City of Seattle
City of Seattle
flag_seattle.jpg
skyline_seattle.jpg
Aliases The Emerald City
City of Goodwill/
City of Chaos
Shattered City
Location King County,
Washington,
Pacific Northwest
United States,
North America
Mayor Bruce Harrell (D)
Population 4,018,762 (2020)

Domain of Seattle
Necropolis of Seattle
Seattle Storyteller's Guide

Seattle is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With a 2019 population of 753,675, it is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The Seattle metropolitan area's population is 3.98 million, making it the 15th-largest in the United States. Between 2013 and 2016, Seattle was rated the fastest-growing major city and remained in the top five in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle ranked as the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate, and continuously among the fastest growing cities in the United States.

One of the concerning developments of Seattle is the cooperation between spirits of the Weaver and the Wyrm, with Drones supporting wyrmish technology developments. The city is also home to the western branch office of Pentex in the United States.

Seattle is part of the vampiric Domain of Seattle, ruled by Prince Bathory.

It is also part of the West Coast Technology Alliance, a technocratic symposium.

Theme


Dynamism against Stasis

The dominant motif here is the juxtaposition of dynamism against stasis. The unusual is often found in the midst of the commonplace. Strangeness breeds in Seattle. pike-place-market swarms with mundanes — tourists, shoppers and merchants conduct their business with great vigor — but it also attracts more than its fair share of eccentric and bizarre people. On the weekends, the crowds of Sleepers try to leave the banality in their lives behind them, and the neighborhood comes alive. On the surface, the community buzzes with a mixture of conformity and energy.

Behind the scenes, few Sleepers realize the real energies at work here. Hidden in the teeming masses, supernatural forces watch, wait and sometimes act. The mages of the Theater of the Mind Chantry want to keep the chaos and energy alive in the neighborhood, but they have to keep it under control, too. Their task is complicated by the internal bickering that occurs whenever large groups of people work or live together. Even so, these mages feel a degree of responsibility to their community. A large part of that is motivated by a survival instinct. By keeping their neighborhood safe, they keep themselves safe.

The local mysticks are at a distinct disadvantage in protecting themselves: the area is a target for Marauders who want to unleash their madness on an unsuspecting populace, but it’s also surrounded by enough witnesses that Technocracy agents have an edge in conducting investigations. If the mages here can’t keep the neighborhood safe, the Technocracy will resort to more extreme methods to police the area. Tourists have cameras, merchants become territorial, and locals can become inquisitive. For Tradition mages in this area, discretion is the better part of survival.

Class Warfare

Atmosphere


Gloom

Melding of natural and urban

History


see History of Seattle

Before Seattle

Prior to white settlement, thirteen prominent villages existed in what is now the city of Seattle. The people living near Elliott Bay, and along the Duwamish, Black and Cedar Rivers were collectively known as the Dkhw'Duw'Absh. Four prominent villages existed near what is now Elliott Bay and the lower Duwamish River. The people living around Lake Washington were collectively known as Xacuabš.

As European contact continued and increased, the Xacuabš and Dkhw'Duw'Absh became identified as the people represented by the Duwamish tribe, kinfolk of the Wendigo Tribe of Garou. The people are Coast Salish, and Skagit-Nisqually Lushootseed by language.

The Winter Wars

The first settlers came during the 1830's, though it was the Denny Party in 1851 and Doc Maynard, a kinfolk of the Children of Gaia, in 1852 that began the process of building a city. The natives in the area had ties with the garou tribe of Wendigo and most of them did not welcome the newcomers.

The Wendigo had many moots with representatives of the Children of Gaia tribe during this time. Chief Patkanim of the Wendigo desired to war with the settlers and push them back. The Children urged Patkanim to seek peace with the white man and not to underestimate their abilities. Patkanim, however, would not listen and the call to war was quickly spread to all tribes across Washington Territory.

The Children did reach one tribal chief, though. Chief Seattle spoke with the Children and agreed to parlay with the settlers. This brought a great rift between the tribes. The three-way Winter Wars began between Patkanim and the Wendigo, Maynard and the Children and isaac-stevens leading the white settlers.

The Wars culminated with the execution of Chief Leschi and the Wendigo have no choice but to conform to the treaties given to them.

Children of Gaia openly mingle with the Native Americans in the Seattle area until this time. Their presence is the likely origin of the legend of the Sasquatch.

Railroad

Chinese people were the first Asians to settle in Seattle, arriving directly from China or via San Francisco in the 1860s. The majority of these immigrants came from the area around Canton.

Tacoma was incorporated on November 12, 1875, following its selection in 1873 as the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad due to lobbying by Morton M. McCarver, future mayor John Wilson Sprague, and others. This was due to the influence of the Glass Walkers (then known as the Iron Riders).

Great Seattle Fire

The Great Seattle Fire was a fire that destroyed the entire central business district of Seattle on June 6, 1889. The conflagration lasted for less than a day, burning through the afternoon and into the night, and during the same summer as the Great Spokane Fire and the Great Ellensburg Fire.

Thanks in part to credit arranged by Jacob Furth, Seattle quickly rebuilt. A new zoning code resulted in a downtown of brick and stone buildings, rather than wood, that sat 20 feet (6.1 m) above the original street level. After the streets were elevated, these spaces fell into disuse, becoming the Seattle Underground.

In the single year after the fire, the city grew from 25,000 to 40,000 inhabitants, largely because of the enormous number of construction jobs suddenly created. Seattle became the largest city in the newly admitted state of Washington.

City in Chaos

In 1907, the city condemned the Underground. The basements were left to deteriorate or were used as storage. Some became illegal flophouses for the homeless, gambling halls, speakeasies, and opium dens.

Seattle trumpeted and celebrated its rise with the 1909 World Fair, but the city's rapid growth had led to much questioning of the social order. Not only the labor left, but also progressives calling for "good government" challenged the hegemony of the captains of industry. Rail baron James J. Hill, addressing Seattle business leaders in 1909, noted and regretted the change. "Where," he asked, "are the man who used to match your mountains…?"

In 1909, a dangerous anarch, Harry Tracy, ran to Seattle for sanctuary during the 1909 World Fair. At the time, nearly no kindred presence was found there, but archon John Jameson followed Tracy there and brought justice upon him. He then optioned himself to his justicar as a possible prince for the city of Seattle. The justicar allowed it with the blessing of the Brujah elders and Jameson was crowned.

Several other Brujah flocked to the blank slate city and began to form it into a sin city, full of gambling and entertainment. One such Brujah was Alice Holly.

World War I and the Bogue Plan

In 1910, Seattle voters approved a referendum to create a development plan for the whole city. However, the result, known as the Bogue plan, was never to be implemented.

