Seattle, Washington, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1851;
Incorporated: 1869
Location: Washington State, on the eastern shore of Puget Sound
Motto: Alki ("By and by," state motto)
Flower: Western rhododendron (state flower)
Time Zone: 4 AM Pacific Standard Time (PST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White, 75.3%; Black, 10.1%; Native American, 1.4%; Asian 11.2%
Elevation: sea level to 137 m (450 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 47°60'N, 122°33'W
Climate: Mild winters and cool summers, with a pronounced rainy season
Annual Mean Temperature: 10.7°C (51.3°F); January 3.9°C (39.1°F); August 33.6°C (65.6°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 38 cm (15 in)
Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 91.8 cm (36.2 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 206
Postal Codes: 98060; 98101–09; 98111–99

2. Getting There

Seattle is a city surrounded by both water and mountains. It is situated on a narrow but hilly isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. To the west lie the Olympic Mountains; Mount Rainier rises in the south; and the Cascade mountain range is found to the east. In addition to the water that surrounds it, Lake Union and the Lake Washington Ship Canal run through the city.


I-5, leading north to Portland and south toward Mexico, is the major north-south route that passes through Seattle; I-405 also runs north-south, but passes just east of Seattle, through Bellevue. From the east, I-90 is the major route offering access to the city. State Route 520 also reaches Seattle from the east.

Bus and Railroad Service

Amtrak provides passenger service between Seattle and major destinations in the United States, and a variety of buslines connect Seattle with major cities in the United States and Canada.


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, located 21 kilometers (13 miles) from downtown Seattle's business center, is the closest airport to Asia in the continental United States. In 1997, 24.7 million passengers passed through Seattle-Tacoma (also known as Sea-Tac), which is served by 41 airlines.


Seattle boasts the fifth-largest container port in the United States. Encompassing over 182 hectares (450 acres) of handling space, it is served by 27 steamship lines and annually serves as a conduit for goods worth $37 billion. Fishmen's Terminal is the home port for the U.S. North Pacific fishing fleet.

Transcontinental rail service is provided by the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern railroads, which operate three inter-modal shipyards in Seattle.

Seattle Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 536,000
Area: 217 sq km (84 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 75.3% white; 10.1% black; 1.4% Native American; 11.2% Asian
Nicknames: The Emerald City

Metropolitan Area

Population: 2,084,000
Description: Seattle-Bellevue-Everett
Area: 11,461 sq km (4,425 sq mi)
World population rank1: 150
Percentage of national population2: 0.8%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.5%
Ethnic composition: 85.7% white; 4.6% black; 8.5% Asian/Pacific Islander


  1. The Seattle metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the United States' total population living in the Seattle metropolitan area.

3. Getting Around

The streets of the downtown area—which extends roughly north-south from Denny Way to Yesler Way, and east-west from Broadway to Elliott Bay—are arranged in a grid pattern. Running parallel to the shoreline (beyond the first two streets, Alaskan Way and Western Avenue) are numbered avenues; named streets run perpendicular to the avenues.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

A county-wide bus system serves the Seattle area, providing free service downtown. A transit plan, when implemented, will integrate public transportation in the metropolitan area using light rail and commuter rail service.


Bus tours of Seattle are offered by Gray Line tours. A variety of boat tours are available, including an all-day cruise of Puget Sound, as well as walking tours and a rail tour.

7. Government

Seattle is governed by a mayor and a nine-member city council, all elected for four-year terms in nonpartisan elections held every odd-numbered year. Both the city's revenues and its appropriations for fiscal year 1998 totaled $1.9 billion.

22. For Further Study


Greater Seattle InfoGuide [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Seattle City Net. [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Seattle Home Page. [Online] Available (accessed December 8, 1999).

Government Offices

Seattle City Hall
600 4th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 386-1234

Mayor's Office
600 4th Ave., 12th Fl.
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 684-4000

King County
516 3rd Ave., Rm. 400
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 296-4040

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Seattle-King County Convention &
Visitors Bureau
520 Pike St., Suite 1300
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 461-5840

Washington State Convention & Trade Center
800 Convention P.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 447-5000


Puget Sound Business Journal
720 3rd Ave. Suite 800
Seattle, WA 98104

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
101 Elliott Ave. W
Seattle, WA 98119

Seattle Times
P.O. Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111


Beebe, Morton. Cascadia: A Tale of Two Cities, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Photographs by Morton Beebe; essays by J. Kingston Pierce. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.

Crowley, Walt. Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1995.

Egan, Timothy. The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest. New York: Knopf, 1990.

Morgan, Murray. Skid Road. New York: Viking Press, 1960.

Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1994.

Reed, Wilson Edward. The Politics of Community Policing: The Case of Seattle. New York: Garland, 1999.

Roe, Jo Ann. Seattle Uncovered. Plano, Texas: Seaside Press, 1995.

Smith, Giselle. Seattle Best Places. Seattle, Washington: Sasquatch Books, 1999.

Taylor, Quintard. The Forging of a Black Community. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.

Tisdale, Sallie. Stepping Westward: The Long Search for Home in the Pacific Northwest. New York: Henry Holt, 1991.


Alki, Birthplace of Seattle. Produced, directed and written by B.J. Bullert; a presentation of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and KCTS Television. Seattle, Washington: Distributed by Wehman Video, 1997. 1 video-cassette (28 min.): sd., col.; 1/2 in.