23 Seattle History Facts You Didn't Know

23 Seattle History Facts You Didn't Know

Seattle is a city rich and diverse in the pages of American History. Here are 23 historical facts you probably didn't know.

Seattle is the largest city of the Pacific Northwest area of the United States and has a very rich and diverse history which has helped America become one of the most important countries in the world today. Here are 23 facts of the history of Seattle that you probably didn't know.


Seattle was the first City in the United States to equip its police force with bicycles back in 1987. Now, the West Precinct in Downtown has the largest squad in the United States, which has led to hundreds of police departments across the country implementing a bicycle program.


Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee, are both buried at the Lakeside Cemetery. Bruce Lee passed away on July 20 in 1973 due to a brain aneurysm. He was only 32 years old and was working on the movie Enter the Dragon. His son, Brandon Lee, also died on a film set in March 31, 1993. He passed away as result of a gunshot wound to the head whilst filming The Crow.


The city of Seattle has been inhabited for an estimated 4,000 years, and the area around has been estimated to have been inhabited by early humans since the end of the last glacial period which occurred around 10,000 years ago in 8000 BC.


The first European to visit Seattle was George Vancouver back in May of 1792. He was taking part in a 4 year expedition across the Pacific Northwest. George Vancouver also visited most of the northwest Pacific Coast on his expedition, including Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.


A small group of American pioneers known as The Denny Party, are credited to be the founders of Seattle. This happened back in November 13, 1851 at Alki Point, after they left Cherry Grove in Illinois back in April 10, 1851. The Denny Party, which was led by Arthur Denny, also included his father and stepmother, two older brothers and his younger brother David, David's wife Mary Ann Boren, and Mary's brother and sister Louisa and Carson.


The first boom for its economic growth is credited to the timber industry. The earliest settlers cleared forests filled with trees over 400 feet high and more than 1,000 years old into logs which were then shipped out to be sold in San Francisco. Unfortunately, there are no trees left in the entire world of this size and age.


Seattle played a major part in the Klondike gold rush, being a middle point for transportation between Alaska and the Yukon back when gold was discovered in August 1896. Fortunately for the inhabitants of Seattle, this gold rush was able to end the depression almost overnight. As the economy would have said, “the miners mine the gold and we mine the miners”.


The world famous Boeing aircraft company was founded here by William Boeing. The company was originally supposed to build boats, but quickly changed after Mr Boeing could not suppress his love for planes and flying. During the recession of 1969 and 1970, Boeing got itself into a debt of almost $2 billion whilst working on the construction of the 747 airliner, which say it lose almost 75% of its workforce nearly overnight. Unemployment rose here to 14% which was they highest than anywhere else in the United States. However, those times are long gone and Boeing is now worth an estimated $105.6 billion.


Seattle was the departure point for many of our troops during World War II. Most of these soldiers were stationed at Golden Gardens Park before departing.


Starbucks was born in Seattle, and the first-ever store, which opened in 1971, is still open today. Located in Pike Place Market, because of the historic regulations of the district it is in, it maintains the traditional look it had when it first opened more than 40 years ago. Now, Starbucks has nearly 17,000 stores in almost 40 countries, and see's annual revenue of more than $10 billion. Who would have thought that coffee would become so popular?


The 42-story building we know as Smith Tower, once held status as being the tallest building to the west of Mississippi after it was constructed in 1914. The previous site was home to the Bartell's Owl Drug Store which opened in 1898, until it was demolished in 1911 to make way for the Smith Tower.


Seattle again was home to the tallest building west of the Mississippi when construction completed of the Space Needle for Seattle's World Fair, back in 1962. The Space Needle is now the most iconic landmark on the Seattle skyline. Standing at 160m tall, the top contains an observation deck and a rotating restaurant called SkyCity. The elevators which travel to the top reach speeds of 10 miles per hour. That's 4.5 meters per second! Recently, it has been considered to replace the floors of the rotating restaurant with glass. Imagine the view while you eat.


Next time you are driving across the I-90 between Seattle and Mercer, know that you are traveling on the worlds longest floating bridge which was built in 1940. Known as the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge, it is around 6,620 feet (2,020 meters) in length and 202 feet (62 meters) in width. Boats traveling beneath only have 29 feet (8.8 meters) of clearance in order to safely pass.


Seattle is home to the richest man in the United States and the world, Bill Gates. Born on October 28, 1955, the founder of Microsoft is worth an estimated $79.3 billion. Between the period of 2009 and 2014, he was able to nearly double his wealth, leading in to the expanse of money that he holds today. However, he remains very philanthropic and has been operating with his wife the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2000, which does amazing work for some of the less fortunate in the world.


The first gas station to be built in the entire world was constructed here in Seattle. It was built in East Marginal Way all the way back in 1905. The idea of a gas pump can be traced back to Indiana in the late 1880's, which pumped kerosene.


The first strike in the United States happened in Seattle in February, 1919. The Seattle General Strike saw more than 60,000 workers from various shipyards walk off their jobs and strike. This led to a chain of events which saw strikes take place all across the United States which affected the nation's coal, steel, and meatpacking industries. The strikes were also to blame for civil unrest in many cities across the country. The strike however, only last one week.


After the devastating Great Seattle Fire which occurred back on June 6, 1889, the entire central business district was destroyed. The city today which we walk on, sits around 22 feet above the original after the city was rebuilt directly over the ruins.


In 1926, Seattle was host to the first female mayor to be elected in any United States city. Her name was Bertha Landes. In March, she was able to win the election by more than 6,000 votes. Unfortunately, she lost by 19,000 votes when she tried to run again for mayor in 1928 against Frank Edwards. Since then, all of the mayors of Seattle have been male.


After the Black Panther's began to build momentum in their movement, Seattle was chosen to be home to the second chapter. They moved from Oakland, California back in 1968 and were well-known to practice a militant-style of self-defense for minority groups against the government of the United States.


The name Seattle comes from the name of an Indian called “Sealth”, who was the Chief of the Suquamish tribe back in 1851 at the time when the first white settlers arrived. Chief Sealth had the city named after him due to his pursuit of accommodating the white settlers while arguing the importance of ecological responsibility and the respect of the land rights of the Native Americans. He passed away on June 7, 1866 at the age of 80.


The first ever song sung by the Beatles was played on the radio in Seattle. The song that was played was I Want To Hold Your Hand which was recorded in October 1963, and was the first record made by the Beatles using four-track equipment. I Want To Hold Your Hand was the first song by the Beatles to reach number 1 on January 13, 1964 in the Billboard Top 100 charts.


Seattle is also home to the largest rally in the world supporting the use of marijuana. Called Hempfest, it began in 1991 and now brings in more than 300,000 people every year. What started as a “humble gathering” of just 500 people, has now turned into a three-day political protest in addition to concerts and an arts and crafts fair.


The Colombia Center in Seattle is the city's tallest building, and the 12th tallest building in all of the United States. It sits at 76 stories or 937 feet tall and is nicknamed the Darth Vader building by locals due to its sheer black exterior. It was built in 1982.


Hopefully these twenty-three facts about the history of Seattle has intrigued you with some new things that you might not have previously known. That's the fun and joy about history – you are always bound to learn something new and exciting. Why not come over to Seattle on your next holiday and literally walk through the pages of American history.

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