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    Seattle needs a new nickname

    Emerald City, Jet City, Queen City. What’s our next catchy moniker?
    Seattle's newest icon

    Seattle's newest icon Nicole since 1972/Flickr

    Seattle should start the new year by looking back in order to look forward. One hundred and fifty years ago, our sawmill town on Elliott Bay saw events that portended huge changes. In May 1864, a “cargo of brides” called the Mercer Girls arrived as potential mates for the male settlers, so the city could become self-propagating. In October of that year, Western Union — the Comcast of its time — brought the telegraph to Seattle, connecting us with the newly wired world.

    Our city is built on immigration and technology, and rapid changes have regularly turned over our collective identity. At different points in our history, we have adopted different monikers, each revealing the contemporary thinking about what Seattle should be. A quick review of these phases and phrases has me wondering what’s next? 

    1. “New York Alki”
    The community founded on Alki Point in 1851 was first named “New York,” an act of hubris that early settler Emily Inez Denny later wrote “no doubt killed the place, exotics do not thrive in the Northwest.” To call a collection of crude, damp cabins “New York” was pretty nervy. It was later changed to Alki, a Chinook word that means “by and by.” The combined names, New York Alki, suggested the city’s ambitions were to become a great city — eventually.


2. “Pittsburgh of the west”
Before we looked to cities such as Vancouver and Singapore as role models, Seattle fancied itself a new Pittsburgh, and we weren’t alone. That 19th-century city’s prosperity from steel and heavy industry also inspired Tacoma, Everett and even Kirkland. The Cascades had timber, coal and iron ore. The Pittsburgh dream pushed Seattle to build railroads and canals, and to develop its port. Yes, we were once a century’s major coal port, and no one opposed it back then.

    3. “The Queen City”
    This nickname, which lasted from the late 19th century to the mid-20th, suggested an image more regal than the actual grit of the port city. Seattle sought to become a Pacific jewel, a competitor with San Francisco for trans-Pacific commerce, sophistication and coastal dominance. We extolled our ties with the East and the North — as seen in the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. “Queen City” captured Seattle’s sense of itself as a global player.

    4. “Jet City”
    "The Queen” was finally deposed by the innovations of Boeing, and “Jet City” became our 1950s moniker. We were a town that moved from sea to sky. Boeing developed the first successful commercial passenger jets, and we’ve been an aerospace nexus ever since. Much like the telegraph did, our planes brought the world closer together, and our urban aspirations shifted from being resource-based to centering on technology.

    5. “Lesser Seattle”
    As “New York” indicated, the city has been shot through with audacity from day one. In the face of such hype, some Seattleites embraced the antidote of “Lesser Seattle,” a movement popularized by newspaper columnist Emmett Watson in the ’60s and ’70s to tamp down overreach. It urged us to remember our humble roots and bungalow neighborhoods, to not believe our own press releases. Lesser Seattle tried to keep the Jet City grounded.

    6. “The Emerald City”
    This title was birthed in the early ’80s from a contest. It captured some of the old ambitions of the Queen City, but emphasized our connection with the environment and perhaps the idea of Seattle as the capital of an Oz filled with quirky people. Seattle’s jets were now background noise to a sanitized city of sightseers, cruise ships, Frasier and Starbucks.

    7. “The Next City”
It’s safe to say that none of the previous six monikers fit anymore. Some have dubbed Seattle “The Most Progressive City in America.” Others tout us as a “knowledge city,” filled with members of the globe-hopping “creative class,” and an incubator for new ideas and approaches, from biotech to computer games to legal pot. We’re more diverse, we’re filled with newcomers, we still brim with ambition — and now we're Super Bowl champs! In 2014, it’s time for a new hook.

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    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 10:25 a.m. Inappropriate

    Hands down we should be the Emerald City. It is a run away winner. It means Seattle is a jewel, there are big trees everywhere, we are the center of progressive environmentalism, and on and on. Don't fix what is not broken.

    It sparkles!

    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 10:46 a.m. Inappropriate

    Since we have a history of nicknames that apparently become old-hat, we might try "Bertha's Folly" for a while.


    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 11:02 a.m. Inappropriate

    "Emerald City" was a silly and contrived moniker when it was adopted by whoever held the contest, and it still is. I suppose that people who think of coffee when they think of Seattle, the California Diaspora, and Tourism Commission types might be capable of uttering the phrase non-ironically, but I've never met a native of this region who saw it as anything other than a marketing flash in the pan. I think Seattle deserves something more noble, more uplifting, a nickname that captures the city, its history and its destiny. Something like "Gateway to Factoria", "Transitvania", or "Tacoma Alki."


    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 11:42 a.m. Inappropriate


    "The majestic plural (pluralis maiestatis in Latin, literally, "the plural of majesty"), is the use of a plural pronoun to refer to a single person holding a high office, such as a monarch, bishop, or pope. It is also called the royal pronoun, the royal "we" or the Victorian "we". The more general word for the use of we to refer to oneself is nosism. However the use as majestic plural (to denote the excellence, power, and dignity of the person who speaks or writes) is the most common one."


    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 12:06 p.m. Inappropriate

    I always thought the founders missed the boat (and ferries, as many would later, thanks to the Consumer Harassment Program of the Washington State Ferries) when the name Duwamps failed to stick past 1852.


    To me, Duwamps is a sound made by something in a windstorm crashing down on a yard/deck/car/park/road, which over the next three days will be heard by exactly everyone in Western Washington. Can't get more representative.

