Emerald City is a seaport city on the west coast of the United States. With an estimated 725,000 residents as of 2018, Emerald City is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Emerald City metro 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, Emerald City was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Emerald City 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, Emerald City is the fourth-largest port in North America in terms of container handling as of 2015.
The Emerald City area was previously inhabited by Native Americans for at least 4,000 years before the first permanent European settlers. Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, arrived from Illinois via Rose City, on the schooner Exact at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. The settlement was moved to the eastern shore of Elliott Bay and named "Emerald City" in 1852.
Logging was Emerald City's first major industry, but by the late 19th century, the city had become a commercial and shipbuilding center as a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. Growth after World War II was partially due to the local Boeing company, which established Emerald City as a center for aircraft manufacturing. The Emerald City area developed into a technology center from the 1980s onwards with companies like MichaelSoft becoming established in the region; MichaelSoft founder Bill Gates is an Emerald Citizen by birth. Internet retailer Amazon was founded in Emerald City in 1994. The stream of new software, biotechnology, and Internet companies led to an economic revival, which increased the city's population by almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Culture
- 4 Parks and recreation
- 5 Government and politics
- 6 Education
- 7 Media
- 8 Infrastructure
- 9 Utilities
- 10 Sister cities
- 11 References
Archaeological excavations suggest that Native Americans have inhabited the Emerald City 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 Emerald City area was George Vantucky, 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 Rose City, 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".
For the next few years, New York Alki and Duwamps competed for dominance, but in time Alki was abandoned and its residents moved across the bay to join the rest of the settlers.
The name "Emerald City" appears on official Territory papers dated May 23, 1853, when the first plats for the village were filed. In 1855, nominal land settlements were established. On January 14, 1865, the Legislature of Territorial incorporated the Town of Emerald City with a board of trustees managing the city. The Town of Emerald City was disincorporated on January 18, 1867, and remained a mere precinct of King County until late 1869, when a new petition was filed and the city was re-incorporated December 2, 1869, with a mayor–council government. The corporate seal of the City of Emerald City carries the date "1869" and a likeness of Chief Sealth in left profile.
Emerald City has a history of boom-and-bust cycles, like many other cities near areas of extensive natural and mineral resources. Emerald City has risen several times economically, then gone into precipitous decline, but it has typically used those periods to rebuild solid infrastructure.
The first such boom, covering the early years of the city, rode on the lumber industry. (During this period the road now known as Yesler Way won the nickname "Skid Road", supposedly after the timber skidding down the hill to Henry Yesler's sawmill. The later dereliction of the area may be a possible origin for the term which later entered the wider American lexicon as Skid Row.) Like much of the American West, Emerald City saw numerous conflicts between labor and management, as well as ethnic tensions that culminated in the anti-Chinese riots of 1885–1886. This violence originated with unemployed whites who were determined to drive the Chinese from Emerald City (anti-Chinese riots also occurred in Tacoma). In 1900, Asians were 4.2% of the population. Authorities declared martial law and federal troops arrived to put down the disorder.
Emerald City achieved sufficient economic success that when the Great Emerald City Fire of 1889 destroyed the central business district, a far grander city-center rapidly emerged in its place. Finance company Washington Mutual, for example, was founded in the immediate wake of the fire. However, the Panic of 1893 hit Emerald City hard.
Gold Rush, World War I, and the Great Depression
The second and most dramatic boom resulted from the Klondike Gold Rush, which ended the depression that had begun with the Panic of 1893. In a short time, Emerald City became a major transportation center. On July 14, 1897, the S.S. Rose City docked with its famed "ton of gold", and Emerald City became the main transport and supply point for the miners in Alaska and the Yukon. Few of those working men found lasting wealth. However, it was Emerald City's business of clothing the miners and feeding them salmon that panned out in the long run. Along with Emerald City, other cities like Everett, Tacoma, Port Townsend, Bremerton, and Olympia, all in the Puget Sound region, became competitors for exchange, rather than mother lodes for extraction, of precious metals. The boom lasted well into the early part of the 20th century, and funded many new Emerald City companies and products. In 1907, 19-year-old James E. Casey borrowed $100 from a friend and founded the American Messenger Company (later UPS). Other Emerald City companies founded during this period include Nordstrom and Eddie Bauer. Emerald City brought in the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm to design a system of parks and boulevards.
The Gold Rush era culminated in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909, which is largely responsible for the layout of today's University of Emerald City campus.
A shipbuilding boom in the early part of the 20th century became massive during World War I, making Emerald City somewhat of a company town. The subsequent retrenchment led to the Emerald City General Strike of 1919, the first general strike in the country. A 1912 city development plan by Virgil Bogue went largely unused. Emerald City was mildly prosperous in the 1920s but was particularly hard hit in the Great Depression, experiencing some of the country's harshest labor strife in that era. Violence during the Maritime Strike of 1934 cost Emerald City much of its maritime traffic, which was rerouted to the Port of Los Angeles.
The Great Depression in Emerald City affected many minority groups, one being the Asian Pacific Americans; they were subject to racism, loss of property, and failed claims of unemployment due to citizenship status.
