32 Seattle Nicknames and the History Behind Them

12 min read

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A Ferris wheel on a pier next to city buildings, trees, and the water
Seattle's urban landscape and historical past are some of the basis for its nicknames

As the largest city in Washington, it's not surprising that Seattle has a lot to offer. From the famous Pike Place Market and the Space Needle to beautiful parks and unique shops and restaurants, there's something for everyone!

Due to the city's vibrant history and culture, an array of Seattle nicknames have developed over the years. These nicknames relate to many things, including the area's weather, its prominence as a business and tech hub, and its breathtaking outdoor scenery.

If you've ever wondered how Seattle got its iconic Emerald City moniker or want to know what some other fun and interesting nicknames for the city are, keep reading! This list covers various nicknames, including many lesser-known ones, and is sure to teach you something new about this Pacific Northwest region.

32 Nicknames for Seattle

Seattle Nicknames Video

Check out our highlights video of Seattle nicknames.

Brian Logan Photography/Shutterstock.com
A steel drawbridge over a body of water near trees
City of Bridges is a Seattle nickname because the city has over 250 bridges

City of Bridges

In the US, Pittsburgh is generally thought of as the City of Bridges due to having the most of any city in the country. However, Seattle residents also sometimes use this moniker for their city as it has quite a high number of bridges as well.

The Seattle Department of Transportation notes that they manage 280 bridges across the city. Seattle is also famous for its floating pontoon bridges. A fun Washington fact relating to these floating bridges is that the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, connecting Seattle and Bellevue, is the longest floating bridge in the world!

Cascadia City

The name Cascadia City is related to the fact that Seattle sits around the Cascade Mountain range. The area the mountains cover is sometimes called "Cascadia," hence Seattle being a Cascadia City.

A stadium with retractable roof near trees and a body of water
The historic Goodwill Games were hosted at Husky Stadium in Seattle in 1990

City of Goodwill

As one of two official Seattle mottos, the City of Goodwill is one of the most well-known Seattle slogans. This name became a city motto on July 16, 1990. It refers to a sporting event held in the city in the summer of 1990 called the Goodwill Games. However, it can also be referenced to Seattle's welcoming spirit and helpful attitude.

City of Flowers

The second official city motto is the City of Flowers. This moniker was given to the city on October 7, 1942. The name not only referenced the city's many existing flower-filled parks and flower gardens but also encouraged residents to plant even more flowers of numerous varieties to beautify Seattle even more.

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The front of a bar with a sign that says "The Pike Pub & Brewery"
Seattle has an array of craft breweries, gaining it the name the City of Craft Beer

City of Craft Beer

Washington is home to approximately 250 craft breweries, with a host of these being located in Seattle, giving the city the title City of Craft Beer. Surveys suggest that almost half the city's population considers themselves beer drinkers.

Close to 40 percent of these individuals enjoy craft beers or microbrews, putting Seattle only behind Portland for residents of US metro areas preferring craft beers. The city even hosts an annual beer festival, Seattle Beer Week.

City of Festivals

Speaking of festivals, Seattle hosts a lot of them! This leads to another nickname, the City of Festivals. There are over 100 major festivals annually, with many smaller ones held across the year as well.

Events cover various interests, holidays, and cultural celebrations. Just a few options include Emerald City ComiCon, Seattle Restaurant Week, and the Seattle International Dance Festival.

City skyline with skyscrapers, old buildings, and a Ferris wheel
As a seaport city, Seattle played a vital role in the historic Klondike Gold Rush

City of Gold

This nickname relates to the city's history around the Gold Rush era, specifically, the Klondike Gold Rush. When gold was discovered in 1896 in the Klondike area of Yukon, Canada, residents of the Pacific Northwest rushed there to get a piece of the in-demand resource.

Seattle took advantage of being a west coast port city to send people back and forth to collect gold. These individuals moving through the city also boosted the local economy by spending money before boarding their boats.

The specific nickname, City of Gold, relates to a 1957 film called City of Gold, which chronicled the Klondike Gold Rush and used images from the Gold Rush that were archived at the University of Washington in Seattle.

City of Music

Seattle has a strong connection to music, leading to the Seattle nickname the City of Music. The area is frequently connected to rock music and is called the "Birthplace of Grunge," with ties to bands like Nirvana and the Foo Fighters.

It's also the hometown of Jimi Hendrix, has a renowned opera, the Seattle Opera, and even had a vibrant jazz scene in the first half of the 20th century. Today, you can find many live music venues across the city with acts from an array of genres.

A concrete pathway leading to old rusty pipelines in a lush park
Seattle is also called the City of Parks due to its many parks and green spaces

City of Parks

If you enjoy beautiful outdoor spaces, you'll have no problem finding many places to go in Seattle. Within the city, you'll find over 485 parks. This vast number of outdoor spaces results in the nickname City of Parks.

