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Seattle History

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Historical Tidbits

  • The Snohomish, Suquamish and other Native Americans were the first settlers of this Pacific Northwest area, later named Seattle after Native American headsman Chief Sealth. In the fall of 1851, the Denny Party landed on what is now Alki Beach (home to Alki Point Lighthouse) in West Seattle. After surviving one cold, harrowing winter, these first white settlers moved east across Elliott Bay to settle in the sheltered area that is now downtown Seattle and Pioneer Square.
  • Industry in Seattle was started by Henry Yesler when he began building his sawmill in 1852. It was located at the foot of Yesler Way and First Avenue South. The Yesler Sawmill started the lumber industry in Seattle in March of 1853 by cutting the first lumber in King County. The original road in which the logs were rolled down from the Yesler Sawmill was originally called "Skid Road", which is where the expression "Skid Row" came from.
  • On March 2, 1853, President Filmore signed the bill establishing Washington as it's own territory.
  • In 1861, the University of Washington was established in what is now downtown Seattle, until it moved to it's present campus on Lake Washington in 1895. Before 1902, the University of Washington taught primarty grade subjects along with higher educational subjects. They abolished the teaching of primary subjects in order to concentrate on being an institution of higher learning.
  • Seattle was incorporated on January 14th, 1865 by the Territory of Washington Legislature. In 1866 this incorporation was repealed after recieving a petition from some Seattle citizens and then re-incorporated in December of 1869 by the legislature.
  • Seattle was named after Chief Seattle who was the leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes. He died on June 7th of 1866.
  • A historic moment in Seattle history was when a pot of glue burst into flames and spread a fire that burned 64 acres of downtown Seattle in June of 1889. It is known as Seattle's Great Fire and the city rebuilt the area with brick, stone and iron. This part of town is known as Pionerr Square.
  • In 1897 the Klondike Goldrush hit Seattle and exploded the cities population 600% from 1890 to 1910.
  • In 1907 the Pike Place Public Farmer's Market opened. It remains a top tourist attraction today. By 1910 the city's population had grown to nearly 230,000, and steamers were used to ferry people and products across the bay. Electric trolleys started running in 1919, improving transportation between sprawling urban areas. Bits and pieces of highway followed. The economic boom took a new turn in 1916 when Bill Boeing tested his company's first plane. Since World War II, the region's economy has depended on the aerospace industry. Boeing developed the 707 commercial jet that changed commercial air travel.
  • The Smith Tower opened in 1914 as the tallest building west of the Mississippi at a height of 522 feet. This is one of the best 360 degree views of Seattle and is accessible from the Chinese Room on the 35th floor.
  • In 1940 the Lake Washington Floating Bridge opened up and allowed cars to pass from the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle to the North end of Mercer Island. The bridge is 3,387 feet long and has 25 pontoons holding the bridge up. The pontoons are kept in place with 65 ton anchors attached to them.
  • The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition was Seattle's first world's fair and ran for 138 days in 1909. The world's fair was help at the University of Washington campus.
  • In 1962, many of Seattle's monuments were built, including the Space Needle, The Monorail, The Science Center and the Key Arena, along with many other city landmarks around Seattle.
  • Starbuck's Coffee is headquartered in Historic Downtown Seattle.

Additional Seattle History Resources

The Online Encyclopedia of Seattle / King County History

Queen Anne Historical Society

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