Few people outside the Pacific Northwest knew much about SEATTLE before 1991, and it was considered a distant, rainy backwater even by most Americans. Since Nirvana and grunge rock exploded that year, things have never been the same: Hollywood quickly jumped on the bandwagon with Sleepless in Seattle, Frasier and Grey’s Anatomy, and today the tourists and Alaska cruise ships flock in to soak up the city’s famously picturesque setting, lively Pike Place Market, stunning Chihuly Garden and Glass, fun coffeehouses and slew of excellent museums, framed by a modern skyline of shiny skyscrapers and the snowy peak of Mount Rainier in the distance.

Yet the 1990s wasn’t the first time Seattle made a global impact. Founded in 1851, the city was really put on the map after the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s, Seattle’s population doubling and economy booming as it served as the main port of embarkation for hopeful miners; in 1962 the World’s Fair saw the construction of the iconic Space Needle and brief attention again thanks to Elvis in It Happened at the World’s Fair. From the beginning of the twentieth century, Boeing was crucial to the city’s economic strength, and more recent success stories have included global corporate icons Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon.com, all based here. One Seattle stereotype that remains true: it still rains a lot here, especially from October to May.

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