Post Summary: 51 Fun Facts About Seattle, Washington
Think you know everything about Seattle? Think again!
In this blog post, we’ll unveil a plethora of fun facts about Seattle that’ll leave even the most well-versed local or curious student surprised.
From jaw-dropping statistics to wild stories, we’ve got the true Seattle scoop that not any old guidebook can offer.
Wondering about the city’s unique connection to coffee? Or perhaps, the secrets behind its breathtaking skyline? Stick around, dear reader, because we’ve got all these answers and so much more.
You’ll ace your next Seattle trivia in no time!
50 Fun Facts About Seattle, Washington
- 50 Fun Facts About Seattle, Washington
- Seattle Origins + Basic Facts About Seattle
- Interesting Facts About Seattle
- Seattle History Facts
- Seattle Weather & Geology Facts
- Fun Facts About Seattle (Culture + Music)
- Weird Facts About Seattle, Washington
- FAQ's about Seattle
- Final Thoughts For Fun Facts About Seattle
- More Fun Facts In the PNW
Seattle Origins + Basic Facts About Seattle
Before we dive into all the fun facts about Seattle, let’s start with the basics! Here are some cool things to know about the history of Seattle.
1. Seattle was named after Chief Seattle
Chief Seattle was a Lushootseed /Suquamush leader known for his public speaking and active role is establishing business and trade with pioneers to the Pacific Northwest.
The warm welcome and aid that Chief Seattle gave visitors to his homeland made him popular, and earning him a positive reputation among white settlers.
2. Population of Seattle
As of 2021, the population of Seattle is 733,919 residents. Now, this only covers people living within city limits!
The great Seattle area is home to 4,102,400 people as of 2022.
3. Seattle’s Demographic Information
Seattle is considered to be a diverse city! The demographic breakdown of Seattle is as follows (according to the 2010 census)
- White/Caucasian: 69.5%
- Asian: 13.8%
- Black: 7.9%
- Hispanic/Latino: 9%
- American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.8%
4. The First Settlers in Seattle were the Duwamish and Salish Tribes and the Collins and Denny Party (1851)
The Duwamish tribe lived in the lands around Elliot Bay, Duwamish River, Lake Sammamish, and Lake Washington. Part of the Salish tribes, these people lived in the area for millenia before white settlers arrived.
The First white settlers to arrive in Seattle were from the Collins Party and the Denny Party in 1851. The Collins settled in what now is the Georgetown Neighborhood, and the Denny Party in Alki Beach area.
5. Seattle’s Climate is Mild and Marine
Seattle’s climate type is mild and marine, known for its cloudiness and rain in the winter. It doesn’t get extreme temperatures because it’s shielded by the Cascades Mountains in the east, and Olympic Mountains to the west.
When planning a trip here, make sure to refer to our Seattle packing list – we have suggestions for all weather and seasons!
6. Seattle’s Income and Cost of Housing
The city hit a new record in 2021. The median household income for Seattle residents is $110,800!
That being said, Seattle’s housing price average is $836,889.
Some neighborhoods are more expensive than others (Madison Park, Queen Anne, Waterfront) but the father you get away from the city’s center, the less expensive housing prices become.
Looking to move to the PNW? Here are our favorite places to live in the Pacific Northwest, including stats for surrounding area cities too!
7. The original city of Seattle is underground
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is one of the most popular things to do in Seattle. If you love history and learning about the stories that shaped a place, book a Seattle Underground Tour.
After the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, the city dramatically changed how it was build, changing from predominantly wood structures to brick and stone.
The tour covers four city blocks of Pioneer Square, sharing stories about the Coast Salish people, Klondike Gold Rush, all while wandering through underground tunnels.
8. Seattle’s Nickname is the Emerald City
Seattle is nicknamed the “Emerald City” because it’s considered the “Jewel of the Pacific Northwest”! In 1982 the Visitors Bureau put on a contest to come up with a nickname, and this one was the most popular.
Seattle has other nicknames too! Other ones include Jet City, Queen City, Sea-Town, and Gateway to Alaska.
Interesting Facts About Seattle
9. Pike Place was almost demolished
Over 50 years ago, Pike Place Market was at risk of demolition in favor of urban renewal. In its place would have been brutalists style buildings, right on the waterfront.
