A great fire (1889), a frenzied gold rush (1897), a World’s Fair (1962) and the formation of an airplane company called Boeing and a computer company called Microsoft were all seminal events that shaped Seattle’s history and made it what it is today. For much of its relatively brief existence, Seattle was the wettest and wildest city in the Pacific Northwest, a gritty maritime depot that was the jumping-off point for tens of thousands of Alaska-bound gold-seekers. Puget Sound was Seattle’s gateway to the rest of the world and the city lived off timber, fishing, boat-building and shipping. Then Boeing and the aerospace industry came along, not quite transforming Seattle but certainly changing its fortunes. The Seattle World’s Fair of 1962 was another turning point, an event that introduced this unique and atmospheric city on Elliott Bay to a new generation of visitors. Then came computers and software, personified by Bill Gates and Microsoft, and Seattle was again “discovered” by the rest of the world. The experienced phenomenal growth in the 1980s, and turned into a Big City where people raced around with a Starbucks coffee cup in one hand and (a decade later) a cellphone in the other. Yes, it does rain a lot, but without gray, blustery days with the smell of saltwater in the air, it wouldn’t be Seattle. The grunge factor has now grown up a bit, and the glam factor is hitting its stride. Seattle is a sprawling city with lots of neighborhoods to explore, a lively downtown core and a half-carny waterfront that attracts the sea-lion’s share of tourist attention. It’s casual and caffeinated, definitely into good food, and offers visitors plenty to see and do, along with a great big whiff of fresh sea air.
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