No matter which you visit, you won't be disappointed, as the Seattle Parks System ranks within the top 10 in the United States!

City of Ships

While not the most used or well-known nickname for Seattle, the City of Ships definitely makes sense! Seattle is a port city, notably known for its many cruise ships. In fact, Seattle is the tenth busiest cruise port in the United States and 31st busiest in the world.

Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock.com
A modern building facade designed with metallic finish
Seattle is home to the Museum of Pop Culture, hence the name City of Pop Culture

City of Pop Culture

As mentioned, Seattle has a strong connection to the music industry. It also has links to film and other pop culture topics and industries. Due to this, the Museum of Pop Culture was opened in 2000.

This Seattle landmark notably houses the largest artifact collections in the world relating Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. Being such an important site relating to the area's culture, Seattle made the name its own by creating the City of Pop Culture nickname.

Cloud City

Being located in the often rainy and overcast Pacific Northwest, it's not much of a surprise that some call Seattle Cloud City. However, the weather isn't completely what led to this nickname. It was also used in a Puget Sound Business Journal article to refer to the cloud computing industry connected to the city.

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Coffee Capital of the World is one of the iconic Seattle nicknames
The globally-famous Starbucks coffeehouse chain first opened in Seattle

Coffee Capital of the World

From Italy to Vienna in Austria, and even Shanghai, many places try to lay claim to the title Coffee Capital of the World. However, numerous Seattleites say their city deserves the nickname, at least when it comes to take-out coffee!

This is because Seattle is the founding city of the globally-recognized coffee chain Starbucks. Being the biggest coffeehouse chain in the world, with cafes in more than 80 countries, Seattle has a reason to call itself the Coffee Capital of the World!

Emerald City

Emerald City is probably the most well-known Seattle name. It was given to the city officially in 1982, replacing the former official nickname Queen City (or, in full, Queen City of the Pacific Northwest).

Emerald City was suggested in a contest administered by the Seattle-King County Convention and Visitors Bureau. This nickname refers to the city being a jewel in the Northwest. It also references the vast amount of greenery found in the region, specifically Evergreen trees which mirror an emerald's rich green color.

A cobblestoned open area surrounded by buildings and people walking
Due to its overcast weather, Seattle has been dubbed as the Foggy Metropolis

Foggy Metropolis

While "Cloud City" doesn't one hundred percent relate to the weather, the nickname Foggy Metropolis does. Seattle is the cloudiest large city in the lower 48 states. The city sees an average of 226 days each year with cloud and fog.

As Seattle is a Metropolis (defined as a very large city that's one of the most important in its area), the name Foggy Metropolis is quite fitting.

Gateway to Alaska

Gateway to Alaska is another name that relates to the Klondike Gold Rush. Once gold was found in the Yukon, many people started traveling through Seattle to get to Canada. One route that was used was sailing from Seattle to Alaska and then on to the Yukon, hence the name Gateway to Alaska.

This phrase was even used in advertising and is still somewhat true today as many sail from Seattle to Alaska on cruises or as an alternate mode of transport to flying.

Skyscrapers near a Ferris wheel, a paved walkway, and a body of water
Seattle's walkability gained the city the moniker Pedestrianopolis


If you don't have a car, you won't have any problems exploring Seattle. With a Walk Score of 74, it's the 9th best large city for pedestrians in the United States. Due to this walkability, the nickname Pedestrianopolis was suggested for the city in 2014 when various publications said that Seattle needed a new nickname.

Grunge City

As discussed already, Seattle has been home to many rock and grunge bands, like Nirvana. It's also called the Birthplace of Grunge, as this is where most people say the genre was founded. Grunge even has the alternate name "Seattle sound." Due to these factors, Seattle also has the nickname Grunge City.

A person in a black raincoat next to the water and city buildings on an overcast day
Due to the many rainy days Seattle experiences, it gets called Rain City

Rain City

Like Foggy Metropolis and Cloud City, Rain City relates to Seattle's climate. The Pacific Northwest location of the city means that rain is frequent. It rains an average of 150 days a year. However, it's not all bad; the frequent rain adds to the area's natural beauty and makes the city's many parks and outdoor spaces lush and green.

Highest City at Sea Level

The moniker Highest City at Sea Level relates to Seattle because it's literally the highest city at sea level in the state of Washington. While parts of the city have zero elevation (meaning it's at sea level), elevation across the region varies.

The highest point is 520 feet in Myrtle Reservoir Park in West Seattle. When looking at all the cities in Washington with points at sea level, none have an elevation that exceeds Seattle's 520 feet.

Of course, this isn't the highest point in Washington by a long way! That title belongs to Mount Rainier, with a peak elevation of 14,417 feet.

