Jewels and Seattle may not seem like they go together at first. After all, Seattle is known for being very rainy and somewhat dreary- nothing like a bright, shiny emerald. In fact, Seattle does rain quite a bit from early fall through spring, but the gorgeous summer season is how the city earned its unique nickname.


Background of the Emerald City

Many may wonder how the beautiful nickname came to be. It’s actually an interesting story which dates all the way back to 1981. That year, the Seattle-King County Convention and Visitors Bureau held a contest in search of the best nickname.

Up until then, the city had been known by many names, including “Queen City of the Pacific Northwest,” “Gateway to Alaska,” and “Gateway to the Orient.” It’s also been informally called “Jet City,” “Coffee Capitol of the World,” “America’s Most Livable City,” and, of course, “Rain City.”

The Bureau chose the nickname “The Emerald City” in 1982. The name was submitted by a writer from California, Sarah Sterling-Franklin. She won the grand prize of two vacations, one to Seattle and one to Acapulco, for winning the nickname contest.


A Fitting Nickname

The nickname actually suits Seattle well since the area is plush with greenery the entire year. The several months of rain from the fall through the spring helps the trees, plants, and flowers blossom richly throughout the year.

Several forests within the city limits benefit from the rain as well, including Discovery Park and the Washington Park Arboretum. Beautiful greenery can be seen for miles, depicting the iconic scene of Emerald City in the beloved movie, “The Wizard of Oz.”


Changing With the Times

After the nickname was chosen, a logo was created by artist Karen Holum. The logo featured the city skyline with the mountains in the distance, all encapsulated inside of an emerald shape.

Up until 2001, the emerald logo was featured on countless tourist items and brochures. Most recently, the city adopted a different logo which was created by the Hornall Anderson firm. The new logo features an eyeball, the @ symbol, and the letter “L,” which, when spoken sounds like “See-at-L.” Underneath the logo is the widely-used slogan, “Seattle: soak it up.”


Mitch Levy has spent nearly 30 years in radio and sports broadcasting after earning a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse. Read more of his advice for the radio industry or check out his Twitter!