The Seattle area has been continuously inhabited for more than 4,000 years. That’s a heck of a lot longer than most parts of the United States. With four millennium’s worth of occupation, development, and betterment behind it, it is no surprise that the Emerald City is an interesting one. Here are 13 fascinating facts about Seattle you may or may not know.
Seattle is one of America’s most well-educated cities
More than 50 percent of Seattleites over the age of 25 have a university degree. Using undergraduate college degrees as a baseline for comparison, Seattle has the country’s most well-educated populace.
It’s also one of the most literate
Given that Seattle is the most well-educated city in the United States, it follows logically that the city’s literacy rate is high. But this fact is further supported by the prevalence of bookstores and libraries in the city, both of which are thriving. Per capita, Seattle has more bookstores and library branches than any other city in the country. And the Seattle Public Library system has highest per-capita percentage of library card holders in U.S.
The Fremont Troll is a beacon of mystery
Housed under Seattle’s George Washington Bridge, the Fremont Troll is an iconic Seattle statue shrouded in mystery. Just about everyone living in Seattle is familiar with the troll, but hardly anyone knows where it comes from. The troll, which many Seattleites believe bears relation to the Three Billy Goats Gruff fairytale, was designed by Seattle artists in 1989.
Some 500 people live in Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is a must-see for every visitor to the City of Seattle, and a place most residents know a thing or two about. But a little-known fact about the crafts, fish, and food market is that people live there. Some 500 Seattle residents call the iconic marketplaces’s 400 apartments home.
Seattleites purchase sunglasses in spades
Seattle is known for having one of the drizzliest climates in the United States. But according to industry experts, Seattleites purchased more sunglasses than residents of any other city and 50 percent more than the per-capita national average in 1997. This is likely because Seattle residents often leave home without sunglasses, expecting not to need them. When the sun comes out, they buy a cheap pair.
Seattle’s most-photographed object is not the Space Needle
The Space Needle is the subject of thousands of photos snapped in Seattle every day. But it’s not the most photographed structure or object in the city. That honor is held by the rotating Pink Elephant Car Wash sign on Battery Street at Denny Way.
Seattle is the best city in the country for bicyclists
Call it the Amsterdam of the U.S., if you like the moniker. Neither Seattle’s frequent rainfall nor its steep hills stop its avid cyclists from commuting to and from work on two wheels. According to data compiled by Zillow, the Emerald City is the best U.S. city for cyclists. On a related note, Seattle became the first U.S. city to outfit law enforcement officials with bicycles in 1987.
Seattle is home to the country’s first 24/7 radio station
Formerly called KCMU, Seattle’s KEXP FM was the country’s first 24/7 high-quality content radio station. It is also purportedly one of the first radio stations in the country to play legendary Bronx-born hip-hop artist and DJ Grandmaster Flash.
Seattle is home to the world’s oldest and longest floating bridges
There’s a lot of water in Seattle. It has the largest houseboat population in the world. It’s also home to some pretty cool bridges, including some record-setting floating bridges. The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge is the longest floating bridge in the world, and the Lacey V. Murray Memorial Bridge is the second longest. The Mercer Island Floating Bridge lays claim to title of the world’s first floating bridge.
Seattle has more glassblowing studios than anywhere else in the country
Dale Chihuly is the best-known glassblowing artist in the Seattle area, but the master of glass is just one of hundreds. Tacoma-born Chihuly and Whidbey Island-based Fritz Dreisbach both studied under American glassblowing pioneer Harvey Littleton. Together with the hundreds of proteges they’ve trained, Chihuly and Dreisbach have helped the Pacific Northwest evolve into the glassblowing capital of the United States. The only place on earth with more glassblowing studios is the Italian island of Murano, where sculpted glass has been a prominent art form for more than 700 years.
There are more dogs and cats than children in Seattle.
The adage that dog is man’s best friend rings true in the Queen City. According to 2010 U.S. Census data, Seattle residents include 110,000 children and 180,000 domestic canines. Cats are more popular still, with some 190,000 felines living in Seattle homes.
Seattle’s first millionaire was Henry Yesler
Before either Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos was born, a sawmill operator named Henry Yesler became the first Seattleite to amass a fortune worth more than million. Yesler also served as Seattles 7th and 15th mayor.
Seattle was the first major American city to elect a female mayor
Bertha Knight Landes was elected mayor of Seattle in 1926, just six years after American women won the right to vote. Landes was the only female to serve as mayor of the city until Jenny Durkan assumed Seattle’s mayoral office on November 28, 2017.
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