Things That I Have Learned In Seattle, Washington
“Seattle is for people who love culture, but refuse to sacrifice their wild nature to attain it.” Kimberly Kinrade
Seattle is ranked the most literate city in the country. Everyone reads here. The Seattle Public Library system has the highest percentage of library card-holders per capita in the country.
The city has the highest percentage of residents with a college degree or higher.
Seattle is the birthplace of grunge, has summer rock concerts in the zoo, a Jimi Hendrix memorial and a Kurt Cobain memorial (his old house).
It was the first city in the US to play a Beatles song on the radio.
Edgewater Hotel is where the Beatles stayed on their first tour to America. It is the famous photo of them fishing from their room.
Bumbershoot is the music and art festival of the year for kids growing up in the Pacific Northwest.
The festival takes place over Labor Day Weekend. Bumbershoot means umbrella so you know that there will be rain. It is held near the EMP Museum and Space Needle so there is an eclectic mix of rockers and tourists around.
It’s all good. Especially because marijuana is legal in the state of Washington. You can definitely smell it. The law states that if you are over 21 and have an ounce of marijuana not open in a public place it is legal. You cannot smoke it anywhere cigarettes are not allowed. The police are still finding their way so be careful.
Seattle was the first American city to put police on bicycles.
The EMP Museum is dedicated to science fiction, music and pop culture.
The Experience Music Project was designed by Frank Gehry and created by Paul Allen who was one of the founders of Microsoft.
Seattle-based artists Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana have galleries there.
There are interactive music galleries that the kids will love. Play any instrument, dj or make a video.
Music videos are on constant loops through out the museum. (props from OK GO, This Too Shall Pass, my favorite music video).
There are impressive instrument collections as well.
The sci-fi and horror film section has something for every nerd. Even a non-fan will be impressed with the displays and technology.
Constructed on the grounds of the 1962 World’s Fair, the Seattle Space Needle was inspired in part by a flying saucer. With its domed top (always a rotating restaurant and observation deck) it has appeared in Sleepless in Seattle and Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me.
At 76 stories and 937 feet Columbia Center is Seattle’s tallest building and is 12th tallest building in the country.
The Seattle Great Wheel built in 2012, is the largest observation wheel on the west coast. It is 175 feet tall and can hold up to 300 passengers at any time. The wheel is open year round. There are fully enclosed gondolas and a covered waiting area, so the rain can’t stop the wheel from spinning.
The world’s first gas station opened in 1907 on East Marginal Way in Seattle.
The Washington State Ferry System is the largest in the country and the third largest in the world, carrying over 25 million passengers annually.
Seattle’s Pier 52 is the busiest ferry terminal in the U.S. It is a 35 minute ferry trip across Elliot Bay to Bainbridge island.
Bainbridge Island is almost 28 square miles, and has a population of just over 20,000. If you have the patience to wait on the ferry lines and bring a car over, it is a good way to explore the island. If you happen to be going to a wedding there, it is best to walk on.
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour in Pioneer Square takes you beneath Seattle’s streets where there were once roadways and storefronts.
The Underground Tour leads us through obscure doors and urine filled alleys.
This was the original area for saloons and brothels and “the sewing circle”- a group of ‘seamstresses” who knew “not to sew without a thimble”.
It was interesting to learn how the city was leveled and rebuilt after the fire of 1889 to accommodate constant flooding and poor sanitation.
Tales of rats and sewage are a big part of an underground tour if that is your thing. (Notice that the early water pipe is made from wood.)
Our tour guide was funny, informative and a great story-teller. There is a lot of history under those streets. http://www.undergroundtour.com
The Seattle Architecture Foundation does tours around Seattle. I was there on a day that they did a downtown tour. Check the website for the tour schedule. It was raining but being a frustrated architect I got to learn all about the architectural styles and public/private space buildings around downtown. Hearing the history from the underground tour and seeing the modern, beaux-arts and brutalist buildings pulled the Seattle story together for me. http://seattlearchitecture.org/tours/downtown-tours.
I always take advantage of a concierge at a hotel. Keith Dowsing at the Alexis in Seattle was especially knowledgeable, helpful and fun. Before I arrived he had taken care of great dinner reservations, tours and a hair appointment on a Sunday. He is the ultimate insider and knows everything going on in Seattle. He made my kids feel special when they arrived as well. He is a valuable resource and definitely added to my Seattle experience. Thanks Keith.
Another great thing about the Alexis is that on your night table there is a copy of a book for purchase written by students in the writing program at 826 Seattle. I volunteer in the writing program at 826 LA so I thought that was very cool.
People in Seattle are used to rain, always have a Plan B, don’t usually carry umbrellas, have plastic for their cameras and a good hooded rain jacket. I am not from Seattle and knocked into a lot of people with my umbrella and couldn’t take photos in the rain. Living in LA for so long I need to brush up on my weather skills.