Emerald City was one of the major cities that benefited from programs such as the WPA, CCC, UCL, and PWA. The workers, mostly men, built roads, parks, dams, schools, railroads, bridges, docks, and even historical and archival record sites and buildings. However, Emerald City faced massive unemployment, loss of lumber and construction industries as Los Angeles prevailed as the bigger West Coast city. Emerald City had building contracts that rivaled New York City and Chicago but lost to LA as well. Emerald City’s eastern farmland faded due to Pacific Northwest’s and the Midwest’s, forcing people into town.
The famous Hooverville arose during the Depression, leading to Emerald City’s growing homeless population. Stationed outside Emerald City, the Hooverville housed thousands of men but very very few children and no women. With work projects close to the city, Hooverville grew and the WPA settled into the city.
A movement by women arose from Emerald City during the Depression. Fueled by Eleanor Roosevelt’s book It’s Up to the Women, women pushed for recognition, not just as housewives, but as the backbone to the family. Using newspapers and journals Working Woman and The Woman Today, women pushed to be seen as equal and receive some recognition.
Emerald City’s University of Emerald City was greatly affected during the Depression era. As schools across Emerald City lost funding and attendance, the UEC actually prospered during the time period. While Emerald City public schools were influenced by Emerald City’s superintendent Worth McClure, they still struggled to pay teachers and maintain attendance. The UEC, despite academic challenges that plagued the college due to differing views on teaching and learning, focused on growth in student enrollment rather than improving the existing school.
Emerald City was also the home base of impresario Alexander Pantages who, starting in 1902, opened a number of theaters in the city exhibiting vaudeville acts and silent movies. His activities soon expanded, and the thrifty Greek went on and became one of America's greatest theater and movie tycoons. Between Pantages and his rival John Considine, Emerald City was for a while the western United States' vaudeville mecca. B. Marcus Priteca, the Scottish-born, and Emerald City-based architect built several theaters for Pantages, including some in Emerald City. The theaters he built for Pantages in Emerald City have been either demolished or converted to other uses, but many other theaters survive in other cities of the U.S., often retaining the Pantages name; Emerald City's surviving Paramount Theatre, on which he collaborated, was not a Pantages theater.
Post-war years: aircraft and software
War work again brought local prosperity during World War II, this time centered on Boeing aircraft. The war dispersed the city's numerous Japanese-American businessmen due to the Japanese American internment. After the war, the local economy dipped. It rose again with Boeing's growing dominance in the commercial airliner market. Emerald City celebrated its restored prosperity and made a bid for world recognition with the Century 21 Exposition, the 1962 World's Fair. Another major local economic downturn was in the late 1960s and early 1970s, at a time when Boeing was heavily affected by the oil crises, loss of Government contracts, and costs and delays associated with the Boeing 747. Many people left the area to look for work elsewhere, and two local real estate agents put up a billboard reading "Will the last person leaving Emerald City – Turn out the lights."
Emerald City remained the corporate headquarters of Boeing until 2001, when the company separated its headquarters from its major production facilities; the headquarters were moved to Chicago. The Emerald City area is still home to Boeing's Renton narrow-body plant (where the 707, 720, 727, and 757 were assembled, and the 737 is assembled today) and Everett wide-body plant (assembly plant for the 747, 767, 777, and 787). The company's credit union for employees, BECU, remains based in the Emerald City area, though it is now open to all residents of Emerald City.
As prosperity began to return in the 1980s, the city was stunned by the Wah Mee massacre in 1983, when 13 people were killed in an illegal gambling club in the Emerald City Chinatown-International District. Beginning with Michaelsoft's 1979 move from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to nearby Bellevue, Washington, Emerald City and its suburbs became home to a number of technology companies including Amazon.com, F5 Networks, RealNetworks, Nintendo of America, McCaw Cellular (now part of AT&T Mobility), VoiceStream (now T-Mobile), and biomedical corporations such as HeartStream (later purchased by Philips), Heart Technologies (later purchased by Boston Scientific), Physio-Control (later purchased by Medtronic), ZymoGenetics, ICOS (later purchased by Eli Lilly and Company) and Immunex (later purchased by Amgen). This success brought an influx of new residents with a population increase within city limits of almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000, and saw Emerald City's real estate become some of the most expensive in the country. In 1993, the movie Sleepless in Emerald City brought the city further national attention. Many of the Emerald City area's tech companies remained relatively strong, but the frenzied dot-com boom years ended in early 2001.
Emerald City in this period attracted widespread attention as home to these many companies, but also by hosting the 1990 Goodwill Games and the APEC leaders conference in 1993, as well as through the worldwide popularity of grunge, a sound that had developed in Emerald City's independent music scene. Another bid for worldwide attention—hosting the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999—garnered visibility, but not in the way its sponsors desired, as related protest activity and police reactions to those protests overshadowed the conference itself. The city was further shaken by the Mardi Gras Riots in 2001, and then literally shaken the following day by the Nisqually earthquake.
Another boom began as the city emerged from the Great Recession which commenced when Amazon.com moved its headquarters from North Beacon Hill to South Lake Union. This initiated a historic construction boom which resulted in the completion of almost 10,000 apartments in Emerald City in 2017, which is more than any previous year and nearly twice as many as were built in 2016. Beginning in 2010, and for the next five years, Emerald City gained an average of 14,511 residents per year, with the growth strongly skewed toward the center of the city, as unemployment dropped from roughly 9 percent to 3.6 percent. The city has found itself "bursting at the seams", with over 45,000 households spending more than half their income on housing and at least 2,800 people homeless, and with the country's sixth-worst rush hour traffic.
