Seattle Mythbusters

Seattle Mythbusters

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You watched Frasier or Grey's Anatomy, but does that make you an expert on Seattle, Wash.? Sure, you know what the Space Needle looks like, but do you know the urban legends, sports heartbreaks, and recent history of this port city? Seattle mythbusters debate several popular urban myths. Test your knowledge with these:

The Legend: Seattle's music scene ended with grunge.

This story is false.

While "grunge" music and such legendary bands as Nirvana and Pearl Jam started here, the Seattle music scene is more varied than that. New groups and hot favorites appear every night in small clubs and big venues. You can catch Fleet Foxes here when they perform before their hometown fans. The Experience Music Project at the Center lets you create your own tunes and tour a vast collection of rock-and-roll memorabilia. The city's single biggest music event, the Bumbershoot, happens every Labor Day weekend. Dozens of acts, both local and national, show up to entertain the crowds come rain or shine. Given the city's vibrant music scene, this Seattle urban legend is easily dispelled.

Experience Music Project
325 5th Ave. North
Seattle, WA 98109
(877) 367-7361
Hours change seasonally. Please visit website for details.
Admission: Adult (18-64) $15, Seniors (65+) $12, Youth (5-17) $12, Children under 4 free

Seattle Center
305 Harrison St.
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 816-6444
The festival is held over Labor Day weekend. Gates are open 11AM-11PM during the festival.
Admission: Ticket prices range from a $30 day ticket to a $450 platinum three-day pass.

The Legend: Seattle is full of geeks.

This urban myth is true.

The following corporations all have their U.S. headquarters within easy commuting distance of Seattle: Microsoft, Nintendo, and Wizards of the Coast (Dungeons & Dragons and Magic). Add the host of other high tech companies and game creators lurking here and in the nearby suburbs, and a fairly extreme level of geekdom is inevitable. The Pacific Science Center (built as part of the 1962 World's Fair) and the Science Fiction Museum are accessible from downtown by the nation's first full-scale Monorail. Seattle's iconic Space Needle celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2012 but still looks futuristic. There's even a weekly podcast, Seattle Geekly, which alerts folks to events around town. Let's face it -- the boys from The Big Bang Theory would love hanging out here.

Pacific Science Center
200 2nd Ave. North
Seattle, WA 98109
(800) 664-8775
Hours change seasonally. Please visit website for details.
Exhibit Admission Only: Adults (16-64) $14, Seniors (65+) $12, Youth (6-15) $9, Children (3-5) $7

Science Fiction Museum (shares a building with the Experience Music Project)
325 5th Ave. North
Seattle, WA 98109
(877) 367-7361
Hours change seasonally. Please visit website for details.
Admission: Adult (18-64) $15, Seniors (65+) $12, Youth (5-17) $12, Children under 4 free

Space Needle
400 Broad St.
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 905-2100
Hours: Mon-Thu 10AM-11PM, Fri-Sat 9:30AM-11:30PM, Sun 9:30AM-11PM
Admission: Adults (14-64) $18, Seniors (65+) $16, Youth (4-13) $11, Children 3 and under free

The Legend: Seattle's ghosts like flying fish.

This story is true.

One of the most popular Seattle urban myths is that one of the city's most famous ghosts hangs out in the corridors of the Pike Place Market. If you head down there to see the "flying fish guys" (vendors whose fish juggling antics have made them media superstars) or buy some fresh flowers, take a moment to explore the labyrinth of shops underneath. You might spot some supernatural activity. Or hook up with Seattle's Market Ghost Tours to see other haunted spots around the city.

Pike Place Market
1531 Western Ave. (parking garage)
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 682-7453
1st Ave. Level: Mon-Sat 10AM-6PM, Sun 11AM-5PM
DownUnder Stores: Mon-Sun 11AM-5PM

Seattle's Market Ghost Tours
1410 Post Alley
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 805-0195
Tour times vary. Please visit website for details
Admission: $15

The Legend: You will find a Starbucks© on every corner.

This story is false.

Well, Seattle mythbusters would say that this is probably false, although it sometimes seems that you can never lose sight of the coffee giant. After all, Starbucks© began here, and its global headquarters can be found south of downtown (look for the large mermaid topping the old Sears tower at 2401 Utah Avenue South). But Starbucks© isn't the only coffee stop here. There's Tully's, Seattle's Best, Peet's, Café Ladro, and scores more. All Seattle neighborhoods have their local favorites, and you never have to walk more than a block or two in any commercial area before you find a reviving cup of espresso.

Various locations
(800) 235-2883

The Legend: Like the song says, the skies are always blue here.