Virgil Bogue had worked for the Olmsted Brothers Company and was intimately familiar with the land in Seattle. The Bogue plan had at its heart a grand civic center in Belltown and the Denny Regrade connected to the rest of the city by a rapid transit rail system, with a huge expansion of the park system, crowned by the total conversion of 4,000-acre (16 km2) Mercer Island into parkland. Striking in Bogue's plan is his grasp of the consequences of growth; he foresaw that the city's residents would eventually number in the millions and that such a grand park or efficient transit system could put in place early in the development at much lower cost. However, the Bogue plan was defeated by an alliance of fiscal conservatives who opposed such a grandiose plan on general principles and populists who argued that the plan would mainly benefit the rich.

The Chong Wa Benevolent Association, a coalition of Chinese American groups and businesses, was chartered in 1910.

Sunday, November 5, 1916 was the Everett Massacre. An armed confrontation between local authorities and members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union, commonly called "Wobblies", lead by Thomas H. Tracy. The event marked a time of rising tensions in Pacific Northwest labor history. At the end of the mayhem, two citizen deputies lay dead with 16 or 20 others wounded, including Sheriff Donald McRae.

Anarch Revolts

Anna Louise Strong was a leader of Seattle’s 1919 General Strike.

The Centralia massacre, was a violent and bloody incident that occurred in Centralia, on November 11, 1919, during a parade celebrating the first anniversary of Armistice Day. The conflict between the American Legion and the Wobblies members resulted in six deaths, others being wounded, multiple prison terms, and an ongoing and especially bitter dispute over the motivations and events that precipitated the event. Both Centralia and the neighboring town of Chehalis had a large number of World War I veterans, with robust chapters of the Legion and many Wobblies, some of whom were also war veterans.

In 1919, Prince Jameson is connected with the revolts and disappears. Toreador Lou Grand declares herself prince and calls a blood hunt of Jameson. He is never found.

With Prince Jameson gone, the anarchs take control of the city and the vampire population grows out of control. 30 new vampires in a year. The following death toll is blamed on a flu epidemic. Prince Grand calls for a blood hunt citywide.

Although no longer the economic powerhouse it had been around the start of the 20th century, it was in the 1920s that Seattle first began seriously to be an arts center due to the influence of Lou Grand. The Frye and Henry families put on public display the collections that would become the core of the Frye Art Museum and Henry Art Gallery, respectively. Nellie Cornish had established the Cornish School (now Cornish College of the Arts) in 1914. Australian painter Ambrose Patterson arrived in 1919; over the next few decades Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan, Guy Irving Anderson, and Paul Horiuchi would establish themselves as nationally and internationally known artists. Bandleader Vic Meyers and others kept the speakeasies jumping through the Prohibition era, and by mid-century the thriving jazz scene in the city's Skid Road district would launch the careers of musicians including Ray Charles and Quincy Jones.

Sometime in the late 1920s, Francine Beckman is embraced.

1933, the fascist sympathizer organization New Order of Cincinnatus is founded.

1934 West Coast waterfront strike, Battle of Smith Cove. Police beat longshoremen; longshoremen beat strikebreakers.

On May 24, 1935, George Weyerhaeuser, nine-year-old heir to the Weyerhaeuser lumber fortune, vanished on his way home from school in Tacoma. That evening, a letter arrived at his house demanding $200,000 in unmarked bills within five days—or else. FBI caught the kidnappers by tracing the serial numbers on the ransom money.

World War II

Second Anarch Revolt

December 21, 1944, the Second Anarch Revolt erupted in California. Led by anarch luminaries such as Jeremy MacNeil, Salvador Garcia, Marguerite Foccart, and Smiling Jack, numerous elders in Los Angeles were attacked in their havens and destroyed, including the city's Prince. The revolution spread until the anarchs controlled territory ranged from the Mexican border to San Jose. The Revolutionary Council, which had led the revolt, created a doctrine of self-governance called the Perfect State before disbanding.

During the events of the Second Anarch Revolt, the Camarilla fortified the domain to prevent any incursions from the roving Anarch gangs. Petrodon used Seattle as his base for incursions into the Anarch Free State. As a result of his influence, the local Camarilla was much more hostile to Anarchs than elsewhere, with radicals such as Malkavian Primogen Takuma Sononda actively hunting them down. While the Sabbat has attempted several times to take the city, they were always thwarted. In the local asylum, the Malkavians and Toreador keep Sabbat infiltrators imprisoned.

Following the fall of the Anarch Free State, a group of Anarchs calling themselves the “Seattle Committee” have gathered in the city and try to rally support for the reclamation of their domain from the Kuei-jin. So far, only Bishop Cicatriz answered, providing them with weapons, financial support (and also an informer named Malloc, in the guise of an intelligence and communications specialist), while the Camarilla stood silent.

In 1947, Walt Schnell entered Seattle from Shanghai.

Post-war recovery

By the 1950s the entire structure of kindred society in the city is reorganized due to decades of inner-city war. However, after the city is brought into control, the Sabbat begin to infiltrate.

World's Fair

In 1955, an assassination attempt is made on Prince Grand by an anarch/cathayan alliance. She survives, but her seneschal Karl Klein is destroyed. The revolt is quickly put down. Prince Grand completely overhauls Seattle's governance and image. She promises to bring Seattle into the future as a town that will eclipse all other west coast towns.

She expands the Domain of Seattle to include all of the Seattle Metropolitan area, greatly increasing the allowed number of Camarilla kindred from five to eleven.

In 1962, the Seattle World's Fair is held. Prince Grand declares Seattle an "Open City" where any kindred may come as a valued guest. Indeed many kindred do arrive including Bathory and James Hyacinth.

The Boeing Bust

Congress kills the SST project, and the "Boeing Bust" reaches its peak. Boeing employment in the area drops below 38,000 from 95,000 in 1968. Seattle enters a depression.

In 1970, about 100 native american activists attempt to occupy the abandoned Fort Lawton. They "claimed" Fort Lawton under a provision in an 1865 treaty promising reversion of surplus military lands to the original owners. As a result of the protests, the Daybreak Star Center is formed in what becomes Discovery Park.

Accordance War

And so, the first concerted move on the board of the Accordance War was made on May 12th, 1970, at the Battle of the Bay.

Less than a week after the Bay was pacified, Vancouver and Seattle were embattled, and Los Angeles was under siege. The City of Angels had resisted capture for months and was still a hotbed of resistance for the rest of the war. The fact that the Shining Host seemed to stop on the coast took us by surprise. I found out much later that the sidhe had brought with them the age-old squabbles between Courts. Once they had taken the major center of the coast, the bigwigs of both Courts found hidden places in the Sierras and talked and fought for months. I suppose the Seelie Court won out, but it couldn’t have been my much. They buried the hatchet in the spring of 1971, seeing us commoners as a more important problem to be squashed, I suppose.

