National Stay Away from Seattle Day
annually on September 16th
Created by Thomas Roy, Stay Away from Seattle Day is "observed worldwide, except in Seattle, to give America's 'Best Place to Live' city a break from the influx of people moving to the area." When interviewed about the day by the Los Angeles Times, Roy said, "Those people deserve at least one day a year when everybody stays the hell away. No planes in. No buses in. No nothing in." His idea was nothing new—earlier in the twentieth century, Emmett Watson came up with a fictional organization called Lesser Seattle, which fought against the increase of development, tourism, and people relocating to the area. In recent decades, Seattle has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, showing that both Watson and Roy were onto something.
By the time British explorer George Vancouver arrived in what is now Seattle, the first European to do so, natives had been living in the area for more than 4,000 years. The year was 1792, and he was charting the Pacific coast of North America. Arthur Denny and his group, known as the Denny Party, came from Illinois in 1851 and became the first Americans to permanently settle in the area. They first stopped at Alki Point, on the south side of Elliott Bay's mouth, but then moved a bit northeast, to the east side of Elliott Bay. They named the land Seattle, after a Duwamish Indian Chief. It was incorporated in 1869, and soon became the largest city in Washington.
On June 6, 1889, fire enveloped 116 acres of the city, destroying most of the business district. The Great Seattle Fire, as it became known, started when a woodworker knocked a hot glue pot onto a gasoline fire. Seattleites rebuilt their city on the rubble, raising it 22 feet and constructing their buildings with brick and steel instead of wood. The city's population quickly jumped from 25,000 to 40,000; many of the new settlers were workers coming to fill construction jobs. The terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad was in the city, and the city's importance was further augmented during the Yukon Gold Rush, which began in 1896 when supplies were procured and miners were outfitted in the city.
Seattle is known for having Pike Place Market, the oldest continually operated farmers market in the country. The price of produce, especially onions, rose dramatically between 1906 and 1907, so the city created the market so that produce could be bought directly from farmers; it opened in August 1907. The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair. Standing 605 feet tall, its foundation goes 30 feet under the ground, which would help it withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour and earthquakes of up to 9.1 in magnitude. Seattle is also known for being the home of Starbucks, for its many houseboats, for the prevalence of pinball, for being the birthplace of grunge music, and for its Museum of History and Industry.
How to Observe
Today is easy. All you need to do to celebrate is to stay away from Seattle! Perhaps you could use the day to plan a trip to the city in the not-too-distant future. Some places you could put on your itinerary include the Museum of History and Industry, Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Pioneer Square, the Seattle Pinball Museum, and the Seattle Underground Tour, which brings explorers to underground parts of Seattle that were once ground-level before the 1889 fire. While waiting to visit, you could listen to some grunge, read a book about the city, and watch a film set there.
If you are a resident of Seattle, there is no need to leave—today is for enjoying your city without having to worry about tourists! You could also do your part to fight change in your city. Support local businesses that have stood the test of time, and pledge to stay more involved in your community, to vote in local elections, and to attend local events.