105 Interesting Facts About Seattle, the Emerald City

The Space Needle and downtown Seattle at night

Seattle is well known for its rainy weather and café culture, and it is the birthplace of grunge music. Find out what else the Coffee Capital of the World is famous for with these fun and interesting facts about Seattle. Also, read these fun facts about Washington, the state where Seattle is located.

General Seattle Facts

  • Seattle is the largest city in the US state of Washington, but it is not the state’s capital—that would be Olympia.
  • With 733,919 residents, Seattle is the 18th largest city in the United States, putting it between San Francisco and Denver in terms of population.
  • The Greater Seattle Area, which includes Tacoma and Bellevue, has a population of 4 million, making it the 15th largest metropolitan area in the United States, between Detroit and Minneapolis.
  • Around 53.4% of all Washingtonians live in the Greater Seattle Area.
  • Seattle is often compared to Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. The two Pacific Northwest cities have similar climates, sizes, and seaside/harbor-city vibes.
  • It is also compared to Portland, Oregon, which (coincidentally) is just across the river from another city called Vancouver in Washington state.
  • The city sits at the same latitude as Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Seattle is sandwiched between Puget Sound (a branch of the Pacific Ocean) to the west and freshwater Lake Washington to the east.
Close up of the revolving restaurant in the space needle with downtown Seattle in the background
Revolving restaurant at the Space Needle
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in Seattle was 108°F (42°C) in 2021, while the lowest was −0°F (−18°C) in 1950.
  • Seattle is one of the country’s rainiest cities, with an average 156 rainy days per year.
  • Seattle is the only major city named after a Native American Chief. Seattle comes from Chief Si’ahl (See-ahlth), who was the leader of both the Suquamish and Duwamish people. Metropolitan Seattle is mostly made up of Duwamish lands.
  • Some common nicknames for Seattle are Emerald City, Rain City, Jet City and The Coffee Capital of the World.
A woman holding a transparent umbrella while looking at the lit up Seattle Great Wheel in the distance
Seattle is known for its rain
  • Slogans for Seattle have included “The Emerald City”, “The City of Flowers”, and “The City of Goodwill”.
  • People from Seattle are called Seattleites.
  • The Seattle flag is teal-colored. The city logo, which has been controversial, is a portrait of Chief Si’ahl surrounded by complex designs. The words “City of Goodwill” are featured above, and “Seattle” is featured below.
  • Seattle has 21 sister cities, including Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Kobe, (Japan), Bergen (Norway), and Mombasa, (Kenya).

Interesting Facts about Seattle Places

  • Seattle’s Pike Place Market is the oldest farmer’s market still operating in the US is, running since 1907. One of the market’s claims to fame is its fishmongers, who throw massive salmon to each other, much to the delight of tourists.
  • The first Starbucks café is located just one block from Pike Place. First opened nearby in 1971, it moved to its current location in 1977.
Sign and clock at Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market
  • The Gum Wall near Pike Place has been called one of the “germiest attractions” in the world. It has so much gum that 2350 lbs (1070 kg) of it was removed in 2015, but it continues to accumulate.
  • The Space Needle is Seattle most prominent landmark. The observation tower was first constructed in only 400 days for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. It is earthquake resistant and was once the tallest building (605 ft / 184 m) west of the Mississippi River.
  • Before the Space Needle, Smith Tower was the city’s tallest building and the tallest on the West Coast for half a century.
  • The current tallest building in Seattle is Columbia Center, which has 76 floors and stands 937 ft (286 m).
  • Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture was originally founded by Seattleite Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. It features one of the largest LED screens in the world, the world’s largest collection of Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix items, and a concert venue called Sky Church. The building’s unique design comes from Frank Gehry, considered one of the greatest modern architects.
A wall covered in gum in Seattle
Gum Wall in Seattle
  • Pioneer Square is a triangular plaza that marks the spot where Seattle’s first neighborhood developed.
  • Other important landmarks and attractions in the city include St James Cathedral, Seattle Public Library, Seattle Center Monorail, Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Great Wheel, King Street Station.
  • There’s a giant troll statue under a bridge in Fremont, Seattle.
  • Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, Mount St. Helens National Monument, and numerous islands are all within a few hours of the city.