This story is false.

It seems almost everyone who grew up here has heard that Bobby Sherman hit quoted. But "the bluest skies you've ever seen" are just another Seattle urban myth. The city's skies tend toward gray, shades of gray, and sometimes fluffy white. Seattle's weather folks have numerous descriptions for this, from the truthful "cloudy" to the hopeful "sunbreaks expected today." Check The Weather of the Pacific Northwest by local author Cliff Mass to learn more about the region's microclimates. When the sun shines, people spot Mt. Rainier looming south of Seattle and utter the city's catchphrase: "The mountain is out today."

Mt. Rainier
70002 SR Hwy 410 East
Enumclaw, WA 98022
(877) 270-7155

The Legend: Seattleites read more books than anyone else.

This story is true.

Seattleites supposedly have one of the highest per capita consumptions of books in the United States. Local novelties company Archie McPhee turned Seattle's favorite librarian, Nancy Pearl, into a bestselling action figure complete with a movable shushing finger. The popular independent bookstores Elliot Bay Book Company, University Book Store, and Third Place Books run full calendars of author events. The Seattle Library's gleaming glass tower downtown, designed by Rem Koolhas, attracts thousands of visitors. And, of course, the world's largest Internet bookseller,, got its start here and opened new corporate headquarters near Lake Union in 2010.

Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 Tenth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 624-6600
Hours: Mon-Thu 10AM-10PM, Fri-Sat 10AM-11PM, Sun 11AM-9PM

University Bookstore
4326 University Way Northeast
Seattle, WA 98105
(800) 335-7323
Hours: Mon-Fri 9AM-8PM, Sat 10AM-7PM, Sun noon-5PM

Third Place Books
6504 20th Ave. Northeast
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 525-2347
Hours: Mon-Sat 8AM-10PM, Sun 8AM-9PM

Seattle Public Library
1000 Fourth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 386-4636
Hours: Mon-Thu 10AM-8PM, Fri-Sat 10AM-6PM, Sun noon-6PM

The Legend: Seattle sport teams have never won a championship.

This Seattle urban myth is false.

Okay, so you have to go back a few decades, but in 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American hockey team to win the Stanley Cup. The Seattle SuperSonics won the NBA championship in 1979. Of course, Seattle no longer has the Metropolitans or the SuperSonics, but hope springs eternal with the Seahawks (football), the Mariners (baseball), and the Sounders (soccer). The Sounders routinely sell out, but if you score tickets, you'll have an amazing experience with Seattle's loudest crowds. Look for the Sound Wave, the only 53-piece marching band in major league soccer. If the guy leading the Sound Wave into the stadium looks familiar, it may be owner and comedian Drew Carey visiting his team.

Seattle Sounders
Qwest Field
800 Occidental Ave. South #100
Seattle, WA 98134
(206) 682-2800
Box Office Hours: Mon-Fri 10AM-5PM, Sat 10AM-2PM, closed Sun except for Sounders FC match days

The Legend: Guys and gals in Seattle wear socks with sandals.

This Seattle urban myth is true.

Northwestern insurance company Pemco came up with popular advertising slogan: "We're A Lot Like You. A Little Different." In their running campaign, they poke gentle fun at a number of Northwest stereotypes, including the socks-with-sandals fashion statement. Seattle is also the hometown of Nordstrom, the department store chain that began here as a shoe store. Visit the flagship store downtown to see both the latest beauties available for your tootsies as well as wonderful historic displays from the Nordstrom collection of fine footwear. Although the city offers plenty of retail options for the fashionable set, Seattle mythbusters would agree that this urban legend is true.

500 Pine St.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 628-2111
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30AM-9PM, Sun 11AM-7PM

The Legend: You can see Canada from Seattle.

This story is false.

Seattle's closest international neighbor is Canada, and Seattle is a popular tourist stop for Canadians coming south or Americans heading north. But whether you are going to the top of Space Needle or riding a ferry, those mountains, lakes, and islands surrounding you are all Washington State. However, you can catch the high-speed passenger-only Victoria Clipper from Seattle's waterfront to beautiful Victoria, provincial capitol of British Columbia. The trip takes approximately three hours. Just be sure to have your passport or similar ID with you: new rules require this to cross the border.

Victoria Clipper Ferry
2701 Alaskan Way, Pier 69
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 448-5000
Hours and prices vary. Please visit website for details.

Rosemary Jones is a Seattleite who writes sword and sorcery novels. To read her blog, and for news on her latest books, including City of the Dead and Crypt of the Moaning Diamond, visit Red Room.
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