Facts about Seattle: 51 Mind-boggling Facts That Proves Seattle Is the Best in the West

Being home to spectacular nature parks, sparkling waterfronts, shopping and dining smorgasbords, bustling cityscapes, coastal ventures and invigorating nightlife, Seattle is the pride of Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest. While stunning marvels like Space Needle, Starbucks and the birth of grunge music largely define Seattle, fascinating facts like Seattle was once called New York and is built atop the ruins of an ancient city or that the city is due for a major earthquake are lesser known.

Downtown Seattle
Here are some riveting facts about Seattle related to history, architecture, geography, environment, economy, politics, entertainment and food that will leave you in awe:

50 Mind-boggling Facts about Seattle

A. General Facts about Seattle

Stunning Architecture at Seattle Public Library
1. Despite having infamous rainy weather in winter, Seattle receives less annual rainfall then New York, Atlanta, Boston and Houston.

2. Seattlites are quite cultured. It is ranked as the most literary city in the US with the highest percentage of citizens with a college degree or higher. 80% citizens also hold a Library Card, higher than anywhere in the country.

3. Seattle is the third fastest growing metropolitan city in America, with more than 15,000 residents added over the last year.

4. Seattle has several nicknames like Emerald City, Jewel of the Northwest and Future Queen City of the Pacific.

5. Apart from White, native and African Americans, Seattle has a large number of Asian Americans, Hispanic, Latino and Pacific Islanders living in it.

B. Historical Facts About Seattle

History of Seattle, 1884
 6. Seattle was originally called New York. When members of the ragtag group, Denny Party hailing from New York State settled at Alki Point in 1851, they decided to name today’s West Seattle as “New York”. After Denny Party moved to Elliot Bay, a Duwamish Indian chief renamed the territory.

7. Seattle was the only area in the Pacific Northwest that was inhabited since at least 4,000 years before it was found. The first European to visit Seattle and chart the city was George Vancouver.

8. Seattle was rebuilt by citizens in 1889 over the remnants of The Great Seattle Fire disaster. The entire central commercial district burned down in this disaster, which started when a woodworker mishandled hot glue. The fumes claimed many lives and reduced 116 acres to ash.

Production of B17 Heavy Bomber Planes at the Boeing Company
9. The Boeing Company opened first in Seattle’s Lake Union as a boat company and shipyard. William Boeing took interest in aviation only later during World War I and built several airplanes that the world still uses today.

10. The name Seattle is derived from the Suquamish word “Sealth”, the language of the first white settlers who arrived in 1851.

11. The city is home to America’s first ever gas station, a Standard Oil station opened in 1907 at Western Avenue and Holgate Street.

12. Seattle’s first millionaire was Henry Yesler, a sawmill operator who amassed a fortune more than a million. He was elected mayor twice in his lifetime.

C. Architectural Facts About Seattle

Space Needle Dominating the Seattle Skyline
 13. Seattle Harbor Island is the largest man-made island in the U.S.

14. The iconic 600-foot-tall Space Needle is artist Edward E. Carlson’s brainchild, who designed the tower on a cocktail napkin. Built in just 400 days, the structure withstands up to 200 mph of wind speed and 9.1 magnitude earthquakes, thanks to the underground base extending up to 30 feet. Also, there are 848 steps in the main staircase.

15. Space Needle is family owned. This means that if the Wright family wants to move it someday, they can.

16. Bullitt Center in Seattle is the greenest commercial building in the world.

17. Seattle is home to the world’s first revolving restaurant, built in 1961 atop Space Needle.

Harbor Island, Seattle
18. The Albert D. Rosellini bridge connecting Seattle and Medina over Lake Washington is the world’s longest floating bridge while I-90, connecting Seattle to Mercer Island is the world’s first floating bridge.

19. Seattle has the largest numbers of houseboats in the country, with folks willing to spend millions for living on water. The houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle sold for USD 2 million.

20. Pier 52 in Seattle is the busiest ferry terminal in the United States.

Fremont Troll, Seattle
21. Fremont Troll is a giant, 18-foot-tall ole living under Aurora Bridge. The 30-year-old shiny concrete troll with an uncovered eye is crushing a Volkswagen Beetle under his palm. Artist Steve Badanes built this local sensation.

22. Seattle has the second most glass-blowing studios and glass art centers in the world, behind Murano in Italy.

D. Geographical and Environmental Facts About Seattle

Emmons Glacier, Mt. Rainier
 23. Mt. Rainier in Seattle is home to 25 glaciers including the Emmons Glacier, a 4-mile radius behemoth which is the largest glacier in the United States.