Seattle Economy and Society Facts

  • The Greater Seattle area has the 11th largest economy in the United States, between the Greater Atlanta area and the Greater Miami area.
  • Greater Seattle is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, Costco, Microsoft, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Alaska Airlines, and Expedia.
A mosaic of logos of famous companies that started in Washington
Famous brands that started in Seattle
  • Other famous companies that started in Seattle include Boeing, Cinnabon, Eddie Bauer, Red Robin, and UPS.
  • Besides Starbucks, several other famous coffeehouses and roasters started in Seattle, including Seattle’s Best (acquired by Starbucks), Tully’s Coffee (started as a direct rival to Starbucks), Café Allegro, and Caffé Vita.
  • There are 7 colleges and universities in Seattle, with the largest being University of Washington. UW or “U-Dub” is known for having one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, including cherry blossoms in spring, as well as one of the world’s largest library systems.
  • The city is said to have the most libraries and bookstores per capita in the country.
  • Seattle is historically safer than average for the US, but 2022 saw the highest crime rates in the city in 15 years. Its crime rate is similar to Rome, Italy or Jakarta, Indonesia.
A brick walking path lined with cherry blossom trees
Cherry blossoms at the University of Washington
  • The Seattle–Tacoma International Airport is the 8th busiest airport in the US. It served 25 million passengers in 2022, slightly more than Orlando but less than San Francisco.
  • Westfield Southcenter is the largest mall in Seattle, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest. It has over 200 shops, including one of the last Sears around.
  • Seattle has 10 billionaires, who have a combined net worth of nearly 500 billion USD.
  • The richest person in Seattle is Jeff Bezos. He lives in Medina, known as a neighborhood for the ultra-rich.
  • The second richest person in Seattle is Bill Gates, who lives just down the street from Bezos.
A peninsula on Lake Washington with some homes on it
Homes of the ultra-wealthy in Medina on Lake Washington
  • 11% of people in Seattle live below the poverty line.
  • Seattle has the largest Icelandic community in the United States.
  • It also has the largest number of houseboats in the country, around 500, but that number was as high as 2000 in the 1930s.
  • Seattle has the 9th highest percentage of LGBTQ+ people in the US, at 12.9% of the city’s population.
  • More people smoke marijuana than cigarettes in Seattle.
  • 75% of King County residents (where Seattle is located) voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Chunks of almond roca dessert
Almond roca was invented in Seattle
  • Seattle’s major newspaper is The Seattle Times. Other prominent weekly newspapers include Seattle Weekly and The Stranger.
  • Movies filmed in Seattle include Sleepless in Seattle, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Black Sheep, and Harry and the Hendersons.
  • Although the TV show Frasier was set in Seattle, only 1 episode was filmed in the city. Most were filmed in Los Angeles.
  • Seattle gave the world Jansport backpacks, Kindle, cordless phones, Sonicare toothbrush, almond roca, the down-filled jacket, and gas stations (disputed claim).

Seattle Sports Facts

  • Seattle has seven major professional sports teams: Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Seattle Sounders FC (MLS), Seattle Mariners (MLB), Seattle Kraken (NHL), Seattle Storm (WNBA), Seattle Reign FC (NWSL) and Seattle Seawolves (MLR).
  • Seattle Seahawks fans made the Guinness World Record on two occasions for the loudest crowd noise at a sporting event: registering 136.6 decibels and 137.6 decibels respectively.
Logos of 4 major pro sports teams from Seattle
Seattle’s major pro sports teams
  • The Seattle Seahawks are the only team to have played at both the AFC and NFC Championship Games.
  • The Sounders are owned by four people, producer Joe Roth, comedian Drew Carey, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Adrian Hanauer.
  • Soccer legend Pelé was the first person to score a goal in Seattle’s Kingdome when it first opened in 1976. The stadium was torn down in 2000.
  • The Seattle Mariners set the American League record for most wins in a single season by winning 116 games in 2001.
  • In fact, the Seattle Mariners tied with the 1906 Chicago Subs for the most wins in a single season in Major League.
  • Two numbers were retired by the Seattle Kraken: 32 (for the team being the 32nd to join the NHL) and 99 (in honor of the player Wayne Gretzky of Ontario, Canada).
Two stadiums side by side on the waterfront in Seattle
Lumen Field (Seahawks, Sounders, and Reign) on the left and T-Mobile Park (Mariners) on the right
  • The former Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to the win the NHL Stanley Cup.
  • The Seattle Storm have qualified 12 times for the WNBA Playoffs of their 17 years in Seattle.
  • The Storm have won the WNBA Finals 3 times: in 2004, 2010, and 2018. In 2010, they had 28 wins, the most in WNBA history.
  • The Seawolves won the Major League Rugby Championship Final in 2018 and 2019.

