The historical background of Seattle began long before the first settlers came in 1851. Native Americans were the first human inhabitants of this narrow strip of land between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington. However, from the first 12 adult settlers and their 12 children, the city has grown to a population of over a half-million people.
Henry Yesler's lumber mill provided the initial economic support for early Seattle. The mill supplied local needs and shipped lumber by sea to the growing city of San Francisco. By 1869, the population had grown to 2,000 inhabitants. With the extension of the railroad from Tacoma, Seattle’s population soared by the late 1880s.
In June 1889, a fire leveled 116 acres of the city’s business district, but it took the opportunity to rebuild, improving the municipal water supply, widening the streets and developing its fire department. The city required owners to build new buildings in the business district from brick or steel to avoid another similar disaster.
The Klondike gold rush brought thousands more people to Seattle in 1897. It became the place for prospectors to gather their supplies for the rugged territory.
As Seattle grew, its population and industries diversified. During the World Wars, it built ships. Boeing brought in the aircraft industry, while Microsoft brought high technology to the city.