, Pike Place Market, 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.) [1] (http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/betweenthelines/archives/2004_06_16.html)

Annual cultural events and fairs

Among Seattle's best-known annual cultural events and fairs are the 24-day Seattle International Film Festival, Northwest Folklife over the Memorial Day weekend, numerous Seafair events throughout the summer months (ranging from a Bon Odori celebration to hydroplane races), the Bite of Seattle, and Bumbershoot over the Labor Day weekend. All are typically attended by over 100,000 people annually, as are Hempfest and two separate Independence Day celebrations.

Several dozen Seattle neighborhoods have one or more annual street fairs, and many have an annual parade or foot race. The largest of the street fairs feature hundreds of craft and food booths and multiple stages with live entertainment, and draw more than 100,000 people over the course of a weekend; the smallest are strictly neighborhood affairs with a few dozen craft and food booths, barely distinguishable from more prominent neighborhoods' weekly farmers' markets.

Other significant events include numerous Native American pow-wows, a Greek Festival hosted by St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Montlake, and numerous ethnic festivals associated with Festal at Seattle Center.

As in most large cities, there are numerous other annual events of more limited interest, ranging from book fairs and specialized film festivals to a two-day, 8,000-rider Seattle-to-Portland bicycle ride.

Arts and Museums

See also Museums and galleries of Seattle

Performing Arts

Seattle is a significant center of the performing arts. The century-old Seattle Symphony Orchestra is among the world's most-recorded orchestras. [2] (http://www.seattlesymphony.org/symphony/meet/recordings/) The Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet are comparably distinguished, with the Opera being particularly known for its performances of the works of Richard Wagner and the PNB School (founded in 1974) ranking as one of the top three ballet training institutions in the United States. [3] (http://www.danceusa.org/Press%20Archives/pnwballet0402.html), [4] (http://www.pnb.org/pnbschool/philosophy.html)

In addition, Seattle has about twenty live theater venues, a slim majority of them being associated with fringe theater. It has a strong local scene for poetry slams and other performance poetry, and several venues that routinely present public lectures or readings. The largest of these is Seattle's 900-seat, Roman Revival Town Hall on First Hill.

In popular music, Seattle is often thought of mainly as the home of grunge rock and musicians like Kurt Cobain, but it is also home to such varied musicians as avant-garde jazz musicians Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz, rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot, and such poppier rock bands as Goodness and the Presidents of the United States of America. Seattle was as well the hometown of Jimi Hendrix. In the past ten years, the Seattle area has hosted a diverse and influential alternative music scene, centered near Capitol Hill.


See main article Education in Seattle.

Seattle has a more than typically educated population. Looking at Seattle's population over twenty-five, 36% (vs. a national average of 24%) hold a bachelor's degree or higher; 93% (vs. 80% nationally) have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to the obvious institutions of education, there are significant adult literacy programs and considerable homeschooling.

Like most urban American public school systems, Seattle Public Schools have been subject to numerous controversies. Seattle's schools desegregated without a court order, but continue to struggle to achieve racial balance in a demographically divided city (the south part of town being much more ethnically diverse than the north). The schools have maintained high enough educational standards to keep white flight (and middle-class flight in general) to a minimum, but some of the area's suburban public school systems — not all of them in wealthy suburbs — have consistently higher test scores.

The public school system is supplemented by a moderate number of private schools: four of the high schools are Catholic, one is Lutheran, and six are secular.

Postsecondary education in Seattle is dominated by the University of Washington, with over 36,000 students, making it the largest university in the Pacific Northwest. Most prominent of the city's other universities are Seattle University, a Jesuit school, and Seattle Pacific University, founded by the Free Methodists. There are also a handful of smaller schools, mainly in the fine arts and business and psychology. Seattle is also served by North Seattle, Seattle Central, and South Seattle Community Colleges.


See main article Media in Seattle.

Seattle's leading newspapers are the daily Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer; they share their advertising and business departments under a Joint Operating Agreement, which (as of 2004) the Times is seeking to terminate. The most prominent weeklies are the Seattle Weekly and the Stranger. Both of these consider themselves "alternative" papers; the Stranger has a reputation for a younger and hipper readership, the Weekly has a reputation as more serious and editorially responsible, but both make frequent forays into each other's editorial and demographic turf. There are also several ethnic newspapers and numerous neighborhood newspapers.

Seattle is also well served by television and radio. Its major network television affiliates are KOMO 4 (ABC), KING 5 (NBC), KIRO 7 (CBS), KCTS 9 (PBS), KSTW 11 (UPN), KCPQ 13 (FOX), KTWB 22/10 (WB), and KWPX 33/3 (PAX). Leading radio stations include KIRO-AM 710, KOMO-AM 1000, NPR affiliates KUOW-FM 94.9 and KPLU-FM 88.5. Other notable stations include KEXP-FM 90.3 (affiliated with EMP) and KNHC-FM 89.5, owned by the public school system and operated by students of Nathan Hale High School. Many Seattle radio stations are also available through web radio, with KUOW and KEXP both being notable web radio innovators.

Medical centers and hospitals

Seattle is also well served medically. The University of Washington is consistently ranked among the country's dozen leading institutions in medical research; the Group Health Cooperative was one of the pioneers of managed care in the United States, and Seattle was a pioneer in the development of modern paramedic services with the establishment of Medic One in 1970.

Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Laurelhurst is the pediatric referral center for Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. Harborview Medical Center, the public county hospital, located on First Hill, is the only Level I trauma hospital serving those same four states. Harborview and the University of Washington Medical Center on the U.W. campus are closely tied, with one physician group serving both hospitals.

