With its majestic mountains, world-class coffee shops and stunning architecture, Seattle is a traveler’s dream. GEICO recently opened an office just outside the Emerald City, which prompted us to get to know the city—and all of its splendors—better.
Rain? Not So Much
Seattle is famous—and sometimes derided—for its downpours, but the city actually gets less precipitation than Boston, New York and Houston. Just 38 inches of the wet stuff falls annually in Seattle—50 percent less than what Miami receives.
A Reading Rainbow
Seattle doesn’t only have beauty—it also has brains. It’s is the second-most literate metropolis in America, according to a recent study by Central Connecticut State University. The city, which finished behind Washington, D.C., was lauded for its libraries, education system and voracious online readers.
Seattle is famous for its architecture, and no building is more iconic than the Space Needle, which stands 605 feet tall. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi. A marvel of modern engineering, its hallmark is a saucer-shaped rotating restaurant so perfectly balanced that it turns on a one-horsepower engine.
Seattle sits on the shores of Lake Washington, a deep, soft-bottomed lake that for years flummoxed bridge builders trying to connect the city to neighboring towns. Traditional suspension bridges were a no-go; they would have required supports as tall as the Space Needle. So, engineers settled on a novel solution: floating spans held up by massive pontoons. Seattle is now home to three such bridges, which are among the longest of their kind in the world.
How many cities can boast their own superhero? Well, Seattle can. Since 2010, its streets have been patrolled by a masked vigilante named Phoenix Jones (real name: Ben Fodor). A mixed martial arts fighter, Fodor has been credited with stopping car thefts, breaking up street fights and disarming a knife-wielding attacker.
No city in America has a closer relationship with the coffee bean than Seattle. It boasts a reported 35 java joints per 100,000 people, by far the highest ratio in the country. Seattle is also the home of Starbucks, which opened its first store in the iconic Pike Place Market in 1971. The company, named after the first mate in Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick, now has upwards of 21,000 locations around the world.
More than a century ago, Seattle was the jumping-off point for prospectors hoping to strike it rich in the Klondike. Today, a similar northern migration still takes place, but the would-be gold miners have been replaced by cruise ship passengers. Nearly 900,000 people are expected to shuffle through the Port of Seattle, most bound for the rugged coastline of Alaska. Those sightseeing tours have proven to be lucrative for the city; this year, almost 200 ships are expected to make port, pumping over $400 million into the regional economy.
If there’s one Emerald City product that can rival Starbucks in terms of name recognition, it’s grunge music. The movement, which infuses elements of hardcore punk and heavy metal, grew out of Seattle’s alternative rock scene. Its leading light was the band Nirvana, whose internationally revered frontman, Kurt Cobain, grew up in nearby Aberdeen and died, at 27, in his Seattle home.