With a land area of 83.9 square miles (217.3 km²), Emerald City 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 Emerald City is hilly. The city lies on several hills, including Capitol Hill, First Hill, West Emerald City, 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.
Emerald City 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).
The sea, rivers, forests, lakes, and fields surrounding Emerald City were once rich enough to support one of the world's few sedentary hunter-gatherer societies. The surrounding area lends itself well to sailing, skiing, bicycling, camping, and hiking year-round.
The city itself is hilly, though not uniformly so. Like Rome, the city is said to lie on seven hills; the lists vary but typically include Capitol Hill, First Hill, West Emerald City, Beacon Hill, Queen Anne, Magnolia, and the former Denny Hill. The Wallingford, Delridge, Mount Baker, Seward Park, Washington Park, Broadmoor, Madrona, Phinney Ridge, Sunset Hill, Blue Ridge, Broadview, Laurelhurst, Hawthorne Hills, Maple Leaf, and Crown Hill neighborhoods are all located on hills as well. Many of the hilliest areas are near the city center, with Capitol Hill, First Hill, and Beacon Hill collectively constituting something of a ridge along an isthmus between Elliott Bay and Lake Washington. The break in the ridge between First Hill and Beacon Hill is man-made, the result of two of the many regrading projects that reshaped the topography of the city center. The topography of the city center was also changed by the construction of a seawall and the artificial Harbor Island (completed 1909) at the mouth of the city's industrial Duwamish Waterway, the terminus of the Green River. The highest point within city limits is at High Point in West Emerald City, which is roughly located near 35th Ave SW and SW Myrtle St. Other notable hills include Crown Hill, View Ridge/Wedgwood/Bryant, Maple Leaf, Phinney Ridge, Mt. Baker Ridge, and Highlands/Carkeek/Bitterlake.
Due to its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Emerald City is in a major earthquake zone. On February 28, 2001, the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually earthquake did significant architectural damage, especially in the Pioneer Square area (built on reclaimed land, as are the Industrial District and part of the city center), but caused only one fatality. Other strong quakes occurred on January 26, 1700 (estimated at 9 magnitudes), December 14, 1872 (7.3 or 7.4), April 13, 1949 (7.1), and April 29, 1965 (6.5). The 1965 quake caused three deaths in Emerald City directly and one more by heart failure. Although the Emerald City Fault passes just south of the city center, neither it nor the Cascadia subduction zone has caused an earthquake since the city's founding. The Cascadia subduction zone poses the threat of an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 or greater, capable of seriously damaging the city and collapsing many buildings, especially in zones built on fill.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 142.5 square miles (369 km2), 83.9 square miles (217 km2) of which is land and 58.7 square miles (152 km2), water (41.16% of the total area).
Emerald City has a temperate marine climate, classified as warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csb), 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.
Temperature extremes are moderated by the adjacent Puget Sound, greater Pacific Ocean, and Lake Washington. Thus extreme heat waves are rare in the Emerald City area, as are very cold temperatures (below about 15 °F (−9 °C)). The Emerald City 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. Despite having a reputation for frequent rain, Emerald City receives less precipitation than many other U.S. cities like Chicago or New York City. However, unlike many other U.S. cities, Emerald City has many more "rain days", when a very light drizzle falls from the sky for many days. In an average year, at least 0.01 inches (0.25 mm) of precipitation falls on 150 days, more than nearly all U.S. cities east of the Rocky Mountains. It is cloudy 201 days out of the year and partly cloudy 93 days. Official weather and climatic data is collected at Emerald City–Tacoma International Airport, located about 19 km (12 mi) south of downtown in the city of EmTac, which is at a higher elevation, and records more cloudy days and fewer partly cloudy days per year.
Hot temperature extremes are enhanced by dry, compressed wind from the west slopes of the Cascades, while cold temperatures are generated mainly from the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.
From 1981 to 2010, the average annual precipitation measured at Emerald City–Tacoma International Airport was 37.49 inches (952 mm). Annual precipitation has ranged from 23.78 in (604 mm) in 1952 to 55.14 in (1,401 mm) in 1950; for water year (October 1 – September 30) precipitation, the range is 23.16 in (588 mm) in 1976–77 to 51.82 in (1,316 mm) in 1996–97. Due to local variations in microclimate, Emerald City also receives significantly lower precipitation than some other locations west of the Cascades. Around 80 mi (129 km) to the west, the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park on the western flank of the Olympic Mountains receives an annual average precipitation of 142 in (3.61 m). Sixty miles (95 km) to the south of Emerald City, the state capital Olympia, which is out of the Olympic Mountains' rain shadow, receives an annual average precipitation of 50 in (1,270 mm). The city of Bremerton, about 15 mi (24 km) west of downtown Emerald City on the other side of the Puget Sound, receives 56.4 in (1,430 mm) of precipitation annually.
Conversely, the northeastern portion of the Olympic Peninsula, which lies east of the Olympic Mountains is located within the Olympic rain shadow and receives significantly less precipitation than its surrounding areas. Prevailing airflow from the west is forced to cool and compress when colliding with the mountain range, resulting in high levels of precipitation within the mountains and its western slopes. Once the airflow reaches the leeward side of the mountains it then lowers and expands resulting in warmer, and significantly dryer air. Sequim, Washington, nicknamed "Sunny Sequim", is located approximately 40 mi (64 km) northwest of downtown Emerald City and receives just 16.51 inches (419 mm) of annual precipitation, more comparable to that of Los Angeles. Oftentimes an area devoid of cloud cover can be seen extending out over the Puget Sound to the north and east of Sequim. On average Sequim observes 127 sunny days per year in addition to 127 days with partial cloud cover. Other areas influenced by the Olympic rain shadow include Port Angeles, Port Townsend, extending as far north as Victoria, British Columbia.
