Evolving Industries of Seattle

By: Michelle Coutu

Prior to be settled by European settlers, the area now known as Seattle, Washington was inhabited by Native Americans. The modern city was incorporated in 1869 and experienced its first economic success supplying lumber to the rapidly growing city of San Francisco. After a severe era of economic depression in connection with the panic of 1893, which hit Seattle hard, it rebounded and redefined itself as the main supply point for the Klondike Gold Rush. The American Messenger Company (to become UPS), Nordstrom, and Eddie Bauer were all founded during this economic boom in support of prospecting expeditions and propelled Seattle’s economic success into the early 20thcentry.

World War I saw the beginning of Seattle’s reputation as a transportation innovator. Seattle shipbuilders produced over 20 percent of the United States wartime ship tonnage. It also sparked the growth of Boeing, a once local airplane manufacture, which continued to excel with the advent of World War II. However, the 1960s and 1970s saw another down turn for airplane manufacturing in Seattle due to the loss of government contracts, the oil crisis, and manufacturing delays regarding the Boeing 747 aircraft.

Nevertheless, Seattle continued to reinvent itself. Moving into the 1980s saw the arrival of Microsoft, which had been having difficulties with recruitment at their original headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Once Microsoft was established, other tech and web based companies, such as Amazon, began to develop in the city. Today Seattle continues to prosper based on the growth of the tech industry.

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