Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and the fifteenth largest metropolitan area in the United States. Close to 60 percent of Washington residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area. Home of Amazon, Boeing, Bill Gates and the birth of grunge, here are 15 Surprising Facts about Seattle.
Facts about Seattle:
- Seattle’s annual rainfall actually ranks 44th on a list of major US cities. Despite having a reputation as a very rainy and wet city, Seattle’s annual rainfall is less than that of Houston, Memphis, New Orleans New York City and many others. Seattle gets around 38 inches of rain each year.
- Seattle used to be a lot lower. The Great Seattle Fire in 1889 burned over 30 city blocks. The reconstruction saw that part of Seattle was covered over, and the streets were raised 12 feet higher than before, in some places nearly 30 feet. Because much of the fire had destroyed wooden buildings, the city also created an ordinance that new buildings had to be made of brick and concrete.
- There’s a giant troll crushing a Volkswagen living under the George Washington Bridge. A popular story is that the Fremont Troll is related to the Three Billy Goats Gruff fairytale. In reality, this structure was actually created by Seattle artists Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter and Ross Whitehead after the Fremont Arts Council launched an art competition to rehabilitate the space under the bridge which had become a haven for drug dealers and the homeless. Made of steel rebar, concrete, and wire, the troll was made in 1990 and has guarded his bridge ever since.
- Seattle has the largest houseboat population in the United States. In fact, outside of Asia, Seattle has the highest population of people living on houseboats in the world with more than 500 residences on boats. Oh and in case you were wondering, the houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle sold for more than $2 million.
- Seattle has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050. In 2013, the Seattle City Council adopted a resolution to reduce Seattle’s net green house gas emissions level to zero by 2050. The city is well on its way with Seattle City Light (which powers 90 percent of Seattle via hydroelectricity) having a zero carbon footprint.
- The city of Seattle is ranked as one of the top literate city in the USA. Rankings are determined by reading habits and resources and resources such as number of bookstores, the population’s education attainment, newspaper circulation, and library resources. Seattle has the highest percentage of residents that hold at least a college degree and the Seattle Public Library (spl.org) has the highest percentage of library card-holders (per capita) in the entire Unites States.
- When the Space Needle was built in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair, it was built in just 400 days. The structure was inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany. When it was built, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. The Space Needle can withstand winds of up to 200 mph and a 9.1 magnitude earthquake with a foundation which extends 30 feet underground. In May of 2018, the Needle completed its most expensive renovation in its history. The 605-foot tower’s saucer-shaped deck has been fitted with 48 glass walls that lean out over the city, reclining glass benches and a rotating glass floor and a lounge.
- That same World’s Fair had an adult entertainment portion called “Show Street”. Attractions included the topless “Girls of the Galaxy”, aa Vegas-style floor show and Sid and Marty Krofft’s adults-only puppet show
- Seattle boasts the second most glass-blowing studios of any city in the world. Second in the world only to the island of Murano near Venice, Italy. World renown Seattleite glass sculptor and founder of the Pilchuck Glass School, was the first person to be proclaimed a “Living National Treasure” by president George Bush in 1992.
- The first workers strike in the United States occurred in Seattle. The 1919 Seattle General Strike was the first general strike in the United States where 60,000 shipyard employees walked off the job.
- Seattle’s ‘Gum Wall’ is packed several inches thick, 15 feet high for 50 feet with gum. The Market Theater Gum Wall had gathered gum since the early 1990s. It was named one of the top 5 germiest tourist attractions in the world in 2009. In 2015, the wall was steam cleaned down to its original brick. The work took 130 hours and 2,350 pounds of gum were scraped away.
- Pike’s Place Market is the oldest continuously-running public farmers’ market in the country. First opened in, 1907, Pike’s Place is considered the oldest continuously-running public farmer’s market in the United States.
- Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain. The original Starbucks sold coffee in 8 oz cups. Eventually they added the 12 oz and the 16 oz and discontinued the 8 oz while adding the 24 oz and finally the 30 oz Trenta. The Trenta’s capacity is 916 milliliters which is slightly bigger than that of your stomach.
- The Washington State Ferry System is the largest in the United States. It’s also the third largest in the world, carrying more than 25 million passengers each year. Colman Dock (aka Pier 52) is the busiest ferry terminal in the country.
- It was the first major American city to have a female mayor. Elected in 1926, Bertha Landes was the first female mayor of Seattle, and of any U.S. city (six years after American women won the right to vote). Seattle wouldn’t have another female mayor until Jenny Durkan was elected Mayor of Seattle in 2017, becoming its first female mayor since the 1920s and the city’s second consecutive openly LGBT elected mayor.
If you liked these facts about Seattle, check out out these facts about Paris.