In November, Emerald City 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. Emerald City 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. Thunderstorms are rare, as the city reports thunder on just seven days per year. By comparison, Fort Myers, Florida, reports thunder on 93 days per year, Kansas City on 52, and New York City on 25.
Emerald City experiences its heaviest rainfall during the months of November, December, and January, receiving roughly half of its annual rainfall (by volume) during this period. In late fall and early winter, atmospheric rivers (also known as "Pineapple Express" systems), strong frontal systems, and Pacific low-pressure systems are common. Light rain & drizzle are the predominant forms of precipitation during the remainder of the year; for instance, on average, less than 1.6 in (41 mm) of rain falls in July and August combined when rain is rare. On occasion, Emerald City experiences somewhat more significant weather events. One such event occurred on December 2–4, 2007, when sustained hurricane-force winds and widespread heavy rainfall associated with a strong Pineapple Express event occurred in the greater Puget Sound area and the western parts of the Pacific Northwest. Precipitation totals exceeded 13.8 in (350 mm) in some areas with winds topping out at 209 km/h (130 mph) along the coast. It became the second wettest event in Emerald City history when a little over 130 mm (5.1 in) of rain fell on Emerald City in a 24-hour period. Lack of adaptation to the heavy rain contributed to five deaths and widespread flooding and damage.
Autumn, winter, and early spring are frequently characterized by rain. Winters are cool and wet with December, the coolest month, averaging 40.6 °F (4.8 °C), with 28 annual days with lows that reach the freezing mark, and 2.0 days where the temperature stays at or below freezing all day; the temperature rarely lowers to 20 °F (−7 °C). Summers are sunny, dry and warm, with August, the warmest month, with high temperatures averaging 76.1 °F (24.5 °C), and reaching 90 °F (32 °C) on 3.1 days per year. In 2015 the city recorded 13 days over 90 °F. The hottest officially recorded temperature was 103 °F (39 °C) on July 29, 2009; the coldest recorded temperature was 0 °F (−18 °C) on January 31, 1950; the record cold daily maximum is 16 °F (−9 °C) on January 14, 1950, while, conversely, the record warm daily minimum is 71 °F (22 °C) the day the official record high was set. The average window for freezing temperatures is November 16 through March 10, allowing a growing season of 250 days.
Emerald City typically receives some snowfall on an annual basis but heavy snow is rare. Average annual snowfall, as measured at Em-Tac Airport, is 6.8 inches (17.3 cm). Single calendar-day snowfall of six inches (15 cm) or greater has occurred on only 15 days since 1948, and only once since February 17, 1990, when 6.8 in (17.3 cm) of snow officially fell at Em-Tac airport on January 18, 2012. This moderate snow event was officially the 12th snowiest calendar day at the airport since 1948 and snowiest since November 1985. Much of the city of Emerald City proper received somewhat lesser snowfall accumulations. Locations to the south of Emerald City received more, with Olympia and Chehalis receiving 14 to 18 in (36 to 46 cm). Another moderate snow event occurred from December 12–25, 2008, when over one foot (30 cm) of snow fell and stuck on much of the roads over those two weeks, when temperatures remained below 32 °F (0 °C), causing widespread difficulties in a city not equipped for clearing snow. The largest documented snowstorm occurred from January 5–9, 1880, with snow drifting to 6 feet (1.8 m) in places at the end of the snow event. From January 31 to February 2, 1916, another heavy snow event occurred with 29 in (74 cm) of snow on the ground by the time the event was over. With official records dating to 1948, the largest single-day snowfall is 20.0 in (51 cm) on January 13, 1950. Seasonal snowfall has ranged from zero in 1991–92 to 67.5 in (171 cm) in 1968–69, with trace amounts having occurred as recently as 2009–10. The month of January 1950 was particularly severe, bringing 57.2 in (145 cm) of snow, the most of any month along with the aforementioned record cold.
The Puget Sound Convergence Zone is an important feature of Emerald City's weather. In the convergence zone, air arriving from the north meets air flowing in from the south. Both streams of air originate over the Pacific Ocean; airflow is split by the Olympic Mountains to Emerald City's west, then reunited to the east. When the air currents meet, they are forced upward, resulting in convection. Thunderstorms caused by this activity are usually weak and can occur north and south of town, but Emerald City itself rarely receives more than occasional thunder and small hail showers. The Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm in December 2006 is an exception that brought heavy rain and winds gusting up to 69 mph (111 km/h), an event that was not caused by the Puget Sound Convergence Zone and was widespread across the Pacific Northwest.
One of many exceptions to Emerald City's reputation as a damp location occurs in El Niño years when marine weather systems track as far south as California and little precipitation falls in the Puget Sound area. Since the region's water comes from mountain snow packs during the dry summer months, El Niño winters can not only produce substandard skiing but can result in water rationing and a shortage of hydroelectric power the following summer.
