Seattle Kerry Park Skyline.jpg
Aerial Lake Union June 2012.jpg
Pike Place Market 1.jpg
Seattle 509 2019.jpg
From top: the city from Queen Anne Hill, Lake Union, Pike Place Market, and the downtown skyline from State Route 509
The Emerald City, Jet City, Rain City
The City of Flowers, The City of Goodwill
Location within King County
Location within King County
Seattle is located in Washington (state)
Location within the State of Washington
Seattle is located in the United States
Location within the United States
Seattle is located in North America
Location within North America
Coordinates: 47°36′35″N 122°19′59″W / 47°36′35″N 122°19′59″W / 47.60972; -122.33306UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code206
FIPS code53-63000
GNIS feature ID1512650[8] Edit this at Wikidata

Seattle (əl/ (About this soundlisten) AT-əl) is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 744,955 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area's population stands at 3.94 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States.[9] In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States[10] and remained in the top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%.[11] In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate.[12] Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.

The city is situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canada–United States border. A major gateway for trade with Asia, Seattle is the fourth-largest port in North America in terms of container handling as of 2015.[13]

The Seattle area was inhabited by Native Americans for at least 4,000 years before the first permanent European settlers.[14] Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, arrived from Illinois via Portland, Oregon, on the schooner Exact at Alki Point on November 13, 1851.[15] The settlement was moved to the eastern shore of Elliott Bay and named "Seattle" in 1852, in honor of Chief Si'ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Today, Seattle has high populations of Native, Scandinavian, Asian American, African American, as well as a thriving LGBT community that ranks 6th in the United States for population.[16]

Logging was Seattle's first major industry, but by the late 19th century, the city had become a commercial and shipbuilding center as a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. Growth after World War II was partially due to the local Boeing company, which established Seattle as a center for aircraft manufacturing. The Seattle area developed into a technology center from the 1980s onwards with companies like Microsoft becoming established in the region; Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a Seattleite by birth. Internet retailer Amazon was founded in Seattle in 1994, and major airline Alaska Airlines is based in SeaTac, Washington, serving Seattle's international airport, Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. The stream of new software, biotechnology, and Internet companies led to an economic revival, which increased the city's population by almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000. Owing largely to its rapidly increasing population in the 21st century, Seattle and the state of Washington have some of the highest minimum wages in the country, at $15 per hour for smaller businesses and $16 for the city's largest employers.[17]

Seattle has a noteworthy musical history. From 1918 to 1951, nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs existed along Jackson Street, from the current Chinatown/International District to the Central District. The jazz scene nurtured the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson, and others. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock musician Jimi Hendrix, as well as the origin of the bands Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters and the alternative rock movement grunge.[18]



Archaeological excavations suggest that Native Americans have inhabited the Seattle area for at least 4,000 years.[14] By the time the first European settlers arrived, the people (subsequently called the Duwamish tribe) occupied at least seventeen villages in the areas around Elliott Bay.[19][20][21]

The first European to visit the Seattle area was George Vancouver, in May 1792 during his 1791–95 expedition for the British Navy to chart the Pacific Northwest.[22] 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.[23] Thirteen days later, members of the Collins Party on the way to their claim passed three scouts of the Denny Party.[24] Members of the Denny Party claimed land on Alki Point on September 28, 1851.[25] The rest of the Denny Party set sail from Portland, Oregon, and landed on Alki point during a rainstorm on November 13, 1851.[25]

Duwamps 1852–1853

After a difficult winter, most of the Denny Party relocated across Elliott Bay and claimed land a second time at the site of present-day Pioneer Square,[25] naming this new settlement Duwamps.

Charles Terry and John Low remained at the original landing location and reestablished their old land claim and called it "New York", but renamed "New York Alki" in April 1853, from a Chinook word meaning, roughly, "by and by" or "someday".[26]

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.[27]

David Swinson "Doc" Maynard, one of the founders of Duwamps, was the primary advocate to name the settlement after Chief Si'ahl (Lushootseed: siʔaɫ, anglicized as "Seattle") of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes.[28][29][30] A modern transliteration of the original Coast Salish settlements around Elliott Bay is rendered in Lushootseed as dᶻidᶻəlal̓ič.[31]


The name "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. The Town of Seattle was disincorporated on January 18, 1867, and remained a mere precinct of King County until late 1869, when a new petition was filed and the city was re-incorporated December 2, 1869, with a mayor–council government.[25][32] The corporate seal of the City of Seattle carries the date "1869" and a likeness of Chief Si'ahl in left profile.[33]

Timber town

Pioneering Seattle photographer Theodore Peiser captured an image of this painting of early Seattle

Seattle has a history of boom-and-bust cycles, like many other 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.[34]

Seattle's first streetcar, at the corner of Occidental and Yesler, 1884. All of the buildings visible in this picture were destroyed by fire five years later.

