Seattle (pronounced /si??????/?( listen) see-at-?l) is the northernmost major city in the contiguous United States, and the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and the state of Washington. It is a major seaport situated on a narrow isthmus between Puget Sound (an arm of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 114 miles (183?km) south of the Canada ? United States border, and it is named after Chief Sealth "Seattle", of the Duwamish and Suquamish native tribes. Seattle is the center of the Seattle?Tacoma?Bellevue metropolitan statistical area--the 15th largest metropolitan area in the United States, and the largest in the northwestern United States. Seattle is the county seat of King County and is the major economic, cultural and educational center in the region. The 2010 census found that Seattle is home to 608,660 residents within a metropolitan area of some 3.4?million inhabitants. The Port of Seattle, which also operates Seattle?Tacoma International Airport, is a major gateway for trade with Asia and cruises to Alaska, and is the 8th largest port in the United States in terms of container capacity.
Seattle is the western terminus of I-90 and is on the I-5 corridor, about 140 miles (230?km) south of Vancouver, British Columbia, and 170 miles (270?km) north of Portland, Oregon. The city of Victoria, British Columbia's capital, is about 110 miles (180?km) to the northwest (about 90 miles (140?km) by passenger ferry) while the eastern Washington hub city of Spokane lies 280 miles (450?km) to the east.
The Seattle area has been inhabited for at least 4,000 years, but European settlement began only in the mid-19th century. The first permanent European-descended settlers were Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, who arrived November 13, 1851. Early settlements in the area were called "New York-Alki" ("Alki" meaning "by and by" in Chinook Jargon) and "Duwamps". In 1853, Doc Maynard suggested that the main settlement be renamed "Seattle", an anglicized rendition of the name of Sealth, the chief of the two local tribes. From 1869 until 1982, Seattle was known as the "Queen City". Seattle's current official nickname is the "Emerald City", the result of a contest held in 1981; the reference is to the lush evergreen forests of the area. Seattle is also referred to informally as the "Gateway to Alaska", "Rain City", and "Jet City", the last from the local influence of Boeing. Seattle residents are known as Seattleites.
On the Top Deck of an Argosy Cruise Boat with the Port in the Background
From 1918 to 1951 Seattle had a remarkable jazz history. There were nearly two dozen nightclubs along Jackson Street in the current Chinatown/International District. The Jackson Street jazz scene developed the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson and others. Seattle is the birthplace of rock legend Jimi Hendrix and the rock music style known as "grunge," which was made famous by local groups Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam. In more recent years, Seattle has been known for indie rock music.
Stairs at Night
The city has a reputation for heavy coffee consumption; coffee companies founded or based in Seattle include Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee, and Tully's. There are also many successful independent artisanal espresso roasters and cafes.
Researchers at Central Connecticut State University consistently rank Seattle and Minneapolis as the two most literate cities among America's largest cities. Additionally, survey data from the United States Census Bureau indicate that Seattle has a higher percentage of college graduates than any other major American city, with approximately 53.8% of residents aged twenty-five and older holding a bachelor degree or higher.
In terms of per capita income, a study by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked the Seattle metropolitan area 17th out of 363?metropolitan areas in 2006. Seattle has particularly strong information technology, aviation, architecture and recreational industries. It is particularly known as a hotbed of "green" technologies, stemming in part from the strong and relatively non-controversial stances its public leaders have taken on policies regarding urban design, building standards, clean energy and climate change (Seattle in February 2010 committed itself to becoming North America's first "climate neutral" city, with a goal of reaching zero net per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 2030).
Seattle is ranked as one of the most car-congested cities in the United States, and efforts to promote compact development and transportation choices are perennial policy issues. The railways and streetcars that once dominated its transportation system were largely replaced with an extensive network of bus routes for those living near the city center, and the city's outward growth caused automobiles to become the main mode of transportation for much of the population in the middle to late 20th century. However, efforts to reverse this trend at the municipal and state levels have resulted in new commuter rail service that connects Seattle to Everett and Tacoma, a regional Link Light Rail system that extends south from the city core to SeaTac Airport, and an inner-city South Lake Union Streetcar network which extends from downtown to the South Lake Union area.
Fremont Troll Under the Bridge Grabbing an Unfortunate Volkswagen
Archaeological excavations confirm that the Seattle area has been inhabited by humans for at least 4,000 years. By the time the first European settlers arrived in the area, the people (now called the Duwamish Tribe) occupied at least seventeen villages in the areas around Elliott Bay.
A Humble Proposal
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, the group who would eventually found Seattle. 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.