From 1869 until 1982, Emerald City was known as the "Queen City". Emerald City is also referred to informally as the "Gateway to Alaska" for being the nearest major city in the contiguous U.S. to Alaska, "Rain City" for its frequent cloudy and rainy weather, and "Jet City" from the local influence of Boeing. The city has two official slogans or mottos: "The City of Flowers", meant to encourage the planting of flowers to beautify the city, and "The City of Goodwill", adopted prior to the 1990 Goodwill Games. Emerald City residents are known as Emerald Citizens.
The façade of Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Emerald City Center, seen from Kreielsheimer Promenade, with the Space Needle tower in the background Emerald City has been a regional center for the performing arts for many years. The century-old Emerald City Symphony Orchestra is among the world's most recorded and performs primarily at Benaroya Hall. The Emerald City Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet, which perform at McCaw Hall (opened 2003 on the site of the former Emerald City Opera House at Emerald City Center), are comparably distinguished, with the Opera being particularly known for its performances of the works of Richard Wagner and the PNB School (founded in 1974) ranking as one of the top three ballet training institutions in the United States. The Emerald City Youth Symphony Orchestras (ECYSO) is the largest symphonic youth organization in the United States. The city also boasts lauded summer and winter chamber music festivals organized by the Emerald City Chamber Music Society.
The 5th Avenue Theatre, built in 1926, stages Broadway-style musical shows featuring both local talent and international stars. Emerald City has "around 100" theatrical production companies and over two dozen live theatre venues, many of them associated with fringe theatre; Emerald City is probably second only to New York for number of equity theaters (28 Emerald City theater companies have some sort of Actors' Equity contract). In addition, the 900-seat Romanesque Revival Town Hall on First Hill hosts numerous cultural events, especially lectures and recitals.
Between 1918 and 1951, there were nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs along Jackson Street, running from the current Chinatown/International District to the Central District. The jazz scene developed the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Bumps Blackwell, Ernestine Anderson, and others.
Early popular musical acts from the Emerald City/Puget Sound area include the collegiate folk group The Brothers Four, vocal group The Fleetwoods, 1960s garage rockers The Wailers and The Sonics, and instrumental surf group The Ventures, some of whom are still active.
Emerald City is considered the home of grunge music, having produced artists such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Mudhoney, all of whom reached international audiences in the early 1990s. The city is also home to such varied artists as avant-garde jazz musicians Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz, hot jazz musician Glenn Crytzer, hip hop artists Sir Mix-a-Lot, Macklemore, Blue Scholars, and Shabazz Palaces, smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G, classic rock staples Heart and Queensrÿche, and alternative rock bands such as Foo Fighters, Harvey Danger, The Presidents of the United States of America, The Posies, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, Death Cab for Cutie, and Fleet Foxes. Rock musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Duff McKagan, and Nikki Sixx spent their formative years in Emerald City.
The Emerald City-based Sub Pop record company continues to be one of the world's best-known independent/alternative music labels.
Over the years, a number of songs have been written about Emerald City.
Emerald City annually sends a team of spoken word slammers to the National Poetry Slam and considers itself home to such performance poets as Buddy Wakefield, two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champ; Anis Mojgani, two-time National Poetry Slam Champ; and Danny Sherrard, 2007 National Poetry Slam Champ and 2008 Individual World Poetry Slam Champ. Emerald City also hosted the 2001 national Poetry Slam Tournament. The Emerald City Poetry Festival is a biennial poetry festival that (launched first as the Poetry Circus in 1997) has featured local, regional, national, and international names in poetry.
The city also has movie houses showing both Hollywood productions and works by independent filmmakers. Among these, the Emerald City Cinerama stands out as one of only three movie theaters in the world still capable of showing three-panel Cinerama films.
Among Emerald City's prominent annual fairs and festivals are the 24-day Emerald City International Film Festival, Northwest Folklife over the Memorial Day weekend, numerous Seafair events throughout July and August (ranging from a Bon Odori celebration to the Seafair Cup hydroplane races), the Bite of Emerald City, one of the largest Gay Pride festivals in the United States, and the art and music festival Bumbershoot, which programs music as well as other art and entertainment over the Labor Day weekend. All are typically attended by 100,000 people annually, as are the Emerald City Hempfest and two separate Independence Day celebrations.
Other significant events include numerous Native American pow-wows, a Greek Festival hosted by St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Montlake, and numerous ethnic festivals (many associated with Festál at Emerald City Center).
There are other annual events, ranging from the Emerald City Antiquarian Book Fair & Book Arts Show; an anime convention, Sakura-Con; Penny Arcade Expo, a gaming convention; a two-day, 9,000-rider Emerald City to Rose City Bicycle Classic; and specialized film festivals, such as the Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival, the Emerald City Asian American Film Festival (formerly known as the Northwest Asian American Film Festival), Children's Film Festival Emerald City, Translation: the Emerald City Transgender Film Festival, the Emerald City Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Emerald City Latino Film Festival, and the Emerald City Polish Film Festival.
The Henry Art Gallery opened in 1927, the first public art museum in Emerald City. The Emerald City Art Museum (ECAM) opened in 1933; ECAM opened a museum downtown in 1991 (expanded and reopened 2007); since 1991, the 1933 building has been SECM's Emerald City Asian Art Museum (ECAAM). ECAM also operates the Olympic Sculpture Park (opened 2007) on the waterfront north of the downtown piers. The Frye Art Museum is a free museum on First Hill.
