2010: 608,660, #23 in U.S., #1 in Washington

1950: 467,591, #19 in U.S.

2010 Metropolitan Area: 3,439,809, #15 in U.S.

1950 Metropolitan Area: 732,992, #19 in U.S.


Seattle, on the eastern shore of Puget Sound, had its first permanent settlement in 1851 and was incorporated as a city in 1869. Today it is a major port, and the Washington State Ferries serve Seattle and many other communities and islands in the area. Pioneer Square is a historic neighborhood at the south end of downtown.


Tallest building: Columbia Center, 937 feet (1985)

List of tallest buildings

There are observation decks on three Seattle structures: the Columbia Center, on the 73rd floor;  the Space Needle (605 feet), which was built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair; and the Smith Tower (462 feet), which was the tallest building on the West Coast from the time it was built in 1914 until the Space Needle was built.


Downtown Seattle has the flagship Nordstrom department store, in the former Frederick and Nelson building, and a Target store. Macy’s, in the former Bon Marche store, closed in February 2020. Westlake Center (1988) and Pacific Place (1998) are enclosed shopping malls in the downtown area.


Amtrak's Empire Builder goes east to Spokane and Chicago. The Coast Starlight goes south to Portland, Oakland, and Los Angeles. The Amtrak Cascades goes north to Vancouver, British Columbia, and south as far as Eugene, Oregon. Amtrak uses King Street Station (1906). The adjacent Union Station (1911) is now used for offices and special events.

Sounder commuter rail (2000) operates north to Everett and south to Tacoma.

Sound Transit Link Light Rail opened its route from downtown to Sea-Tac Airport in 2009 and expanded to the University of Washington in 2016.

The one-mile Seattle Center Monorail has been running from downtown to Seattle Center since the 1962 World's Fair. It is the world's only full-sized monorail that is still in operation.

The 1.3-mile South Lake Union Streetcar opened in 2007. The 2.5-mile First Hill Streetcar opened in 2016.

Space Needle and Seattle Skyline


The Seattle Art Museum is located downtown. The Pacific Science Center and the Museum of Pop Culture are on the north edge of downtown at Seattle Center. The Frye Art Museum is just east of downtown. The Seattle Aquarium is on the downtown waterfront.


The AMC Pacific Place 11, Regal Meridian 16, and Seattle Cinerama are downtown movie theaters.  The 5th Avenue Theatre (1926) and the Paramount Theater (1928) are restored movie palaces that have concerts, touring Broadway shows, and other events.

The Seattle Symphony plays at Benaroya Hall (1998). The Seattle Opera plays at McCaw Hall (2003) at Seattle Center. The ACT Theatre and the Seattle Repertory Theatre are also in the downtown area.


The Seattle Mariners of the American League play at T-Mobile Park (1999). The NFL Seattle Seahawks play at CenturyLink Field (2002). Key Arena (1962, renovated 1995), at Seattle Center, has sporting events and concerts, but is currently closed for two years for major renovations.

Map of Downtown Seattle

Convention and Visitors Bureau