I have been to Seattle several times in the past few months and on every trip, the plane is packed full. It seems like everyone is heading to Seattle. The traffic is horrendous, and people are sleeping on the sidewalks and almost everywhere else you could think to pitch a tent. The price of a single-family home has skyrocketed to over three quarters of a million dollars and many people live cramped in apartments with three or more roommates. What is the attraction of this amazing city in the Pacific Northwest?
For starters, the job market is booming, with Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing and many other big firms located in the area and many smaller firms growing and expanding. Another factor is the moderate weather and the variety of things to do. The scenery is beautiful, and the view of the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier are classic. Another reason for Seattle’s popularity is the success of their professional sports teams with the Seahawks and Mariners drawing big crowds.
Seattle has a booming cultural scene with museums, art galleries and music venues throughout the downtown. There is also a lot of public art and other attractions that are popular with visitors and residents alike. One of the largest and most visible sculptures in the downtown is the 48 foot, Hammering Man, that stands at the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum. The Hammering Man was built to honor the work of all men and women throughout the world. The sculpture is made of stainless steel and aluminum and weighs in at over 26,000 pounds. Installed in 1992, the Hammering Man has struck his hammer over 42 million times throughout the years.
Coffee is another symbolic attraction of Seattle and being the home of Starbucks, it is not hard to find a cup on almost any corner. And, while Starbucks is clearly the most famous, there are hundreds of little coffee shops and street carts throughout the city. Ethnic foods are also plentiful in Seattle with a large Asian influence and other foods from throughout the world. Food trucks are along many of the streets and most have long lines waiting for hot hoagies or other delicacies.
Seattle has also gained notoriety for its large homeless population, which is the largest, next to New York and Los Angeles. It is estimated that there are over ten thousand homeless individuals living on the streets of Seattle and many camp under bridges and underpasses. The city has attracted a large number of young, homeless individuals and many were attracted by the ‘grunge’ music scene, popularized by Nirvana and its lead singer, Kurt Cobain. Residents seem to accept the large number of panhandlers and ‘street people’ hanging around public spaces and parks and the crime rate is not much higher than similarly sized cities.
One of Seattle’s greatest challenges may well be its popularity. As more and more people discover this Amazing city, the city will have to invest billions of dollars to make room for the new residents. There are already a growing number of huge construction cranes and new luxury apartment skyscrapers popping up throughout the downtown. I look forward to visiting Seattle many more times and seeing how the city grows and develops into an even more Amazing city!