The first such boom, covering the early years of the city, rode on the lumber industry. (During this period the road now known as Yesler Way won the nickname "Skid Road," supposedly after the timber skidding down the hill to Henry Yesler's sawmill. The later dereliction of the area may be a possible origin for the term which later entered the wider American lexicon as Skid Row.)[35] 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.[36] This violence originated with unemployed whites who were determined to drive the Chinese from Seattle (anti-Chinese riots also occurred in Tacoma). In 1900, Asians were 4.2% of the population.[37] Authorities declared martial law and federal troops arrived to put down the disorder.

Seattle had achieved sufficient economic success that when the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 destroyed the central business district, a far grander city-center rapidly emerged in its place.[38] Finance company Washington Mutual, for example, was founded in the immediate wake of the fire.[39] However, the Panic of 1893 hit Seattle hard.[40]

Gold Rush, World War I, and the Great Depression

The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition had just over 3.7 million visitors during its 138-day run[41]
Bird's-eye view of Seattle and King County from 1891[42]

The second and most dramatic boom 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.[43] 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.[39] Seattle brought in the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm to design a system of parks and boulevards.[44]

Pioneer Square in 1917 featuring the Smith Tower, the Seattle Hotel and to the left the Pioneer Building

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.[45]

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.[46] 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.[47]

The Great Depression in Seattle affected many minority groups, one being the Asian Pacific Americans; they were subject to racism, loss of property, and failed claims of unemployment due to citizenship status.[48]

Seattle was one of the major cities that benefited from programs such as the WPA, CCC, UCL, and PWA.[49][50] The workers, mostly men, built roads, parks, dams, schools, railroads, bridges, docks, and even historical and archival record sites and buildings. However, Seattle faced massive unemployment, loss of lumber and construction industries as Los Angeles prevailed as the bigger West Coast city. Seattle had building contracts that rivaled New York City and Chicago, but lost to LA as well. Seattle's eastern farm land faded due to Oregon's and the Midwest's, forcing people into town.[51][52]

The famous Hooverville arose during the Depression, leading to Seattle's growing homeless population. Stationed outside Seattle, the Hooverville housed thousands of men but very very few children and no women. With work projects close to the city, Hooverville grew and the WPA settled into the city.[53]

A movement by women arose from Seattle during the Depression. Fueled by Eleanor Roosevelt's book It's Up to the Women, women pushed for recognition, not just as housewives, but as the backbone to family. Using newspapers and journals Working Woman and The Woman Today, women pushed to be seen as equal and receive some recognition.[54]

Seattle's University of Washington was greatly affected during the Depression era. As schools across Washington lost funding and attendance, the UW actually prospered during the time period. While Seattle public schools were influenced by Washington's superintendent Worth McClure,[55] they still struggled to pay teachers and maintain attendance. The UW, despite academic challenges that plagued the college due to differing views on teaching and learning, focused on growth in student enrollment rather than improving the existing school.[56]

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 U.S., often retaining the Pantages name; Seattle's surviving Paramount Theatre, on which he collaborated, was not a Pantages theater.

Post-war years: aircraft and software

Building the Seattle Center Monorail, 1961. Looking north up Fifth Avenue from Virginia Street.

War work again brought local prosperity during World War II, this time centered on Boeing aircraft. The war dispersed the city's numerous Japanese-American businessmen due to the Japanese American internment. After the war, the local economy dipped. It rose again with Boeing's growing dominance in the commercial airliner market.[57] Seattle celebrated its restored prosperity and made a bid for world recognition with the Century 21 Exposition, the 1962 World's Fair, for which the iconic Space Needle was built.[58] Another major local economic downturn was in the late 1960s and early 1970s, at a time when Boeing was heavily affected by the oil crises, loss of Government contracts, and costs and delays associated with the Boeing 747. Many people left the area to look for work elsewhere, and two local real estate agents put up a billboard reading "Will the last person leaving Seattle – Turn out the lights."[59]

Seattle remained the corporate headquarters of Boeing until 2001, when the company separated its headquarters from its major production facilities; the headquarters were moved to Chicago.[60] The Seattle area is still home to Boeing's Renton narrow-body plant (where the 707, 720, 727, and 757 were assembled, and the 737 is assembled today) and Everett wide-body plant (assembly plant for the 747, 767, 777, and 787). The company's credit union for employees, BECU, remains based in the Seattle area, though it is now open to all residents of Washington.

As prosperity began to return in the 1980s, the city was stunned by the Wah Mee massacre in 1983, when 13 people were killed in an illegal gambling club in the Seattle Chinatown-International District.[61] Beginning with Microsoft's 1979 move from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to nearby Bellevue, Washington,[62] Seattle and its suburbs became home to a number of technology companies including, F5 Networks, RealNetworks, Nintendo of America, McCaw Cellular (now part of AT&T Mobility), VoiceStream (now T-Mobile), and biomedical corporations such as HeartStream (later purchased by Philips), Heart Technologies (later purchased by Boston Scientific), Physio-Control (later purchased by Medtronic), ZymoGenetics, ICOS (later purchased by Eli Lilly and Company) and Immunex (later purchased by Amgen). This success brought an influx of new residents with a population increase within city limits of almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000,[63] and saw Seattle's real estate become some of the most expensive in the country.[64] In 1993, the movie Sleepless in Seattle brought the city further national attention,[65] as did the television sitcom Frasier. The dot-com boom caused a great frenzy among the technology companies in Seattle but the bubble ended in early 2001.[66][67]