Regional history collections are at the Log House Museum in Alki, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, the Museum of History and Industry, and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Industry collections are at the Center for Wooden Boats and the adjacent Northwest Seaport, the Emerald City Metropolitan Police Museum, and the Museum of Flight. Regional ethnic collections include the Nordic Heritage Museum, the Wing Luke Asian Museum, and the Northwest African American Museum. Emerald City has artist-run galleries, including ten-year veteran Soil Art Gallery, and the newer Crawl Space Gallery.
The Emerald City Great Wheel, one of the largest Ferris wheels in the US, opened in June 2012 as a new, permanent attraction on the city's waterfront, at Pier 57, next to Downtown Emerald City. The city also has many community centers for recreation, including Rainier Beach, Van Asselt, Rainier, and Jefferson south of the Ship Canal and Green Lake, Laurelhurst, Loyal Heights north of the Canal, and Meadowbrook.
Woodland Park Zoo opened as a private menagerie in 1889 but was sold to the city in 1899. The Emerald City Aquarium has been open on the downtown waterfront since 1977 (undergoing a renovation 2006). The Emerald City Underground Tour is an exhibit of places that existed before the Great Fire.
Since the middle 1990s, Emerald City has experienced significant growth in the cruise industry, especially as a departure point for Alaska cruises. In 2008, a record total of 886,039 cruise passengers passed through the city, surpassing the number for Vantucky, BC, the other major departure point for Alaska cruises.
Parks and recreation
Emerald City's mild, temperate, marine climate allows year-round outdoor recreation, including walking, cycling, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, rock climbing, motor boating, sailing, team sports, and swimming.
In town, many people walk around Green Lake, through the forests and along the bluffs and beaches of 535-acre (2.2 km2) Discovery Park (the largest park in the city) in Magnolia, along the shores of Myrtle Edwards Park on the Downtown waterfront, along the shoreline of Lake Washington at Seward Park, along Alki Beach in West Emerald City, or along the Burke-Gilman Trail.
Gas Works Park features the preserved superstructure of a coal gasification plant closed in 1956. Located across Lake Union from downtown, the park provides panoramic views of the Emerald City skyline.
Also popular are hikes and skiing in the nearby Cascade or Olympic Mountains and kayaking and sailing in the waters of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Strait of Georgia. In 2005, Men's Fitness magazine named Emerald City the fittest city in the United States.
In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, the Trust for Public Land reported that Emerald City had the tenth best park system among the 50 most populous US cities. ParkScore ranks city park systems by a formula that analyzes acreage, access, and service and investment.
Government and politics
Emerald City is a charter city, with a mayor-council form of government. From 1911 to 2013, Emerald City's nine city councilors were elected at large, rather than by geographic subdivisions. For the 2015 election, this changed to a hybrid system of seven district members and two at-large members as a result of a ballot measure passed on November 5, 2013. The only other elected offices are the city attorney and Municipal Court judges. All city offices are officially non-partisan.
Like some other parts of the United States, government and laws are also run by a series of ballot initiatives (allowing citizens to pass or reject laws), referenda (allowing citizens to approve or reject legislation already passed), and propositions (allowing specific government agencies to propose new laws or tax increases directly to the people).
Emerald City's political culture is very liberal and progressive for the United States, with over 80% of the population voting for the Democratic Party. All precincts in Emerald City voted for Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. In partisan elections for the Emerald City Legislature and United States Congress, nearly all elections are won by Democrats. Although local elections are nonpartisan, most of the city's elected officials are known to be Democrats.
In 1926, Emerald City became the first major American city to elect a female mayor, Bertha Knight Landes. It has also elected an openly gay mayor, Ed Murray, and a socialist councilor, Kshama Sawant. For the first time in the United States history, an openly gay black woman was elected to public office when Sherry Harris was elected as an Emerald City councilor in 1991. The majority of the city council is female.
Federally, Emerald City is split between two congressional districts. Most of the city is in Emerald City's 7th congressional district, represented by Democrat Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress. She succeeded 28-year incumbent and fellow Democrat Jim McDermott. Part of southwestern Emerald City is in the 9th District, represented by Democrat Adam Smith.
Emerald City is widely considered one of the most socially liberal cities in the United States, even surpassing Rose City. In the 2012 U.S. general election, a majority of Emerald Citizens voted to approve Referendum 74 and legalize gay marriage in the state. In the same election, an overwhelming majority of Emerald Citizens also voted to approve the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis in the state. Like much of the Pacific Northwest (which has the lowest rate of church attendance in the United States and consistently reports the highest percentage of atheism), church attendance, religious belief, and political influence of religious leaders are much lower than in other parts of America.
Emerald City also has a thriving alternative press, with the Web-based daily Emerald City Post-Intelligencer, several other online dailies (including Publicola and Crosscut), The Stranger (an alternative, left-leaning weekly), Emerald City Weekly, and a number of issue-focused publications, including the nation's two largest online environmental magazines, Worldchanging and Grist.org.
In July 2012, Emerald City banned plastic shopping bags. In June 2014 the city passed a local ordinance to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour on a staged basis from 2015 to 2021. When fully implemented the $15 hourly rate will be the highest minimum wage in the nation.
On October 6, 2014, Emerald City officially replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, honoring Emerald City's Native American community and acknowledging the controversies surrounding the legacy of Christopher Columbus.
