Seattle lies on a small piece of land in between the waters of Puget Sound and the waters of Lake Washington with rugged mountain ranges to the west and east; the Olympics are to the west of Seattle the Cascades are to the east of Seattle.
Settlers first came to the region in 1851 and finally settled a short distance away in Elliott Bay. This is now historic Pioneer Square district of Seattle. The name Seattle comes from a Duwamish Indian chief named Sealth who had befriended the white settlers.
The principal economical service of that time was a lumber mill on Mill Street which is now Yesler Way. A great deal of the mill’s production journeyed to the flourishing city of San Francisco, yet the mill additionally provided lumber to neighboring towns across the Puget Sound region.
In 1856 a short Indian war broke out which disrupted the town’s growth, but finally in 1869 Seattle was incorporated with an excess of 2,000 citizens. Throughout the years coal was discovered near Lake Washington, the Northern Pacific Railway came to Tacoma and the population soared. Adding to the lumber and coal industries came fishing, shipbuilding, shipping, and wholesale trading which added to financial growth along with additional population growth.
In June of 1889 a fire flattened the 116 acres, of mostly wooden structures, in the city’s business district with damages ranging in the millions. This prompted the need for a professional fire department and substantial city changes along with brick or steel being required with the construction of new buildings.
In the 1890s a depression that extended throughout the nation hit Seattle and business slowed (even with the arrival of the Great Northern transcontinental railway) until 1897 when gold was discovered in Canada’s Yukon Territory and Alaska instantly making Seattle a boom town. Because of Seattle’s shipping lines it fast became a leading outfitting place for prospectors heading out to make their fortunes. As a matter of fact, the Seattle/Alaska link was so solid; Alaska was long regarded as Seattle’s property.
Through the beginning of the 1900s, Seattle encountered continuous growth (business and population) and more railways which strengthened the cities trade and shipping relationships with Asia and the North Pacific.
Seattle inhabitants were becoming progressively diversified due to the fishing and lumber industries, the railroad and lodgings. Scandinavians, Japanese, Italians, Chinese, Blacks, Jewish, and Filipinos came to work in these industries. It was during this time the International District was developed.
By 1909 the citizenship was fast approaching 240,000. In 1914 the Smith building was finished, the 42 story building was a symbolic representation of Seattle’s spirit and for over 40 years stood as the tallest structure in the American west.
World War I brought more recognition to Seattle in 1919 when shipyard workers received substantial wartime wages. The 1920s brought about depressed economy in the lumber and shipbuilding trades. The 1930s depression hit Seattle hard with many men, women and children growing up in the abandoned shipyards. World War II brought about another upward spiral to the economic roller coaster ride Seattle has gone through with shipyards rebounding again and Boeing successfully manufacturing airplanes which increased the workforce and helped boost the economy.
Through all of Seattle’s economic highs in 1962 came the world’s fair, leaving the city with the Seattle Center, the Pacific Science Center, the Monorail, and the Space Needle.
Since this time the population has remained relatively steady, many suburbs of Seattle have cropped up and matured. Seattle has coffee, music, the arts, theaters, cultural institutions, museums, professional sports teams, a diverse citizenship, street markets, waterfront, and a unwavering spirit of optimism.