Famous Seattle People

  • Some of the most famous people person in the Greater Seattle area include Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, wrestler Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, basketball player Jamal Crawford, actors Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Rainn Wilson (The Office), actresses Jean Smart and Erika Christensen, and comedian Ryan Stiles.
  • Musicians from Seattle area include Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, Jimi Hendrix, Kenny G, and Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam).
A mosaic of famous people from Seattle
Famous Seattleites Bill Gates, Eddie Brauer, Kurt Cobain, Jean Smart, Jamal Crawford, and Jimi Hendrix (clockwise from top-left)
  • Bands that started in Greater Seattle include Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, Postal Service, Heart, Fleet Foxes, and SixTwoSeven.
  • Writers from Seattle include Claire Dederer, Sarah Galvin, Richard Chiem, Ijeoma Oluo, Ellen Forney, and Laura Da’.
  • Inventors from Seattle include Eddie Bauer, Lloyd F. Nelson, David Giuliani, Elbridge Stuart, and John Burroughs.

Seattle History Facts

  • The Duwamish Suquamish peoples first arrived in the area of Seattle at least 4000 years ago.
  • In 1851, the first Europeans arrived and established settlements in Georgetown, Alki Point, and a year later, Pioneer Square.
A close up of a face on a totem pole in Seattle, Washington
Totem pole at Pioneer Square in Seattle
  • The University of Washington was founded in 1861.
  • The city’s population passed 1000 people in 1870.
  • Gas street lamps were installed in 1874, followed by the first horse-powered streetcar line in 1884 and electric-trolley in 1889.
  • In 1889, much of the city burned down in a great fire, and the city was then rebuilt on top of the rubble.
  • Mobs of white people expelled the city’s Chinese in the 1886 Seattle riots because they thought they were taking all their labor positions.
Clock tower of King Street Station in Seattle
King Street Station
  • In 1890, the first transcontinental train arrived in Seattle.
  • Seattle’s population passed 100,000 in the first few years of the 1900s.
  • King Street Station opened to serve the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads in 1906.
  • Pike Place Market and St. James Cathedral opened in 1907, followed by Port of Seattle in 1911.
  • The first Miss Seattle was crowned in 1922.
  • In 1932, the first major highway bridge that was built in Seattle was dedicated: the Aurora Bridge.
Aurora Bridge across the harbor in Seattle with mountains in the background and residential houses in the foreground
Aurora Bridge Seattle
  • In 1942, more than 7000 Japanese living in the Seattle area were forced from their homes and placed in internment camps.
  • The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport opened in 1949.
  • Seattle’s population passed half a million in the early 1950s.
  • The Space Needle was opened for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle.
  • In 1964, the Beatles performed in Seattle.
  • In 1965, an earthquake rocked the area, with over $20 million in damages.
  • The first Starbucks shop opened in 1971.
Outside of the first Starbucks location in the world in Seattle, Washington
The original Starbucks location in Seattle
  • The Seattle Seahawks played their first game in 1976.
  • In 1990, Seattle hosted the Goodwill Games.
  • Soundgarden was formed in 1984, one of the first Grunge bands on the scene that later made it very big.
  • The Sub Pop record label was founded in Seattle in 1986. It would go on to sign acts such as The White Stripes, Soundgarden, Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Hole, L7, The Shins, Babes in Toyland, the Vaselines, Wolf Parade, Turbonegro, Tacocat, Mogwai, The Rapture, Modest Mouse, and many more.
  • In 1988, the Metro tunnel was completed under downtown Seattle.
A Nirvana 1991 tour T-shirt
Nirvana is one of Seattle greatest contributions to the world of music.
  • Pearl Jam played its first Seattle show in 1990, while Nirvana’s was in 1991.
  • Amazon was founded in Greater Seattle in 1994.
  • The Seattle Streetcar began operating in 2007.
  • Plastic shopping bags were banned in 2012.
  • In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks had their first and only Super Bowl win.
  • In 2020, Pike Place Market was virtually empty following the COVID-19 outbreak.

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