Seattle – the home of Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon…and me! Seattle has been my home now for a little more than 24 years, and I love it, but it has a few quirks I think you should know about.
It’s a standing joke around here, especially this time of year, that summer doesn’t really begin in Seattle until after the Fourth of July. That’s when temps climb out of the 60s on a regular basis, and we get to see Seattle’s amazing blue skies. The average high temperature in July and August is 76 degrees (although the mean temp during those months is just 66 and 67 respectively).
Yes, it rains a lot here, but not as much as advertised. It’s more about frequency than quantity. Seattle has 227 cloudy days per year, although we get only 39 inches of rain annually, which is less than other major US cities such as NYC, Chicago, and Houston.
People in Seattle buy more sunglasses per capita than in any other US city. I maintain it’s because we don’t need them very often, so we lose them when it’s cloudy for long periods and have to buy another pair when the sun comes out again!
You can see Mount Rainier from Seattle – in fact, you can’t miss it. However, the mountain is shy and doesn’t always appear through the clouds. Visitors who miss seeing the mountain think we made it up to tease the tourists. People who are fortunate enough to see it never forget it!
The Pike Place Market is the longest continuously operating farmers’ market in the US (since 1907). If you buy a salmon at the Pike Place Fish Company, also nicknamed the Flying Fish market, the guy out front will literally throw your fish to the people behind the counter so they can wrap it up for you. They’ll even pack it “to go” for 24 to 48 hours so you can take it home on the airplane.
In spite of the frequent rain, more people bike to work here than anywhere else in the US, and Seattle was the first city to have police officers on bicycles.
The original “skid road” was in Seattle. Now called Yesler Way, it was the path used to skid logs down to Elliot Bay.
Seattle is the home of famous glass artist Dale Chihuly, known for his bold and daring indoor and outdoor installations of blown glass all over the world. Do you suppose the Darcys commissioned the whimsical display pictured here? Seattle has the second most glassblowing studios in the world. Number one is Murano, Italy.
Seattle is the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and the home of grunge music, made famous by bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains.
The EMP (Experience Music Project), an interactive museum built by Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder), is one of the newer attractions to be added to the Seattle Center. It was designed by architect Frank Gehry to look like Jimi Hendrix’s smashed guitars. People who live here either love it or hate it. What do you think?
Seattle was the first city in the US to play a Beatles’ song on the radio.
Seattle is the most literate city in the US. There are more bookstores, libraries, and library cards issued per capita here than anywhere else in the country. We also have the highest percentage of residents with a college degree or above.
Seattle is second only to NYC in live performances (music and other) per capita in the US, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet is first in per capita attendance in the US.
The Washington State ferry system is the largest in the US and the third largest in the world, with 25 million passengers per year.
The Mercer Island Floating Bridge (I-90) was the first floating bridge in the world. We also have the longest floating bridge in the world, the Governor Albert D. Rosellini Bridge (I-520), which crosses Lake Washington. Opened in 1963, the total length of this bridge is 15,580 feet, with the floating section measuring 7,578 feet.
The houseboat population in Seattle is the largest in the US. In fact, it’s the largest outside of Asia.
The lead role in “Sleepless in Seattle” was turned down by Kim Basinger, Julia Roberts, and Michele Pfeiffer. Personally, I can’t imagine anyone but Meg Ryan playing Annie Reed. By the way, the scene near the houseboat, in which Meg Ryan stands in the street and stares at Tom Hanks, takes place just down the hill from where I live. One of the houses used for exterior shots is also in my neighborhood.
Seattle is an amazing place with both culture and incredible natural beauty. If you’ve never been here, I suggest you put it on your bucket list – but be sure to come between mid-July and mid-September when the weather is the best. Otherwise, bring your umbrella.
Sources: factspage.com; jetcityorange.com; nileguide.com; weather.com and seattle.gov