After a difficult winter, most of the Denny Party relocated across Elliott Bay and founded the village of "Dewamps" or "Duwamps" on the site of present day Pioneer Square. Charles Terry and John Low remained at the original landing location and established a village they initially called "New York", but renamed "New York Alki" in April 1853, from a Chinook word meaning, roughly, "by and by" or "someday". For the next few years, New York Alki and Duwamps competed for dominance, but in time Alki was abandoned and its residents moved across the bay to join the rest of the settlers.
Close Up of the Waiting for the Interurban Sculpture
David Swinson ("Doc") Maynard, one of Duwamps's founders, was the primary advocate to rename the village "Seattle" after Chief Sealth ("Seattle") of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. The term, "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. Two years later, after a petition was filed by most of the leading citizens, the Legislature disincorporated the town. In 1867, a young French Canadian Catholic priest named Francis X. Prefontaine arrived in Seattle and decided to establish a parish there. During 1868?69 he built the church by raising the money at fairs in the Puget Sound area and doing much of the work himself, and in 1869 he opened Seattle?s first Catholic church at Third Avenue and Washington Street, on the site where the present-day Prefontaine Building stands. The town of Seattle remained a mere precinct of King County until late 1869 when a new petition was filed and the city was re-incorporated with a Mayor-council government. The corporate seal of the City of Seattle carries the date "1869."
Seattle has a history of boom and bust cycles, as is common to 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.
The first such boom, covering the early years of the city, was fueled by the lumber industry. (During this period the road now known as Yesler Way was nicknamed "Skid Road", after the timber skidding down the hill to Henry Yesler's sawmill. This is considered a possible origin for the term which later entered the wider American lexicon as Skid Row.) Like much of the American West, Seattle saw numerous conflicts between labor and management, as well as ethnic tensions that culminated in the anti-Chinese riots of 1885?1886. This violence was caused by unemployed whites who determined to drive the Chinese from Seattle (anti-Chinese riots also occurred in Tacoma). Martial law was declared, and federal troops were brought in to put down the disorder. Nevertheless, the economic success in the Seattle area was so great 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. This boom was followed by the construction of a park system, designed by the Olmsted brothers' landscape architecture firm. However, the Panic of 1893 hit Seattle hard.
The second and most dramatic boom and bust 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. 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.
A shipbuilding boom in the early part of the 20th century became massive during World War I, making Seattle somewhat of a company town; the subsequent retrenchment led to the Seattle General Strike of 1919, the first general strike in the country. A 1912 city development plan by Virgil Bogue went largely unused. Seattle was mildly prosperous in the 1920s but was particularly hard hit in the Great Depression, experiencing some of the country's harshest labor strife in that era. Violence during the Maritime Strike of 1934 cost Seattle much of its maritime traffic, which was rerouted to the Port of Los Angeles.
Seattle was also the home base of impresario Alexander Pantages who, starting in 1902, opened a number of theaters in the city exhibiting vaudeville acts and silent movies. His activities soon expanded, and the thrifty Greek went on and became one of America's greatest theater and movie tycoons. Between Pantages and his rival John Considine, Seattle was for a while the western United States' vaudeville mecca. B. Marcus Priteca, the Scottish-born and Seattle-based architect, built several theaters for Pantages, including some in Seattle. The theaters he built for Pantages in Seattle have been either demolished or converted to other uses, but many other theaters survive in other cities of the USA, often retaining the Pantages name; Seattle's surviving Paramount Theatre, on which he collaborated, was not a Pantages theater.
Seattle is located between 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 Puget Sound. To the west, beyond 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 Puget Sound through the Lake Washington Ship Canal (consisting of two man-made canals, Lake Union, and the Hiram M. 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. 
Cityscape with Seattle Skyscrapers
The city itself is hilly, though not uniformly so. Like Rome, the city is said to lie on seven hills; the lists vary, but typically include Capitol Hill, First Hill, West Seattle, Beacon Hill, Queen Anne, Magnolia, and the former Denny Hill. The Wallingford, Mount Baker and Crown Hill neighborhoods are technically located on hills as well. Many of the hilliest areas are near the city center, with Capitol Hill, First Hill, and Beacon Hill collectively constituting something of a ridge along an isthmus between Elliott Bay and Lake Washington. The break in the ridge between First Hill and Beacon Hill is man-made, the result of two of the many regrading projects that reshaped the topography of the city center. The topography of the city center was also changed by the construction of a seawall and the artificial Harbor Island (completed 1909) at the mouth of the city's industrial Duwamish Waterway. The highest point within city limits is at High Point in West Seattle, roughly located near 35th Ave SW and SW Myrtle St. Other notable hills include Crown Hill, View Ridge/Wedgwood/Bryant, Maple Leaf, Phinney Ridge, Mt. Baker Ridge, Highlands/Carkeek/Bitterlake.
