Seattle is the county seat of King County, Washington. With 610,660 residents as of the 2011 Census, Seattle is the largest city in the Northwestern United States. The Seattle metropolitan area of about 3.4 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country. The city is a major seaport situated on a narrow isthmus between Puget Sound (an arm of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 114 miles (183 km) south of the Canada–United States border.
The Seattle area had been inhabited by Native Americans for at least 4,000 years before the first permanent white settlers. Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, arrived at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. The settlement was renamed "Seattle" in 1853, after Chief Seattle of the local Duwamish and Squamish tribes.
Logging was Seattle's first major industry, but by the late 19th century the city had become a commercial and shipbuilding center as a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. By 1910, Seattle was one of the 25 largest cities in the country. However, a combination of strikes and the Great Depression severely damaged the city's economy. Growth returned during and after World War II when the local Boeing company established Seattle as a center for aircraft manufacturing. Seattle developed as a technology center in the 1980s. The stream of new software, biotechnology, and internet companies lead to an economic revival, which increased the city's population by 50,000 between 1990 and 2000. More recently, Seattle has become a hub for "green" industry and a model for sustainable development.
Seattle has an impressive musical history. From 1918 to 1951, there were nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs along Jackson Street in the current Chinatown/International District. The jazz scene developed the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson and others. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock legend Jimi Hendrix and the rock music style known as "grunge," which was made famous by local groups Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam. In more recent years, Seattle has been known for indie rock music.