USA Washington 

A Guide to Seattle

The Pacific Northwest is probably the most spectacular part of the US. Towering mountains, rushing rivers, placid lakes, deep canyons, tranquil streams and thick forests make up the wet green region that is Oregon and Washington. Situated between saltwater Puget Sound and freshwater Lake Washington with Mount Rainier as its backdrop, Seattle is a stunning, vibrant, technology-driven city which still has time for art and culture. Efficient land, air and water transport and a monorail make it easy to get around Seattle - a great travel destination.

Because of its phenomenal natural beauty, tourism is one of Seattle’s major industries. July has the most days of sunshine and the least rain for whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing and more. Or simply commune with nature beside one of the myriad crystal-clear streams or stroll along a pristine beach.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, started the headlong rush to Seattle by setting up his headquarters here in the 1980s, changing the economy of the city - and the world as we previously knew it. Jeff Bezos launched the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com, in 1995. Now more than 3 000 software, e-commerce and giant computer businesses flourish in Seattle. Nike Sportswear and Starbucks, which opened its first coffee shop in the Pike Place Market in the 1970s, are now global. Successful film and music industries, and the Boeing Air company founded in 1916, add to Seattle’s healthy economy.

Downtown Pike Place Market, the soul of Seattle, has a wonderful ambience. Established in 1907 as a farmers’ market, it still operates as such today, with the added attraction of artists and street performers.

Klondike Historical Park, which tells the story of the Gold Rush of 1897 which assured Seattle prosperity, is in Pioneer Park in the National Historic District. Visit the Elliott Bay Book Company, paradise for bookworms, and enjoy spectacular views from the observation deck of Smith Tower, Seattle’s first skyscraper built in 1914.

Near the market the Aquarium contains species indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. The interesting Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center is sited on the historic working waterfront.

The 48-ft animated steel sculpture, ‘Hammering Man’, welcomes visitors to the Seattle Art Museum. For music lovers, huge Benaroya Hall is home to the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Enjoy the night skyline from the Grand Lobby.

Beyond downtown, Seattle Center, a 74-acre urban park, has the city’s most recognisable and dominant landmark, the three-legged Space Needle. At its base is architect Frank Gehry’s quirky Experience Music Project. A revolving restaurant and observation deck atop the tower provide superb views of the city, particularly at night. Five arches over reflecting pools and fountains are surrounded by the six buildings of the Pacific Science Center.

Fremont, a bohemian haunt in the Swinging Sixties, has an incongruous 13.5-ft tall statue of Lenin while a 15-ft troll eats a Volkswagen under the Aurora Bridge! Richard Beyer’s aluminium sculpture, ‘People Waiting for the Interurban’ on 34th Street is whimsically clothed by the locals.

The University of Washington’s 693-acre parklike campus houses the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture featuring dinosaur fossils and Northwest Native art, and The Henry Art Gallery.

The 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum, and Woodland Park Zoo with an open-forested canopy for orangutans, feature in the University District.

Ballard, an 1853 Scandinavian fishing and logging settlement, retains its Nordic flavour in northwest Seattle. In a 7-acre botanical garden, the Chittenden Locks enable boats to travel between Puget Sound and Union and Washington lakes.
 
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