Welcome to the Pacific Northwest
Nestled between the Puget Sound and the immense Lake Washington, Seattle is the Northwest's evergreen, the vibrant Emerald City.
Historically a town of booms and busts, Seattle is known for being environmental and progressive-minded, slightly damp, and very caffeinated.
Since the Denny Party arrived at Alki Point in 1851 to found Seattle, the city has expanded into a vibrant metropolis. Alki, for instance, is now a robust beachfront neighborhood where fish-and-chips go hand in hand with beach volleyball and million-dollar condos. Today, a densely packed downtown sprawls into loose suburbs - each neighborhood with a distinct and flavorful identity.
Known for housing companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing and Amazon.com, Seattle draws job seekers who must be as creative as they are fiercely competitive. In a recent Census Bureau study, Seattle topped the list as America's Most Educated City, with more than half of its 25-and-older population holding a bachelor's degree or higher. With the University of Washington (located five minutes from downtown) as a top research university, it's no wonder Seattle churns out the literati, the tech-savvy, and those with scientific skills.
This is truly a young professional's city; the office with a view of the waterfront is yours to claim.
If you live downtown, Seattle's electric trolleybuses, operated by King County Metro, are the perfect mode of transportation. A roundtrip ride costs $1.25, but monthly passes and punch cards offer good deals.
Sound Transit also provides express buses into the city from the farther suburbs. Sound Transit's "Sounder" commuter rail line is slowly being built and will eventually link Seattle to Tacoma, the airport, the Eastside, and the suburbs north of the city.
Also notable is the city's ferry system, the largest in the United States and the third largest in the world. Ferries run quite frequently, but unless you commute from Bainbridge or Vashon Island, they are more of a tourist attraction.
One in three residents uses a bike for commuting or recreation. The city recently unveiled a "Seattle Bicycle Master Plan" as part of a transportation initiative to increase bike facilities. The city plans to gradually add hundreds of miles of bike trails in the coming years.
While a car is not a must, most people do have them -- biking in the rain, after all, is not ideal.
Although it's famous for its progressive vibe and Pacific beauty, Seattle is not known for having much of a dialect; if anything, locals are remarkable for having no discernable accent at all. Never the less, the booming town has plenty of one-of-a-kind expressions you have to pick up to sound like an Emerald City native.
The Corridor, or stretch I-5, is the site of much of the development in the northwest. Patron of the arts and sciences? Head on into Seattle and visit SAM, The Seattle Arts Museum, and The Berserk Museum, otherwise known as The Burke Museum of Natural Sciences.
Some of the most famous technology companies in the world call Seattle home. For that reason, if you hear about Amazonians or 'Softies, know that people are talking about employees at Amazon.com and Microsoft, respectively.
Geographic terms are big in Seattle. Pill Hill refers to the area between Capitol Hill and First Hill, where the majority of city hospitals are. Poverty Rock is ironic slang for Mercer Island, where the richest citizens live in the middle of Lake Washington. The Ave refers to Central Street in the area near the University of Washington, while the Center of the Universe is what Fremont locals call their part of the city. If you're doing the 520 Shuffle, you're merging on or off the crumbling Interstate-520 bridge.
As for beverages, calling your soda pop will earn you some respect, and ask for your coffee wet or dry to specify how much milk you want. If you really want to look like you've lived there forever, slip a little Sodo Mojo into your banter - in support of the Seattle Mariners, of course.
• T-Moble America
What do you love about Seattle?
I really like that Fremont has a variety of places to eat and shop. Right across the street from my office there's a Coldstone, and the Red Door. Sonic Boom Records is also by my bus stop.
U. Washington, Getty Images employee