Contact  |  About us

History of Seattle, Washington

In 1851, a group of immigrants from Illinois, led by one Arthur Denny, arrived at Alki Point on the eastern shores of the Puget Sound. The settlement they created was named Seattle in honor of a helpful local Indian leader Chief Sealth. Alki Point is on the south side of the mouth of Elliot Bay. Finding the location at Alki unsuitable, the majority of those pioneers moved to the eastern side of the bay, where downtown Seattle, Washington, is now located.

A shortage of marriageable women in Seattle prompted another Seattle pioneer, Asa Mercer, to make two trips to New York City in 1864 to recruit prospective brides. He brought back 100 women who became known as the Mercer girls.

Seattle was incorporated in 1869. Before long, the settlement became the largest city in Washington. Its dominance was assured when the Northern Pacific Railroad chose Seattle over Tacoma as its western terminus. The discovery of gold, first on the Fraser River and later in the Yukon (1896), sparked gold rushes from which Seattle prospered indirectly as a principal location for outfitting the miners. Like many cities during the era, the town was subject to a huge fire on June 6, 1889. The Great Seattle Fire was started by New Yorker John E. Black when he tipped a hot glue pot over a gasoline fire, which destroyed nearly the entire business district. The town was quickly rebuilt and grew from a population of 25,000 to 40,000, owing to newly available construction jobs.

Seattle is quite hilly, but in years past it was hillier yet. As the city expanded in the late 19th century, hills posed serious obstacles to its growth. The response was a series of regrades, from which massive amounts of earth were washed away by water under high pressure. The most notable was the Denny Regrade to the north of downtown that continued for much of the first three decades of the 20th century. Other projects were conducted to the south. After removal, the soil was deposited in tideflat areas to expand the land available for such projects as railroads and warehouses. Today, very little of the central district of Seattle lies at the same level as when the first settlers arrived.

In 1909, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition was held in Seattle. President William Howard Taft opened the exposition from Washington, D.C., by pressing a telegraph key. During its 138-day run, the fair attracted 3.7 million visitors. More permanent facilities resulted from Seattle`s second world’s fair. For the Century 21 Exposition in 1962, Seattle erected its landmark Space Needle as well as the monorail, a unique piece of public transportation connecting the site, now known as Seattle Center, with downtown.

To influence a city to reach its highest potential, several vital ingredients go into the mix: the right people to inspire and raise the limits of human endeavor, places that exhibit cultural wealth, things that aid in the realization of dreams, the concrete edifices to showcase building prowess, and finally, the events that act as the catalyst to bring everything to fruition.

Such people as Elmer H. Fisher, Chief Seattle, leader of the Suquamish, the Olmsted Brothers, and Historic Seattle, the preservation and rehabilitation organization, have influenced the city. Seattle is graced by numerous educational and cultural venues, including the University of Washington, Cornish College of the Arts, Ballard Avenue Historic District, Columbia City Landmark District, Pioneer Square and Skid Road Historic District, and Harvard-Belmont Historic District. Others include the Burke Museum, Frye Art Museum, the First Hill neighborhood, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and the Woodland Park Zoo.

During its early history, the people of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest had to overcome barriers to survive and flourish. The Seattle area, and the Pacific Northwest, was a treasure trove of timber. To exploit it, the obstacle of poor or nonexistent roads had to be overcome. Seattle called upon the services of such sea-going vessels as the Sailing Vessel Wawona. For travel and excursions in and around the Puget Sound, they used such vessels as The Steamship Virginia V.

Following the Great Fire, Seattle commenced a robust program of resurrecting itself from its ashes, creating an improved city to become a showplace for the Pacific Northwest. Commercial and residential buildings, from office buildings to apartments, constructed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, embody the realized dreams of those energetic men and women who faced the Great Fire and the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896. A sampler might include: the Arctic Building, Fire Station No. 25, Hoge Building, Northern Life Tower, Pioneer Building, Queen Anne High School, Sunset Hotel, Bell Apartments and Barnes Building, and Cobb Building. Also included on that list is the Eagles Auditorium Building, Times Building, Trinity Parish Church, the Coliseum Theater, The Paramount Theater, Phillips House, and The Stimson-Green Mansion.

Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. The Boeing Company has long been the Seattle area`s largest industry. Such high-technology companies as Microsoft Corporation and Amazon.com now drive more of Seattle`s growth. The city also is famous for Starbucks Coffee, which opened its first outlet next to the Pike Place Market in 1971. Based in Seattle, Swedish Medical Center is the largest comprehensive non-profit health provider in the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony have inspired the city from its early days.

- - - Books You May Like Include: ----

Boeing Field by Cory Graff.
Even before there were runways, the area south of the city of Seattle was Washington’s aviation hub. Charles Hamilton, a daredevil dubbed “Crazy Man o...
Seattle's Commercial Aviation: 1908-1941 by Ed Davies, Steve Ellis.
Interested in aviation as early as 1910, William Boeing waited until 1914 for his first airplane ride. In 1916, he founded the airplane company that p...

privacy policy