In 1971, Ted Bundy began killing in the Seattle area. He left the area in 1974.

In 1975, the serial killer Robert Lee Yates began his murders around Spokane.

Silicon Forest and Technocratic takeover

Bill Gates and Paul Allen, founders of Microsoft Corporation, attended the Lakeside School, a private middle and high school in Haller Lake, at the northern Seattle city limits. This turned out to have rather dramatic consequences for the entire Seattle area. Microsoft's first product, Microsoft BASIC, came out in 1976. The company was incorporated in New Mexico the same year. By 1978 sales exceeded one million dollars a year. In 1979, Microsoft moved its offices back to Redmond from Albuquerque, New Mexico—they had gone to New Mexico to be near a client who no longer dominated their business, Gates and Allen wanted to go back where they were from, and it was easier to entice quality programmers to the Seattle area than the deserts of New Mexico. By 1985, sales were over $140 million, by 1990, $1.18 billion, and by 1995, Microsoft was the world's most profitable corporation, Allen and Gates were billionaires, and literally thousands of their past and present employees were millionaires. Microsoft had grown from a two-man operation to a company with 11,000 employees in 1992 and 48,030 (about half of them in the Seattle area) in 2001.

During this era, Seattle has also experienced quite good growth in the biotechnology and coffee sectors, and Seattle-based Nordstrom became a national brand.

IN 1982, Gary Ridgway, known as the Green River Killer, began his murders.

Wah Mee massacre

The Wah Mee massacre (華美大屠殺) was a multiple homicide that occurred during the night of February 18–19, 1983, in which Kwan Fai "Willie" Mak, Wai-Chiu "Tony" Ng, and Benjamin Ng (no relation) bound, robbed, and shot fourteen people in the Wah Mee gambling club at the Louisa Hotel in the International District. Thirteen of their victims died, but Wai Chin, a dealer at the Wah Mee, survived to testify against the three in the separate high-profile trials held in 1983 and 1985.

In the early 1980s a group of eight Seattle-area teenagers underwent psychotic rages, killing forty-eight people over three days. Becoming known as the Harvest Moon Massacres, the teens disappeared without a trace. One of them was Andrew Talbot, son of two prominent doctors, Paul and Isabelle Talbot. Believing his son's breakdown could have been prevented, the two of them relentlessly campaigned for improved screening and counseling services in schools. In addition, Isabelle knew her son was still alive, and began tracking sightings of him, hoping for a reunion and explanation.

Bathory achieved the title of Malkavian Primogen in 1988.

In 1990, the Technocratic Union (or Sabbat?) began a sudden attack on Kindred society in Seattle. The reasons for this were myriad and debated to this day. A battle took place which resulted in the sinking of the I-90 floating bridge and the death of Prince Grand. The battle seriously weakened both sides and no clear victor was seen.

Because of the sudden power vacuum in the Seattle Camarilla, the city elders and ancilla began pulling their strings and currying favors, but when the smoke cleared Bathory was crowned on top of a figurative pile of corpses (though some rumors say it wasn’t so figurative). The beginning of her reign is bloody and terrible. She made sure the formerly ruling Toreador Clan was sufficiently cowed, embracing many new Malkavian servants and delivered bloody wrath to the Brujah, both Camarilla and anarch. Once her dominance was assured, she began giving out gifts to those who were faithful and still alive. New elysiums, and keepers thereof, were declared, a new primogen was founded. Many reforms were undertaken to promote city growth, prosperity and, most importantly, security.

In the process, the Pioneers, the city's traditional power set, are politically displaced by the Camarilla at large.

The previous ban on Tremere was lifted and House Machutadze was established.

The death of Gits front woman Mia Zapata on July 7, 1993, left a gaping hole in Seattle’s punk music scene. The Gits, known for energetic live performances and Zapata’s passionate vocals, had just returned from a successful West Coast tour, and stardom—or at least a major record deal—seemed the next step. Those dreams, and Zapata’s life, ended when she was beaten, raped, strangled to death, and left on a Central District street. Her death inspired the creation of antiviolence network Home Alive.

It was hard to look away from the case of the 34-year-old Burien schoolteacher caught having sex with her 12-year-old student. And the story grew only more sordid as the years went on: the teacher was pregnant with a daughter by the student, when arrested in 1997. She served three months in jail, but was caught weeks after her release having sex with the student in her car. She went back to jail, pregnant again, and this time served seven and a half years on two counts of second-degree child rape.

Modern Seattle

N30 aka Violent Night

1999, Gangrel withdraw from the Camarilla, causing strife in the politics of the city.

Seattle's bid for the world stage by hosting the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 did not play out as planned. Instead, the city became the site of the first great street confrontation between the anti-globalization movement and the World Trade Organization on 30 November 1999. While many of those in the streets, and most of those in the suites, were from out of town or even out of country, much of the groundwork of Seattle hosting both the event and the protests against it can be attributed to local forces.

For the Free State Anarchs, this socialist-anarchist impulse saw its ultimate expression in December of 1999, when thousands of mortal protesters rioted in Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization during its annual ministerial conference. Anarchs across the Pacific Northwest used the protests as cover for an attempted coup against the Prince of Seattle. Although the coup was ultimately unsuccessful, several important Camarilla vampires were slain and the Prince only narrowly escaped assassination. The riots themselves caused millions of dollars in property damage, but police abuses nevertheless engendered sympathy for the rioters among political factions opposed to globalization as well as individuals offended by the mere existence of international organization like the WTO. Anarchs across the world cheered the "success" of the Seattle riots and laid plans of their own to use anti-globalization animus against less egalitarian domains. Then, less than two years later, an act of terrorism perpetrated by kine against kine would render all those plans obsolete.

Lessons given by various Lasombra, prepared by Andrew (now a Bishop) for his neonate pack, covering the history of the clan and the Sabbat. The third lesson covers the Great Revolt, and specifically the murder and diablerie of [Lasombra], and brings to light considerable discrepancies in the Sabbat accounts. The chapter ends with a suicide note written by Ming, a member of Andrew's pack who becomes antitribu, who killed herself by waiting for the sun in Seattle on June 12, 2000.

2001 Seattle Mardi Gras riot

On February 27, 2001, disturbances broke out in Pioneer Square during Mardi Gras. There were numerous random attacks on revelers over a period of about three and a half hours. There were reports of widespread brawling, vandalism, and weapons being brandished. Damage to local businesses exceeded $100,000. About 70 people were reported injured and dead. Several women were sexually assaulted.

The police department's lack of intervention during the disturbance led to allegations of police misconduct. Responses during and after the event by both the Mayor and Chief of Police were met with intense scrutiny. The violence led to a moratorium on large Mardi Gras celebrations in the city and tarnished the neighborhood's reputation.

