Seattle is a seaport city on the west coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 725,000 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area’s population stands at 3.87 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the Top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the contiguous United States.
The city is situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canada–United States border. A major gateway for trade with Asia, Seattle is the fourth-largest port in North America in terms of container handling as of 2015.
History of Seattle
Archaeological excavations suggest that Native Americans have inhabited the Seattle area for at least 4,000 years. By the time the first European settlers arrived, the people (subsequently called the Duwamish tribe) occupied at least seventeen villages in the areas around Elliott Bay.
The first European to visit the Seattle area was George Vancouver, in May 1792 during his 1791–95 expedition to chart the Pacific Northwest. In 1851, a large party led by Luther Collins made a location on land at the mouth of the Duwamish River; they formally claimed it on September 14, 1851. Thirteen days later, members of the Collins Party on the way to their claim passed three scouts of the Denny Party. Members of the Denny Party claimed land on Alki Point on September 28, 1851. The rest of the Denny Party set sail from Portland, Oregon, and landed on Alki point during a rainstorm on November 13, 1851.
After a difficult winter, most of the Denny Party relocated across Elliott Bay and claimed land a second time at the site of present-day Pioneer Square, naming this new settlement Duwamps.
Charles Terry and John Low remained at the original landing location and reestablished their old land claim and called it “New York,” but renamed “New York Alki” in April 1853, from a Chinook word meaning, roughly, “by and by” or “someday.”
With a land area of 83.9 square miles (217.3 km²), Seattle is the northernmost city with at least 500,000 people in the United States, farther north than Canadian cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, at about the same latitude as Salzburg, Austria.
The topography of Seattle is hilly. The city lies on several hills, including Capitol Hill, First Hill, West Seattle, Beacon Hill, Magnolia, Denny Hill, and Queen Anne. The Kitsap and the Olympic peninsulas along with the Olympic mountains lie to the west of Puget Sound, while the Cascade Range and Lake Sammamish lie to the east of Lake Washington. The city has over 5,540 acres (2,242 ha) of parkland.
Seattle is located between the saltwater Puget Sound (an arm of the Pacific Ocean) to the west and Lake Washington to the east. The city’s chief harbor, Elliott Bay, is part of Puget Sound, which makes the city an oceanic port. To the west, beyond Puget Sound, are the Kitsap Peninsula and Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula; to the east, beyond Lake Washington and the Eastside suburbs, are Lake Sammamish and the Cascade Range. Lake Washington’s waters flow to Puget Sound through the Lake Washington Ship Canal (consisting of two man-made canals, Lake Union, and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks at Salmon Bay, ending in Shilshole Bay on Puget Sound).
Seattle has a temperate marine climate, classified as oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb), with cool, wet winters and mild, relatively dry summers. The city and environs are part of USDA hardiness zone 8b, with isolated coastal pockets falling under 9a.
Moderated Extreme Temperatures
Temperature extremes are moderated by the adjacent Puget Sound, greater Pacific Ocean, and Lake Washington. Thus extreme heat waves are rare in the Seattle area, as are very cold temperatures (below about 15 °F (−9 °C)). The Seattle area is the most cloudy region of the United States, due in part to frequent storms and lows moving in from the adjacent Pacific Ocean.
Extreme Precipitation & Clouds
In November, Seattle averages more rainfall than any other U.S. city of more than 250,000 people; it also ranks highly in winter precipitation. Conversely, the city receives some of the lowest precipitation amounts of any large city from June to September. Seattle is one of the five rainiest major U.S. cities as measured by the number of days with precipitation, and it receives some of the lowest amounts of annual sunshine among major cities in the lower 48 states, along with some cities in the Northeast, Ohio and Michigan.
According to the 2012-2016 American Community Survey (ACS), the racial makeup of the city was 65.7% Caucasian, 14.1% Asian, 7.0% of African origin, 6.6% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 0.4% Native American, 0.9% Pacific Islander, 0.2% other races, and 5.6% two or more races.
|Black or African American||7.9%||10.1%||7.1%||1.0%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||6.6%||3.6%||2.0%||n/a|
|Two or more races||5.1%||n/a||n/a||n/a|
According to the 2010 United States Census, Seattle had a population of 608,660 with a racial and ethnic composition as follows:
- White: 69.5% (Non-Hispanic Whites: 66.3%)
- Asian: 13.8% (4.1% Chinese, 2.6% Filipino, 2.2% Vietnamese, 1.3% Japanese, 1.1% Korean, 0.8% Indian, 0.3% Cambodian, 0.3% Laotian, 0.2% Pakistanis, 0.2% Indonesian, 0.2% Thai)
- Black or African American: 7.9%
- Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 6.6% (4.1% Mexican, 0.3% Puerto Rican, 0.2% Guatemalan, 0.2% Salvadoran, 0.2% Cuban)
- American Indian and Alaska Native: 0.8%
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.4%
- Other race: 2.4%
- Two or more races: 5.1%