The History of Seattle
During World War II, Seattle and many other U.S. cities boomed. The Puget Sound area became a
major base of naval operations; tens of thousands of troops received their training at Fort Lewis and shipped overseas from Seattle's waterfront.
The Boeing Company, a small airplane manufacturer founded in 1916, grew to become a primary manufacturer of heavy bombers flown by the U.S.
Army Air Force - the B-17 and B-29. Today, Seattle's Museum of Flight traces Boeing's history in an exhibit that is housed in the company's original
"red barn" factory that now adjoins the museum.
Boeing figured prominently in the post-war era, introducing America's first passenger jet (the 707) to commercial aviation
in 1954. By 1957 Boeing and its suppliers accounted for nearly half of the jobs in King County. In the 1960s the company gained its
leadership as the world's leading manufacturer of commercial jet aircraft, the B-52 bomber and the Saturn V booster for the Apollo program.
However, just as Seattle's economic prosperity was tied to Boeing's, so were its periodic downturns.
During Boeing's workforce cuts of the early 1970s, a now famous billboard on Highway 99 near the city
limits read: "Will the last person leaving Seattle turn out the lights?"
It Happened at the World's Fair
The city's tourism industry took flight with the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Aptly themed "Century 21," the
fair unveiled the 605-foot Space Needle observation tower as a permanent and ever-futuristic civic icon.
Still on record as one of the few worlds fairs to earn money, the Seattle World's Fair was a stunning success
for the young metropolis, drawing international attention and mobilizing local support for the city's future growth.
Over the next two decades, Seattle's population grew to nearly 500,000. While the forestry, fisheries and agricultural
industries experienced gradual declines, aerospace continued to dominate Seattle's economy. International trade also grew,
thanks to the city's proximity to the Pacific Rim, growing port facilities, communications
industries and educational institutions. Seattle attracted major league football and baseball franchises with
the completion of the Kingdome stadium in the mid-1970's, making it one of few cities to boast pro football, baseball and basketball.
e 1980's, diversified economic success showed in Seattle's dynamic skyline.
The 42-story Smith Tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it opened in 1914,
stood just blocks from its nearest successor, the gleaming 76-story Columbia Tower (today named Bank of America Tower).