Round-the-World cities: Seattle

The most recent city in the Round-the-World series is one that I got to spend a day in during my most recent America trip; having a free weekend, and friends from Sydney who recently moved to the area, I flew my way north from San Jose up to Seattle, Washington, home of the Space Needle (pictured left).

It's an interesting place - being located so far North (bordering Canada) it's much closer to my preferred environment (dark-green trees, mountains, snow peaks, ...) and a welcome change from California - what's more, being winter, I did get to experience snow / frozen-rain, a climate I actually quite enjoy.

Before visiting, I didn't really know what to expect - I'd heard of Sleepless in Seattle, but having not watched it, the only cultural reference that gave me any insight into what it would be like was Grey's Anatomy, based in a fictional Seattle hospital -  so I'd heard of the Space Needle, but that was about it.

My first impression was that the public transport was pretty well organised, travelling from the airport to the CBD was really simple; once there, the first port of call was crossing some rather artistically paved streets to warm up in a Starbucks - after all, Seattle is where the coffee giant originated! It does seem to be good at exporting companies, as Microsoft, Amazon and Tully's coffe are all from the area, and a suprisingly large number of other companies are all based in Seattle.
The city centre itself is fairly standard, though it struck me as nicely pedestrian-friendly compared to other US ones - e.g. I felt walking around was a perfectly acceptable way of getting around, not being forced into subway/driving like others. It also appeared quite modern (and glass-y, in a Sydney way, rather than concrete-y), with a good mix of heritage buildings mixed in with office and even architectural curiosities like the famous Seattle public library, pictured above - sadly, I didn't get the chance to go inside, but will make sure to visit it if/when I return.

After visiting the markets right next to Puget sound (note: Salmon candy is as weird tasting as it sounds) and some of the residential outskirts of the city, my hilight, and one of the reasons to go, was a trip to the Experience Music Project museum. Located right next to the Space needle, and designed by Frank Gehry to look like a smashed guitar from above, was first started to feature primarily rock music history, in particular that from the Pacific northwest (Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Heart, ...). To the right, you can see its 'guitar cyclone' built from hundreds of functioning guitars which leads up to a collection of jam/recording rooms and instructional booths for guitar, piano, drums, bass, ... - I could have spent hours there had I not had to catch a flight that night. What's more, as a result of being founded by a Microsoft co-founder, EMP also doubles as a science fiction museum, so a great destination for a musician/programmer like myself - strongly recommended :)

So overall, I'd definitely want to visit again at some point, for longer than a weekend - probably for more exploring of its IT / music scenes, going up the Space Needle, and ideally also visiting the wilderness further out. I wasn't as wow'd by the architecture as Barcelona, or by the sheer size as NY, but I'd place it closer to a much more pedestrian-friendly Sydney, with lots of promise in the future.


  1. Glad you enjoyed it :-) The view from the Space Needle is spectacular.

  2. I'm glad you liked your visit here. Boeing, where I work is also here, although the corporate headquarters is now in Chicago.


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