In the early hours of May 21, 2001, members of the Earth Liberation Front broke into the UW’s Center for Urban Horticulture and stashed a homemade firebomb in a filing cabinet. The resulting flames burned for over two hours, causing $7 million in damages. The ELF said it was targeting the UW for thier work on genetically engineered poplar trees. The attack destroyed many books and papers, as well as other research projects at the center, including a quarter of the world’s supply of the endangered showy stickseed plant.

November 30, 2001, the Green River Killer was apprehended.

Capitol Hill massacre

The Capitol Hill massacre was a mass murder committed in the southeast part of Capitol Hill. On the morning of March 25, 2006, the killer entered a rave after-party and opened fire, killing six and wounding two. He then killed himself as he was being confronted by police on the front porch of 2112 E. Republican Street.

In the early hours of July 19, 2009, a man crept through an open window in the South Park home that Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper shared. The details of the terror that unfolded would horrify the city: how Kalebu raped the couple in multiple ways and multiple times, slicing them with a knife; how he used their love for each other against them; how Butz threw a nightstand through the window and escaped, screaming and bleeding; how Hopper ran out the door; how Butz died in the street. Hopper survived, testifying in detail against her attacker.

Vancouver Winter Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXI Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as Vancouver 2010, was an international winter multi-sport event held from February 12 to 28, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with some events held in the surrounding suburbs of Richmond, West Vancouver and the University Endowment Lands, and in the nearby resort town of Whistler.

On October 2014 a student, opened fire on five students in the cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. 4 were killed. A fifth student was shot in the face but survived. The gun used belonged to the father of the shooter.

2020 George Floyd protests and the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone

The city experienced ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd in 2020 and 2021. Beginning on May 29, 2020, demonstrators took to the streets throughout the city for marches and sit-ins, often of a peaceful nature but which also devolved into riots. Participants expressed opposition to systemic racism, police brutality and violence against people of color.

By June 8, there had been eleven straight days with major protests. The Capitol Hill neighborhood experienced a week-long series of clashes between demonstrators and police near the East Precinct that culminated in the formation of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) area, after police abandoned the precinct on June 8. The month of June brought further protests including a Black Lives Matter general strike and silent protest march with 60,000 people on June 12 and several actions throughout the city for Juneteenth. After several shootings and deaths, the CHOP zone was reclaimed by police on July 1. It was followed by a fatal vehicle collision with protesters on Interstate 5 over the July 4 holiday.

Major protests reemerged in opposition to the deployment of federal law enforcement in the city by the Trump administration. Additional actions occurred on July 19, July 22, and again on July 25, when several businesses were vandalized and five construction trailers were set on fire at a youth jail.

Demographics


The racial makeup of the city is:

  • 67.1% white (11.3% German, 9.1% Irish, 8.1% English and 5.0% Norwegian)
  • 16.6% Asian (3.5% Chinese, 2.8% Filipino, 2.1% Vietnamese, 1.6% Japanese, 0.9% Korean and 0.5% Indian)
  • 10.0% black
  • 6.3% Hispanic or Latino
  • 1.0% Native American
  • 0.9% Pacific Islander
  • 2.3% from other races
  • 3.4% from two or more races

Homeless population

see Homelessness in Seattle

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.

It is estimated that King County has 8,000 homeless people on any given night, and many of those live in Seattle. In September 2005, King County adopted a "Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness", one of the near-term results of which is a shift of funding from homeless shelter beds to permanent housing.

On January 24, 2020, the count of unsheltered homeless individuals was 5,578, the number homeless individuals in Emergency Shelters was 4,085 and the number of homeless individuals in Transitional housing was 2,088, for a total count of 11,751 homeless people.

The percentages of individuals experiencing homelessness by race was: White 48%, African American 25%, Asian 2%, Native American 15%, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 4%, Multi-racial 6%. In a survey conducted in 2019, 84% of homeless people in Seattle/King County lived in Seattle/King County prior to losing their housing, 11% lived in another county in Washington prior to losing their housing, and 5% lived out of state prior to losing their housing. Homelessness in Seattle is considered to be a crisis. It has been proposed that to address the crisis Seattle needs more permanent supportive housing.

The cost of living in Seattle has significantly risen in the past decade due to gentrification, a statewide ban on rent control, lack of publicly owned affordable housing, and the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. These have all culminated in an increase in the homeless population. Another contributing factor to the rising price of housing has been Amazon establishing its headquarters in downtown Seattle and the subsequent influx of high-wage tech workers due to the tech boom, between 2010 and 2017 the median rental cost in Seattle rose 41.7%, while the national average was only a 17.6% increase.

