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Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located in the State of Washington between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, nearly 108 miles south of the United States-Canadian border in King County, of which it is the county seat.
Seattle was founded in the 1850s and named after Chief Seattle, also known as Noah Sealth. As of 2005, the city had an estimated population of 573,911 and a metropolitan population of almost 3.8 million. Seattle is the hub for the Greater Puget Sound region. Its official nickname is the Emerald City, alluding to the lush evergreen trees in the surrounding area. It is also referred to informally as the Rainy City, the Gateway to Alaska, Queen City, and Jet City, due to the local influence of Boeing. Seattle residents are known as Seattleites.
Seattle is known as the birthplace of grunge music, and it has a reputation for heavy coffee consumption: coffee companies founded in Seattle include Starbucks and Tully's, though many locals shun these giants in favor of Seattle's many independent, artisanal espresso roasters and cafes. Seattle was also the site of the 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization, and the attendant demonstrations by anti-globalization activists, which were in keeping with Seattle's Democratic history and reputation for liberal politics.
Seattle's climate is mild, with the temperature moderated by the sea and protected from winds and storms by the mountains. Despite being partially in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, the city of Seattle has a reputation for frequent rain. In reality, the "rainy city" receives an unremarkable 38 inches of precipitation a year, less than most major Eastern Seaboard cities, such as New York City which averages 47.3 inches.
Five companies on the 2006 Fortune 500 list of the United States' largest companies, based on total revenue, are currently headquartered in Seattle: financial services company Washington Mutual (#99), Internet retailer Amazon.com (#272), department store Nordstrom (#293), coffee chain Starbucks (#338), and insurance company Safeco Corporation (#339). Just shy of making the list is global logistics firm Expeditors International (#506). Other Fortune 500 companies popularly associated with Seattle are based in nearby Puget Sound cities. Warehouse club chain Costco Wholesale Corp. (#28), the largest company in Washington, is based in Issaquah.
Microsoft (#48), the American Division of Nintendo, Nintendo of America, and cellular telephone pioneer McCaw Cellular, prior to being bought out by AT&T Wireless in 1994 and then merging with Cingular in 2004, are all located in Redmond. Weyerhaeuser, the forest products company (#90), is based in Federal Way. Finally, Seattle is home to truck manufacturer PACCAR (#157) and international mobile telephony giant T-Mobile's U.S. subsidiary T-Mobile USA.
Prior to moving its headquarters to Chicago, aerospace manufacturer Boeing (#26) was the largest company based in Seattle. Its largest division is still headquartered in Renton, and the company has large aircraft manufacturing plants in Everett and Renton, so it remains one of the largest private employers in the Seattle metropolitan area.
Major redevelopment of the South Lake Union neighborhood is underway in an effort to attract new and established biotech companies to the city, joining current biotech companies Corixa (acquired by GlaxoSmithKline), Immunex (now part of Amgen), and ZymoGenetics. The effort has public support and some financial backing from Paul Allen (whose contribution has resulted in some calling the neighborhood "Allentown"). In 2006, Expansion Magazine ranked Seattle among the top 10 metropolitan areas in the nation for climates favorable to business expansion.
The Space Needle is Seattle's most recognizable landmark, having been featured in the logo of the television show Frasier and the backgrounds of the television series Grey's Anatomy, not to mention countless films. The Needle dates from the 1962 Century 21 Exposition.
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