1. One interesting (and intellectual) fact about Seattle: it's the most literate city in the U.S. We have the most bookstores and libraries per capita, and the most library card-holders to check them out!
2. The Space Needle: Iconic landmark, so it must be the most photographed object in the city, right? One random fact a few tour guides like to point out is that it actually comes second – to the giant Pink Elephant car wash sign on Battery Street and Denny Way downtown.
3. Seattle might be the only city that can claim to be built on top of another city. After the Great Fire of 1889, citizens raised the street level and started over – you can tour parts of old Seattle thanks to the city's Underground Tour.
4. Why so eager to raise the streets? The Seattle sewers flowed with the tides – in other words, at some point in the day, toilets became more like fountains and the streets were...well, gross. Fun fact: the incredible rebuilding job that followed the fire firmly placed Seattle ahead of Tacoma in the race to become the most industrialized city in the Pacific Northwest. Call it bathroom humor.
5. Next time someone complains about the rain in Seattle, surprise them with this interesting fact: Seattle's annual rainfall is less than that of Houston, Chicago and New York City.
6. Then toss in this fun little tidbit: Folks in Seattle buy the most sunglasses per capita than any other U.S. city.
7. The first female mayor of Seattle, and of any U.S. city, was Bertha Landes, elected 1926. Weird fact: Seattle hasn't had a female mayor since, which is perhaps why Bertha is said to haunt The Harvard Exit Theater in Capitol Hill.
8. Notice a lot of cafes around here? There's probably a glassblowing studio next door. Seattle has the second most glassblowing studios in the world. The first is Murano, an island near Venice, Italy.
9. When it comes to live music and performances per capita, Seattle is second in the U.S. only to New York City.
10. But we beat 'em in ballet - Seattle's Pacific Northwest Ballet has the highest per capita attendance in the country.
11. Seattle's annual Hempfest is the largest "Legalize It" festival in the country, and is a favorite among Seattle cops due to the general friendly, no-violence atmosphere.
12. Random fact: More folks bike to work here than in any other city in the U.S. - and Seattle was the first city to put cops on bikes, too.
Alki Beach wasn't warm and sunny when the Denny Party landed there in the fall of 1851, where they met a few Native America tribes, including the Suquamish and the Snohomish. After a temporary winter stay in West Seattle, the new settlers crossed Elliot Bay to what is now the downtown Seattle area, including Pioneer Square.
At the time, Pioneer Square became known as Skid Row, due to the downward sloping Yesler Way, which runs straight into the Puget Sound and provided loggers with an easy way of transporting lumber. Thanks to the economic boost from the timber industry, Seattle quickly became a rather wealthy city, founding the University of Washington in 1861.
By the late 1880s, the Seattle population was booming; but almost all was lost in the Great Seattle Fire in June of 1889. Despite the destruction of all their wooden buildings, the fire ended up being a blessing in disguise for the town. Within a year, well over 100 new buildings (this time, made of brick) were built on top of the old city, which also solved Seattle's messy and rather smelly plumbing problem. Some parts of Old Seattle are still intact, and can be visited via the Underground Tour.
The oldest continually operated public farmer's market, Pike Place Market opened in 1907, and is today one of the most popular tourist spots in Seattle. In addition to timber, the aerospace industry also helped boost the city's wealth, particularly when Bill Boeing developed the 707 commercial jet and tested his company's plane out in 1916.
One of Seattle's other most famous landmarks, the Space Needle, was built in 1962 for that year's World's Fair, along with the Monorail, which is still the quickest way to get from the Seattle Center to downtown. The Fair brought even more tourists to Seattle, and the population continued to grow.
As it had with the timber and aerospace industries, Seattle continued to stay on top of modern times when Microsoft started doing business in the city in the 1980s. Seattle was also the birthplace of Starbucks, the original of which can still be visited at Pike Place. In addition to these businesses, other major companies such as Nintendo, Nordstrom, and Immunex call Seattle home for their headquarters.