Occult population

Economy


see Economy of Seattle

Seattle based companies

  • Aero Controls Inc.
  • Alaska Air Group, Alaska Airlines, and Horizon Air — SeaTac
  • Alder Biopharmaceuticals (Bothell)
  • Allrecipes.com — online recipe service and forum
  • Amazon — retail
  • Ambassadors International — cruise ships
  • American Seafoods — management company for fishing vessels in the Bering Sea
  • AttachmateWRQ — networking
  • Avanade is a global professional services company providing IT consulting and services focused on the Microsoft platform with artificial intelligence, business analytics, cloud, application services, digital transformation, modern workplace, security services, technology and managed services offerings.
  • Avvo — legal services search
  • Babeland (formerly Toys in Babeland) — sex toys
  • Bartell Drugs
  • Bassetti Architects — architectural firm
  • Beecher's Handmade Cheese
  • Blue Nile Inc — diamonds
  • Brooks Sports — athletic apparel
  • BuddyTV — TV news, second screen technology (Business closed)
  • Caffe Vita Coffee Roasting Company — coffee retailer
  • Callison — architectural firm
  • Car Toys — automobile audio equipment and cell phones
  • Carrix, Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates marine and rail terminals. It offers transportation services, including stevedoring, project development management, trucking, and warehousing; and technology system design, installation, and training services for governments, port authorities, shipping lines, shippers, consignees, railroads, and other cargo interests.
  • Cascade Designs — outdoor apparel
  • Center for Infectious Disease Research
  • Cequint
  • Cheezburger — operates many humor web blogs such as I Can Has Cheezburger? and FAIL Blog
  • Classmates.com — social networking service
  • Convoy - Trucking Logistics
  • Costco — Issaquah (founded in Seattle)
  • Cray Inc. — supercomputers
  • Crowd Cow — online meat delivery marketplace
  • Cutter & Buck — golf apparel
  • Darigold — dairy agricultural marketing cooperative
  • Dendreon — immunotherapeutics (defunct)
  • Diamond Parking — parking lots
  • EMC Isilon — computer storage
  • Emeritus Senior Living
  • eNotes.com — educational resource service
  • Expeditors International — logistics
  • ExtraHop Networks — cloud security analytics
  • F5 Networks — application delivery controllers
  • Filson — outdoor apparel
  • findwell — online real estate brokerage
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Funko — Everett
  • Gravity Payments
  • Groundspeak — operators of Geocaching.com
  • Holland America Line — cruise ships
  • Howard S. Wright Companies — construction
  • Indix — product intelligence database
  • John L. Scott — real estate brokerage
  • Johnson Braund Design Group — design and architectural firm
  • Jones Soda — soft drink maker
  • Julep — cosmetics and personal care
  • Juno Therapeutics
  • Just Poké – fast casual, poké restaurant chain
  • K2 Sports — sporting goods and apparel
  • Leafly — cannabis information
  • Microsoft — Redmond
  • Miller Hull Partnership — architecture and planning
  • Mithun — architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, planning and urban design
  • MOD Pizza – pizza restaurant chain
  • Moss Adams
  • NanoString Technologies — Life Sciences Tools
  • Nash Holdings LLC offers investment services. The company was incorporated in 2013 and is based in Seattle, Washington.
  • NBBJ — architectural firm
  • NetMotion Wireless — Mobile VPN Solution
  • Nordstrom — apparel
  • Northwest Kidney Centers
  • Onvia — government business intelligence portal
  • Outdoor Research — apparel
  • Pacific Coast Feather Company — bedding
  • Pagliacci Pizza — pizza restaurant chain
  • Panopto — video content management
  • PATH
  • PayScale — global employee compensation database
  • PCC Natural Markets — supermarket
  • PEMCO — auto, home, boat, and life insurance
  • Penny Arcade — webcomic
  • Plum Creek Timber — timber
  • Porch — home services platform
  • QFC — supermarket chain
  • RealNetworks — Internet and software
  • Redfin — online real estate brokerage
  • Remote Medical International
  • Rhapsody — online music service
  • Russell Investments
  • Safeco — property insurance
  • Saltchuk — transportation and logistics
  • Seattle Credit Union
  • Seattle Genetics (Bothell)
  • Seattle's Best Coffee
  • Sellen Construction
  • Smartsheet — SaaS work collaboration software
  • Soundrangers — online sound effects and music
  • Sporcle — online trivia
  • Starbucks — coffee retailer and coffeehouse chain
  • Sur La Table — cookware
  • Tableau Software — data visualization
  • The Boeing Company — Aircraft Design and Manufacturing
  • The Omni Group — develops software for the Mac OS X platform
  • The Polyclinic
  • Theo Chocolate — organic and fair trade chocolate manufacturer
  • Thrift Books — retail
  • T-Mobile US — Bellevue
  • Tom Bihn - bags and luggage
  • Tommy Bahama — apparel
  • Trident Seafoods — management company for fishing vessels in the Bering Sea
  • Trupanion — pet insurance
  • Tully's Coffee — coffee retailer and wholesaler
  • Turbo (formerly Spoon) — application virtualization
  • Uwajimaya — Asian supermarket
  • Ventec Life Systems
  • Vigor Shipyards — shipbuilding
  • Vulcan Inc. — investment vehicle for Paul Allen
  • Washington Federal Savings
  • Weber Thompson — architectural firm
  • Weyerhaeuser Company is an American timberland company which owns nearly 12,400,000 acres of timberlands in the US and manages an additional 14,000,000 acres timberlands under long-term licenses in Canada.
  • WhitePages.com — online people search, reverse phone & address lookup, and business search
  • Windermere Real Estate — real estate brokerage
  • Windstar Cruises — cruise ships
  • Zillow.com — real estate information service
  • Zulily — apparel and housewares
  • Zumiez — action sports
  • ZymoGenetics — therapeutic protein

Other National Companies With Offices in Seattle, WA

  • Comcast Corporation is an American telecommunications conglomerate headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • General Electric Company is an American multinational conglomerate incorporated in New York City and headquartered in Boston.
  • International Business Machines Corporation is an American multinational information technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York, with operations in over 170 countries.
  • Kaiser Permanente is an American integrated managed care consortium, based in Oakland, California, United States, founded in 1945 by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and physician Sidney Garfield.
  • Nestlé S.A. is a Swiss multinational food and drink company headquartered in Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. It is the largest food company in the world, measured by revenues and other metrics, since 2014.
  • Tata Consultancy Services Limited is an Indian multinational information technology service and consulting company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
  • The Bank of America Corporation is an American multinational investment bank and financial services company based in Charlotte, North Carolina, with central hubs in New York City, London, Hong Kong, Minneapolis, and Toronto. Bank of America was formed through NationsBank's acquisition of BankAmerica in 1998.
  • The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Walt Disney or simply Disney, is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.

Government and politics


see Government of Seattle

Seattle Police Department

see Seattle Police Department

Media


see Media in Seattle

City Art

see Art of Seattle

Neighborhoods


see Locations in Seattle

Notable Locations


Government buildings

Corporate offices

Skyscrapers

Museums

Clubs

Libraries

Healthcare

Theaters and arenas

Schools and universities

Restraunts

Churches

Cemeteries

Misc

Notable personalities


see Inhabitants of Seattle



Heart of Stone

In 1884, a grave digger moving bodies from Seattle Cemetery (now Denny Park) to Lake View Cemetery told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer he came across a weighty coffin. Inside, Mother Damnable, aka Mary Ann Conklin, had reportedly turned to stone—a befitting fate for the woman who supposedly threw rocks at people. The legend might also have some stone-cold science to back it up: Brian Ostrander, who founded Haunted History Ghost Tours of Seattle in 2016, explains that Conklin may have been covered in grave wax, a white or gray substance that forms during decomposition.

Secrets and Seances

Seattle pioneer and Yesler Way namesake Henry Yesler wasn’t just one of the city’s first mayors and millionaires—he was also a spiritualist, believing the living could communicate with the dead. Alongside their astrologer friend William Henry Chaney, Yesler and his wife, Sarah, allegedly hosted seances and attempted to contact their late son George.
Pioneer Square’s Resident Ghost

In 1882, two men accused of murder were lynched by an angry mob in the yard of Yesler’s home. Unsatisfied, they returned to the jail and grabbed Benjamin Payne, who’d shot a completely different person, and lynched him before trial. Some believe Payne’s ghost still hangs around Pioneer Square with a broken neck.

Is there a gun range under Seattle Center?

Yes. The Seattle Center House building opened in April 1939 as a National Guard Armory. In the basement — an area now used for storage — there was a gun range. The slanted wall where the targets were located still sports hundreds of bullet marks. The armory, which was built for $1.25 million, was converted for the 1962 World's Fair.

