Port on Lake Washington in King County, Washington, USA, and the largest city in the Pacific Northwest; population (2000 est) 563,400, Greater Seattle (King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap counties) 3,275,800. It is the fifth-largest container port in the USA and the main transit point for supplies to Alaska; trade with Japan is important. Industries include aerospace (the manufacturing plants of the Boeing Corporation are here), timber, tourism, banking and insurance, paper industries, electronics, computing (Microsoft, based in adjoining Redmond, is one of several thousand software firms), biotechnology, ocean science, shipbuilding and repair, and fishing. Coffee has been an important commodity since the development of the Starbucks Company in the 1970s.
History Seattle was named after the American Indian leader Sealth who gave land to the white settlers in 1852. It grew as a sawmill centre and the nearest port for Alaska, and was incorporated in 1865. The Great Northern Railroad arrived in 1893, and it became the main supply depot for the Yukon, Klondike, and Alaskan gold rushes of the 1890s. The city's entire business district was burnt down in 1889. It developed into a major seaport after the Lake Washington Ship Canal was opened in 1916.
In 1999 Seattle was the scene of serious rioting when protesters objected to the policies of the World Trade Organization which was holding its third ministerial meeting in the city.
Features Sites include the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Mount Rainier National Park in the Cascade mountain range; the Olympic National Park to the west; the Seattle Center, location of the 1962 World's Fair, with its 185 m/605 ft high Space Needle; Fort Lawton (1897) and Sand Point naval base; the Museum of Flight; the universities of Washington (1861) and Seattle (1891). The Washington State Convention and Trade Center completed a major expansion in 2000.
Location Situated in Elliott Bay on the eastern shore of Puget Sound, the city straddles an isthmus between the sound and Lake Washington. The Cascade Range lies 60–80 km/38–50 mi to the east; Mount Rainier rises to 4,392 m/14,415 ft in the southeast. The mountains of the Olympic Peninsula lie to the west, across the sound. The Lake Washington Ship Canal links Lake Union with Lake Washington to the east, and with the Pacific Ocean to the west. Vessels entering the canal from Puget Sound are raised 6 m/21 ft through the Chittenden Locks. A fish ladder enables migrating salmon to bypass the locks. Salmon Bay lies behind the locks, an inland freshwater harbour covering an area of 100,000 hectares/25,000 acres. Fisherman's Terminal on its southern shore is the headquarters of the largest fishing fleet in the Northwest.
Economy Boeing is the city's largest firm and is the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world; it is also the USA's largest exporter. The computer industry employed over 30,000 employees in 1999. Another key sector is biotechnology, which employed 15,000 people in 1999. The US Defense Department has bases for army, airforce, and submarines in the area, and a naval shipyard at Bremerton. The area's largest shipbuilder, Lockheed, closed in 1987, but some shipbuilding and repair remains. Companies, unions, and the government are cooperating to diversify the economy of the local Duwamish industrial area.
Attractions Seattle has many museums and galleries, an aquarium, a symphony orchestra, opera, and ballet. It holds an annual film festival, and many films are shot here. There are 147 entries on the national register of historic places, and the Space Needle was designated a historic landmark in 1999. Pioneer Square is the city's oldest neighbourhood. In the late 1980s, a lively music scene sprang up around the Seattle-based Sub Pop record label and the rock band Nirvana. Seattle is also known for its coffee-drinking culture; the multinational coffeehouse chain Starbucks was started here in 1971. Sports teams include the Mariners (baseball), the Supersonics (basketball), the Seahawks (American football), and the Thunderbirds (ice hockey).
Earthquakes In 1949 the Seattle area suffered an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale. In 1965 an earthquake caused seven deaths, and in February 2001, an earthquake measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale caused damage estimated between US$1 billion and US$3 billion, though there were no fatalities.
Famous people Seattle is the birthplace of guitarist Jimi Hendrix (who is also buried in the suburb of Renton), and entrepreneur and computer scientist Bill Gates, and the burial place of actors Bruce Lee, and his son Brandon Lee.