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Seattle History

Seattle has a deep history rooted in business. According to Vince Kueter, a researcher at the Seattle Times, there were a number of historic moments that helped Seattle become the great city that it is today. In 1851, for instance, the first store of the area opened up. The following year, David Maynard was credited with naming the city after his friend Chief Sealth, a leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes. The city grew and with the signing of the Point Elliott Treaty

in 1855, the U.S. government took control of much of the Native American land in that area. This time was contentious, however, and a battle was fought a year later between the Indians and Seattle’s residents. Still, the city grew and the school that would later become the University of Washington was established in downtown Seattle in 1861. Soon after, a newspaper began printing, a library opened, buildings were erected and the population grew. By 1873, Seattle was chosen to be linked to other cities by a transcontinental railroad, while steamship service also began. Before the century ended, an electric trolley line roared to life and a number of famous stores opened: the Bon Marché in 1889 and the Frederick & Nelson department store in 1890, the latter of which closed after 101 years in 1992.

By 1900, Seattle’s population surpassed 80,000 and large markets and hospitals soon opened. Other big businesses that are still famous today began opening up, including Eddie Bauer and the Olympic Hotel. And with all the mixing of ethnicities and people as industrialization helped feed local businesses, the cultural landscape of Seattle changed as well. In 1939, for example, Yesler Terrance in Seattle became the first racially integrated public housing in the country. At the same time, hundreds of Japanese Americans were ordered to evacuate Seattle in 1942. Racial tensions softened soon after and energy went into rebuilding parts of the city after a massive earthquake shook the city in 1949. The city’s international airport opened that same year, while its population soon bubbled over 460,000.

The 1950s was a decade defined by advancements in transportation services. The Seattle-based Boeing company became the first to successfully launch a passenger jet, while the city’s metro system was also established. In 1962, the World’s Fair opened and forever changed Seattle’s skyline by leaving the Space Needle behind as part of its legacy. The population kept growing, both in Seattle’s urban area and surrounding suburbs, surpassing 530,000 in 1970. And it finally happened in 1971—the opening of the world’s first Starbucks café. Four years later, Seattle resident Bill Gates help found Microsoft. Not surprisingly, the city continued to grow, both financially and culturally. Today, Seattle features numerous museums and attractions.

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