Is there really a tunnel under Queen Anne?

Yes, but it might not be the movie-style tunnel you're imagining. The tunnel was for the counterbalance trolley on Queen Anne Avenue North. Trolley cars started there in the 1890s and electric cars were introduced in 1901. Those lasted until Aug. 1940 when trackless trolleys and buses took over. The counterbalance tunnel, which isn't open to the public, is roughly 3-feet tall in most places, though some areas are large enough for people to stand.

Were there actually strippers at Seattle World's Fair?

Yep. You could find them at "Show Street" which was billed as "naughty but nice" and featured models posing revealing space-age costumes (in keeping with the fair's aesthetic). Fairgoers could rent cameras to take pictures.

From the book "The Future Remembered" on the World's Fair: "The Seattle Censor Board ordered the show closed at one point. Among its complaints: excessive shimmying and shaking by bare-breasted 'space girls.'"

Is there a nuclear fallout shelter below Interstate 5?

Yes! If you've ever walked by a nondescript gate on Weedin Place in the Ravenna neighborhood, you might have thought it was just another storage facility. But inside, you'll find the only fallout shelter built into a highway anywhere in the nation. Built in 1962, the fallout shelter is a product of fears of nuclear attacks during the Cold War and could fit up to 200 people.

As a secondary use, the fallout shelter operated as a Department of Licensing office from 1963 to 1977.

Did President John F. Kennedy have prostitutes in Seattle?

A Secret Service agent said he did after his 1961 speech at the University of Washington. Kennedy stayed at The Olympic Hotel and the women were brought to the presidential suite. Kennedy aide Dave Powers took them inside, and the women were allegedly told to keep quiet about what happened if they didn't want to end up in the state mental hospital, according to an interview with Secret Service agent Larry Newman in a 1997 book.

Is there a patrol bomber wrecked in Lake Washington?

Yes, there is actually a World War II bomber sunken in the lake off of Magnuson. The plane was doing a routine training flight from the Sand Point Naval Air Station that sent the bomber crashing shortly after takeoff into Lake Washington. The crew was safely recovered, but after lugging the plane up from about 175 feet of water a shackle pin broke and the plane sank back to the depths. Further salvage efforts were abandoned, and the plane still rests just off the Magnuson's boat ramp under about 155 feet of water.

Led Zeppelin also famously fished out the windows of the Edgewater, and their angling attempts led to some serious debauchery involving a fish.

Is there a tunnel under North Aurora?

Yep, though it's really a pedestrian underpass that has been closed for years. It was located at the intersection of Aurora and North 79th Street on the north side. It was created in the early 1930s for easier pedestrian travel but closed after problems with crime in the area. According to the Seattle Times, students at Daniel Bagley Elementary School also used it to cross the road safely.

Was there really a duck-eating sturgeon in Lake Washington?

Well, no. For seemingly decades there was talk of a giant sturgeon running around the area preying on ducks. Sturgeon don't eat ducks, but there has been many sturgeon pulled out of Lake Washington that look like the 640 pound, 11-foot sturgeon above. This one was found on Nov. 6, 1987 near Kirkland, but an 8-foot one turned up as recently in 2013.

Did alligators shut down Green Lake for a summer?

Close — they were actually caimans. In 1986, the city parks department received reports of people seeing three alligators in Green Lake, prompting people to stop swimming in the lake for the summer. Game staff later found two caimans about 3 feet long. Both needed emergency care at Woodland Park Zoo as they were emaciated and malnourished. It's believed that the third died from the cold water, as caimans usually live in swamps and rivers.

But how exactly did they get there? That’s still a mystery.

Did a Seattle police officer really help smuggle booze during prohibition, get caught, go to jail, and become a bootlegger king upon release?

Oh yeah! Roy Olmstead learned the bootlegging trade from his involvement in raids and arrests as a Seattle Police Lieutenant. His arrest in 1920 was pretty scandalous, considering that up to that point he had been considered the department's golden boy. He was fined $500 and lost his job but he managed to find new work: devoting himself full-time to being "King of the Puget Sound Bootleggers."

His operation dwarfed any other liquor operations in Seattle, legal or no. His eventual arrest for rum-running, for which he served 35 months in federal prison, eventually made it to the Supreme Court for a major ruling about the wire-tapping efforts feds used to catch him.

Was a dead horse actually found in Ballard's water reservoir?

The facts on this urban legend are a little murky. Before it was annexed by Seattle in 1907, the city of Ballard inked a deal with to buy water for its residents from Seattle. But the cost only added to the mounting debt of the local government, making annexation seem the best option for many residents.

Supposedly, a dead horse was found floating in the Ballard reservoir, perhaps put there by agents of Seattle to push annexation. But a recent investigation by KUOW into city documents found no mention of the supposed dead horse, casting skepticism on this bizarre local myth.

Were the first "flying saucers" spotted near Mount Rainier?

Maybe? The story goes that Kenneth Arnold was flying in his private airplane near Mt. Rainier on June 24, 1947 when he saw nine circular gleaming objects "flying like a saucer would." The story made national headlines days later and it is generally considered the first report of a UFO. The truth is out there, somewhere.

Was there a skate park on Green Lake's Duck Island?

Absolutely, and the city ended up suing the skate shop that illegally constructed it as part of a Nike-commissioned contest. Go big or go home, as they say.

“We’re all unfriendly.”

It’s called the Seattle Freeze: the generally distant attitude adopted by city residents and a propensity to murmur, “Let’s have brunch soon” and not mean it at all. The unfriendly stereotype probably comes from both the city’s Nordic heritage (those frozen Swedes!) and tech culture (nerds can’t hang, right?), and the term was coined by The Seattle Times in 2005.

Sure, Travel and Leisure once ranked us only the 17th rudest U.S. city, behind even Philadelphia. Such warmth! And yet a 2016 Civic Health Index from the Seattle City Club grades Seattle 35th of 51 U.S. cities when it comes to talking to neighbors frequently—so Freeze Truthers may have a point. Eh, the cold never bothered us anyway.

“Umbrellas are verboten.”

In a city with a lower annual rainfall than Houston or New York City, why do you need an umbrella? That’s an opinion you’ll hear from a lot of your new neighbors. But the idea of a bumbershoot boycott may be more pervasive than the reality, said Bella Umbrella owner Jodell Egbert. Of course, she told us that before her shop, at the time the only umbrella store in the city, pulled up stakes and moved to New Orleans.

But Washington just isn’t that into rain gear. Only five companies make waterproof clothing here—the same number as Utah. And since only eight percent of central Seattle commuters walk to work, there are only a few of us with wet hair.

“We’re all lefties.”