Aerial shot of a coastal urban city
As Seattle is home to large tech companies, it's sometimes called Innovation Station

Innovation Station

Many companies have been founded in the city, and it remains a hub for innovation, especially in the tech space, resulting in the Seattle slogan Innovation Station. Renowned companies founded here include Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks. Over 100 companies in various sectors are headquartered in Seattle as well.

Queen City of the Pacific Northwest

The Queen City of the Pacific Northwest, shortened to Queen City, was the official city nickname before it was replaced with Emerald City in 1982. It dates to the 1860s and is interestingly said to have first been used by Portland-based real estate agents to describe the city.

While the name is recognizable by residents today, it's not used that often. Another city, Cincinnati, is more well-known by the shortened version, Queen City.

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Commercial planes on a tarmac near a body of water
Seattle gets the name Jet City in part because Boeing was founded in the city

Jet City

Another of the well-known companies founded in Seattle is Boeing. In addition, many other aerospace companies were founded in or are headquartered in the city. Due to this prevalence of air industry companies, Seattle got another nickname, Jet City.

Salmon City

Salmon have been important to Seattle and Washington as a whole for centuries. They are a crucial part of the ecosystem and a critical resource for many indigenous communities, past and present.

Three types of Pacific Salmon frequent the area during the annual salmon migration, sockeye, chinook, and coho. There are multiple places for locals and visitors to see the fish, like at the Ballard Locks fish ladder. These facts have resulted in the lesser-known nickname of Salmon City.

A plane flying over a sign saying "Seattle International Airport"
Sea-Town is a play on the city name and an abbreviation for its airport


Sea-Town is basically a play on the city name of Seattle. It's also quite literal as it's a city, or town, by the sea (the Pacific Ocean). "SEA" is also an abbreviation related to the city's airport code.

The 206

Many large cities in North America use area codes as nicknames. Seattle is no different! The city has used the 206 area code since 1947, meaning it's one of the first North American area codes created by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

At the time, it was used for all of Washington. Today, it's used for Seattle and some surrounding towns in King County. It's also one of Seattle's nicknames that's decently well-known by locals and visitors.

A city skyline near trees and a snow-covered mountain in the background
Due to its stunning skyline, Seattle is also called Skyline City

Skyline City

Seattle has a highly unique city skyline. Not only does it feature highrises, but it also has the unique shape of the Space Needle and the backdrop of Mount Rainier. It has been ranked one of the best city skylines in the country by various publications, earning Seattle the unofficial nickname Skyline City.

The Boom City

Seattle has seen various booms (periods of rapid economic growth) over the last few hundred years, giving it the nickname the Boom City. These include the Klondike Gold Rush boom, the post-World War II boom, and a more recent tech industry boom.

Concerning the latter, the city is home to top tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon, with it having been called the "biggest company town in America." Seattle Seahawks fans also referred to the team as the Legion of the Boom for many years.

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A low-angle shot of a lush park in autumn with a tall tower in the background
The Needle City is a moniker named after the iconic Space Needle

The Needle City

Being one of the most famous landmarks in Washington, it's not surprising that Seattle has a nickname inspired by the iconic Space Needle.

Opened in 1962 and standing at 184 meters tall, the observation tower has been a renowned sight on the city skyline for decades. It's also one of the landmarks most readily associated with the city, making Seattle the City of the Space Needle or the Needle City.

The Forest City

As discussed already, Seattle is a beautiful city with many green spaces and lots of Evergreen trees, leading to another outdoor-inspired nickname, the Forest City. This name may gain popularity over the next few years as Seattle's government has plans to plant many more trees, increasing the city's canopy coverage and restoring forested parklands.

Aerial shot of an urban city near the sea
Some Seattle nicknames, like the Waterfront City, allude to its coastal landscape

The Waterfront City

This nickname is pretty self-explanatory! Seattle sits on Puget Sound, making it a waterfront city. The city is somewhat unique in that it's surrounded by water on three sides. Elliott Bay is to the west (part of Puget Sound), Lake Washington to the east, and Lake Union to the north. You can see the water from many places throughout Seattle, hence the name the Waterfront City.

Sound City

Sound City relates to the fact that Seattle sits on Puget Sound. This area of water isn't just nice to look at, it's also influenced the city's geography and had a big impact on maritime history and culture.

Even the name of the city's Major League Soccer team, the Seattle Sounders, was inspired by Puget Sound, and the blue in their uniform represents its water.

In Conclusion

If you've been wanting to answer the question, "What is another name for Seattle?" this article should have given you a good idea of all the nicknames the city has. From its iconic Emerald City to more unique names like the Foggy Metropolis or the City of Craft Beer, Seattle has no shortage of monikers, all with an interesting story behind them.

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell FORMER WRITER Currently based in Canada, Alli has also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and traveled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. She loves finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever she goes.

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