Due to its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Seattle is in a major earthquake zone. On February 28, 2001, the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually earthquake did significant architectural damage, especially in the Pioneer Square area (built on reclaimed land, as are the Industrial District and part of the city center), but caused no fatalities. Other strong quakes occurred on January 26, 1700 (estimated at 9?magnitude), December 14, 1872 (7.3 or 7.4), April 13, 1949 (7.1), and April 29, 1965 (6.5). The 1949 quake caused eight known deaths, all in Seattle; the 1965 quake caused three deaths in Seattle directly, and one more by heart failure. Although the Seattle Fault passes just south of the city center, neither it nor the Cascadia subduction zone has caused an earthquake since the city's founding. The Cascadia subduction zone poses the threat of an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 or greater, capable of seriously damaging the city and collapsing many buildings, especially in zones built on fill.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 142.5 square miles (369?km2), 83.9 square miles (217?km2) of which is land and 58.7 square miles (152?km2) water (41.16?percent of the total area).
Seattle's climate is usually described as Oceanic or Marine west coast, with fairly mild, wet winters and mild, dry summers. Like much of the Pacific Northwest, according to the K?ppen climate classification it falls within a cool, dry-summer subtropical zone (Csb), with cool-summer Mediterranean characteristics. Other climate classification systems, such as Trewartha, place it firmly in the Oceanic zone (Do).
Temperature extremes are moderated by adjacent Puget Sound, the greater Pacific Ocean, and Lake Washington. The region is largely denied Pacific storms by the Olympic Mountains and Arctic air by the Cascade Range. Despite being on the margin of the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, the city has a misleading reputation for frequent rain. This reputation comes from the frequency of precipitation in the winter. In an average year, more than 0.01 in/0.3?mm of precipitation falls on 150 days. It is cloudy 201 days and partly cloudy 93 days. The location of official weather and climatic records, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, is located about 12?miles south of downtown and records more cloudy days and fewer partly cloudy days per year.
At 944mm (37.17 in.), in reality, the city receives less precipitation annually than New York City (1201 mm, 47.28 in.), Atlanta (1290 mm, 50.79 in.), Boston (1055 mm, 41.53 in.), Baltimore (1038 mm, 40.87 in.), Portland, Maine (1128 mm, 44.41 in.), Jacksonville, Florida (1304 mm, 51.34 in.), and most cities on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. 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 are rare. Seattle reports thunder on just seven days per year For comparison, Fort Myers, Florida reports thunder on 93?days per year Kansas City 52, and New York City 25.
There are occasional downpours. One downpour occurred on December 2?4, 2007, when sustained hurricane-force winds and widespread heavy rainfall associated with a strong "Pineapple Express" event occurred in the greater Puget Sound area and the western parts of Washington and Oregon. People blamed heavy rain and strong winds for several power outages and at least four deaths. Interstate 5 at Chehalis, Washington was flooded and closed for almost two days. Precipitation totals exceeded 14?inches (356?mm) in some areas with winds topping out at 130?mph (209?km/hr) along coastal Oregon.  It became the second wettest event in Seattle history when a little over 5 inches (130?mm) of rain fell on Seattle in a 24?hour period. People claim the rain indirectly led to five deaths and widespread flooding and damage.
Early spring, late fall, and winter usually have many days when it does not rain. Winters are cool and wet with average lows in the mid 30s ?F (2?4??C) on winter nights. Colder weather does sometimes occur. Summers are very dry by comparison and warm, with average daytime highs around near 75 ?F (24??C). Hotter weather occurs during some summer days. Seattle's hottest official recorded temperature was 103 ?F (39??C) on July 29, 2009; the coldest recorded temperature was 0 ?F (-18??C) on January 31, 1950. Eastern suburbs of Seattle, such as Bellevue and Issaquah, are typically even hotter when the temperature soars above 80 ?F (27??C), due to their location closer to downslope winds from the Cascade Mountains and further from Puget Sound; on Seattle's recorded hottest day of July 29, 2009, parts of south Bellevue, Renton and Issaquah peaked at 110 ?F (43??C).