Between the legal pot, a socialist on the city council, and high minimum wage, Seattle is a blue-state fantasyland, right? By some measures, sure. We’ve been called the third-most liberal city in the fifth least-churchy state. President Obama scored 68.72 percent of the vote in King County in 2012. But compare that tally to Portland (75.4 percent) and Manhattan (84.2 percent). This is a city that still hasn’t quite figured out public transportation, and the whole state has high sales tax but no income tax—generally not progressive trends. Washington preemptively banned affirmative action in 1998, and 90 years transpired between our first female mayor and our second (and current) female mayor. Calling Seattle “blue” might be too liberal a definition of liberal.

Maryhill Stonehenge

Why travel to England's Stonehenge when Maryhill is in Washington? The replica was dedicated on July 4, 1918 as a memorial to the local soldiers who died in World War I.

Now part of the Maryhill Museum of Art, Stonehenge is a tourist destination located off Highway 97 near the Columbia River.

Much like the original, the summer solstice last weekend drew several Pagans from Southern Washington and Oregon.

Bicycle Tree on Vashon Island

Historylink.org says years ago someone apparently left their red bicycle beside a big tree and in the time since, the tree grew around it.

The little bicycle now is embedded in the tree about five feet off the ground.

Giant octopus under Tacoma Narrows Bridge

One of the world's largest species of octopus makes its home under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. A popular site for divers is Titlow Park where you can visit the ruins of Galloping Gertie and the giant sea creatures.

It's the epicenter for a once popular sport of octopus wrestling. The annual World Octopus Wrestling Championships attracted thousands of spectators and got a write-up in Time magazine.

Lake Washington's underwater forest

Divers can plunge into the deep Lake Washington waters to explore a forest that used to be on the southwest side of Mercer Island. But a landslide thousands of years ago sent the fully grown trees into the lake.

Check out this eerie dive video of the underwater woods. The Northwest Dive Club also has more information for interested divers.

Tunnels under Tacoma

The legend is there is a network of tunnels crisscrossing under the city of Tacoma, used at the turn of the 20th century for smuggling immigrants in and shuttling unsuspecting drunks onto trading ships waiting in Commencement Bay. But they may just be steam tunnels dug by the city itself.

UFOs at Mount Rainier

You may think of Roswell, New Mexico as the birthplace of unidentified flying objects, but really, the term started near Mount Rainier on June 24, 1947.

Historylink.org says pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted "nine shiny objects" just over the top of the Cascades. The story went national, and this was two weeks before the U.S. Army issued and retracted a report of a crashed saucer near Roswell.

D.B. Cooper

In November 1971, a man identifying himself as Dan Cooper, later mistakenly but enduringly identified as D.B. Cooper, hijacked a Northwest Orient flight from Portland, Ore., to Seattle, claiming he had a bomb.

When the plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he released the passengers in exchange for $200,000 and asked to be flown to Mexico. On the flight to Mexico City, he apparently took the cash and parachuted from the plane's back stairs somewhere near the Oregon border.

Agents doubt he survived because conditions were poor and the terrain was rough, but few signs of his fate have been found.

Caddy the Sea Monster

Scotland has Nessy and we have Caddy the sea monster. It's described as a long, snake-like creature with a horse or goat or giraffe head. It snorts and grunts, and might have whiskers or a mane.

There have been over 50 sightings of Caddy since the 1930s through the Puget Sound-Strait of Georgia area, but she's also been seen near Alaska and Oregon. Scientists say there certainly could be secrets the ocean hasn't yet revealed.

Lake Union islands

In May 1962, harbor police spotted a small island (6' by 8') protruding from the water near the south end of the lake. Two University of Washington students quickly claimed it as Chelan Island, elected a mayor and city council, and listed 115 residents, according to Historylink.org.

The island disappeared, but two months later, another island about the same size, and another six tiny islands, popped up on the east side of the lake.

The Army Corps of Engineers determined the islands were the result of dumping tons of fill dirt from the construction of I-5. Dumping fill dirt in the lake quickly came to a halt. Historylink says a high shoal from Chelan Island can still be seen on a recent soundings map.

Myth: Seattle is full of left-wing hippies.

Fact: MOSTLY TRUE

Like many West Coast cities, Seattle is generally a liberal political hotbed. However, it is more of a “live and let live” representation of the Left Wing than the aggressive San Francisco brand. There are also very strong Libertarian streaks in this blue city, so California this is not. It is wise not to equate this cooler approach with apathy, however, as it is a quiet giant when it comes to the voting both; Seattle’s King county alone has delivered the (sometimes) razor-thin victories to many Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates in recent years. However, its presence as a heavy weight on the left-leaning political scale has fostered some resentment from the rest of the more rural areas of the state which are largely conservative. Still, with a large voter turnout in many elections, Seattle has maintained a strong hold on many powerful public positions in Washington state.

With major initiatives on the November 2012 ballot, such as legalizing gay marriage or the sale of small amounts of marijuana to people over 21, we will see if Seattle’s political gravity is strong enough to make Washington one of the first states to approve both controversial policies by a public vote.

There is an extreme openness to alternative lifestyles and a propensity for large-scale protesting. I don’t think a month has gone by in my living here where there wasn’t a mass protest about something or another in downtown Seattle. You can call them “laidback” but there is a fiery dedication here to the First Amendment.

Myth: Seattle people are cold, unfriendly hipsters.

Fact: 50-50 TRUTH

To be frank, this rainy city is well-known for a social phenomenon called “the Seattle Freeze.” It’s a theory that suggests Seattle residents are somewhat cold and unfeeling in their interactions. While I have certainly experienced this (probably more than I would care to admit), I would argue that patience, endurance, and hard work are required to form solid relationships. While I will not go so far as to call the people unfriendly – as I do think there is a general level of courteousness and a desire not to offend – there is most definitely a general lack of warmth. A psychologist friend of mine once said, “The people here need a certain amount of social insulation, and they are not quick to adopt others into their tight social circle.” Perhaps it is the dark winters or depravation of direct sunlight, but there does seem to be a consensus that it takes time for people to open up to strangers. This could very well be weather-related as the summertime does seem to bring out the more extroverted nature in people.

As far as fitting the Seattle stereotype of a hipster, well, there are plenty of people who do act the part. Most West Coast cities do seem to have an air of casualness that East Coasters often dub “beach bum”, and there is a more relaxed sense of fashion and workplace attitude in Seattle. It is not uncommon to see people going to work in flip-flops and shorts (at least in the summer time). Some employers even allow their workers to bring pets to the workplace. And while I can’t say for sure that the majority of companies have such easy-going policies, there does seem to be a less restrictive mindset than what I experienced working in the Midwest. However, only a small number of people would be caught dead in skinny jeans and gothic eyeliner.