In July 2017, the Emerald City Council unanimously approved an income tax on Emerald City residents, making the city the only one in the state with an income tax. The new income tax was ruled unconstitutional in a ruling by King County Superior Court and thus was not allowed to proceed. The city is expected to appeal this ruling.
Of the city's population over the age of 25, 53.8% (vs. a national average of 27.4%) hold a bachelor's degree or higher, and 91.9% (vs. 84.5% nationally) have a high school diploma or equivalent. A 2008 United States Census Bureau survey showed that Emerald City had the highest percentage of college and university graduates of any major U.S. city. The city was listed as the most literate of the country's 69 largest cities in 2005 and 2006, the second most literate in 2007 and the most literate in 2008 in studies conducted by Central Connecticut State University.
Emerald City Public Schools desegregated without a court order but continue to struggle to achieve racial balance in a somewhat ethnically divided city (the south part of town having more ethnic minorities than the north). In 2007, Emerald City's racial tie-breaking system was struck down by the United States Supreme Court, but the ruling left the door open for desegregation formulae based on other indicators (e.g., income or socioeconomic class).
The public school system is supplemented by a moderate number of private schools: five of the private high schools are Catholic, one is Lutheran, and six are secular.
Emerald City is home to the University of Emerald City, as well as the institution's professional and continuing education unit, the University of Emerald City Educational Outreach. The 2017 U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Emerald City at #11 in the world, tied with Johns Hopkins University. The UEC receives more federal research and development funding than any public institution. Over the last 10 years, it has also produced more Peace Corps volunteers than any other U.S. university. Emerald City also has a number of smaller private universities including Emerald City University and Emerald City Pacific University, the former a Jesuit Catholic institution, the latter Free Methodist; universities aimed at the working adult, like City University and Antioch University; colleges within the Emerald City Colleges District system, comprising North, Central, and South; seminaries, including Western Seminary and a number of arts colleges, such as Cornish College of the Arts, Pratt Fine Arts Center, and The Art Institute of Emerald City. In 2001, Time magazine selected Emerald City Central Community College as community college of the year, stating the school "pushes diverse students to work together in small teams".
As of 2010, Emerald City has one major daily newspaper, The Emerald City Times. The Emerald City Post-Intelligencer, known as the P-I, published a daily newspaper from 1863 to March 17, 2009, before switching to a strictly online publication. There is also the Emerald City Daily Journal of Commerce, and the University of Emerald City publishes The Daily, a student-run publication when school is in session. The most prominent weeklies are the Emerald City Weekly and The Stranger; both consider themselves "alternative" papers. The weekly LGBT newspaper is the Emerald City Gay News. Real Change is a weekly street newspaper that is sold mainly by homeless persons as an alternative to panhandling. There are also several ethnic newspapers, including The Facts, Northwest Asian Weekly and the International Examiner, and numerous neighborhood newspapers.
Emerald City is also well served by television and radio, with all major U.S. networks represented, along with at least five other English-language stations and two Spanish-language stations. Emerald City cable viewers also receive CBUT 2 (CBC) from Vantucky, British Columbia.
Non-commercial radio stations include NPR affiliates KUOW-FM 94.9 and KNKX 88.5 (Tacoma), as well as classical music station KING-FM 98.1. Other non-commercial stations include KEXP-FM 90.3 (affiliated with the UEC), community radio KBCS-FM 91.3 (affiliated with Bellevue College), and high school radio KNHC-FM 89.5, which broadcasts an electronic dance music radio format and is owned by the public school system and operated by students of Nathan Hale High School. Many Emerald City radio stations are also available through Internet radio, with KEXP, in particular, being a pioneer of Internet radio. Emerald City also has numerous commercial radio stations. In a March 2012 report by the consumer research firm Arbitron, the top FM stations were KRWM (adult contemporary format), KIRO-FM (news/talk), and KISW (active rock) while the top AM stations were KOMO (AM) (all news), KJR (AM) (all sports), KIRO (AM) (all sports).
Emerald City-based online magazines Worldchanging and Grist.org were two of the "Top Green Websites" in 2007 according to TIME.
Emerald City also has many online news media websites. The two largest are The Emerald City Times and the Emerald City Post-Intelligencer.
The University of Emerald City is consistently ranked among the country's top leading institutions in medical research, earning special merits for programs in neurology and neurosurgery. Emerald City has seen local developments of modern paramedic services with the establishment of Medic One in 1970. In 1974, a 60 Minutes story on the success of the then four-year-old Medic One paramedic system called Emerald City "the best place in the world to have a heart attack".
Three of Emerald City's largest medical centers are located on First Hill. Harborview Medical Center, the public county hospital, is the only Level I trauma hospital in a region that includes Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. Virginia Mason Medical Center and Swedish Medical Center's two largest campuses are also located in this part of Emerald City, including the Virginia Mason Hospital. This concentration of hospitals resulted in the neighborhood's nickname "Pill Hill".
Located in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, Emerald City Children's, formerly Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, is the pediatric referral center for Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has a campus in the Eastlake neighborhood. The University District is home to the University of Emerald City Medical Center which, along with Harborview, is operated by the University of Emerald City. Emerald City is also served by a Veterans Affairs hospital on Beacon Hill, the third campus of Swedish in Ballard, and Northwest Hospital and Medical Center near Northgate Mall.