A group called Friends of the Market fought to keep Pike Place Market back in 1971. Ultimately, they convinced Seattle voters to save the market. Now it’s the largest continuously operating public market in the United States!
10. Seattle is an educated city!
According to WalletHub, Seattle ranks the ninth most educated city in the country. However, this marker fluctuates in number, but consistently remains at the top of charts!
Around 63% of people in Seattle hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
It is said to have been the first city to cross the 60% graduate threshold. It’s not surprising to us, since Seattle is home to several 4-year universities.
These include University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, Northwest University, University of Puget Sound, and Seattle University.
11. There are several Fortune 500 Companies located in the Puget Sound
Why are so many big companies in Seattle? Well, there are several reasons why these companies call the Pacific Northwest home!
First, many of the founders live here, including the famous Bill Gates!
Here are just some of the most recognizable Fortune 500 Companies that call Seattle home:
- Alaska Airlines
- Costco Wholesale
- PACCAR Inc.
12. Seattle is for nature lovers
Many people move to Seattle for its job opportunities, but also proximity to nature too! Less than a 30-minute drive from the city will bring you to beautiful hiking trails near Seattle.
Some of the most popular trails for Seattle residents include Rattlesnake Ledge, Poo Poo Point, and Mount Si / Little Si.
13. Seattle has had recent record breaking temperatures
While Seattle is generally regarded as having a temperate climate, there have been a few record-breaking weather events in recent history!
On July 29th 2009, it reached 103 degrees in the city, In July 2022, temperatures reached stayed above 90 degrees for longer than 6 days in a row!
On the opposite (colder) side of things, the last time Seattle reached its record of 0 degrees was on January 31st, 1950.
14. Seattle has a thriving arts & culture scene
Seattle is home to some iconic performing arts centers, theaters, and concert venues.
Popular venues include the Seattle Repertory Theatre (aka Seattle Rep), the Paramount Theatre, 5th Avenue Theater, and the Neptune in the U-District.
Seattle History Facts
15. The Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska helped the city of Seattle grow
On their quest for find gold in Alaska, many explorers’ final stop before the Last Frontier was often in Seattle!
They came to outfit themselves with clothing, gear, and food before the journey north. This is where Filson got its origins, as well as many other outdoor outfitters in the area.
You can visit the Klondike Gold Rush Museum in downtown Seattle to learn a little more about the history of this time period. If you come on a First Thursday of the month, it’s one of the best free things to do in Seattle!
16. Seattle is the coffee capital of the United States
Seattle is often regarded at the Coffee Capitol of the United States.
It is said that there are 35 coffee shops for every 100,000 residents, and that the average person in Seattle spends $36 a month on coffee drinks.
Seattle is a hub for coffee roasting operations, as well as the founding city for many famous coffeeshops. You’ll probably recognize names like Starbucks, Tully’s Coffee, and Caffé Vita!
17. Seattle workers led the first strike in U.S. History
On February 6th, 1919, Seattle coal workers in steel, coal, and other industries didn’t come to work. This lasted 5-days, and was the final straw in wage grievances, from the tumultuous era of World War 1.
Over 65,000 workers from shipyards and other industries came together to fight for fairer wages, and it was ultimately a success.
It is now known in history as the 1919 Seattle General Strike.
18. SoDo Neighborhood was named because is was “South of the Kingdome”
The SoDo neighborhood in Seattle got its name for being “South of the Kingdome.” The Kingdome was the stadium home of the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, and Seattle Supersonics from 1976 to 2000.
The Kingdome was demolished in 2000 and its its place, the Lumen Field (Seahawks) and T-Mobile Park was erected.
That being said, the name SoDo stuck, so now it’s referred to as “South of Downtown.”
19. The Space Needle design was originally sketched on a napkin
Deciding what to do for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, designer Edward E. Carlson (the chief organizer of the World’s Fair) came up with an idea to make a building in the shape of a flying saucer.
He quickly sketched the idea on a cocktail napkin, thus solidifying in history the Space Needle as one of the most recognizable structures in the world.
20. Seattle was the first major US city to elect a female mayor
In 1926, Bertha Knight Landes became the first woman mayor of Seattle. She was also the first woman mayor of a major U.S. city.
After the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, giving women the right to vote, she led the way for many others to follow in her footsteps.
