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Seattle

Seattle

Located on the shore of sparkling Elliott Bay, with the snowy peak of Mount Rainier in the distance, Seattle has a magnificent setting, with a modern skyline of glass skyscrapers, a friendly charm, and plenty of fun coffeehouses, good restaurants, and engaging clubs.

Flooded out of its first location on Alki Point in what is now the suburb of West Seattle, the town in the 1850s shifted to the present location of Pioneer Square, renaming itself after the Native American Chief Sealth, who helped reduce violent tensions between whites and local tribes. As the surrounding forest was gradually felled and the lumber shipped out, Seattle grew slowly until the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 put it firmly on the national map as a transport and commercial hub. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the Boeing corporation has been crucial to the city's economic strength, and more recent success stories have included Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon.com , the boom times interrupted only by the occasional dot-com bust, earthquake (in February 2001), or housing crunch.

Despite the changes wrought by Seattle's solid economy as the city grows into an international destination, its more established neighbourhoods remain distinctive, and it has a pleasantly down-to-earth ambiance, whether you come here in the summer with the rest of the tourist trade, or make like the locals and brave the steady rains (with many fewer visitors) from October to May.