From what I understand, if you catch Bill Speidel's underground tour on the right night, it's all urban legend.

There's a 100 year old train tunnel beneath Seattle. Before 9/11, you could walk from one end (Pioneer Square) to the other (Waterfront near the aquarium).

There are networks of steam tunnels beneath most of Capitol Hill.

Lakeside Cemetery is haunted by snobby ghosts. Apparently they'll only scare you if you're a member of a Pioneer family.

A prototype submarine still floats in the middle of Lake Washington. It is now a tomb.

The ghost of Curt Cobain throws rocks at mourners who hang out too long in the park by the house where he shot himself.

The Four Freedoms is haunted by the ghost of one of Paul Keller's victims. He occasionally sets fires to celebrate the anniversary of that tragedy.

To this day, you can hire a lady of the night who survived her encounter with Gary Ridgeway, but she'll charge you extra to hear her story.

One of the original ride-the-ducks vehicles was used during the amphibious assault at Khe Sanh.

The Gas Works at Gasworks park was shut down by big oil in the 80s.

There's a hidden gift store in the basement of the Space Needle that sells last year's souvenirs at a discount.

Megan Jasper of Sub-Pop fame is actually the ghost of Bruce Pavitt's daughter. Pearl Jam wrote a song about her on their first album.

favorite enigma - what I will refer to as the Ballard Banshee. I used to date this guy who lived in a 3rd fl apt in Ballard. On warm days in summer he'd leave his windows open all night. Very very very early in the mornings sometimes like 3:30-4:30 am, there was a woman who would go for walks down the street, she sounded quite insane and would talk to herself in several voices and wail and make really weird noises while she walked. It was creepy as fuck but since it was so early, her talking would wake you up and if you wanted to try and see her or something, she was nowhere to be found once you got up to look out the window. This would have been like 2007-2008ish.

Dead Horse Myth

On Facebook, Sebastian Rataezyk asked: Did someone put a dead horse into Ballard’s water supply so Ballard would vote to join Seattle?

I headed for the Nordic Heritage Museum to pore over issues of Ballard News from 1906 to see if there were reports of a dead horse in the water supply. That was the year when the annexation vote took place.

Kerri Keil, an archivist at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard, helped me sort through the crumbling books of old newspapers.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Ballard was a separate city from Seattle. And the city of Ballard’s population was growing so fast, the water supply couldn’t keep up.

Just across city limits, Seattle had plenty of water, which Ballard could have if its residents voted for annexation. But many Ballardites, surprise surprise, were fiercely independent.

The thinking goes that if someone were to have contaminated the water, say with a dead horse, that might have inspired some Ballard residents to question whether independence was worth forgoing clean water.

In 1906, the Ballard News covered the heck out of the Ballard water supply story.

But they never reported anything about a dead horse in the city of Ballard’s sole reservoir.

So I turned to the other side of this urban legend – the city of Seattle.

Scott Cline, the municipal archivist for Seattle, heard the dead horse story soon after he arrived in Seattle 30 years ago. The municipal archives house all the records from the city of Ballard up through annexation.

I leafed through council minutes, and at least for 1906-1907, there is no mention of a dead horse in water. Looking at the clerk’s records, I read reports from the superintendent of Light and Water, and the health officer, and again, there is no mention of a dead horse in the reservoir.

Now about that reservoir. Cline found plans for one but nothing showing that it got built. And maps from the time don’t indicate there was a reservoir in Ballard.

That means there was probably no reservoir. And probably no dead horse.

So who perpetuated the dead horse story? Well, several people mentioned the same name off the record, but we won’t say it here. We wouldn’t want to start any rumors.

As I tracked down these myths, I wondered why it’s so hard to say whether these urban myths are true.

“It’s tough in the case of urban legends because a lot of times you have to disprove a negative,” said Alan Stein, the staff historian for HistoryLink. “You’re trying to say, ‘Yeah, we’ve nailed down the facts by showing there are no facts.’”

A big part of Stein’s job is to look into local legends and rumors and try and see if they’re true. People don’t always like what he discovers.

People say, “I heard this story from my grandfather! There’s no way my grandfather would’ve lied to me!” Even with the facts in front of them, people refuse to believe him.

Know any other Seattle urban legends? Do tell! Tweet at @KUOW or write to gro.wouk|rednowlacol#gro.wouk|rednowlacol

Mercer Girls Myth

Did prostitutes open the first public school in Seattle?

It took us a while to unpack this question, posed by Bill Craven on Facebook.

There had been a rumor back in the day that Lou Graham, one of Seattle’s earliest madames, had left her fortune to support education in Seattle. But some digging by HistoryLink found that she had bequeathed her wealth to relatives in Germany after she died in 1903.

But it turns out that the first Seattle teacher was a Mercer Girl – the name given to women who arrived in Seattle by boat, and who are often described today as mail-order brides.

"That is a persistent rumor, that they came here for men," Stein said. "They came here to be school marms and to add culture."

The Mercer Girls were young women from the Northeast and the South who moved to Seattle at the height of the Civil War. Asa Mercer, an early Seattle pioneer, went to their towns promising high wages and beautiful scenery.

The Lowell Daily Courier notes Asa Mercer’s visit to the area in 1864. Mercer never mentioned marriage to these women, according to the article.

Peri Muhich, who has researched the Mercer Girls, says that although Mercer never mentioned marriage, it’s important to read between the lines. She said Seattle men longed for educated women from home – and that women in the Northeast longed for eligible bachelors. It was the Civil War, after all, and the male-to-female ratios were wildly skewed on both coasts.

So how did this rumor get started that prostitutes starting Seattle schools?

Muhich believes that the Mercer Girls started being described as mail-order brides in the 1940s or 1950s, after their children and grandchildren died – and when memory faded.

She learned of these young women in a class at the University of Washington. She started reading diaries and searching for marriage and death records and learned that many were teachers.

She found that among those first women to make the long, circuitous journey to Seattle, was Elizabeth Ordway of Lowell, Massachusetts. Ordway was the first teacher at Seattle’s first school, and she was there when 100 students showed up at her door. (She sent the younger ones home.)

Ordway never married. Her tombstone reads:

“We talk a lot about the founding fathers,” Muhich says, “but the women were the ones doing all the work.”

She also reached out to the Mercer Girls’ descendants.

“A lot of people didn’t want to admit to being descendants of the Mercer Girls because they didn’t want that hanging over them,” Muhich said.

The Mercer Girls are still viewed as prostitutes today, she said. After an article about her research was published in The Seattle Times, a man contacted her, demanding that she reveal that the Mercer Girls were prostitutes living in a bordello on Mercer Island.

Muhich replied, “If you can find me evidence of that I am happy to tell that story. But I have no evidence of those girls doing anything like that.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License