POPULATION: 608,660 (City), 3,671,478 (Metro) | TIME ZONE: Pacific | CLIMATE: Oceanic or temperate marine (cool, wet winters and warm, relatively dry summers)
Moving to Seattle? You almost ended up moving to New York. In the 1850s, a couple of explorers claimed the land now known as Alki Point and named it New York Alki. Why? Uncertain. Possibly because some of the expedition members were form New York. And Alki is a Chinook word meaning by and by. Eventually, a more sensible head prevailed and the area was name for Chief Seattle. Despite the ostensible honor, relations with the Native American tribes were iffy, and at one point culminated in an only moderately enthusiastic battle.
The city of Seattle is like many others that have relied on natural and mineral resources: it has a history of going boom and bust repeatedly. Seattles first boom was as a lumber town—which eventually wiped out extraordinary, old-growth forests towering to 400 feet. During this time, there was plenty of labor tensions as well as ethnic tensions. Violent riots by out-of-work whites against Chinese laborers inspired a declaration of martial law and intervention by federal troops. The first bust came with the Panic of 1893, a nationwide depression that hit Seattle especially hard.
The next boom and bust was inspired by the Klondike Gold Rush. The Gold Rush ended the depression, and Seattle became a major transport and supply point for the miners heading to Alaska and the Yukon. Most of those miners, of course, never got rich. Seattle did, though, clothing and feeding them. Seattle also built an industry on the exchange of precious metals brought back by those miners. The local economy boomed on the service side of Gold Rush. (In 1907, a 19-year-old named James E. Casey founded the American Messenger Company, which we know today as UPS.) A concurrent shipbuilding boom eventually swelled during World War I. When the Great Depression hit, and a violent maritime strike sent much of Seattles maritime traffic to Los Angeles, well...hello bust.
World War II was another boom time, thanks in large part to Boeings government contracts for aircraft. After the war, things lagged again—until Boeing began to command the market for commercial airliners. Then came a dramatic bust in the late 60s and 70s with Boeing's tailspin during the oil crises, losing government contracts, and delivery delays and overruns on the Boeing 747. Cancellation of the federally-funded Supersonic Transport program also created a great deal of pain. Boeing ended up cutting their 100,000+ workforce by about two thirds. Two local realtors, Bob McDonald and Jim Youngren, put up an infamous billboard joking, "Will the last person leaving Seattle – Turn out the lights." They wanted to poke fun at the fact that the doom and gloom attitude hadn't really affected the real estate market. Few got the joke.
The next boom began in the 80s. Microsoft had moved to Seattle from Albuquerque, and other technology companies began popping up. Seattle became some of the most pricey real estate in the country. The Great Recession of the 2000s hit, and Seattle languished again until the following boom. Amazon began expanding. People began moving in, the center city grew rapidly, unemployment dropped from 9 percent to under 4 percent. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has described todays version of the city as "bursting at the seams". Hello, recurrent boomtown.
The Emerald City
The Jet City
The City of Flowers
The City of Goodwill
Alki (Washington state motto, Chinook phrase meaning by and by)
RANDOM SONG ABOUT THE CITY
Seattle, by Perry Como (also covered by Bobby Sherman)
PRO SPORTS TEAMS
Seattle Seahawks (NFL)
Seattle Mariners (MLB)
Seattle Sounders FC (MLS)
Seattle Sounders FC2 (USL)
Seattle Storm (WNBA)
Seattle Reign FC (NWSL)
ALSO KNOWN FOR...
Giant geoduck clams (pronounced gooey-duck)
The birthplace of Starbucks
Sleepless In Seattle
The Space Needle
Pike Place Market and fish throwing
The worlds longest floating bridge
The countrys most literate city
More library-card holders per capita than any other U.S. city
The first Beatles song played on the radio in the U.S.
The largest man-made island
Jimi Hendrix, Kenny G, Bill Gates, Adam West, Rainn Wilson, Carol Channing, Judy Collins, Mario Batali, Macklemore, Gypsy Rose Lee, Gail Devers, Macklemore, Apolo Ohno, Cameron Crowe, Dave Grohl, Gary Hall, Jr., Quincy Jones, Dave Matthews, Bill Nye, Bill Russell, Tom Robbins, Howard Schultz, Eddie Vedder, Ann Wilson, Ray Charles, Kurt Cobain, Alex Haley, Frank Herbert, Bruce Lee, August Wilson
If you're looking to live Downtown, be ready: with a median income of under $50,000 and a median home price of almost $600,000, were talking an unusual place with a seriously challenging cost of living. That said, it's also highly walkable, with lots of fit people, cyclists, green space, farmers markets and (yes) coffee. Denny Triangle gets lots of press, especially with Amazons new campus going there. Expect to spend close to half a million for a 700-square-foot 1-bed/1-bath. Pioneer Square is considered by some as the epicenter of Seattle nightlife. Expect to spend the same price or more for such a unit there, and upwards of one million for a 2-bed/2-bath. Also be expected for somewhat lower prices in neighborhoods that aren't quite as desirable—and really limited inventory across the board.
The highest named hill in the city, Queen Anne was once home to Seattles elite. Up top, you'll find a wide range of real estate, from small family homes to big mansions. You'll find excellent amenities, good schools, and a cost of living that is as high as you'd expect. As expensive as it is, young families still gravitate here. Young professionals congregate more towards the bottom of the hill. Trendy Ballard strikes a balance between an urban and neighborhood environment. You can find new construction, older bungalows, families and young professionals. It's also very environmentally conscientious, with several initiatives ranging from combatting sprawl to getting people out of cars. There's even an effort to make it the nations first carbon neutral community. Old Town Ballard offers tree-lined streets with trendy shops, restaurants and popular dive bars.
You'll find a lot of families in West Seattle, since it's possible to find decent sized homes that won't break the bank. The median home price is just south of half a million. An older neighborhood (many neighborhoods, really), you'll find older homes, often renovated, and something lacking in many other parts of town: actual inventory. A walkable neighborhood center called The Junction offers bars, restaurants and shops. Columbia City is a hip and diverse neighborhood for urban pioneers. Real estate ranges from older bungalows and Craftsman homes to big-money properties on the hills. Excellent amenities, good schools, and easier access to downtown are making it desirable.
If you've got money to burn, Madison Park might call your name. One of Seattles most expensive neighborhoods, it's like a village oasis in the city. Highly walkable with great amenities, Madison park is popular with families and seniors. Just don't expect much nightlife. Do expect a median home price of almost a million and limited inventory. More affordable Mount Baker offers higher-end homes, craftsman bungalows, newer townhomes and tree-lined streets. High scores for walkability and amenities, decent schools and a lower-key vibe than the city are attracting folks to this friendly neighborhood with an active community. Equally affordable Leschi offers an array of options, many with water views. There are condos along the lake, bungalows and craftsman homes, Tudors and contemporaries. Yes, there are million-dollar homes alone the lakefront, but there are also more modest options. And the local populous is racially and economically diverse. And the schools get excellent grades.
Ravenna has recently been one of Seattles most competitive housing markets as well as one of the nations hottest neighborhoods. Another neighborhood of desirable Craftsman and Tudor homes, it's a place that people love to live. The median home price is pushing $600,000—and homes have been known to go for 20% over the asking price. (Need we say highly ranked schools?) Greenwood is not nearly as trendy or as expensive, but it is gaining momentum with young families and other first-time home buyers. Like Ballard, mentioned earlier, Greenwood has a small-town neighborhood feel. Youll also find fewer condos, an active main street, plenty of restaurants, and relatively easy access to downtown.