Seattle is the largest city of Washington state, as well as the Pacific Northwest region, and is the county seat of King County. It has an estimated population of 594,210 inhabitants as of 2007, making it the 15th largest city in the U.S. It is a major port, as well as economic, cultural and education center of the area.
The City of Seattle was incorporated in 1869, though the area has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years. It's official nickname is the "Emerald City," referencing the lush evergreens in the area, although it is often referred to as the "Rain City" and "Jet City." The city is located between Lake Washington to the east, and the Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) to the west.
The city has grown through a series of annexations of smaller communities. It started with Magnolia, Wallingford, Green Lake, and the University District, and later grew, annexing such neighborhoods as Ballard, Maple Leaf, and West Seattle. There are several landmarks in Seattle: the Space Needle, Seattle Center, Westlake Center, Smith Tower, Columbia Center, Pike Place, the Fremont Troll and the Experience Music Project. Starbucks also has a strong tie to Seattle. It's first coffee shop was founded in the Pike Place Market in 1971, and still stands there today.
Seattle is known for its progressive and open culture. The Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Northwest Ballet company, Benaroya Hall, and Seattle Opera are all examples of classical venues that continue their tradition in the city. There are also many theatres and acting venues located in the city. On the modern music side, Seattle is considered the home of the grunge genre, which artists like Soudgarden, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana. Since the grunge era, the music scene has exploded with different and experimental types of music.
Sports in Seattle are very popular. It is home to the Seattle Seahawks (NFL), the Seattle Mariners (MLB), the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL - Ice hockey), the Seattle Sounders (USL-1 - Soccer), and the Seattle Storm (WNBA).