by D.J. Wilson –
At an intimate dinner party at the East Coast home of a friend, our small group engaged in a conversation on the West Coast. A guest spoke highly of a recent trip to Seattle, Washington, and encouraged our group to visit this exciting destination. People are generally surprised to learn, despite its seasonal downpours and wet winters; it doesn’t rain every day of the year in Seattle. In fact, the summers are pleasantly warm and dry. As the largest city in the Northwestern United States, its metropolitan area is home to over 3.4 million inhabitants. This major city encompasses six of the busiest ports in the United States and serves as an important gateway for trade with Asia. Seattle lies on seven hills, just like the city of Rome, resulting in interesting topography. Boasting numerous bodies of water and rich scenery complete with lush green forests, Seattle earned the nickname, “The Emerald City.” Interestingly, Seattle has a host of monikers such as the Rainy City, the Gateway to Alaska, the Queen City, the City of Flowers, and the Jet City. Home to Starbucks and other specialty gourmet coffee shops, it is also known as the coffee capital of the world.
Many notable landmarks are located there, like the well visited Space Needle. Edward E. Carlson, former President of Western International Hotels, is responsible for the creation of the iconic structure. His vision began in 1959 with an initial drawing of the building on an unlikely piece of sketch paper, a napkin. The original design evolved into the space-age looking structure one sees today, created for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, with the help of architect John Graham. In order to make his initial vision work architecturally, changes and enhancements were made which resulted in its unique flying saucer shape. Overcoming obstacles, such as receiving financing and finding a proper location, did not prove to be easy. Just 13 months shy of the World’s Fair opening, suitable land was fortunately found and sold to private investors for $75,000. Construction began by the Howard S. Wright Construction Company and things moved quickly. 467 cement trucks spent an entire day filling holes to create a concrete base for the structure. The project is recorded as the largest continuous concrete pour on the West Coast. Special attention was given to the design to include a revolving restaurant and an Observation Deck. Achieving balance and rotation was paramount to its ability to function. The 605 foot tall Space Needle was proudly completed in December of 1961 and was officially opened on the first day of the World’s Fair, April 21, 1962. Over time, improvements were made, including newer elevator installations in 1993. This exceptional structure was built at a cost of $4.5 million dollars. During the World’s Fair nearly 20,000 people a day went to the top. Almost 50 years later, and in spite of occasional closures due to severe inclement weather, the Space Needle hosts over 2.3 million visitors and is listed as Seattle’s number one destination for tourists. This incredible structure withstood a 6.8 Richter scale earthquake in 2001, attesting to its superior strength and design. The tower has 25 lightning rods on its roof to prevent lightening damage. In recent years, the edifice has undergone renovations to maintain modernization and overall integrity. If you enjoy heights and you’re interested in 360 degree breathtaking view of Seattle as far as the eyes can see, you’re bound to take pleasure in the breathtaking views high atop this iconic building.
For those a bit leery of heights, the historic Pike Place Market may be more your pace. In fact, it is one of Seattle’s landmarks and special treasures. Overlooking the downtown waterfront, the market offers an abundance of delicious fruits and produce, fresh fish, meats and other culinary delights. The market contains booths of unique and clever crafts, antiques, flowers, ethnic foods and more. If you’re looking to take home a souvenir to remember your visit, Pike Place Market is a mecca for great deals and hosts over 10 million visitors a year. This charming and lively marketplace covers an amazing 9 plus acres and is in fact so large that more than one visit may be necessary. With a great many stalls, shops and galleries, there is much to explore. Having celebrated its centennial in 2007, this bustling center has an interesting history. Built in response to public outcry over unreasonably high food costs, the City Council passed an ordinance establishing a public farmers market on the west side of Pike Place. Shortly after opening in 1907, it became a popular place for Seattle citizens to shop for and save money on food. Farmers were happy, too, because they no longer took losses from commission houses. Local farmers wanting to sell goods at the market were required to prove their produce was home grown on the land in which they lived. Stalls were assigned by lottery and in 1912 the rent was 10 cents a day. After WWII, and with the building of grocery stores, the market place began to suffer. Over time, rehabilitation and revitalization was necessary to keep the market running, using both public and private funds. The result was its successful restoration, making it the oldest continuously operated public market in the United States. A visit to this historic and popular tourist attraction is mandatory to achieve a well rounded visit of Seattle.
Be sure to check out the thrilling adventures this stunning West Coast City has to offer. There are many stimulating things to see and do in this beautiful coastal city, situated between the inlet of the Puget Sound and the large freshwater of Lake Washington. Observe the beautiful downtown Seattle skyline and panoramic water views from high atop the Space Needle, or discover the famous Pike Place Market and immerse yourself in the history and charm of the metropolis. Summer is an especially great season to explore the region and partake in a ferry ride or visit the lovely fountains at the aquarium. Even if it does rain, you can relax and enjoy a hot cup of coffee indoors at one of Seattle’s delightfully abundant cafés in this beautiful city in the Pacific Northwest.