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Washington's History

First discovered by Lewis and Clark in 1805 and established as a state in 1889, Washington state is the only state in the United States that is named after an American president. From the native tribes that inhabited the region before its statehood to the founding of Microsoft, Washington state’s history was forged by the spirit of pioneers, which lives to this day.


Granted statehood in 1889, Washington state became the 42nd state to join the United States of America. Sparked by the pioneer spirit that empowered the early settlers to forge the Washington wilderness, early Washingtonians quickly transformed the resource rich region into a global trading hub. With the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad, Washington became a focal point for international and domestic trade.

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The Great Seattle Fire

The same year that Washington was established as a state, a massive fire ravaged the city of Seattle, turning a large section of the city into ash. The fire caused an estimated $20 million in damage and effectively leveled about 100 acres of the city. The city was quick to recover, however, with the assistance of surrounding cities. Within a year, the majority of Seattle had been rebuilt, and the population had increased by a third. Although disastrous in terms of assets, loss of life was evidently low and the fire would prove to only be a minor setback for the city of Seattle, which was quick to jump back on its feet.

The Grand Coulee Dam

Arguably the most consequential government project conducted in the state of Washington, the Grand Coulee Dam has provided endless benefits for Washington residents and surrounding states. The dam is the one of the largest in the world, measuring at almost a mile long and 550 feet tall from its base. It was built in 1941 and still operates to this day.  

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Modern Pioneers

Washington state hosts some of the world’s leading multinational corporations including Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, and Starbucks.

Microsoft: founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Microsoft is a software and computer company that is a juggernaut in the tech industry. Gates and Allen are largely credited with pioneering the modern operating system and bringing personal computers into the consumer marketplace. Now worth over $1 trillion, Microsoft ranks top 5 in the world for market capitalization.

Amazon: another tech juggernaut, Amazon was started in the garage of a Bellevue rental house in 1994. It’s founder, Jeff Bezos, began the company selling books online, and transformed the electronic market when Amazon shifted to services beyond books. Now worth over $1.5 trillion, Amazon is easily one of the most remarkable success stories of this decade.

Starbucks: started in 1971 by three coffee enthusiasts, Starbucks is an international coffee chain that has over 30,000 stores worldwide. Its original store is located on Pike Street, across the street from the famous Pike Place Market. Howard Schultz bought the company from two of its original founders in 1987 and expanded the company into the international brand it is today. Starbucks is now worth over $99 billion and operates in over 70 countries.

Boeing: the Boeing company dates back to 1916, when William Boeing founded the Aero Products Company. Post World War II, Boeing revolutionized commercial air travel with the introduction of the 747 “Jumbo Jet”, which almost forced the company into bankruptcy. Boeing continues to revolutionize technology and aircraft in the military, commercial, and space sectors, making the company worth over $90 billion.

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1962 World Fair

From an age of amazingly hopeful optimism and faith in the future came the Space Needle and monorail system. Dubbed the Century 21, Seattle hosted the World’s Fair in 1962. Some of Seattle’s most iconic tourist destinations are a result of the World’s Fair project, alongside major infrastructure development.


The construction of I-5 through downtown, a revamped waterfront, the Pacific Science Center, the monorail system, and the iconic Space Needle were all built in preparation for the 1962 World’s Fair. Washingtonians’ burning ambition to push Seattle into the 21st century allowed them to make leaps in city infrastructure.

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