24. Seattle is due for a major earthquake between magnitudes 6.8 and 9 in the next fifty years. The Cascadia fault line running through the city erupted last in 1700.

25. Discovery Park in Seattle is built over the historic Fort Lawton and the military still use parts of the park. There is an abandoned crematorium in the park concealed off to the public.

26. Seattle has pledged to go completely carbon neutral by 2050.
27. Seattle City Light is a publicly owned utility, powering 90% of the city with hydroelectricity. It has zero carbon footprint.

28. Seattle is the only city in the US that grows all 5 major species of oysters, the most grown ones being Pacific Oysters.

29. A giant drill named Bertha is currently digging its way underground in Seattle. It is a part of the controversial project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Bertha got stuck against enormous steep pipes after completing only 10% of its journey to the State Highway 99. Bertha’s gigantic cutterhead weighing 4 million pounds was removed in 2013, allowing it to dig further.

E. Facts About Seattle’s Economy and Politics

Museum Archives - Transportation of Timber to Seattle
 30. The Klondike Gold Rush was Seattle’s greatest economic boom after gold was discovered in August 1896. Seattle was established as a midpoint for transportation of gold to and from Alaska and Yukon.

31. The timber industry shaped Seattle’s economy largely when early arriving developers completely converted an entire forest of 1,000 year old trees into 400 log cuts, shipped to San Francisco.

32. During World War II, Seattle was the base camp and departure station for many soldiers deployed to the Pacific. They were quartered at Golden Gardens Park with food supply from today’s Western Avenue.

The 1919 Seattle General Strike
33. The first ever city in the US to elect a female mayor was Seattle. Bertha Knight Landes was elected mayor in 1926 just after women earned voting rights.

34. The 1919 Seattle General Strike was America’s first ever strike when 60,000 shipyard workers quit their jobs.

F. Entertainment Facts About Seattle

Seattle Seahawks, 2014
 35. Even though Seattle is destined for an earthquake in the future, tremors you feel now might mean there is a Seahawks game going on. Fans of Seattle’s largest football team are known for their enthusiasm and have been awarded the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium" of 137.6 decibels!

36. Seattle is the incubator for legendary music artists and bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Macklemore, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, Kenny G., Heart and Sir Mix-a-Lot also started their careers in Seattle.

37. Seattle was the very first US city to play the Beatles on radio.

38. Bruce and Brandon Lee lived in Seattle and are buried at Capitol Hill.

Science Fiction Museum, Seattle
39. There is a spooky, docent-led Underground Tour which takes visitors along the remnants of sidewalks and storefronts that existed before the Great Seattle Fire. It begins and ends in a refurbished vintage salon.

40. Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet has the highest per capita attendance in the world.

41. Local video game companies earn a large share of Seattle’s revenue. Microsoft, Nintendo, Pokemon, Sucker Punch Productions, PopCap Games and Monolith Productions have headquarters in Seattle.

42. Seattle’s biggest hipster trend is pinball. The city has a museum, heritage league play and a plethora of bars stuffed with pinball machines.

G. Gastronomical Facts About Seattle

World's First Starbucks in Seattle, circa 1912
 43. Seattle in the birthplace of Starbucks, the largest coffee chain worldwide. The original starbucks at Pike Place Market sells a unique cup found only in Seattle.

44. Seattle’s most popular dish is Vietnamese Pho, with restaurants like Pho 99, Pho Bac and Pho Ba flanked across the city.

45. Last decade, Cream cheese hotdog, aka Seattle Hotdog ranked as the most sold food item in the city.

Entrance to Pike Place Market, Seattle
46. Teriyaki, flying dodging fish at Pike Place Market, geoduck and shellfish are Seattle’s comfort food.

47. Pike Place Market in Seattle is America’s oldest running farmers market. When prices of onions and local produce skyrocketed in 1906, civic leaders and consumers blamed middlemen and wholesalers. In August 1907, the public market opened for business where people could buy directly from farmers.

Seattle Dogs

More Fun Facts About Seattle

Police with Bikes in Seattle
 48. Seattle was America’s first city to have police on bicycles.

49. People in Seattle purchase more sunglasses per capita than any other American city. Citizens reason this strange phenomenon by claiming it is to thwart sun glare off of wet roads.

50. There are more dogs living in Seattle than humans. According to census, many of their owners are fantasy geeks. Pet names like Daenarys, Frodo and Mr Meowgi are common in Seattle.

51. The first ever UFO sighting supposedly took place in Seattle’s Mt. Rainier. Seattle is also the home to the National UFO Reporting Center for having the highest number of UFO sightings per capita rate than other states.

Do you know any other surprising facts about Seattle? Let us know in the comments below.

This post was published by Koushiki Kundu

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