Seattle is named for Chief Seattle, a transliteration of Sealth, chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes. It is on the northern-most latitude of any major city in the USA, outside of Alaska, and hence it enjoys long summer days. Winter days, though, are often short, dark, and gloomy. It’s beautifully sited between the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascade Mountain Range to the east with Mount Rainier standing guard to the southeast. It is also flanked by two gorgeous, sparkling bodies of water, with 18-mile-long Lake Washington to the east and Puget Sound, a deep water port, to the west.
The climate is mild, and extremes of heat and cold are hardly ever a problem, but it does tend to be generally cool and damp. Although many places exceed Seattle’s total per annum rainfall (including Atlanta, also home to Gregorys,) few exceed Seattle’s total number of days with rainfall, thus leading to Seattle’s “Rainy City” title. Although Seattle gets more than its share of gray days, its moist climate has made this a beautiful green land, leading to another, more favorable title the city holds, that being The Emerald City.
In 1851, not too long before the Gregorys arrived on the scene, Arthur Denny founded a settlement in what was to be come Seattle on present day Elliott Bay. He chose this spot because the land there is flat and the bay deep. His choice proved to be very important to the city’s future potential as a major port, which eventually became the closest major mainland port to Asia and made Seattle the country’s gateway to Pacific Rim trade.
In 1889 a fire destroyed nearly all of the newly emerging city, but led to massive regrowth, including expansion to the north and south along the waterfront of Elliott Bay. In 1893 the first transcontinental railroad reached Seattle, lending more fuel for rapid growth of the city and giving it yet another way of shipping out its major resources of timber and coal.
In 1896 the country experienced a major economic crash, following by a depression. Fortuitously, a nearly concurrent event happened that was to change Seattle forever – gold was discovered in the Klondike region of Alaska. The gold rush to Alaska began, with Seattle as the last stop before Alaska, it became chief provisioner and the major supplier for, not only the Alaska bound, but its outposts as well. While the rest of the country was in the throes of a terrible economic depression, Seattle was a thriving boomtown. People who had lost everything in the economic upheaval rushed to Alaska via Seattle in the hope of reversing their fortune, and the population of Seattle more than doubled nearly overnight.
All of these events added up to opportunity, and were tailor made for our young, fatherless Gregory boys. Horace Greeley said “Go West, Young Man, and grow up with the country.” And that is exactly what propelled Alice, Edmund, and Paul Gregory west to Seattle.
During World War I, manufacturing in Seattle boomed, and in 1916 the Boeing Aircraft Company was founded. During World War II, Boeing became a major supplier of aircraft to the allies. Today Boeing is still one of the leading local industries in Seattle, but it now share the position with other companies, chief among which is Microsoft.
Throughout its history Seattle has hosted two worldâ€™s fairs – the Alaska-Yukon Exposition of 1909 and the World’s Fair of 1962. Few buildings remain from the Alaska-Yukon Exposition, and those few remaining structures are found on the campus of the University of Washington today. The 1962 fair gave Seattle it’s much loved Space Needle, a must visit destination for all tourists to the area and residents celebrating birthdays.