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Curved around the shore of Elliott Bay, with Lake Washington behind and the snowy peak of Mount Rainier hovering faintly in the distance, Seattle has a magnificent setting. The insistently modern skyline of glass skyscrapers gleams across the bay, an emblem of three decades of aggressive urban renewal.
Seattle's beginnings were inauspiciously muddy. Flooded out of its first location on the flat little peninsula of Alki Point, in the 1850s the town shifted to what's now Pioneer Square, renaming itself after the Native American Chief Sealth (hence Seattle). This was soggy ground, and the small logging community built its houses on stilts. As the surrounding forest was gradually felled and the wood shipped out, Seattle grew slowly until the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 put it firmly on the national map. World War I boosted shipbuilding, and the city was soon a large industrial center. Trade unions, based around the shipworkers, grew strong, and the Industrial Workers of the World, or "Wobblies," coordinated the US's first general strike here on February 6, 1919.
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