21. Seattle opened one of the first gas stations in the world
The first gas station in Seattle was opened in 1907 on the corner of Holgate Street and Western Avenue. It was a huge success and thrust Seattle into the world of the fast-growing automobile transportation movement.
It’s often said to be the first gas station in the country (you can even find plaque honoring the title at Seattle’s Waterfront Park). However, other sources claim that the first was actually in St. Louis, Missouri in 1905.
We’ll leave that up to you to decide!
Seattle Weather & Geology Facts
22. Many Seattle parks were designed by the Olmstead brothers
The Olmstead Brothers are famous for designing one of the best photography locations in New York City…Central Park! You can also thank them for designing at least 37 parks and playgrounds in Seattle too!
In 1899, Seattle hired the Olmstead Brothers to design parks for the rapidly growing city. Today, you can see the beautiful results of this talented landscape architecture firm all over Seattle.
These parks include Green Lake, Cal Anderson, Woodland Park, Coleman, Washington Park Arboretum, Frink, Volunteer, Hiawatha, Seward, Jefferson, and Schmitz.
23. Seattle averages just under 40 inches of precipitation a year
Seattle is known for its rain! At an average of 39.24 inches of precipitation per year, the vast majority falls as rain instead of snow.
While it isn’t the rainiest city in the world, Washington still holds one of the wettest temperate rainforests in the world – The Hoh Rainforest.
24. Seattle is home to the world’s longest floating bridge
The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge (called the 520 Bridge by locals) stretches 7,708.49 feet, winning a Guinness World Record. It’s located across Lake Washington, connecting the cities of Seattle and Bellevue.
25. All three of Washington’s national parks are within driving distance from Seattle
Each one is around a 2-3 hour drive from the city, making them very accessible for weekend trips from Seattle!
While you can’t see all three in one single day, you CAN create an epic road trip to drive to each one. Make sure to grab our 3-day, 5-day, and 10-day Washington road trip itinerary!
26. Harbor Island is 100% man-made
It’s true! Harbor Island is the largest man-made island in the United States!
To build the island, they used dredge from the Duwamish River, and soil from regrading Dearborn Street and Jackson Hill in Seattle.
It’s mostly used for shipping and industrial activities, and hosting cranes, cargo, warehouses, and laboratories.
27. Seattle is build on seven separate hills
The “Seven Hills of Seattle” is a catchy name to relate the city to the Seven Hills of Rome. While the number is arbitrary, it’s not actually characterized by exactly seven hills. However, Seattle is still carved out by glacial activity thousands of years ago, with drumlins (clay mounds) making up a lot of the cityscape.
You can easily name off several hills that make up the neighborhoods of Seattle. These include First Hill, Queen Anne Hill, Beacon Hill, Yesler Hill, Cherry Hill, Capitol Hill and Denny Hill.
28. Seattle would probably survive a Mount Rainier eruption…
Seattle is out of the major paths of destruction of a possible Mount Rainier eruption. However, the city would suffer in several other ways!
Residents wouldn’t get damage from pyroclastic flow, but they would receive volcanic ash if it blows into the city. Seattle would also be the first place people flee to post-eruption, creating an influx of refugees and displaced people in the city.
29. …But definitely wouldn’t survive “The Big One”
If you’ve lived in Seattle for any amount of time, you’ve heard of “The Big One.” The title refers to the impending doom of a supposedly long-overdue earthquake to hit Seattle.
While no tsunami is destined for Seattle, shifting plates and questionable building codes will absolutely rock the city to its core!
30. Seattle’s Ferry system is the largest in the country
The Washington State Department of Transportation boasts 21 ferries across the Puget Sound. Ever wanted to check out the San Juan Island or get over the Bainbridge Island from downtown? You can the Washington State Ferries to thank for the ride!
They serve the inland waterways of the Salish Sea, and carry over 23 million passengers every year.
31. Seattle sits between two mountain ranges
Seattle is sandwiched between two huge mountain ranges. The Olympic Mountains are to the west, and the Cascade Mountains are to the east.
If you are crossing Lake Union Bridge (aka Ship Canal Bridge) on Interstate 5 on a clear day, you can see them both out your car windows!
Fun Facts About Seattle (Culture + Music)
Now, let’s get to some of the best Seattle fun facts about pop culture!
32. Seattle is the birthplace of Grunge music
Did you know that Seattle is the birthplace of the music genre called Grunge? It’s a mix between elements of punk rock and heavy metal, without the speed and structure of that music.