Eighty miles (130?km) to the west, the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park on the western flank of the Olympic Mountains receives an annual average rainfall of 142 inches (361?cm). Sixty miles to the south of Seattle, the state capital Olympia, which is out of the rain shadow, receives an annual average rainfall of 52 inches (132?cm). Seattle typically receives some snowfall on an annual basis but heavy snow is rare. Single-day snowfall of six inches or greater has occurred on only 15 days since 1950, none since 1996. A recent moderate snow event happened from December 12?25, 2008, when over one foot of snow fell and stuck on much of the roads, causing widespread difficulties in a city not equipped for clearing snow. Average annual snowfall, as measured at Sea-Tac Airport, is 8.1 inches (21?cm). Seattle's daily record snowfall is 20 inches (51?cm) on January 13, 1950. The largest snowstorm on record occurred from January 5?9, 1880, with snow drifting to 6 feet (1.8?m) in places at the end of the snow event. From January 31 to February 2, 1916, another heavy snow event occurred with 29 inches (74?cm) of snow on the ground by the time the event was over. A very sunny and dry climate typically dominates from May to late September. An average of 0.8 inches (20?mm) of rain falls in July and 1.0 inch (25?mm) in August. Summer thunderstorms are rare.
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 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 more weather than occasional thunder and small hail showers. The Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm in December 2006 is an exception that brought heavy rain and winds gusting up to 69?mph (111?km/h), not caused by the Puget Sound Convergence Zone.
One of many exceptions to Seattle's reputation as a damp location occurs in El Ni?o years, when marine weather systems track as far south as California and little precipitation falls in the Puget Sound area. Since the region's water comes from mountain snow packs during the dry summer months, El Ni?o winters can not only produce substandard skiing but can result in water rationing and a shortage of hydroelectric power the following summer.
The Space Needle, dating from the Century 21 Exposition (1962), is Seattle's most recognizable landmark, having been featured in the logo of NBA sports team the Seattle SuperSonics, the MLS sports team the "Seattle Sounders", the television show Frasier and the backgrounds of the television series Dark Angel, Grey's Anatomy and iCarly, and films such as It Happened at the World's Fair, Sleepless in Seattle, and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The fairgrounds surrounding the Needle have been converted into Seattle Center, which remains the site of many local civic and cultural events, such as Bumbershoot, Folklife, and the Bite of Seattle. Seattle Center plays multiple roles in the city, ranging from a public fair ground to a civic center, though recent economic losses have called its viability and future into question. The Seattle Center Monorail was also constructed for Century 21 and still runs from Seattle Center to Westlake Center, a downtown shopping mall, a little over a mile to the southeast.
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.
Among Seattle's prominent annual fairs and festivals are the 24-day Seattle International Film Festival, Northwest Folklife over the Memorial Day weekend, numerous Seafair events throughout July and August (ranging from a Bon Odori celebration to the Seafair Cup hydroplane races), the Bite of Seattle, one of the largest Gay Pride festivals in the United States, and the art and music festival Bumbershoot, which programs music as well as other art and entertainment over the Labor Day weekend. All are typically attended by 100,000?people annually, as are the Seattle Hempfest and two separate Independence Day celebrations. In the past, the Gay Pride parade and festival have been centered on Capitol Hill, but since 2006, festivities have been held city-wide, and the parade has followed a route downtown along 4th Avenue from the central shopping district to Seattle Center.
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 (many associated with Fest?l at Seattle Center).
There are other annual events, ranging from the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair & Book Arts Show; an anime convention, Sakura-Con; Penny Arcade Expo, a gaming convention; a two-day, 9,000-rider Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, and specialized film festivals, such as the Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival, the Northwest Asian-American Film Festival, Children's Film Festival Seattle, Translation: the Seattle Transgender Film Festival, and the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
The Henry Art Gallery opened in 1927, the first public art museum in Washington. The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) opened in 1933; SAM opened a museum downtown in 1991 (expanded and reopened 2007); since 1991, the 1933 building has been SAM's Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM). SAM also operates the Olympic Sculpture Park (opened 2007) on the waterfront north of the downtown piers. The Frye Art Museum is a free museum on First Hill. Regional history collections are at the Loghouse Museum in Alki, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, the Museum of History and Industry and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Industry collections are at the Center for Wooden Boats and the adjacent Northwest Seaport, the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, and the Museum of Flight. Regional ethnic collections include the Nordic Heritage Museum, the Wing Luke Asian Museum and the Northwest African American Museum. Seattle has artist-run galleries, including 10-year veteran Soil Art Gallery, and the newer Crawl Space Gallery.
Woodland Park Zoo opened as a private menagerie in 1889, but was sold to the city in 1899. The Seattle Aquarium has been open on the downtown waterfront since 1977 (undergoing a renovation 2006). The Seattle Underground Tour is an exhibit of places that existed before the Great Fire. There are also many community centers for recreation, including Rainier Beach, Van Asselt, Rainier, and Jefferson south of the Ship Canal and Green Lake, Laurelhurst, Loyal Heights north of the Canal, and Meadowbrook.