For thousands of years, the coastal First Peoples lived in abundance along the shorelines that now surround Elliott Bay and the city of Seattle. The city is named for Chief Sealth. A respected local elder, Chief Sealth befriended the first non-native settlers, including the Denny party who arrived in 1851.
Logging of the great forests surrounding Elliott Bay commenced almost immediately upon arrival of the first white pioneers, who began to supply the building demands of the city of San Francisco and other developments along the west coast. This was Seattle’s first link to becoming a key import and export arena along the Pacific Rim. By the time gold was discovered in Alaska in the late 1800s, Seattle became the foremost launching pad and supply center for gold and adventure seekers bound for the “Last Frontier” of the Alaskan wilderness.
Today, Seattle’s multi-cultural population is approximately 652,000. Lumber and other exports are still important to the regional economy, as is the pioneering spirit that fostered the development and success of high-tech companies such as Microsoft and Boeing. Take a stroll along the Emerald City’s bustling waterfront and see a grand mixture of old wooden piers now housing restaurants, the Seattle Aquarium and the like with a view of the modern shipping docks in the background. Soak in the surrounding natural beauty of Mt. Rainier, rising to a height of 14,411 feet, and the Olympic Mountains to the west across Elliott Bay. Green and white Washington State Ferries constantly ply the southern Salish Sea (aka Puget Sound) to and from outlying water-bound areas.
The 1962 World’s Fair icon, the Space Needle, touches the skies at 600 feet. Have a meal in the Needle’s revolving restaurant and gain a spectacular 360-degree view in an hour. In its early days, the restaurant revolved faster—but that didn’t work so well for the diner’s digestion! Sip a latte in the heart of coffee culture at Pike Place Market and watch the "flying fish" while inhaling the colorful array of fresh-cut flowers, fruits, and vegetables and browsing local artisan stalls. Visit Seattle’s first neighborhood, Pioneer Square, with historical brick buildings brimming with art galleries, boutiques, and diverse restaurants.
Seattleites are distinguished as the number one readers in the U.S. Although some may attribute that statistic to Seattle’s rainy reputation, this city actually receives only about 35 inches of rain annually—less than all the major cities on the Eastern seaboard! That is because the Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula absorb much of the moisture from the Pacific before it reaches Seattle. The marine air does moderate the temperature in Seattle and is cause for days of overcast skies—thus its reputation for rain. Seattle enjoys about 16 hours of daylight in the summer and 16 hours of darkness in the winter.