You’ll probably recognize iconic grunge bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. They all originated in Seattle!
This type of music started in the 1980’s and quickly went global as it became popular. Some popular spots to listen to grunge music still today are El Corazon, Re-Bar, Central Saloon, and The Crocodile.
33. Seattle has six professional sports teams.
Settle LOVES being fans of sports teams! Lucky for us, there are six professional teams that call Seattle home. These include the Seattle Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders FC, OL Reign FC, and Seattle Storm.
The newest addition to the Seattle pro sports teams lineup include the Seattle Kraken, which began their National Hockey League career in the 2021-22 season.
33. The Seattle Seahawks’ logo was inspired by an indigenous northwest coast mask.
The Seattle Seahawks logo actually has quite historical and cultural significance in the Pacific Northwest.
The original Seahawks logo designs referred to books on Northwest indigenous culture to find inspiration. They found some art from the Kwakwaka’wakw, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes of the Northwest coast that ultimately helped solidify the logo today.
The logo represents a supernatural eagle and its transformation to human form. It’s also called a Thunderbird mask, and is used by dancers in choreography to symbolize transformation.
34. Amazon was founded in Seattle
On July 5th, 1994, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com from his garage in Bellevue, Washington. Amazon started our as a bookseller, but quickly branched out into music, web services (AWS), cloud storage, and basically everything as we know it today!
In the early days, a bell would ring in the office to signify when someone made a purchase! I’m sure that would be incredibly noisy if they kept up that tradition today!
35. The first Starbucks was founded in Pike Place in Seattle, Washington.
Starbucks opened its very first store in Pike Place Market on March 30th, 1971. However, while this is technically rhe first store, 1912 Pike Place was it’s second location! It was originally started at 200 Western Ave for 5 years before making the move over to the market.
You can visit the Pike Place store still today, with the old logo inspired by Moby Dick and the mythical creature, The Siren.
36. Seattle is home to many movies and TV shows
You’ve probably seen at least one of these iconic movies filmed in the Pacific Northwest (but more specifically, set in Seattle!)
- Sleepless in Seattle
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
- War Games
- Captain Fantastic
- 10 Things I Hate About You – the Fremont Troll made an appearance!
Or even these TV show set in Seattle:
- Grey’s Anatomy
- Rick & Morty
Seattle is home to many TV shows and movies because of its gorgeous skyline and unique culture. It’s hard not to love Seattle!
37. Seattle is one of the most bike friendly cities in the US
According the Wallet Hub’s 2023 Greenest Cities report, Seattle ranks #5 on the list!
This can be attributed to its huge bike culture, and friendliness towards cyclists.
Now, some neighborhoods are more bike-friendly than others. Ballard, Capitol Hill, University District, Roosevelt, and Greenlake all score 89 or higher in Seattle’s most bike able neighborhoods.
Did you know: Seattle was also home to the first police on bikes in 1987, helping specifically improve the downtown area.
38. Bill Gate’s House is on Lake Washington
If you are lucky enough to have a friend with a boat, you can zoom by Bill Gate’s house! Located in Medina on Lake Washington, Bill Gate’s home can be seen right from the water.
Don’t get too close though – security is tight. Also, it’s just common courtesy to give people privacy in their homes – even if they are billionaires.
39. The Rain City Superhero Movement made Seattle home to real-life superheroes
Between 2011 and 2014, a group of costumed Seattle activists decided take crime-fighting into their own hands. They walked around town stopping car jackings, breaking up fights, and deterring vandals.
They did some good, mostly stopping petty crimes and muggings. However, police officers preferred the costumed citizens not put themselves in harm’s way, and act as solid witnesses instead.
40. The top of the Smith Tower is actually a private apartment
Want to live in a penthouse that touches Seattle’s skyline? The Smith Tower’s top floor apartment is now for lease!
Previously lived in my venture capitalist Petra Franklin Lahaie and her husband David, their 20-year lease recently ended and the apartment loft is back on the market.
You can rent the space for a modest $17,000 per month.
Weird Facts About Seattle, Washington
41. The gum wall is one of the grossest attractions in the world
Don’t like chewed gum on the bottom of your shoe? You’re not going to like Pike Place’s Gum Wall…
What started in the 1990s by Unexpected Productions sticking their gum on the outside of the building has grown and expanded down the brick walls of Post Alley.