Seattle in this period attracted widespread attention as home to these many companies, but also by hosting the 1990 Goodwill Games[68] and the APEC leaders conference in 1993, as well as through the worldwide popularity of grunge, a sound that had developed in Seattle's independent music scene.[69] Another bid for worldwide attention—hosting the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999—garnered visibility, but not in the way its sponsors desired, as related protest activity and police reactions to those protests overshadowed the conference itself.[70] The city was further shaken by the Mardi Gras Riots in 2001, and then literally shaken the following day by the Nisqually earthquake.[71]

Another boom began as the city emerged from the Great Recession which commenced when moved its headquarters from North Beacon Hill to South Lake Union. This initiated a historic construction boom which resulted in the completion of almost 10,000 apartments in Seattle in 2017, which is more than any previous year and nearly twice as many as were built in 2016.[72][73] Beginning in 2010, and for the next five years, Seattle gained an average of 14,511 residents per year, with the growth strongly skewed toward the center of the city,[74] as unemployment dropped from roughly 9 percent to 3.6 percent.[75] The city has found itself "bursting at the seams", with over 45,000 households spending more than half their income on housing and at least 2,800 people homeless, and with the country's sixth-worst rush hour traffic.[75]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Seattle
አማርኛ: ስያትል
العربية: سياتل
asturianu: Seattle
azərbaycanca: Sietl
تۆرکجه: سیاتل
bamanankan: Seattle
বাংলা: সিয়াটল
Bân-lâm-gú: Seattle
башҡортса: Сиэтл
беларуская: Сіэтл
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сіетл
български: Сиатъл
bosanski: Seattle
català: Seattle
Cebuano: Seattle
čeština: Seattle
corsu: Seattle
Cymraeg: Seattle
dansk: Seattle
Deutsch: Seattle
eesti: Seattle
Ελληνικά: Σιάτλ
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Seattle
español: Seattle
Esperanto: Seatlo
euskara: Seattle
فارسی: سیاتل
føroyskt: Seattle
français: Seattle
Frysk: Seattle
galego: Seattle
贛語: 西雅圖
Gĩkũyũ: Seattle
𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌹𐍃𐌺: 𐍃𐌴𐌹𐌰𐌹𐍄𐌻
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Seattle
한국어: 시애틀
Hausa: Seattle
հայերեն: Սիեթլ
हिन्दी: सीऐटल
Ido: Seattle
Igbo: Seattle
Ilokano: Seattle
Bahasa Indonesia: Seattle
interlingua: Seattle
Ирон: Сиэтл
íslenska: Seattle
italiano: Seattle
עברית: סיאטל
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಸಿಯಾಟಲ್
Kapampangan: Seattle, Washington
ქართული: სიეტლი
қазақша: Сиэтл
kernowek: Seattle
Kreyòl ayisyen: Seattle, Washington
кырык мары: Сиэтл
Ladino: Seattle
Latina: Seattlum
latviešu: Sietla
Lëtzebuergesch: Seattle
lietuvių: Sietlas
magyar: Seattle
македонски: Сиетл
Malagasy: Seattle
Māori: Seattle
मराठी: सिअ‍ॅटल
მარგალური: სიეტლი
مصرى: سياتل
Bahasa Melayu: Seattle
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Seattle
монгол: Сиэтл
Nederlands: Seattle
Nedersaksies: Seattle
日本語: シアトル
нохчийн: Сиэтл
norsk: Seattle
norsk nynorsk: Seattle
occitan: Seattle
Oromoo: Siyaatil
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Sietl
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਸੀਐਟਲ
پنجابی: سیاٹل
Papiamentu: Seattle
پښتو: سیاتل
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ស៊ីតថល
Picard: Seattle
Piemontèis: Seattle
Plattdüütsch: Seattle
polski: Seattle
português: Seattle
română: Seattle
русский: Сиэтл
саха тыла: Сиэтл
sardu: Seattle
Scots: Seattle
shqip: Siatëll
sicilianu: Seattle
Simple English: Seattle
slovenčina: Seattle
slovenščina: Seattle, Washington
ślůnski: Seattle
Soomaaliga: Seattle
Sranantongo: Seattle
српски / srpski: Сијетл
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Seattle
suomi: Seattle
svenska: Seattle
Taqbaylit: Seattle
татарча/tatarça: Сиэтл
తెలుగు: సియాటెల్
Türkçe: Seattle
Twi: Seattle
українська: Сіетл
اردو: سیئٹل
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: Séatl
vèneto: Seattle
vepsän kel’: Sietl
Tiếng Việt: Seattle
Volapük: Seattle
Winaray: Seattle
吴语: 西雅图
ייִדיש: סיאטל
Yorùbá: Seattle
粵語: 西雅圖
中文: 西雅圖