    It is so clunky that it will be rejected by every marketer/PR agency/promoter. Can't get more contrarian.

    It is indigenous,original, authentic and unique in the world.

    The next great app/software program to come from here will migrate
    the name from noun to verb, as in " . . . this is so Duwampish!"

    I rest my case, Judge Berger.

    Art Thiel

    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 2:54 p.m. Inappropriate

    Seattle...Home of the phobics


    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 3:06 p.m. Inappropriate

    Consensusville / Donothingville

    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 3:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    Seems similar to what your friends in Redmond are thinking:

    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 4:49 p.m. Inappropriate

    The first word I saw on that Microsoft.com/citynext website was "empowering", so I shut it down.

    Good gravy I am sick of that word.

    The website basically appears to be more social engineering. How sustainable!

    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 4:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    Queen City and Jet City are the only two meaningful names.

    Lesser Seattle was Emmett Watsons' way of making fun of newcomers, politicians and often developers too. His made-up club, which wasn't so secret since he wrote about it all the time, was KBO - Keep the Bastards Out. Obviously he didn't succeed in his KBO efforts, for Seattle has been so overrun with newcomers that someone actually thinks a possible slogan for Seattle might be "The Next City".

    Knute, that's the lamest sounding thing I have ever seen you type.

    We do need a second slogan, and one I could actually go for would be an updated KBO slogan - KEEP BERTHA OFF.


    A Queen City / Jet City Native

    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 7:46 p.m. Inappropriate

    Yeah! KBO!


    Posted Tue, Feb 18, 4:58 p.m. Inappropriate

    Troll Town. Home of the Daily Troll.


    Posted Wed, Feb 19, 6:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    "Pothole City", "Deferred Maintenance City', or "$15/hour City" come to mind.


    Posted Wed, Feb 19, 1:46 p.m. Inappropriate

    Yuppie Gulch

    Posted Thu, Feb 20, 11:45 a.m. Inappropriate

    How about Pittsburgh Alki? Puzzling and maybe pointing out our affinity with the 'Burgh will depress rental prices and equalize wages. Let's hear it for the Vacation Capital of Southwestern PA by and by.

    Seriously I like Emerald City. And all the tech is making Oz seem ever more appropriate. And Duwamps is a great idea, perhaps as a nickname for the hockey team


    Posted Thu, Feb 20, 1:48 p.m. Inappropriate

    ... cloud city

    ... sea atoll

    ... cuppa

    ... supper bowl

    ... emerald city


    Posted Sat, Feb 22, 12:35 p.m. Inappropriate

    Love "Cloud City"!

    Posted Mon, Feb 24, 8:05 p.m. Inappropriate

    Yes, Cloud City. Newcomers would know what they're getting themselves into and maybe even change their minds before moving. Truth in advertising. Can Seattle/Bellevue/Redmond/Kirkland capture the Cloud? Might this nickname be a motivator?


    Posted Fri, Feb 21, 12:45 a.m. Inappropriate

    The main thing is that "Emerald City" needs to go away. Personally, I won't do business with any company that uses that term, whether in its name or its advertising.
    That nickname was stolen from Eugene, where the city baseball team is still the Emeralds, and it didn't just arise "from a contest in the early 80s", it was a contest by the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau and The Seattle Times(which WIDELY promoted the contest and the adoption of the nickname). It was suggested not by a native or a local, but by a California realtor with a vacation home in the San Juans. Queen City was the nickname of Cincinnati well before Seattle adopted it.....which leaves Jet City! JET CITY ROCKERS RULE!!

    Posted Fri, Feb 21, 9:31 a.m. Inappropriate



    Posted Fri, Feb 21, 2:12 p.m. Inappropriate

    How about Developer's Dream?


    Posted Sat, Feb 22, 3:08 p.m. Inappropriate

    Seattle is tired of everything changing.

    Build a new viaduct.

    Keep the name Jet City.

    Enjoy life.

    Posted Sun, Feb 23, 4:10 p.m. Inappropriate

    Seattle must be called the Wet City. Nothing else is as honest. Plus, it will help tamp down enthusiasm for outsiders, a plus for those "lesser Seattle" fans.

    Posted Mon, Feb 24, 4:16 p.m. Inappropriate

    How about Raintopia?

    It covers the physical environment as well as the mental environment.


    Posted Mon, Feb 24, 4:41 p.m. Inappropriate


    Posted Mon, Feb 24, 4:46 p.m. Inappropriate

    We're the only world city named after a Native American Chief. Northwest Indian Art and Salmon and Orcas are the ikons that make us unique and give us regional world identity. Rain is a Californian complaint, but we have of it than Midwest or East Coast cities but not in the summer when they're deluged by it; ours comes in a winter mist when they're fighting ice and snow. Perhaps: "Salmon City on the Salish Sea."

    Posted Mon, Feb 24, 6:16 p.m. Inappropriate

    Seattle - "Corporate Whoreville"


    Posted Tue, Feb 25, 1:49 p.m. Inappropriate

    @ Grant Jones: "Hatchery Salmon City on the Toxic Sea"?


    Posted Fri, Feb 28, 9:13 p.m. Inappropriate

    "Identity Crisis"

    "Royer's Nightmare" - Charlie never saw this coming...

    Posted Fri, Mar 21, 8:10 a.m. Inappropriate

    The Platinum City


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