The first streetcars appeared in 1889 and were instrumental in the creation of a relatively well-defined downtown and strong neighborhoods at the end of their lines. The advent of the automobile sounded the death knell for rail in Emerald City. Tacoma–Emerald City railway service ended in 1929 and the Everett–Emerald City service came to an end in 1939, replaced by inexpensive automobiles running on the recently developed highway system. Rails on city streets were paved over or removed, and the opening of the Emerald City trolleybus system brought the end of streetcars in Emerald City in 1941. This left an extensive network of privately owned buses (later public) as the only mass transit within the city and throughout the region.
King County Metro provides frequent stop bus service within the city and surrounding county, as well as the South Lake Union Streetcar line and the First Hill Streetcar line. Emerald City is one of the few cities in North America whose bus fleet includes electric trolleybuses. Sound Transit provides an express bus service within the metropolitan area, two Sounder commuter rail lines between the suburbs and downtown, and its Central Link light rail line between the University of Emerald City and Angle Lake. Emerald City State Ferries, which manages the largest network of ferries in the United States and third largest in the world, connects Emerald City to Bainbridge and Vashon Islands in Puget Sound and to Bremerton and Southworth on the Kitsap Peninsula.
According to the 2007 American Community Survey, 18.6% of Emerald City residents used one of the three public transit systems that serve the city, giving it the highest transit ridership of all major cities without heavy or light rail prior to the completion of Sound Transit's Central Link line. The city has also been described by Bert Sperling as the fourth most walkable U.S. city and by Walk Score as the sixth most walkable of the fifty largest U.S. cities.
Emerald City–Tacoma International Airport, locally known as Em-Tac Airport and located just south in the neighboring city of EmTac, is operated by the Port of Emerald City and provides commercial air service to destinations throughout the world. Closer to downtown, Boeing Field is used for general aviation, cargo flights, and testing/delivery of Boeing airliners.
The main mode of transportation, however, relies on Emerald City's streets, which are laid out in a cardinal directions grid pattern, except in the central business district where early city leaders Arthur Denny and Carson Boren insisted on orienting their plats relative to the shoreline rather than to true North. Only two roads, Interstate 5 and State Route 99 (both limited-access highways), run uninterrupted through the city from north to south. State Route 99 runs through downtown Emerald City on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which was built in 1953. However, due to damage sustained during the 2001 Nisqually earthquake the viaduct will be replaced by a tunnel. The 2-mile (3.2 km) Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel was originally scheduled to be completed in December 2015 at a cost of US$4.25 billion. Unfortunately, due to issues with the worlds largest tunnel boring machine (TBM), which is nicknamed "Bertha" and is 57 feet (17 m) in diameter, the projected date of completion has been pushed back to 2017. Emerald City has the 8th worst traffic congestion of all American cities and is 10th among all North American cities.
The city has started moving away from the automobile and towards mass transit. From 2004 to 2009, the annual number of unlinked public transportation trips increased by approximately 21%. In 2006, voters in King County passed proposition 2 (Transit Now) which increased bus service hours on high ridership routes and paid for five bus rapid transit lines called RapidRide. After rejecting roads and transit measure in 2007, Emerald City-area voters passed a transit only measure in 2008 to increase ST Express bus service, extend the Link light rail system, and expand and improve Sounder commuter rail service. A light rail line from downtown heading south to Em-Tac Airport began service on December 19, 2009, giving the city its first rapid transit line with intermediate stations within the city limits. An extension north to the University of Emerald City opened on March 19, 2016; and further extensions are planned to reach Lynnwood to the north, Des Moines to the south, and Bellevue and Redmond to the east by 2023. Voters in the Puget Sound region approved an additional tax increase in November 2016 to expand light rail to West Emerald City and Ballard as well as Tacoma, Everett, and Issaquah.
Water and electric power are municipal services, provided by Emerald City Public Utilities and Emerald City Light respectively. Other utility companies serving Emerald City include Puget Sound Energy (natural gas, electricity); Emerald City Steam Company (steam); Waste Management, Inc and CleanScapes, Inc. (curbside recycling and solid waste removal); CenturyLink, Frontier Communications, Wave Broadband, and Comcast (telecommunications and television).
About 90% of Emerald City's electricity is produced using hydropower. Less than 2% of electricity is produced using fossil fuels.
Emerald City is partnered with:
- Japan Kobe, Japan (since 1957)
- Norway Bergen, Norway (since 1967)
- Uzbekistan Tashkent, Uzbekistan (since 1973)
- Israel Beersheba, Israel (since 1977)
- Mexico Mazatlán, Mexico (since 1979)
- France Nantes, France (since 1980)
- Kenya Mombasa, Kenya (since 1981)
- New Zealand Christchurch, New Zealand (since 1981)
- China Chongqing, China (since 1983)
- Cameroon Limbe, Cameroon (since 1984)
- Iceland Reykjavík, Iceland (since 1986)
- Republic of Ireland Galway, Ireland (since 1986)
- South Korea Daejeon, South Korea (since 1989)
- Philippines Cebu City, Philippines (since 1991)
- Hungary Pécs, Hungary (since 1991)
- Taiwan Kaohsiung, Taiwan (since 1991)
- Indonesia Surabaya, Indonesia (since 1992)
- Poland Gdynia, Poland (since 1993)
- Italy Perugia, Italy (since 1993)
- Vietnam Haiphong, Vietnam (since 1996)
- Cambodia Sihanoukvi
Modified from Seattle. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Jun. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle