Why is Seattle Called the Emerald City?

You can learn a lot about a city from its nickname. Monikers often reveal intriguing historical facts or celebrate a location’s unique characteristics. Seattle is affectionately known as the Emerald City, but what does a vivid green gemstone have to do with the US’s northernmost big city?  

Seattle is called the Emerald City because of its year-round lush, green natural environment. One of this city’s most striking features is its abundant evergreen plant life, including dense forests of conifers like Douglas Fir. The city landscape and precious stone have the color green in common.

A thriving urban forest is one of the things that makes Seattle stand out – and earned it its Emerald City nickname. Let’s explore the origins of this nickname and whether it has a deeper meaning.  

Why is Seattle Known as the Emerald City?

The city got its nickname from its always-green landscape of trees, shrubs, and moss. Look at it from the sky any time of the year, and you’ll see rich green land below.

Consider these stats to understand why the moniker fits just right:

  • The city boasts about 4.35 million trees.
  • There are almost 80 trees and shrubs per acre.
  • Sprawling evergreen vegetation is characteristic of the Pacific Northwest area (this is one of the US regions where you’ll find the most green trees, whatever the season). Evergreens like the cool, rainy winters and mild summers.
  • More than a quarter of the city is shaded by foliage (the canopy cover was 28.1% in 2021).
  • No matter where you live, you’re never far from a green space (94% of city dwellers are at most a 10-minute walk from a park).

Is There More to Seattle’s Nickname?

It’s not just greenery that’s behind the pet name. The city is the biggest in the Pacific Northwest and one of the richest in the US, making it the gem or jewel of the region.

The flourishing metropolis has fertile ground for forests – and innovation and education. Starbucks and The Boeing Company started here, and it’s one of the best-educated US cities. A gem indeed!

Does Seattle Have Other Nicknames?

Here are the city’s other popular past and present monikers:

NameWhy?
The Queen CityThis name was part of a branding initiative introduced in the late 19th century to position the city as a global player and the crown wearer for coastal commerce.  
The City Of FlowersIn 1942, the City chose this as its official nickname to encourage people to plant flowers.  
Jet City  It’s where Boeing began.
Rain City  Wet weather is common.
The Coffee Capital of the World  This is where Starbucks was born. And it’s one of the places where you’ll find the most coffee lovers and some of the best cups.  

Conclusion

Seattle’s evergreen vegetation gives it a distinctive character that’s captured in the nickname the Emerald City. The name also reflects that the city is the gem of the Pacific Northwest because it’s the biggest and most bustling one in the region.

Resources

https://www.seattle.gov/documents/Departments/SDCI/Codes/CommonSeattleTrees.pdf

https://www.wfpa.org/forest-facts/trees-of-washington-state/

https://www.pugetsound.edu/stories/five-things-you-dont-know-about-pacific-northwest-trees

https://www.americanforests.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Seattle-Urban-Forest-fact-sheet.pdf

https://www.historylink.org/File/3622

https://www.seattle.gov/trees/management/canopy-cover

https://www.seattle.gov/cityarchives/seattle-facts/city-symbols

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/seattle-innovative-quest-world-of-wonder/index.html

https://www.historylink.org/File/181

https://www.seattle.gov/documents/Departments/UrbanForestryCommission/Resources/Seattles-Forest-Ecosystem-Values-Report2012.pdf

https://www.seattle.gov/environment/environmental-progress/trees-and-green-space

About the author

My name is April, and I’m a Seattle-based writer, traveler, and foodie. I started this travel guide blog to share my passion for Seattle with fellow travelers and locals alike.

Whether you’re looking for the best coffee shops, the trendiest restaurants, or the most scenic hiking trails, I’ve got you covered.

When I’m not writing or exploring Seattle, you can find me watching movies with my husband, reading, or gardening with my dog in the backyard.

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