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Cupped between the jagged Olympic Mountains to the west, and the volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range to the east with snowcapped Mount Rainier standing the tallest at 14,411 feet, Seattle is nestled on a narrow strip of land between Puget Sound and eighteen mile long Lake Washington. Just to the north of downtown, the city is split by a system of locks and ship canal that feed into Lake Union and Lake Washington from Puget Sound. Seattle's mild winters and cool summers work together to make the city lush and green, earning it the nickname, "The Emerald City".

Seattle's moderate climate encourage a wealth of year round outdoor activities. Sailing, kayaking, rowing, scuba diving, roller blading, jogging, bicycling, and golf are all available within the city limits. If that's not enough, less than an hour's drive will take you to whale watching, fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and skiing.

There are a lot of sights and places to visit in Seattle. On the Elliot Bay waterfront, attractions abound with a variety of shops, restaurants, sightseeing vessels, restored streetcars, and parks. Nearby the waterfront is Pike Place Market, the nation's oldest continually operating farmer's market, which features a maze of booths offering everything from fresh produce to fine art. A few blocks south of Pike Place Market is Pioneer Square, the city's oldest district, which features sidewalk cafes, art galleries, antique shops, boutiques, nightclubs, restaurants, and parks. On the north end of the city is Seattle Center, a 74-arce complex built for the 1962 World's Fair, which features several attractions including Seattle's crowning landmark, the Space Needle.


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Seattle was settled relatively late in the history of the US. In 1851 five pioneer families from Illinois settled at Alki Point, but soon moved to the more sheltered eastern side Elliott Bay, where downtown is today. The city was incorporated in 1869. Twenty years later, in 1889, the city was devastated in the Great Seattle Fire, in which the entire business district burned to the ground in one day. Sanitary concerns were behind the building of another better business district on top of the old, with the result that a subterranean Seattle exists in the Pioneer Square district. This can be explored on the Underground Tour - one of the city's most popular tours. With the arrival of the Great Northern Railway in 1893, the city grew rapidly as a main rail terminus. Its first economic boom came in the 1890s, as the last US departure point for those chasing the Klondike Gold Rush. It continued to prosper as a major Pacific port with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. In 1962, Seattle hosted the World's Fair, for which the futuristic Space Needle was built.

In the past few decades, Seattle has quietly grown from a far-flung port city not registering on too many radar screens, to being nationally recognized as one of the most livable cities in the US. This recognition is based on criteria such as a critical mass of advanced technology, diverse economic sectors such as agriculture, services, manufacturing and international trade, superior educational and health care, (First Hill just east of downtown has been nicknamed "Pill Hill" due to the number of medical facilities crowded onto its slopes), public safety, a well-educated work force, quality of life and the international outlook of its people. The popularity of Seattle's natural and cultural amenities, that so epitomize the attraction of the Northwest, see the city now faced with the challenge of preserving its livability under the pressure of increasing residential and tourist populations.

Perhaps because it is the largest city in Washington State, visitors sometimes think it is also the capital, however the state's capital is actually the nearby city of Olympia. Seattle is the seat of King County.

Seattle is a major port city for trans-Pacific and European trade. The Port of Seattle is the fifth largest container port in the United States and the 25th largest in the world. You can see heavily laden container ships with exotic ensigns making their way through Elliot Bay transporting some of the $36 billion worth of products that cross the Port's docks each year. A drive across the West Seattle Bridge places you above Elliott Bay's Harbor Island for an aerial view of all this shipping and transportation activity. The Southern approach to the city center via US Highway 99 passes through the area and is so lined with shipping containers that the area appears to be like some kind of anteroom for downtown’s commerce. The Port also owns and operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport; Fishermen's Terminal and Marine Industrial Center; Shilshole Bay Marina and the Bell Street Pier. The Bell Street Pier is an 11-acre complex on the western edge of downtown that includes an international conference center, marina, cruise ship berths, shops and restaurants. It is an attraction in itself.

Seattle has the cosmopolitan outlook of a port city with its strong civic, cultural and personal relationships abroad. It is open to new influences and perhaps first landing site for those seeking adventure, or starting a new life. Seattle has a long established gay community, and boasts the nation’s longest running gay bar, the oldest lesbian resource center, the oldest gay counseling service, and the second richest foundation devoted to gay issues. Despite a cosmopolitan outlook, Seattle remains unpretentious, and even low-key. Folks who wear jeans to work, and prefer backpacks to briefcases are also those who appreciate the finer things in life, and are open to new influences in food and art.

The international fame of grunge bands Nirvana, Pearl Jam (and Soundgarden), the location of the grave of Jimi Hendrix are perhaps the first aspects of art and culture that come to mind. A fertile local music scene is enhanced by regular appearances from acclaimed artists in rock, jazz and classical music. Seattle boasts a large population of artists, supported in part by an innovative public arts funding program. For example, since1973 it has been a legal requirement that one percent of city capital improvement project funds (such as building a skyscraper) be spent on artworks. Year-round you will find something to sample from Seattle’s rich cultural scene from museums to art galleries to the performing arts. Seattle has professional symphony, ballet, opera companies and an active theatre community with 80 companies, 13 of which are professional.

Seattle has been ranked as one of the best U.S. cities in which to locate a business. A number of high profile companies have helped place Seattle on the map and no doubt also helped to attract people from diverse backgrounds to the area. Headquartered in Seattle, Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon.com have shown that hi-tech mixes well with national forest. Boeing is the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world and consistently one of the top three exporters in the United States.

Microsoft is the world’s leading personal computer software company, but is only one of 2,500 software development firms in the state. Biotechnology also contributes to a healthy economy, and large retail employers include Nordstroms and Costco. Compared with other parts of the U.S., the cost of living is relatively high in Seattle and visitors might notice this in the cost of accommodations and restaurant meals. (Read more about the Pacific Northwest's economy...)

Another business which has become an icon of Seattle is Starbucks. With its string of cafes across the nation, and on every second corner in Seattle, Starbucks has fostered the ultimate in individualized consumerism within a tasteful, if homogenized setting. Go there just to listen to its customers place their orders as you ponder what percent fat to have in your milk, the temperature of the water, the size of cup, how many slugs of caffeine…

Other Seattle Information:

  • TRANSPORTATION INFORMATION - Carpooling, Traffic, Bus, Washington State Ferries, Monorail, Waterfront Street Car, Airport Information, Shuttles, Train Information, Taxis, Farwest Cabs, Limousine Services.

     
  • SEATTLE HOSPITALS /SEATTLE SHOPPING CENTER

     
  • SEATTLE RECREATION / AMUSEMENT


    Climate Information:


    No, it does not rain all the time in Seattle. Many large cities on the USA east coast (i.e., Atlanta, New York, Washington D.C.) receive more annual precipitation than Seattle. However, when it stops raining in these east coast cities, the sky clears. In Seattle, when it stops raining, the sky stays overcast. The rain in Seattle is usually a light or fine misty rain. The normal average annual precipitation total for Seattle is 37.19 inches.

    Summers in Seattle are usually warm, dry, and sunny, with long days and cool nights. The driest time of year in Seattle is the last half of July and the first half of August. During this time period, Seattle will often go ten, twenty, or thirty days without any measurable precipitation. The warm, mild weather often continues into fall, with cooler temperatures at night --- the rainy season in Seattle doesn't officially begin until October 1. Winter is the wettest season in Seattle. Spring in Seattle is mild and green, but it can be very wet at times.




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