Other hospitals in the community include Swedish Medical Center/Ballard, Swedish Medical Center/First Hill, and Swedish Medical Center/Providence (also on First Hill); Virginia Mason Medical Center, on First Hill as well; the VA Puget Sound Health Care System's Seattle Division on Beacon Hill; the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Cascade; Group Health Central Hospital and Family Health Center on Capitol Hill; Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in Haller Lake.

First Hill is widely known as "Pill Hill" for its concentration of hospitals and other medical offices. In addition 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 Seattle's only operators of private, adult, full-service (i.e., ER and inpatient surgery) hospitals.

In 1974, a 60 Minutes story on the success of the then four-year-old Medic One paramedic system 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. Seattle and King County provide extended 911 services, with sufficient operators to allow calls to 911 even in non-emergency situations; calls are then appropriately dispatched.


The first major professional sports franchise started in Seattle was the Seattle Supersonics (later "Seattle Sonics") National Basketball Association team (1967). They were joined by the Seattle Pilots baseball team in 1969. Both team names reflected the local importance of the aerospace industry. The Pilots lasted only one year, playing at Sick's Stadium, previously home to several minor league teams, before relocating to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their sole season was immortalized in Jim Bouton's book Ball Four.

Legal wranglings over the move of the Pilots pressured Major League Baseball to award Seattle a new franchise, the Mariners, starting in 1977. The Mariners would play in the newly built Kingdome, an indoor sports facility they shared with the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, who started play the previous year. For a time, all three of the city's major sports teams used the Kingdome, despite criticism of it as a sterile, unattractive venue. It was little lamented when demolished in 2000, and replaced with a new stadium (later named Qwest Field) built for the Seahawks on the same site. By this time the other sports had long since relocated: the Sonics now use KeyArena exclusively; the Mariners' new home is the well-regarded, retractable-roofed Safeco Field.

Other professional sports teams based in the city include:

In addition, the University of Washington, Seattle University, and Seattle Pacific University field teams in a variety of sports, including football and basketball. Their teams are known as the Huskies, Redhawks, and Falcons, respectively. The Husky football team has a wide following that ranks with those of the major professional teams in the city.

Government and politics

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. The mayor and all the councilmembers are Democrats, though all the offices are nonpartisan.

The statue of Vladimir Lenin in the Fremont neighborhood

Seattle's politics lean famously to the left compared to the U.S. as a whole. In this regard, it sits with a small set of similar U.S. cities (such as Madison, Wisconsin, Berkeley, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts) where the dominant politics tend to range from center-left to social democratic. Seattle politics are generally dominated by the liberal wing (in the U.S. sense of the word "liberal") of the Democratic Party; in some local elections, Greens (and even, on at least one occasion, a member of the Freedom Socialist Party) have fared better than Republicans. There do exist pockets of conservatism, especially in the north and in exclusive neighborhoods such as Broadmoor, and scattered Libertarians, but for the most part Seattle is a safely Democratic city, as exemplified by congressman Jim McDermott, who represents the Seventh Congressional District of Washington, made up of most of Seattle and also including semi-rural Vashon Island. McDermott has been reelected to his seat in every election since 1988, when he replaced fellow liberal Democrat Mike Lowry, who had held the seat since 1979. McDermott's weakest re-election result came in 2000, when no Republican ran; that year he received 72.8% of the vote, while Green candidate Joe Szwaja received 19.6% and Libertarian candidate Joel Grus received 7.6%. In 2002, when the Republicans replaced the Greens as the third party on the ballot, McDermott's vote share rose to 74.1%. [5] (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/external/apdigpol.ap.org/politics/election_districts.php?state_abbreviation=WA&congressional_district=7&SITE=WASEAELN&SECTION=POLITICS)

Among Seattle's notable past politicians is Bertha Knight Landes, 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.

Another, 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.

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

Business in Seattle


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

Five companies on the 2004 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) is based in Redmond. So was the cellular telephone pioneer McCaw Cellular, which in 1994 became AT&T Wireless (#120), before being absorbed in 2004 into Cingular. Weyerhaeuser, the forest products company (#95), is based in Federal Way. And Bellevue is home to truck manufacturer PACCAR (#250).

Mayor Greg Nickels has announced a desire to spark 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.


Seattle Steam Company

Water is furnished by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), an agency of the city, which owns two water collection facilities--one in the Cedar River watershed, which primarily serves the city south of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and the other in the Tolt River watershed, which primarily serves the city north of the canal.

Natural gas is furnished by privately owned Puget Sound Energy, which began its existence in 1886, generating electrical power as the Seattle Electric Light Company. Nowadays, the city's electricity is furnished by Seattle City Light, an agency of the city, which owns numerous hydroelectric dams on the Cedar River and Skagit River. Seattle first decided to invest in public power generation in 1902, initially handling this as part of the water department; the resulting Cedar Falls hydroelectric facility (1905) is now the oldest continually operating, publicly-owned hydro plant in the U.S. City Light became a separate city agency in 1910, and, in 1951, bought out the last of their privately owned competitors. [6] (http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/light/aboutus/history/ab5_brhs.htm), [7] (http://www.cityofseattle.net/light/aboutus/customerguide/)

The privately owned Seattle Steam Company, founded 1893, generates steam by burning natural gas, and provides it to over 200 business in downtown Seattle — where hotels figure prominently among its customers — and on First Hill, where it serves several of the city's largest hospitals.

Most landline telephone service is provided by Qwest.

Cable television is dominated by Comcast, with Millennium Digital Media providing service in some neighborhoods.


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 an artificial 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)đ.

According to the

  Results from FactBites:
Encyclopedia4U - Seattle, Washington - Encyclopedia Article (1325 words)
Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington, and in the northwestern United States.
Seattle is 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.
Seattle's 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 Maynard, Seattle General, and Doctors Hospitals (now merged into Swedish), as well as Cabrini Hospital.
  More results at FactBites »



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