It’s one of the germiest attractions in the world, second to only the Blarney Stone in Ireland, which requires you to put your actual lips on a piece of stone!!
42. Seattle Seahawks Fans Caused an Earthquake
During a 67-yard touchdown by Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks in 2011, fans registered a 2.0 earthquake from screaming. It’s now commonly known as the “Beast Quake” and helped put Seattle on the map for the loudest stadium.
43. …and so did Taylor Swift fans!
But that record was broken recently in July 2023, when Taylor Swift’s Eras tour came to Lumen Field. During her famous song “Shake it Off”, fans registered a 2.3 magnitude earthquake.
They also repeatedly exceeded the noise level at Lumen Field in 2011, when Taylor performed several surprise songs.
44. Seattle’s official hot dog includes cream cheese and onions*
Ever heard of a Seattle-style hot dog?
It’s a hot dog with grilled onions, mustard, sour kraut, and cream cheese. You will also see it topped with jalapeños, bacon, or even ch
You can most easily find the Seattle hot dog for sale in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, in downtown touristy areas, and especially outside the stadiums during sports events.
45. Settle hosts a Naked Bike Ride every year
Naked bike ride? It all started in 1993 when two naked bikers crashed the Fremont Solstice Parade. Now, people intentionally come for a pre-parade “naked” bike ride before the big festival starts.
You won’t find TOTALLY naked riders like the OG’s in 1993, but you’ll find hundreds of mostly-nude or body painted riders celebrating the Solstice here.
46. There are more dogs in Seattle than there are children
As recently as 2019, Seattle has recorded 100,000 children under 18 years old. That’s only 16% of Seattle’s population!
Dogs on the other hand are a different story. The most recent count was roughly 150,000 dogs in the city, which has been consistent in outranking children here!
47. The Fourth & Blanchard Building is known as the Darth Vader Building
With it’s three dramatic rectangular windows and black facade, it’s easy to see how it got the nickname the Darth Vader Building.
The all-black angular architecture of the Fourth and Blanchard Building makes it easy to see the resemblance!
48. Seattle has the highest rate of UFO sightings in the county
Did you know that residents of Washington have reported over 6,800 UFO sightings to the National UFO Reporting Center?
It’s more than double the rate of reports for most states, including Nevada and California! It’s around 88 sightings per 100k residents, vs. California’s 39 per 100k.
Could you imagine how big that number could/would be if it’s wasn’t so cloudy all the time??
49. The term “Flying Saucer” was coined in the Seattle area
As pilot Kenneth A. Arnold was flying past Mount Rainier in 1947, he noticed something strange in the sky.
He spent the rest of his life trying to explain what he saw, and that’s when “flying saucer” became part of the mainstream vocabulary of Americans.
50. Seattleites buy more sunglasses per capita than any other US city
Who would have thought that Seattle residents buy more sunglasses than any other US city?? We buy them almost 50% more than the national average!
Maybe it’s because we don’t use sunglasses as often, and forget where we put them?
51. There are many famous Seattleites
So, who lives in Seattle that’s famous? A LOT of people actually!
The most well-known famous Seattle residents include the following:
- Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft)
- Jeff Bezos (Founder of Amazon)
- Rainn Wilson (known as Dwight Schrute from The Office)
- Bruce Lee (Actor)
- Sir Mix-A-Lot
- Jimi Hendrix
- Dave Matthews
FAQ’s about Seattle
What is the most famous thing about Seattle?
If you had to break it down into the most recognizable things in Seattle, it would be the Space Needle, Starbucks, and Bill Gates!
What food is Seattle famous for?
Seattle is famous for their coffee (but that’s a drink) and Seattle hot dogs. You will also find high quality salmon, oysters, teriyaki, beer, and clam chowder here!
Does Seattle get snow?
It’s not unrealistic for Seattle to get snow. However, because of the marine climate and mild temperatures, it doesn’t stick around for long.
What do you call citizens of Seattle?
You call the residents of Seattle, “Seattleites.” It probably pays homage to the high-tech culture of the city, plus it just sounds awesome!
Final Thoughts For Fun Facts About Seattle
There are so many fun Seattle facts to discover! Thanks for sticking around and learning a bit more about our unique city.
We hope this helped shed some light on the history and culture of Seattle!